Local SEO is an SEO strategy that helps businesses that want to be more visible in Google’s local search results.
Any business that has a physical location or works for a defined and specific geographic area can benefit from local SEO.
Example: if you search in Google for an important keyword related to your business and there is a map with 3 listings underneath (also known as a map snippet, one of Google’s snippets), then a local SEO strategy can help you grow your business.SpeckledPenguin.com
But to understand local SEO, you first need to know how Google works.
Local SEO is a bit different from normal SEO
What is so special about local organic search results?
After analysing user behaviour over billions of searches, Google realised that people searching for certain types of businesses or services need results that are geographically close to where they are.
That is why Google’s local search algorithm includes a proximity factor, which is a fancy way of saying that Google takes into account the user’s location when searching for a local keyword (a query with local intent). Nowadays, thanks to mobile devices, this happens even when the query does not include the name of a specific city or the tag “near me” in the search.
Example of local SEO
If you are at work (let’s obviate remote working from home for this example) and you want a pizza delivered to your office, for example, a Google search for “pizza delivery” will show you in the SERPS (search engine results page) a list of businesses near your office: local businesses.
But if you try that same search at home, perhaps 20 kilometres away from your previous location, you will get a completely different set of results and businesses. This makes sense, given that you need a pizza delivered to where you are now, and therefore the businesses that can provide that service are not the same.
Local search has been around for years, but it was limited because people only used their desktop computers. However, with the recent growth of phone-based internet access, mobile search has exploded, so local SEO has become hugely important to the success of any business offering products or services locally and in specific geographic areas.
Stuff to take into account when doing local SEO
What does this Google way of working mean for SEO professionals?
The local map-based result set is displayed within Google’s standard organic search listings. However, it is separate algorithms that make Google’s search results work for website-based results and Google My Business listing-based results (maps). In other words: as a local business, you have the opportunity to appear in the main organic search results for websites and Google My Business listings at the same time.
If you have only recently taken your business online, one of the main challenges is to know what to focus on in order to make your efforts as efficient as possible.
Create geo-localised pages
Localised content and the number of links in local directories are factors that influence local ranking, as well as Google’s traditional search algorithm, so it is important to create local landing pages for each of your locations. This is especially important if you are a multi-location business.
These pages should include details such as:
- Name of your business
In addition, each of these pages should be optimised in terms of headings, meta descriptions and in general be designed according to the best SEO practices*.
*If you want to know if your pages and site are SEO optimised, take a look at our free SEO audit template.
Having a MyBusiness profile, and having it optimised
Having your business listed in My Business is basic to be able to appear in the Google maps snippet, but this listing should be optimised in terms of the information provided, business title, opening hours, phone number… The quality of a Google My Business listing is also taken into account for the ranking of service-based businesses at a local level.
Local directories: they still count
It is also important to bear in mind that there are directories and review websites, which Google takes into account when it comes to considering seriously (or not) a business offering services in a specific geographic area. Executing an efficient linkbuilding strategy designed specifically for local SEO can ultimately push your business to the top of the search results page.