Last week, we discovered some water damage in our home and needed to find a local business to come check it out. But first, we wanted to make sure the company was reputable with good reviews. Where did we start? Google, of course. Fortunately, we quickly found a nearby business and scheduled an appointment for the following day. This is the power of local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization — to enable customers to quickly find local providers online, read reviews from other customers, and identify the best solution for their needs.
The truth is any business with a physical location or serving a geographic area can benefit from local SEO. You just need to know where to start, and that’s what this article is all about – a beginner’s guide to getting local SEO to work for your business.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a strategy to help businesses gain more visibility in local search results. It helps customers easily discover, evaluate, and contact local businesses to serve their needs, while also helping businesses increase brand awareness, leads, foot traffic, and sales.
What Do Local Search Results Look Like?
The search results for local businesses look a bit different than traditional search results but not entirely.
For example, Google typically shows a “Map Pack” at the top of the results — displaying a few of the top ranked businesses. When you search “painter Chicago”, the Map Pack (in red below) is what you will see first:
Of course, to be shown in the Map Pack, your business needs to have a Google Business Profile set up already. You can learn how to do that here.
In addition to the Map Pack, you also want to optimize your business website to increase your visibility in local organic search results. These are the results that come right after the Map Pack:
Why do you want to ensure your business also appears in the organic results? Because customers may see your listing in the Map Pack, notice you have 4- or 5-star reviews, and then see your website come up in the organic results. This creates a sense of legitimacy and trust right away as searchers see your business not only in the Map Pack but also ranked highly in the results below.
You can also rank in local organic results even if your business isn’t in that physical location. So your business won’t show up in the Map Pack, but it can still appear below it — as long as your website includes local keywords and unique content for that location.
How to Get Your Business Started With Local SEO
While there are a few items in this guide to local SEO you will want to complete, the good news is you don’t have to do them all at once. Take it one at a time, then move on to the next.
1. Set Up Your Google Business Profile
As we mentioned earlier, you will want to complete a Google Business Profile. This is where you add the name, address, and phone number for your business, as well as business category, hours, website, and so on. You can also choose to publish Google Posts from your profile, which display on your business listing in local search results:
2. Perform Local Keyword Research
Keyword research is as important for local SEO as it is for traditional SEO. That being said, local keyword research is a bit easier because all you need is a short list of keywords that people use to find your nearby business.
Of course, you want to use “business + city” keywords. In addition, you want to do some research for more generic keywords related to your biz.
For example, if you do a search for “painter” in Google, you get this list of suggestions:
The top 3 suggestions are helpful, but nothing else on this list is valuable for local SEO.
However, if you do the same local search using “painter c”, you get a better list of possibilities:
Once you have some ideas you can use, you can run them through a tool like Google Keyword Planner to get data like monthly search volume, trends, and year over year change. Or you can use Keyword Planner to find new keywords using the “Start with a Website” feature.
Either way, be sure to take a look at how to do keyword research for the full process.
Then, you can apply the best keywords to your website and your Google Business Profile, where they can help you get in front of people searching with those same queries.
3. Ensure Consistent Business Information Across the Internet
Search engines, like Google, want to see that your business information — like name, address, and phone number — are the same across all websites and online properties. This helps validate and verify your business information, and helps Google rank your business higher in local search results.
Aside from your own website and Google Business Profile, check your information on business directories (Yelp, BBB, etc.) and other relevant, third-party sites. You can learn more about this approach through this article on brand SERP.
4. Get Online Reviews for Your Business – And Manage Them, Too
Another important step in our guide to local SEO is getting online reviews. Not only does this help search engines rank your business higher in local search results, but it also helps customers evaluate your business accordingly.
Once you start getting more reviews, be sure to respond to them — even the negative ones help your local SEO efforts.
5. Regularly Monitor and Adjust Your Business Results Online
Once you complete the previous steps, it’s time to keep an eye on how your business ranks in local search over time. There are a variety of SEO tools to track your position in the Map Pack as well as organic search results.
Leveraging this data, you can make adjustments if and when it becomes necessary to ensure your business retains the highest visibility for your customers.
Benefits Of Local Seo
Here are the benefits of local SEO that can significantly enhance your website's performance and visibility:
Increased Website Traffic
Implementing local SEO strategies can substantially increase website traffic. Whether you manage a multinational corporation or a small local enterprise, prioritizing local clientele has the potential to significantly drive visitors to your site, thereby enhancing sales prospects.
Improved Conversion Rates
Local SEO not only drives traffic to your website but also significantly increases the likelihood of converting those visitors into valuable customers. This is supported by compelling statistics, revealing that a remarkable 28% of local searches ultimately lead to successful sales. By positioning yourself as an authoritative figure within your community when prospective buyers are at their decision-making stage, you greatly enhance your prospects of finalizing successful transactions.
