In this definitive guide, we will walk through the basic definition of local SEO and show you how it can be a huge help for your business. We’ll cover the basics of what Local SEO is, why businesses should care about it, and then share some tips that you can use to improve your own website’s local rankings.
We hope that after reading this post you’ll have a better understanding of how you can rank better on search engines using local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for local search results. This can include optimizing website content, Local SEO keyword research, and improving a website’s online visibility with local directories and search engines.
When most SEO pros think of Local SEO, they also think of Google My Business Listings. This is because any time you type a local search query into Google, it will show you the top three local businesses in your area.
If you want to learn about how to rank on Google’s 3-pack, check out our other post that lays out exactly what you need to do.
What types of businesses should use local SEO?
Generally speaking, when we talk about local SEO, we are talking about local businesses (makes sense right?). The reason being is that search engines use different ranking metrics to determine local keywords as compared to national keywords. Here are some examples of local searches that people may use:
- plumber near me
- best pizza in chicago
- electrician salt lake city
- dentist in logan utah
- chiropractor near me
In essence, any business that serves a LOCAL audience should be optimizing their website with local SEO efforts.
Why does local SEO matter?
That’s a great question – a better one would be why haven’t I started this already?
Local SEO matters because 81% of shoppers go online before going to a store. The consumer has become smarter and smarter – using tools that are available to them to make the best possible purchasing decision. If you aren’t implementing local search engine optimization, potential customers will find your competitor’s products before finding yours.
“But Josh, I’m on the second page of Google, does that count for anything?”
Hate to break it to you, but no. Absolutely not. When is the last time you traveled to the second page of Google? It rarely happens. In fact, in order to reach local customers, you ideally want to be within the first three positions since a whopping 75% of all search traffic goes to the top three organic search results.
If you really want to understand the value of local SEO, check out our SEO revenue calculator. It will give you a good understanding of revenue that can be generated from SEO efforts.
What is Keyword Intent and How Do People Find Local Businesses?
How People Search
There are thousands of reasons that someone would open their web browser and do a search. They could be hungry and looking for a restaurant, they could be in a heated debate with a family member, and need to prove that they are right, or they could be wondering how tall Beyonce is (she’s 5’7″ btw). The point is, people use Google hundreds of different ways, based on the intent of their search.
There are four types of searches that people typically perform when using Google or any other search engine. These are:
Informational Search Intent
An informational search is used when someone is searching for – you guessed it – information! This could be on anything, like how tall Beyonce is, the weather, or the average size of an acorn.
Google has become smarter and smarter over the years and understands what someone is trying to accomplish with their search. It knows when you search an informational term like “how to check my car’s oil” that a video will be useful. Google does a great job at providing a positive user experience – so keep that in mind when you are optimizing for local searches.
Navigational Search Intent
This is typically used when someone knows what website they are trying to find, they just search for it instead of typing in the full URL. When you search “Facebook” or “Pinterest”, or “blue fox advertising”, these are all examples of navigational search terms.
Transactional Search Intent
The next type of search intent is Transactional. This is when someone is searching for a specific product and is ready to make a purchase at that moment. One great example would be the search term “buy iphone 13”.
You’ll notice that much of this space is taken up by Shopping ads and search ads. One study by wordstream suggests that people click on paid results over organic results 2 to 1 for queries with transactional intent.
Commercial Search Intent
This is the bread and butter for most local businesses. You want to be ranking for keywords with commercial intent because this is how people find you. Examples of search queries that people would use include “plumber near me”, “pizza near me”, “chiropractor denver”, etc. Local businesses should use keywords with local intent.
Optimizing your website to include these relevant commercial search terms is a vital part of any local SEO strategy.
Local SEO Basics
Now that we understand the “what” and the “why” it’s time to get into the “how”. Our goal is to guide you to optimize your website so that it appears on the search engine results pages. If you need help, we offer local SEO services, so feel free to reach out at any time.
