When you want to find a restaurant or a nearby car repair shop, what do you do? You search for it online! When you have a medical concern and you need the phone number for the closest clinic, what’s your plan of action? To Google it, of course. Since approximately 46% of searches on Google are of a local nature, businesses everywhere are investing in local search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
What is Local SEO?
Although local SEO does not have an official definition, several brands and agencies have attempted to explain the marketing tactic.
Moz defines local SEO as “a process for increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area.”
RevLocal considers local search engine optimization to be an “integrated approach to marketing for local businesses” while eConsultancy refers to it as a tactic for “providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their current location.”
All in all, local search engine optimization utilizes various techniques and tactics to improve your business’ position on local search rankings. Local search rankings occur when a user includes a local keyword in their search or the search engine infers a location from the user’s device.
An example of a local search phrase would be “car dealership in Los Angeles, California.”
Why Should My Business Care about Local SEO?
If you’re already engaging in an organic search engine optimization strategy, you may wonder why you need to care about local SEO. In fact, depending on the keywords and tactics you’re using, you may be implementing a local SEO plan already without realizing it.
Simply put, local SEO increases your chances of being found online by interested searchers (aka, future customers!) Did you know 64% of local customers use search engines and directories as their main way to find a local business? And, 50% of searchers visit businesses within 24 hours of a local search.
Still not convinced? Take these local search statistics into consideration.
- 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (WordStream)
- 30% of mobile searches are related to a location. (Google, 2016)
- 71% of people say they look up and confirm the location of a business before going to it for the first time. (Hubspot)
- 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. (Search Engine Land, 2014)
On top of improving your overall online brand awareness, local search is a significant driver of leads, sales, and in-store traffic for local businesses.
Take Advantage of These Local SEO Tactics
To utilize a local SEO strategy for your business, start with these steps.
Claim your Google My Business Listing
Google holds about 74.54% of the search engine market share, making it the most popular search engine used worldwide. With this in mind, it is imperative that you claim and optimize your free Google My Business listing. This listing is what appears when a user searches for your company name, location, information, or relevant local keywords on Google. These listings also appear in Google Maps.
To make the most of this free map listing and Google account, include as many details about your business as possible. At the least, users need to know your name, address, and phone number. This is referred to as your “NAP” information. Google My Business also allows you to include vital business details such as:
- Company Website
- Hours of Operation
- Product/Service Categories and Labels
- Customer Reviews
- Store/Location Information
- Popular Times
- Company Logo
To complete your Google My Business listing to the fullest, use this guide from Search Engine Journal.
Fill Out Listings and Directories Online
The Internet is riddled with listing sites and business directories from Yelp to the Better Business Bureau. As Hubspot states, these sites are online lists of businesses within a specific niche, location, or category. Since these websites require your address and other local business information, it makes sense that these sites would be beneficial in amplifying your presence online.
Just as you did with your Google My Business listing, be sure to complete these listing and directory profiles as much as possible. Again, always include your name, address, and phone number.
Start your local SEO strategy off on the right foot by claiming and completing profiles on these popular listing sites:
Capitalize on Customer Reviews
Did you know 88% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? With this in mind, it’s easy to see how online reviews factor into a successful local search engine optimization strategy.
As local SEO tactics work to increase your visibility on search engines and map listings, you want to put your best foot forward. You don’t want to be at the top of the search rankings and make a poor first impression, right? Considering the star rating is the top factor used by consumers to judge a business, it is crucial to generate authentic customer reviews.
Now, your reviews are not confined to just Google. Since search engine algorithms also include listing and directory sites in the search rankings, you should aim to compile customer reviews on these sites as well. Often businesses focus on getting reviews on popular websites such as Yelp and Facebook. However, there are other niche sites your business can take advantage of. Consider asking customers to place reviews on industry-specific or targeted review websites such as:
In addition to greater exposure online, these review sites all contain links back to your website. These backlinks help drive traffic to your website and improve your authority online, which work to accomplish your local SEO goals.
Localized Website Content
Lastly, one of the main local search engine optimization tactics is to create localized website content on your website. There are several ways to go about this.
First, make sure your name, phone number, and address are easily found on your website. Most businesses include this information in the header and/or footer of a website, as well as on the Contact page.
Next, you can create website and blog content focused on local keywords. For instance, if you were a dentist and wanted to rank for the term “NYC Dentist,” you could work this phrase into your service page content.
Be warned: keyword stuffing is not allowed!
Many professionals who launch a local SEO strategy for the first time make the mistake of stuffing too many keywords into their pages, blog posts, and online listings. Search engines see this practice as spammy and tend to demote content and listings using this technique. Instead, work the keywords into your content naturally. Remember to add them to your page title, headings, meta description, and image alt tags, as well, for the best results.
Launch Your Local SEO Strategy
Now that you understand why local SEO is used by businesses of varying sizes all over the world, it’s time to plan and execute your strategy! Begin with our tips and continue to monitor your local rankings.
Have you worked on a local SEO plan before? What tactics did you use? Share your experiences with the community in the comments below.