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It’s practically a mantra in the US, to shop local, go local, buy local, etc. With this line of thinking, it’s no wonder that local SEO keeps gaining in importance and popularity for small business owners. I’ve had numerous business come to me asking about local SEO, and they all ask the same questions:
But what is Local SEO? What’s the difference between local and organic SEO? Should we care? How do we even succeed?
Great questions, all, and I’m happy to answer them. Keep reading, because in this post we’ll cover:
- What is local SEO marketing?
- Why does local SEO matter?
- How local SEO was born
- How you can improve your business’ local SEO
- The most important factors in local SEO marketing
What Is Local SEO Marketing?
Looking for a local SEO definition?
Local SEO helps businesses promote themselves online to local customers within a geographic area. The difference between local SEO and organic SEO is intent. Google can (pretty well, too) pick out search queries that have “local intent,” meaning the searcher wants search engine results with local companies.
To sum it up, let’s pretend my shower broke. I don’t want to comb through website after website, I want a plumber near me that’s reputable, and I want one NOW.
If I Google “plumber near me,” the SERPs will spit out a bunch of local businesses for me to choose from, including their average reviews. I pick the top one, and BOOM. Plumber.
Now let’s pretend I just blew my money at Nordstrom’s and I want to attempt to fix the shower myself. If I Google “how to fix my faucet,” Google will spit out the most relevant, reputable webpage, regardless of location. If I’m in Washington, DC, they may spit out an AMAZING DIY blog post from some plumber in California, because locality doesn’t matter.
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
Ok, we know what local SEO is, but who cares? Why does local SEO matter to your small business?
Because local customers rely on the internet to find information about your business.
Because local business searches often are based on geographic factors, organic SEO isn’t enough to rank, especially if your competitors are engaging in local SEO. Local SEO increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related searches.
Google Wants to Show Relevant Search Results
Nearly half of total Google search queries have local intent. If you owned Google, wouldn’t you want to capitalize on that?
Enter the Local pack.
In the search results, there are usually two distinct sections dominating the top half of the search results page: paid ads and the local pack. With the right local SEO strategy, you should be at the top of this local pack for the best CTR since many users with local search intent use that map and the reviews to choose a business.
Local Searches are More People-Centric
Why is Local SEO taking over? Because local searches are more people-centric than organic search results, meaning it’s more customized for each user. Nowadays, Google searches are all about local “near me” searches.
People want what they want when they want it.
Local search marketing is highly targeted and timely – people are searching for a business literally at the exact moment they need it. You can’t get much more personalized than that.
Algorithms are Adapting to Local “Near Me” Searches
Obviously Google caught on to the importance of these local “near me” searches, because beginning in 2007–when Google began showing local business information in SERPs–they started ramping up local SEO parameters in the search algorithm. In 2012, Google rolled out the first local SEO update designed to show users results not only relevant to the search term but also in their geographic vicinity.
One of the big parts of this update that still holds today? NAP (name, address, phone number) citations. If your NAP is inconsistent, the search engine will pass over your company for one that has consistent directory listings.
If search engines are finding conflicting information about your NAP, they’re not going to know for certain what your business is or where it’s located. When the search engines find varied details about your company, they lose confidence in your listing—so they are more likely to provide users with another listing that they’re more confident about.
How Can I Improve My Business’ Local SEO Strategy?
One of the biggest questions we get is “How do I do local SEO?”
Local SEO requires a variety of strategies:
- NAP Citations – Be sure your business’ name, address and phone number is EXACTLY the same across all of your online assets like your website, social profiles, and Google My Business/Bing listings.
- Local directory listings – Claim and verify all listings on local directories including Yelp, Superpages, Foursquare, Yellowpages, etc.
- Reviews – Reviews are key in local SEO. Regularly solicit reviews and engage in review-building tactics on social and search profiles.
- Localized onsight content – The more relevant your on-site content is to the searcher, the more likely it will show up in search results. This means creating unique geo-targeted service pages, specifying service areas, and including maps with your location on it.
- Schema markup – Ask your web developer to implement local business schema on your website. It gives the search engines a clearer supply of local information about your business.
The Most Important Factors in Local SEO Marketing:
So we covered how to rank, but what are the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of local SEO?
- Distance – How far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
- Relevance – This refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information across the web can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
- Prominence – Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
Insider Tips on Local SEO
If you don’t currently have a local SEO strategy in place, we highly recommend you invest time and energy into it. First, your customers need to be able to find you, and second, you need to OWN all of your online real estate, which includes citations across directories. Most of them are free, and it boosts your visibility.
We approach local SEO the same way we approach SEO, by making data-driven decisions to turn your website, and its ranking, into your strongest marketing asset. By evaluating the status of your current Local SEO and then creating a plan of attack, our content marketing specialists can take your website’s ranking to another level. Our goal for you is always the Local Pack and organic listings and we use the following tools to get there:
- Make sure your NAP citations are consistent across the directories that matter most for your industry
- Claim and verify your Google My Business listing
- Optimize your citations
- Remove duplicate listings on the directories that matter for your client
- Add Local Business and Review schema to your website
- Optimize your on-site content to be geo-targeted
- Implement a strategy to get reviews across multiple directories
- Respond to all directory reviews
- Consistently build local links
If your website is not showing up in local search results, you’re missing a big opportunity to grow your local business. Give us a call to talk about what we can do for you!
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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