How to Find Local Keywords With High Commercial Intent
The first step in this process is to know what keywords you want to rank for. With any local SEO campaign that we implement, we always start with keyword research. This helps us determine what type of content we need to write, and what optimizations need to be made on the website in question.
There are several keyword research tools out there, but the one we use and love is the Keyword Magic tool by SEMRush. This tool provides search volume, related keywords, and even shows the keyword’s intent. They also have various local SEO tools that will come in handy as you work on improving your local search rankings.
Use the keyword magic tool to perform keyword research. You should look for keywords with high volume, low keyword difficulty, and commercial intent. Then, make a list of the keywords that you want to target.
Optimizing Your Local Business Website Content
The next step is to optimize your local business website content so that the keywords selected are used within the content of your site. For example, if you are a Dentist in Salt Lake City, you should have a page with a title that says “The Best Dentist in Salt Lake City” and your URL should say “yourwebsite.com/dentist-salt-lake-city. Along with that, the content of that page should use local keywords, and keywords related to dentistry. Keep in mind, the language used should sound natural. Avoid keyword stuffing so that your site doesn’t get flagged.
If you have a multi-location business that offers a variety of services, it is important to have a page for each service and city. A window cleaning company that also offers pressure washing and has two locations would have a window cleaning page for each location, and a pressure washing page for each location. Just be sure to write unique content for each page.
Get Listed in Online Directories and Business Directories
Online directories are websites like yelp and the yellow pages that allow businesses to list their information across the web. Aside from yelp and the yellow pages, there are hundreds of other local sites and local directories that you can post your business information on to improve your local search presence. Some others include:
- Angie’s list
- Bing places
- Chamber of Commerce
You’ve probably seen, for many local searches some of the first organic results are from business directory sites like Yelp. That is why it is important to be listed on those sites so that you can be found wherever people search.
Understand NAP Data
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. Having consistent and accurate NAP data across the web shows the search engine positive signals, showing that you are a legitimate business.
NAP data should be found on your website, your Google My Business listing, and all other local business listings. You can use a program like YEXT to manage all of your local citations from one central hub.
Schema Markup to Boost Local SEO
Schema is a markup system and type of code that you place on your website to help search engines understand its content. Once added to a webpage, schema markup creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.
Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to help write the code for schema markup.
Write Local Content
When it comes to local SEO strategy, content is king! Make sure to write local content that is related to your industry in your location. If you run a coffee shop, you could write blog content about the best coffee in your city.
As with any SEO campaign, building domain authority is a vital part of expanding local search presence. Domain authority is determined primarily through the number of backlinks your website has.
Google My Business Optimization
We touched on GMB earlier, but I really want to reiterate – Every local business online needs to have a Google My Business Listing set up and optimized. Local search results on Google will show the top three Google My Business listings. These are known as Google’s 3-pack, Google’s Local Pack, or Google’s Map Pack. The businesses that are ranked top 3 will get the highest amount of search traffic, simply due to the fact that they will be seen the most.
How to Optimize My Google My Business Listing
Here are a few tips on optimizing your GMB profile:
- If you haven’t done so already, claim and verify your business at business.google.com
- Fill in all of the fields with complete and accurate information – make sure the info is consistent across the web
- Create a posting schedule and stay consistent
- Update your profile with new promotions, company news, etc.
- Set holiday hours so people know when you are open throughout the year
- Add photos regularly. Include photos of the inside and outside of your location, show off your employees, and photos of the product/service you provide
- Get Reviews! Ideally, you’d set up a system to do this for you on Auto-pilot
Final Thoughts on Why Local SEO is Important
Local SEO is important because it helps businesses get found by customers who are looking for products or services in their area. Having your business information – name address and phone number listed online and using schema markup to enhance your search engine results can help you increase traffic to your website and improve your bottom line. As with any SEO campaign, building domain authority and optimizing your Google My Business listing are key components of appearing in local search results.
If you need help with improving search engine visibility to promote your local products or local services, please reach out! We offer a full suite of digital marketing services, and always do our best to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to best practices in the world of digital marketing.