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The Ultimate Local SEO Guide

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online properties so you can be found in localized searches.

The goal of ranking in local SEO is to improve online visibility for local residents. Whether you’re a local service-based business, you have a brick and mortar store, or even serve multiple areas (like a chain or franchise), this guide is for you!

We’ll walk you through local ranking factors, how to optimize your website to rank highly, how to show up in the map pack, and ultimately how to get more business from search engines.

By using the resources and strategies in this guide, you can ensure that your business will be found when your target customers search online.

Why Does Your Business Need Local SEO?

You may be wondering why you need local SEO for your business. The reason your company needs local SEO is because it helps drive more traffic to your company and boost your online presence with your audience from local results.

SEO and local SEO are fantastic digital marketing strategies that really do work. Businesses rely on SEO to boost sales, click-through rate, and traffic. In fact, 61% of marketers feel that improving SEO practices is their top priority. 

If your business is on a budget with advertising, you may be thrilled to know that using local SEO practices with tools like Google Business Profile is totally free and is a great way to increase foot traffic even if you aren’t that into using paid SEM or SEO services

Local SEO works to gain priority from these search engines with a clear target. Instead of competing with the large businesses in your market, local SEO can help you stand out in your community.

There are a couple of issues that may arise when you’re trying to rank in Google. If you have a Google Business Profile and you aren’t being found in business listings there may be some reasons why. You aren’t verified, you lack location authority in Google maps, or your Google Business Profile is suspended. If you’ve relocated recently, that can affect your rank as well. 

Who Needs Local SEO?

There are many benefits to using local SEO for your business or company. Let’s go over the types of businesses that should use Google Business Profile and other local SEO methods. 

  • Brick-and-mortar local businesses
  • SEO agencies that work with local clients
  • Multi-location franchises

If you have an Etsy or other online shop that doesn’t have an on-site store, then you may want to stick with traditional SEO strategies or social media advertisement. 

You may be surprised to know local intent is 46% of all searches in Google and includes many different benefits to using digital marketing practices such as local links and local search engine optimization

Let’s dive into these important local SEO benefits:

  • Save on your advertising costs
  • Business growth that improves over time
  • Way more traffic to your online and local sites
  • Better conversion rates
  • Ranking that lasts
  • Gain more reviews which boost search engine ranking

Even if you don’t have a business website or any landing pages, you can still get more foot traffic with local listings because people can find your company and what your services can offer them.

What Do Local SEO Search Results Look Like?

Local SEO practices include anything from verification on Google Maps to link building. Google’s localized algorithm bases a lot of its visibility on positive reviews, citations, and interaction. 

These results are found by local residents using Google or other search engines like Bing. Let’s take a look at some of the places that you’ll want to show up. 

Here’s what a typical search looks like on Google:

Google Local SEO Ads

As you can see, it’s 100% ads above the fold.

This is supposed to be a joke, but it holds truth. Google has been pushing more ads into local search results over time, so this is something you’ll want to keep an eye out for moving forward.

OK, here’s what it looks like after the ads:

Google Local SEO 3 Pack

This is commonly referred to as the “Local 3 Pack” / “Snack Pack” / “Map Pack” or search engine results pages (SERPs). You can see a maps pack with 3 listings, and then you can see the normal organic results underneath. 

It would be best if you made sure that your business details are up to date such as your business name, location, star rating, and phone number. If you click on any business, you will then be showed online reviews so you can decide whether or not that business is for you. 

Ranking In Maps

Google maps are a vital area of local SEO. If you want people to visit your business, you need to give them the right information. Sub-categories in your Google Business Profile and other authority citations are great places to start when considering your local online presence

Showing up in a local pack is one of the best ways to reach residents of your area, and ranking there should be a marketing priority. It’s not just local packs that you want to be seen in. Visibility in map apps like Google Maps and Apple maps is also important for your business. 

Here are a few sure ways to help you show up in map pack results:

  • Have an optimized Google Business Profile listing
  • Have online reviews
  • Citations and backlinks
  • Improve your website’s landing pages
  • Engagement with audience 
  • Improve your NAP consistency

When I mention NAP, I’m not talking about a cozy snooze on a Saturday afternoon. NAP is an acronym for name, address, and phone number. This information is important when optimizing Google Business Profile for a local audience.

The strategies in this guide will help you rank highly here as well:

Google Maps

Mobile Results

Case studies suggest that more than 64% of searches are done with a mobile device. With that said, making sure that your local SEO is mobile-friendly is a good way to bring in more organic leads. 

Here are some great ways to get seen in mobile searches:

  • Verify your map locations
  • Keep your hours consistent 
  • Respond to all reviews, negative and positive 
  • Add high-quality photos 
  • Keep your keywords relevant

One fun fact about adding great pictures to your business profile is that 63% of users who search through images turn into site traffic for your business. 

Mobile searches are affected and will still display any business information:

Mobile SEO Results

Knowledge Graph

The Knowledge Graph is a data source but it’s built into and maintained by Google as a basis of information. Using Google’s SERPs, local packs, and map packs, users get access to relevant information without needing to click any link or online directories

The knowledge graph is a good thing for both searchers and businesses using local SEO. Potential customers get better search results and businesses get more traffic depending on how helpful the content is. 

Knowledge graphs improve search engine results, knowledge graph-friendly coding methods. Adding this information and putting them on websites or landing pages can also help to boost search rankings. 

