What is Local SEO? Well, when you search for the “best Chinese restaurant near me” what do you see?
We bet the top results are not the best Chinese restaurants in California —not even the ones that are part of a global restaurant chain. Instead, they are local restaurants that are near your current location. That’s the power of local SEO—which, when done successfully, is something that your small business can benefit from as well.
From the perspective of an SEO expert in California, read on as we break down everything you need to know about local SEO and how you can optimize your website for local search results.
In this Guide:
- What is Local SEO?
- How is Local SEO Different from SEO?
- Why is Local Search Important, Anyway?
- How to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that focuses on helping a business become more visible in local search results. The results that appear in local searches often answer “near me” questions—queries with geographic constraints or local intent:
- restaurants near me
- wedding venues near me
- restaurants in [city]
- wedding venues in [city]
Any business with a physical location or serving a specific geographical area can benefit from outsourcing their SEO with an SEO agency, particularly one that specializes in local search.
How is Local SEO Different from SEO?
Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm to rank websites. When you Google something, this algorithm checks the index and returns a list of sites that match your search in organic results. These results are ranked based on relevance, prominence, and authority—factors that are primarily determined by inbound links.
The algorithm looks at different factors, both on-site and off-site, to determine a site’s relevance to your search. All relevant sites are added to the list and then ranked by prominence. The ones that best answer your query rank higher in the search results.
In the case of local SEO, proximity is also a factor. It means Google also takes location into account in local searches. This is after Google analyzed user behavior and realized that users in search of businesses, products, and services need results from their immediate location.
A local search result can happen even when a search doesn’t include a specific location or “near me” qualifier. For example, if you’re in the office and want to order pizza for lunch, Googling “pizza delivery” will return a list of pizza deliveries near your office. However, try that same search at home and you’ll get a completely different result—this time, a pizza delivery near your home, and that just makes sense.
Although the local search has been around for years, it was rather limited and underutilized because users are mostly browsing from their computers. But, as mobile search has exploded, so does the value of local SEO. It has become a key to the success of any business targeting local consumers.
Why is Local Search Important, Anyway?
In addition to increasing visibility in local searches, local SEO offers many other advantages for small businesses. These include delivering more qualified site traffic and higher returns, being a cost-effective marketing solution.
The following are some figures that prove just how valuable local search can be for businesses:
- 50% of users who did a local search on their mobile visited a physical store during the same day. 34% who Googled via computer or tablet did the same.
- 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day.
- 50% of mobile searches are local-based queries, looking for things like a local business address.
- 78% of local searches on a mobile device resulted in offline purchases.
- 1 in 3 mobile searches was conducted before arriving at a physical store.
Now that you understand the importance of local SEO, let’s take a look at some strategies you can do to boost your local presence.
How to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
Optimize for Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is at the core of any local SEO strategy. To drive customers to your location, you should claim and optimize your listing. How would you do that?
- Complete your business information. After claiming your local listing, fill out your profile with the following information correctly: name, address, phone number (NAP). You can also add your business email to provide users another option to reach you.
- Add photos. Many users would want to see pictures that will help them get a sense of what you offer. Upload pictures of your store, your products, and preferably your team members as well. This is a great opportunity to showcase your brand and drive more customers to your location.
- Write a short description. There’s a section in a Google Business Profile where you can briefly describe your business and what you have to offer. Here, you can also include local keywords to better optimize for search.
Your listing will also include reviews which can help potential customers in their purchasing decisions—whether good or bad.
When someone leaves a positive review, thank them. The same goes for the ones that leave negative reviews. But, make sure to address their issues to try and make their experience better as well. It’s essential that you show to your audience that you value feedback and customer experience matters to you. If you don’t have time to manage and monitor reviews, you can always hire an SEO freelancer or agency that can help you with crowd management.
Localize Your Site
If you want to appear and rank in local search results, you should optimize both your business listing and website. This takes localizing your site by including your city, country, or region name—depending on the scope of your service area—throughout your site. When done successfully, it will help you reach more local customers and increase your chances of appearing in high-value, geo-searches.
- Add location pages to your site. If you have more than one physical location, create separate pages for them, each with a locally specific information. This is to avoid duplicating content across multiple pages. Bonus points if you can add a Google Map to the respective location pages.
- Create local content. While writing general topics attract a wider crowd, it’s equally important to focus on local news that targets a local audience. It can be anything from an article about a local industry-wide gathering or a homegrown product and everything in between.
Optimize Your Site
Whether for local SEO or not, a well-optimized site is essential if you want to succeed in your digital marketing efforts. Plus, even if users discover you through your listing, they are more likely to click on the tab that will direct them to your site to learn more about you.
Some of the crucial SEO ranking factors include the following:
- Security and Accessibility
- Page Speed
- Mobile and User Friendliness
- Domain Age and Authority
- Quality Content
- Technical SEO
- High-Quality Links
The best SEO service agencies are ones that include local SEO in their strategies. If you’re new to marketing your local business online, you can leave it to an SEO expert to make your efforts as effective as possible.