Reduced Advertising Costs
Local businesses often spend a lot on traditional advertising methods like banners, pamphlets, and local TV ads. However, optimizing your local SEO can save you a significant amount of money. More than 82% of smartphone users use the "near me" option when searching for local businesses, reducing the need for extensive advertising expenses.
Sustained Business Growth
Local SEO efforts aim to increase both website traffic and search engine rankings, leading to more marketing and sales opportunities. More sales mean more interested customers, resulting in continuous business growth. Investing in local SEO metrics is crucial for the long-term success of your local business.
Lasting Search Engine Rankings
Unlike traditional marketing strategies that require continuous spending, local SEO offers long-lasting rankings. This ensures that your business remains visible to potential customers over an extended period.
Local SEO provides a competitive advantage over rivals who still rely on traditional methods. By achieving higher search engine rankings, your business becomes more appealing to potential customers, offering you a lasting edge against competitors.
More Local Reviews
Online reviews are vital in customer decision-making. Local SEO can help you get more customer reviews, and responding positively to these reviews can improve your search engine rankings. Positive customer feedback signals a better customer experience, which can further benefit your business.
Collaboration With Nearby Businesses
Local SEO can help you build partnerships with neighboring businesses through cross-promotion. By linking your products and services with neighboring businesses, you can both benefit from increased recognition and online visibility.
Listing In Google's 3-Pack
Appearing in Google's 3-Pack is valuable for local businesses. It means ranking in the top three results for local keyword searches. This position attracts most searches with local intent, making local SEO essential for achieving this status and increasing your business's visibility.
Top Local Link Building Strategies
If you are looking for link building strategies, these are some of the finest approaches to grow your website's authority:
Get Started With Citations
Begin your local link-building journey by creating citations. This involves listing your business details (Name, Address, Phone Number) in online directories. Accurate and consistent citations not only build trust but also offer opportunities to include links to your website, attracting organic traffic.
Establish Social Media Presence
An active presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat can effectively help you gain local links. It not only allows for audience engagement but also encourages the sharing of your website content. This increased visibility can lead to backlinks and improved exposure.
Utilize Local Business Directories
Tap into advanced search techniques on Google to discover relevant local business directories. Google's Advanced Search tool helps you find directories related to your target keywords. When assessing these directories, consider factors like traffic, relevance to your business, and any associated costs for SEO services.
Explore Niche Directories
To secure local backlinks aligned with your specific industry or niche, consider industry-specific online directories. These directories are tailored to your field, providing information about businesses in your domain and insights into your competitors.
Engage With Local Newspapers & Forums
Engaging with local newspapers and forums is a valuable way to gain high-quality backlinks. Though it may require more effort, it can yield significant rewards. Identify relevant pages on these platforms using Google's Advanced Search, focusing on keywords or phrases related to your business.
Collaborate With Local Bloggers
Team up with local bloggers for mutual benefits. If you have connections with local bloggers, you can request them to feature your business in exchange for your products or services. This collaboration can expose both your business and the blogger to a broader audience.
Analyze Competitor Backlinks
Examine the backlinks of your competitors to identify gaps in your backlink profile. Utilize various search engine marketing tools to analyze their backlink profiles. Look for domains linking to your competitors but not to your site, and consider filling those gaps to strengthen your local link-building efforts.
Refresh And Update Content
Identify outdated content with substantial backlinks on websites similar to your own. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can expedite this process. Once you locate outdated content, update it with the latest information or create new, improved content. Reach out to sites linking to the outdated content and suggest linking to your updated content instead.
Top Local Seo Tools
Having explored the benefits and strategies, let's now dive into these top local SEO tools that can simplify the process for you:
Semrush is a comprehensive SEO toolkit that includes various local SEO features and tools. It's great for both local and traditional SEO needs.
Moz Local is a popular local SEO tool that helps businesses and marketers improve their online presence by ensuring accurate business listings and real-time updates.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile, previously known as Google My Business (GMB), allows you to create a free profile for your business. This profile can show up prominently in local searches on Google Search and Maps.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free set of tools that helps you monitor and enhance your website's performance in Google search results.
Whitespark offers various local SEO tools and services, including rank tracking, SEO checklists, and tools for reviews, citations, and Google My Business research.
Google Analytics, a free tool, offers valuable insights on visitor interaction with your website. It proves particularly beneficial when evaluating the effectiveness of your local SEO efforts.
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that simplifies optimizing your site for search engines, including local SEO. It helps with adding local business information and optimizing content for local keywords.
SE Ranking is an affordable all-in-one SEO software with tools for small businesses to enterprises, catering to both general and local SEO needs.
Yext is a data management tool that helps you keep track of your business's location-related information across various directories. It's also useful for improving search experiences on your website and apps, especially for voice search queries.
Learn More about Local SEO
This guide to local SEO is just the beginning. For a more in-depth approach, check out local SEO tips to rule Google Maps or this SEO tutorial from Simplilearn. To learn even more about SEO, enroll in Simplilearn’s Post Graduate program in DIgital Marketing, and become a pro SEO marketer!