This article has been updated and was originally published in February 2021.
Think traditional SEO is all you need? Keep reading.
Here you’ll find:
- What defines local SEO
- Which businesses benefit from local SEO
- Positive impacts of this SEO type
- Steps to implement local SEO properly
Trying to increase traffic and conversion rates without local SEO is like trying to sell parkas during the summer in Florida.
Not only is it very unlikely to be effective, but it displays a deep misunderstanding about the audience involved.
Local SEO is often undervalued. People frequently believe that it serves the same purpose as traditional SEO, or they mistakenly believe that it’s irrelevant for their business.
The truth is that local SEO can do wonders for your brand’s overall search engine optimization. Let’s discuss basics, debunk some common myths, and determine how to make it work for you.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a way to ensure your content is optimized to accurately answer locally relevant or location-based searches.
For example, a California-based store appearing in results for someone searching for grocery stores in Europe isn’t very helpful. This type of SEO uses area factors to rank higher in search results to target local audiences.
Which businesses should use local SEO?
All of them! While many businesses may benefit from global traffic, they’re almost always more relevant in specific areas.
Many stores mistakenly try to reach the largest audiences instead of those most likely to convert. You could have a million website visitors in a single day, but if they’re overseas and you don’t process international payments, they’re not the right fit.
While service providers like plumbers and painters often don’t have physical locations, they typically operate within a set service area. Their potential customers will likely use local keywords when searching for them.
Other service providers, like accountants and writers, may have virtual businesses. However, they may not be looking to take on international clients due to things like time zones, language barriers, and currency differences.
Pro tip: Despite the belief that local SEO only benefits physical businesses, there are usually areas and local keywords that apply for all company types. Think about what you sell, where or to whom it’s most useful, who your ideal audience is, and what location has the most of that demographic.
Local SEO facts and benefits
Many businesses ignore localized SEO because they’re unaware of its advantages. Let’s break down some key stats, findings, and benefits.
- Almost half of all searches are local
- Google favors local results
- It’s often easier to rank locally
- 80% of mobile-based local searches lead to transactions
- Improved overall SEO
- Higher Google Search results rankings
- Increased traffic
- Targets bottom-of-funnel consumers
- Can result in more in-store sales
Pro tip: Google conducted a local search ranking update in early December 2021 that they say “involved a rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results.”
How to implement a successful local SEO strategy
A winning organic localized SEO strategy has two important components: Google Business Profile (formally known as Google My Business) and organic search results.
Let’s examine both and cover the best practices for each.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free service that allows you to create and manage a profile that Google displays in search results and on Google Maps. This powerful tool provides detailed, easily accessible information, and conveniently facilitates contact right from Google.
You don’t need to rely solely on searchers using Google Maps to find local businesses. Apple Maps has been gaining traction lately since its newest updates rolled out. If your business isn’t already on Apple Maps, we suggest adding it ASAP. (The Google Maps advice below applies to Apple Maps as well.)
When building your profile, make sure you fill it out completely with the most updated info so you have a comprehensive listing. Proofread carefully and confirm that all info is error-free and displaying properly on Google. And don’t forget to update as needed if things like your hours or location change.
Pro tip: Virtual businesses don’t qualify for a Google Business Profile at this time.
Organic search results
Local SEO is just like traditional SEO with the addition of local keywords. Examples include things like:
- Local landmarks
- Local lexicon (pop vs. soda or inspector vs. detective)
- “Near me”
While website content is obviously important, blogs aren’t your only option. Use whatever format feels most relevant to your business, website, and SEO goals. Content marketing alternatives include:
- Local news and updates
- Case studies
- How-to guides
Advanced local SEO insights
Some of our most advanced insights for using localized SEO include:
- Reinforce with repetition: Include your location and keywords in metadata and geotag local images
- Use citations to improve rank, visibility, trust, and prominence
- Include content targeting rich snippet placement
- Leverage Google tools like Analytics, Search Console, and Keyword Planner to evaluate effectiveness, understand audience behavior, and identify high-traffic keywords
- Create detailed listings similar to GBP on directory sites like Angie’s List, and Thumbtack
- Get relevant local sites, area blogs, and news outlets to link to your site
- Have an FAQ section on your site with info about your address, locations, or service areas, and include your full address in your site-wide footer
Pro tip: Optimize your localized SEO by maintaining exact address consistency across the web.
Google has made local SEO a powerful tool. Whether or not you have a physical business location, this can be an essential component of your well-rounded search optimization strategy overall to help increase your online presence.
Not only will leveraging these tips and tactics help improve your SEO profile, but it can do wonders when it comes to beating your local competition as well.