Gone are the times of flipping through Yellow Pages to find businesses. Nowadays, consumers search for products or services online. As a result, search engines will display companies best-optimized for local SEO at the top.
Optimizing your website for local SEO means appearing where your potential customers are looking. If you’re already spending money on advertisement, local SEO is a no-brainer. Or, if you haven’t yet started marketing your business online, you’re missing out on a ton of potential customers. Instead, your competitors are likely are likely taking your potential customers away from you.
If you’re wondering, “why does local SEO matter,” we’re here to answer that question. Read on to learn what local SEO is all about and how to implement it into your business.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a method to optimize your business website for a specific location. If you have a local business such as a store, restaurant, or agency, you want your web pages to be ranked for specific searches from a local audience. Optimizing your local business website means making sure people can find you online and offline. Even if you’re not welcoming visitors to your building, you are still targeting an audience in the same geographic area as you. So you better optimize your online presence for this area.
So who needs local SEO? Essentially any business looking to gain foot traffic to their physical location or serve an audience that resides in a specific location.
For businesses with limited coverage and geographic service areas, local SEO is the key to connecting the right audience and bringing new customers to your doorstep. It’s a powerful digital marketing tool used to increase the visibility and ranking of your business in search engines. Like SEO strategies, local SEO involves understanding your target audience, what they are looking for, and making your business appear in their search queries.
Local SEO tells search engines such as Google and Bing that you are the best answer to the current search query, which helps people find the best local business. By ensuring that your SEO strategy includes local optimization, you can ensure that local users see your business at the top of the SERP. Because people are more likely to interact with companies close to them, optimizing for local queries will drive targeted traffic to your website and optimize conversion rates.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Almost half of all Google searches are focused on local content, which means that users are actively looking for region-specific content. 97% of people learn more about local businesses online than anywhere else. In addition, in just two years, searches in and around the community have increased by a staggering 900%.
Most search terms focus on local queries, including the “near me” option, which has grown by more than 500% in just two years. When users search using the phrase “near me” as part of a search term, Google can use their location to discover stores and businesses that match the specified criteria as the first results, usually on a Google map.
Importance of Local SEO for Small Businesses
Small businesses probably have the most to gain from incorporating local SEO into their marketing strategy.
A small business can increase exposure by delivering location-based and relevant content. While larger enterprises may target all locations, you can position yourself as the go-to business for a specific location, thereby gaining a competitive advantage.
Furthermore, local SEO establishes brand credibility and industry awareness. Big businesses can easily outspend smaller businesses to gain recognition. However, the search algorithms will favor those who have optimized their websites and content to people in your local region. For example, an organic grocery store located in Boston can gain traction using local SEO. A customer who sees this may choose the organic store over the big-box retailer because it fits their needs better.
Benefits of Local SEO
Whether you’re a restaurant in Houston, Texas, or an auto dealership in Boise, Idaho, local SEO is a major factor in generating new customers online. But, it doesn’t just generate new customers. It can improve your brand identity, improve credibility and increase your ROI.
Your Website Will Appear in Google My Business
Optimizing for local SEO will position your site on Google My Business and Google Maps. This is beneficial for obvious reasons, which means that people in your area have found your business locally. Most of the time, people like to spend time in nearby businesses. If you have correctly optimized the actual pages on your website, you can also rank for local search keywords in the main search.
Lower Your Advertising Cost
Additionally, you won't have to spend advertising dollars on Google AdWords to attract new customers. Many small businesses do not spend a penny on advertising and naturally attract local customers to participate in search! If you know the right strategies, you won’t have to spend much except perhaps costs to manage your website.
You Receive Relevant Customers
When someone enters a related search term like "New York City dentist," it becomes clear that they are looking for a dentist in New York City.
This will likely lead to increased conversions, leading to more sales.
If your client is looking for a dentist that is physically located in the New York area, Google has the option to show them the local dentist listed on Google My Business, even without typing New York. This is done via GPS on most people's cell phones that have this feature turned on.
Improves the User Experience
Usually, when someone is looking for a local business or service, they want quick results. User experience plays a huge role in user experience, and it is important to consider for your website. While everyone wants higher ratings and maximum exposure, very few business owners and marketers realize that user experience plays a huge role.
If a local user searches for certain services and clicks on a website with slow loading times, is not optimized for the device being used, and is difficult to navigate, he is likely to click very quickly. This results in a high bounce rate, low traffic, and low conversion rates. Remember, customers know what they want, and if they can't find it on your site, they'll just look elsewhere.