It’s a good idea to have an optimized website along with your business profile for the best results. 

Knowledge graphs will affect your search results in your geographic area:

Knowledge Graph

Searches Without A Geo-Modifier

Local customers can help find your business so much easier when they are using geo-metric but it isn’t necessary. If you do search without a geo-modifier, you can still get localized results. 

Local intent consists of the following terms:

  • keyword and city
  • keyword near me
  • keyword closest to me

Notice in the screenshot below, I searched just the term “dentist” without putting a city or location, but Google knows where I am and displayed localized results!

local seo search results

So, local is everywhere and if you have a brick and mortar business, or service area based business, then this guide will help ensure that you are showing up where you need to be.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

It can sometimes be unclear what works and what doesn’t work to get your business ranking in Google search. If you’re still a little unsure, here is a general understanding of what to consider when trying to boost your rankings.

Here are a few important local SEO ranking factors:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Address of point of search
  • A physical location in your city search directories
  • Google reviews
  • Links and backlinks

Here are some practices that don’t impact local SEO ranks:

  • Keyword research in Google Business Profile
  • Using Google Ad service 
  • Social Media Posts

The above methods do help with traditional SEO; however, it doesn’t impact local SEO in the way you need or want it to. 

If you decide to make use of local SEO service tools like Google Business Profile, you will need to choose an appropriate primary business category. This will help Google show your business to local customers

What Is The Difference Between SEO and Local SEO?

Traditional SEO concentrates on boosting your web pages visibility on a global scale. While local SEO guides local traffic to a search query and allows local clients or new customers to connect with your business. They both use similar strategies, but they both have different goals. 

One of the main differences between local SEO and traditional SEO is where your traffic is increased and if that traffic is on foot or online. SEO is usually website-based. It still brings traffic to your business, but it’s mostly online and doesn’t always turn into a client or customer, whereas local SEO is more geometric.

So, you want local SEO and traditional for your business if you want to take full advantage of search engines. Understanding the difference is a great way to begin optimizing your business on-site and online.

Local SEO Tips

SEO and local SEO practices are an ever-changing process. Don’t stop after simply updating some of your information. It really helps to perform an SEO audit on your website to see where your website ranks and what you need to work on to get the kind of traffic you want. 

Here are some other valuable SEO tips to get you started:

  • Get more local citations 
  • Being in a local pack of business directories
  • Get more positive reviews
  • Remove irrelevant listings
  • Make sure you’re verified on Google maps
  • Run an SEO audit

Getting more local citations can really boost your localized SEO. Citations are an important part of local SEO efforts because backlinks to a ranking site improve organic results

A local business directory is important information about your company such as, hours, address, and contact information. These directories in local search ranking can also incorporate relevant pictures and other details. 

Being a part of a local business directory pack boosts your local SEO. Many potential customers turn into leads if an image is integrated into your business details. 

Positive reviews can also increase your business’s local SEO. Using free services such as Google My Business or as it’s now known as Google Business Profile can improve your online presence and also increase your foot traffic. Also, verification on Google Maps is vital to boosting your business growth. 

One great tip to know is that if Google can’t verify the correct information about your business, like the right phone number. Google won’t let it rank high in search results. It would be best if you made sure that your company’s details like address and best contact information are up to date on all platforms. 

Running an SEO audit can help you find out why you aren’t ranking as high as you would ideally want.An SEO audit identifies issues and problems that could stop your website from ranking on Google and other search engines, such as Bing. It’s best to make sure your site is correctly crawled and indexed by Google’s algorithm

How Do You Optimize Your Website to Rank High?

You also may want to optimize your title tags, meta descriptions, and use some traditional SEO-related strategies if you’re trying to boost your online and offline traffic. 

Here are some great tips to optimizing your website for more traffic:

  • Create relevant and authoritative content
  • Update as much as you can regularly
  • Metadata is where it’s at
  • Use external and internal links
  • Use alt tags when possible
  • Make sure your website isn’t cluttered 
  • Use relevant keywords

Creating relevant and authoritative content is informative blog posts and how-tos, and buyer guides. Trust is a large part of creating authoritative content. Show your audience you know what you’re talking about, that can help establish trust. 

Updating old content is a great concept and works wonders when trying to boost your local SEO. Take that into consideration when trying to optimize your content. 

Use external and internal links to prove to Google that you and other authoritative websites go well together and that you have other relevant content. 

Businesses should consider building local landing pages for each in-person building if your company has multiple on-site locations. This is a great way to make sure that your website isn’t cluttered. These landing pages should include business information like addresses and phone numbers.

Alt text and keywords are an important part of website digital marketing and ranking high in Google. Every post or blog entry needs to be optimized for search engines by using high-volume keywords and terms. 

Content needs routinely optimized to continue ranking high in Google and other search engines

Google’s algorithm uses backlinks and other citations to help you rank in search results. The more backlinks your site has, the higher your website will rank.

Conclusion

Local SEO is often a digital marketing tool that gets overlooked. Local SEO is just as important as traditional SEO. Ranking in Google Maps and local packs can help boost your foot and online traffic. 

These fantastic suggestions, such as website optimization and Google Maps ranking can give you the boost your business needs. 

Local SEO may seem overwhelming, but our experts are here to help you with anything you need to know moving forward.  

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