Local SEO optimises your online presence to increase local traffic, visibility, and brand awareness. Any business with a physical location or that serves a geographic area can benefit from local SEO.
Local SEO is a large part of online search and a big business opportunity. 46% of searches on Google have local intent, and over 75% of users in the USA, France, Germany and the UK use Google for business information.
What are Local Search Results
When you search for a local business or service on Google, you will see a map with a list of companies at the top of the search results. This is known as the map pack (a.k.a. Local Pack).
The Map Pack appears for location-specific queries or search terms that suggest a location, e.g. cafes near me. It includes a Google Maps results and business information. Underneath the Map pack will be a list of locally focused search results. Whilst you should not ignore the organic results, the Map Pack is where you should be looking to be included.
How Local SEO works
At a high level, Local SEO works like the standard Google search. When someone searches, Google scans through its index to supply the best results for that query. What differentiates Local SEO is that Google uses a separate set of ranking factors to rank the local search results. These are
- Searcher’s location
- Name, address, phone number (NAP) citations
- Google My Business listing
- Keywords used in Google My Business profile
- Online reviews star rating
- Keywords used in online reviews
- Number of check-ins at that location
- Social media shares
- Google Maps star rating for that business
But Google does not just display local results for queries that contain a city, country, or “near me” keyword. If Google judges that the intent of your search is local, it will display local results.
For example, if you were in London and searched for a Pizzeria, Google would still display a local pack for London Pizzerias.
Optimising your business for local search
The most important activities to perform to optimise your site for local search are:
- Create content optimised for each of your locations
- Create a Google Business profile for each location
Optimise website content for local search
When creating content targeted at local searches, you should create a page for each location and ensure that the content is optimised for searches related to that location. As with all pages on your site, the content should be unique to maximise performance.
Local Keyword Research
Keyword research for local SEO is the process of uncovering the keywords used when searching for local products and services. Ranking for these keywords drives highly targeted local traffic to your site.
To optimise your site, you will need a short list of keywords people can use to find your local business. Two ways to generate keywords are:
- Google search autocomplete
- Google keyword planner
Google’s Autocomplete feature makes it faster to complete searches when you start to type by predicting what they will search for. Autocomplete can help you discover keywords for local SEO because Google’s autocomplete predictions depend partly on your location.
For example, if you type in “cleaning services near me” to get a list of local keyword suggestions.
In the example above, searching for cleaning services near me generates additional keywords such as commercial, prices and home.
Google Keyword Planner
Google keyword planner tool generates keywords based on the content of the website. Search volumes can be filtered by location.
Optimise your Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile is a free business listing with information about your business. It lets you provide details like your location, services, products, and photos in the search results.
The benefits of creating a Google Business Profile include:
- Increase visibility on Google
- Gain credibility with reviews
- Share business information with customers
According to Google, optimising your Business Profile is one of the most important local SEO tasks. This means you need a Google Business Profile to rank well for local searches.
Best practice for completing your Google Business Profile:
- Keep it up to date. Ensure that the data on your profile is up-to-date and consistent across the web.
- Fill out all the data points. Fill out all the fields as fully as possible.
- Keywords. Include keywords in your description and title.
- Opening hours. Set detailed business hours (including holidays).
- Post content. Regularly upload photos and videos (promotes engagement and boosts rankings)
Local NAP citations
Name, address and phone number (NAP) citations are sites that mention your business details online. Examples include business directories and social media profiles, e.g. Facebook page, Yelp, etc. NAP citations are important to your local SEO performance because Google may use them to verify that your business information is accurate. Like links, you want consistent citations on as many trusted websites as possible.
Numerous, consistent NAP citations for your business will signal to Google that your local business is legitimate and trustworthy. Therefore, you want your NAP data to be 100% consistent across the web. This includes:
- Your website.
- Google Business profile.
- Business directories
- Local listings sites
Encourage Online Reviews
Reviews and testimonials build customer trust. Furthermore, reviews are one of Google’s top local ranking signals. They give social proof, giving potential customers confidence in your business. Google recommends replying to all reviews to demonstrate you value your customers’ business and opinions.
Review best practice
- Maximise the number of positive reviews. Ask customers who visit your business to leave a review.
- Respond to every review. Both good and bad. This shows potential customers you listen to feedback.
Local link building
Having a local business is a great way to build high-quality links. Most local businesses have relationships with other companies in their local area. You can generate important backlinks by asking these businesses to link to your site, building your site’s authority.
Make a list of all your local business contacts, e.g.:
- Neighbouring business
Then visit their site and look for a specific page where a link to you would make sense.