Optimizing your site with local and general SEO produces better overall results. There is no single aspect of your business or website that does not benefit from it. Local SEO should be part of your marketing strategy to position yourself against your competitors and increase your traffic.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Trying to improve your search rankings without understanding the ranking factors is like throwing a shot in the dark. Don’t waste your time guessing what could work. Here are the most important ranking factors for local SEO.
The obvious starting point for local SEO optimization is your website content. Content quality is perhaps one of the most important Google ranking factors as it provides users with more relevant information that serves users better. This has led to an explosive development of content marketing: 89% of B2B companies now use content marketing. Make sure your website content is well written, useful, and matches your local SEO keywords.
Use relevant keywords in URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, titles, alt text, and anchor text whenever possible, and use similar variations or phrases to strengthen the link. It's also a good idea for local SEO to make sure your address and phone number are on every page of your website.
Focusing on local topics such as events, news, or clients in your area will benefit your search engine optimization efforts.
Google My Business
Many visitors will discover you through Google My Business. One of the most important local search ranking factors is Google My Business listings. When creating or applying to register for a GMB, please make sure that your company name, address, and phone number are correct. This is not only good for customers but because the company’s proximity to searchers is an important factor in local Google rankings.
Optimize your list by filling it out as completely as possible, making sure you pick the most appropriate category, and including relevant keywords in your title and description. Also have the correct business hours and ensure that your company's website link is up to date.
Adding your logo and high-quality photos will improve the look and feel of your business in a local directory or on Google Maps. This, combined with some great reviews, will make your business more attractive.
When customers look for products or services online, they usually search using terms that highlight the area they're in. Start by picking the area you want to focus on to maximize your local SEO for that area.
For example, a typical search is "[insert a product or service] near me" or "[a product or service] near my location." Near me and my location, there are built-in search functions for Google and other search engines that automatically focus on local SEO leaders by topic in the current customer area. These are the types of search terms that you want to rank high on.
There are certain keywords that customers will use, such as place names or other terms that define this area. Make them your keywords and include them in your content. Search engines look for keywords in content, so content is classified and identified during the search.
Use free keyword research tools to identify the keywords you want. Most keyword services offer free options to make their site easier to use. You can use these tools to extract the keywords you want. When you have the right keywords for your region, start using them in your online content.
This includes listings, blog posts, content on your website, and anything else you can include in them appropriately. However, beware of overusing your keywords. You want to use them naturally.
Placing keywords in places they don't belong won't increase your rankings. Many search engines can distinguish over-usage in keywords and decipher that the keywords don't deliver any value to readers. Focus on naturally incorporating keywords to appear at an appropriate rate and perform well in context.
Citations are one of the most important aspects of a successful local SEO strategy. In order to improve your local connection in the eyes of Google, you need to make sure that your company name, address, and phone number are listed online and use the same format every time. When this information is posted on several reputable websites, it increases its credibility and accuracy. This means that Google is more likely to see it, which will make you rank higher. Local directories are a great way to establish citations, but any local website, blog, or industry site can have the same impact.
Every local search engine optimization strategy should include a detailed backlink profile. Third-party factors are estimated to account for 75% of SEO. Although the content of your website is very important and easier to control than external factors, if you only optimize the factors on the page, your SEO strategy will not succeed.
Nowadays, more links do not mean higher rankings. Google only values relevant, high-quality links, and seemingly questionable links can work against you.
In terms of local ranking factors, it is recommended to use local links.
Local newspaper articles, the home team page of the sponsor’s city, or blog posts about your company’s philanthropy are all good ways to strengthen the link between your website and the event location. Outbound links are also included. Exchanging with local related companies can help improve local rankings. The wedding venue can share links with related vendors, such as florists, photographers, or bridal shops. This will improve your local ranking and help Google understand your company’s online market position.
It's not just potential customers who will see your site as more legitimate if you have a lot of positive reviews. Remember that Google Maps and other listing sites provide an overview of the reviews for your business, so you should focus on getting positive reviews from satisfied customers. It doesn't make sense to spend all your energy joining the local pack just to have a low star rating that scares people away. Furthermore, many other major review sites are covered.
Some of the main review sites come from Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Foursquare. You should never use fake reviews to increase your online presence or reward people who leave a positive review. Instead, aim to get as many reviews as possible from real customers. Try asking customers to leave you a review at the end of a purchase.
