Understanding Local SEO: Your One-stop Guide

For your local business to reach more customers, you must rank higher in local search engine results.  But how do you move up the ranks if your competitors are well-established businesses in your local area? The answer is local search engine optimisation (SEO).

This guide will help you understand what local SEO is and how it works in ranking your business online. Finally, we’ll touch on ways to enhance your local SEO strategy, which significantly improves your visibility online.

Local SEO Facts

By the name itself, SEO is about using strategies to optimise your website to improve traffic. With increased traffic, you can generate leads and enhance brand awareness.

SEO is a collection of optimisation techniques. This article from Digital Authority Partners outlines some important tips, including using correct keywords, using Google My Business (GMB), and strengthening your name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations online.

Local SEO is important because:

  • Almost half of all Google searches are for local businesses.
  • Most consumers who use their smartphones to look for a store will go to that business on the same day.
  • Many Google search engine results pages (SERPs) come with a local pack.

When a customer uses Google to search for a business, Google checks its index to look for the best results. With a local business search, Google uses different factors to come up with results. 

Google includes factors such as the person’s location, NAP citations, GMB listings, and relevant keywords used in the GMB listing. Also critical are online reviews, social media shares, business location check-ins, and Google Maps rating.

Understanding Google’s Local Pack

A Local Pack is a feature in SERPs that’s visible in any local business search. It lists three local businesses relevant to the search made. Before, the Local Pack featured seven results, but there are only three local search results now.

Users can see the business name, rating or star ranking, number of reviews, business description, and business address. A brief description of the business, along with a photo snippet, is also available. A user can click any of these three businesses; doing so will take the user to the business’ Google Maps page.

You should aim to become part of the Google Local Pack. To do this, you must set up your business listing on Google My Business and complete and update your business information. The following can help you be part of the Local Pack:

  • Claim your GMB listing to increase your chances of being in the Local Pack.
  • Complete your GMB profile. Update your profile as necessary.
  • Verify your business’ location for accuracy, as this affects organic searches.
  • Upload photos of your business.
  • Encourage reviews, respond to questions, and engage with customers.

Local Keyword Research

Search engines use keywords to rank local businesses. The key is to use keywords that your customers are likely to use when searching for your business. A good tool to use is the Google Keyword Planner, which can find the best keyword according to the search volume of a particular location.

To perform local keyword research, start by listing the services or products you offer. When you complete the list, search for relevant keywords. Expand your search to keywords that refer to “missed” products or services. 

Afterward, look for local intent. Find out if the people using these products or services want to buy from a local store. To do this, use the keyword you have selected and check for a Map Pack. 

If there’s a Map Pack, the keyword has local intent. If there is no Map Pack, the results are not from nearby businesses, and the keyword has no local intent.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a free business profile listing that your customers see once they find your account from Google Search. Your GMB is unique for every location or business branch you have. The beauty of using GMB to improve your local SEO ranking is that it has all the details your customers need to make a smart buying decision.

Also, your GMB profile connects to Google Maps. Your customers can easily find your business and select a route on the map depending on when they want to visit your local business. 

Your GMB listing has your business name, address, and phone number. It also has your company overview, photos (posted by your customers or by you), and a link to your website. There’s a ranking or star rating on the page based on the ratings provided by your customers.

  • Update your GMB profile and ensure that the information is consistent on all your online platforms.
  • Aim for enhanced user and customer experience to get positive user reviews on your GMB listing.
  • Respond to positive and negative reviews to gain customer trust. This can improve your local ranking.
  • Everything should be consistent, especially your NAP. All information should match your NAP citations.
  • Select a top-level business category and secondary subcategories that best describe what your business is all about.

Using On-site SEO Strategies

Your website content should be relevant to your business and unique for each location. But aside from the locations you serve, you can also create landing pages for other areas and cities, even those you don’t have a physical location. But doing so won’t help you join the Local Pack but can rank you in organic searches using various local keywords.

About NAP Citations

Your NAP information must be consistent no matter where your customers turn online, from your business website and social media site to local directories and anywhere your business is mentioned online. You must find all these online places, check for any errors, and correct them if necessary.

In some cases, you can edit your incorrect business information and wait for the corrections. Meanwhile, you might need to visit certain citation websites to edit your incorrect listing. 

Usually, you need to send an email to the site owner to edit your business information. NAP citation audits and edits can be a painstaking process but have tremendous benefits to your local SEO ranking.

Final Words

Local SEO will allow you to engage with your customers, boost brand recognition, and improve site traffic. Follow these local SEO strategies, and you’re set to dominate local search in no time.