Local Business Optimization
Most small businesses are left undiscovered because they’re getting swallowed up by businesses that appear on the first page of the search results. Companies with a large ad budget can easily outrank you organically by paying for PPC ads. However, you can soar through for local SEO search terms and outcompete bigger companies with a little effort and strategy.
How to Improve Local SEO
Now that you know the ranking factors, we’ll tell you how to improve local SEO. Well, it first starts with optimizing your website and its content. Here are ways to improve your local SEO.
Optimize Your Google My Business Account
Building and optimizing your "Google My Business" page is one of the easiest and most effective ways to gain visibility and improve local SEO. Since it belongs to Google, search engines can use information from this domain more conveniently.
To create an account, you need a Google My Business account linked to your Google Business profile. Once you complete the setup steps and provide all the required information, your business will appear in relevant local Google search results, Google Maps, and Google Search Knowledge Bar.
Here's how to optimize local listings once you've created an account:
- Verify your business ownership through your Google My Business account.
- Provide accurate information and keep it up to date.
- Include as much information as possible, such as store opening hours, accepted payment methods, products, and services offered with images.
- Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews.
- Post messages on your Google business profile, such as special offers.
Create Pages For Each Product or Service
In addition to appearing in business directories, make sure you have a page with an image, description, and other information required for each product or service you offer. Clarify each specialty using keywords that are unique to each page. This will help you appear more authoritative on the search engines.
Plus, people looking for specific offers are more likely to find you. However, be sure to find a copy where needed. For example, say “interior designer from Illinois” or “interior designer from Chicago” instead of “interior designer” to help you appear in the most relevant search results.
Build an Internal Link Structure
In addition to creating unique pages for each product and service, make sure to include internal links. These are links from one of the pages on your website to another page on your website. Internal links help maintain navigation on your website and distribute page rank and page authority across your web pages. For example, they can be linked to product/service pages, blog posts, FAQ pages, or any other web page on your domain.
Create Local Content
Creating search engine optimized content to crawl every page is important for all types of SEO. Create content with localized keywords to rank for relevant local searches. Use keyword research methods to find relevant local terms and then use them in your content.
Tools like SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner can search by location, and it will display popular keywords at that location. In addition, you can refer to local attractions near your company. For example, if you have a bar near Central Park, add words such as "Bar near Central Park" to your website. For companies with multiple stores, create a separate page for each store. Ensure that the content of each page is unique to avoid duplicate content issues. This is especially important when describing a store.
Don't just change the store location. You can also create a more detailed "About Us" page for each store. Likewise, make sure that the content of each location is unique.
Try to include relevant local news and events in your content plan. This includes the content of relevant local news, and events. For example, if you are attending a local or consumer fair, create content about it. You can also create videos of specific local events and stories.
Include this HTML information in the footer of your website. If you have multiple locations, include the HTML for the corresponding location on the page or pages of each location.
Use Backlink Strategies
Obtaining high-quality inbound or backlinks is essential for all local search engine optimization. This refers to a webpage from another domain that links to you. The "link signal" provided when placing backlinks is one of the most important factors for improving local SEO.
These backlinks tell search engines that you are running a legitimate business, and their content is considered useful. All backlinks will help your ranking, but high-quality links (from well-known websites with high domain authority) are most useful. Ideally, you want to create high-quality content that other sites want to link to.
Establish partnerships and connections with local influencers. Become a guest blogger on high-domain authority sites. Become a sponsor of local events.
Remember that posting your links to other websites on which you have a profile counts as a backlink. For example, posting links to your web page in your YouTube video descriptions would be considered reliable backlinks. Also take into account those published on social networks in profiles and sections. Also, any directory where you list your website will be considered a backlink.
Local SEO Strategies for Business Growth
Whether you’re a multi-million dollar corporation or a small mom-and-pop shop, you should look to maximize your local SEO. Local SEO is one of the best ways to increase your visibility and achieve a cost-effective ROI with your marketing efforts.
At Universal Creative Solutions, we help businesses achieve their full potential by effectively marketing their brand to their ideal customers. We offer cutting-edge marketing strategies and data-driven analytics to help your business succeed. Furthermore, we offer a full-stack SEO strategy and implementation, including a local SEO service. Book a free consultation call today to see how we can help you design and implement your local SEO strategy.