In the past two years, you may have observed a gradual change in how Google or any other famous search engine platform shows you search results for certain keywords. You may observe three search results for local businesses that are around your location shown in a special box, as demonstrated in the example below.
Or you would find the search engine platforms suggesting you product listings that match your search query.
This is a move by search engine platforms to offer a more relevant and holistic search experience to their users and Local SEO (demonstrated in the example 1) is gaining popularity. 46% of searches on Google are local and Google shows local businesses, as search results, that have claimed their ‘Google my Business’ profile and optimized it for the relevant keywords.
Local SEO allows brick and mortar stores to have an online presence and makes them visible in the search results of their prospective clientele. The idea behind ranking local SEO is somewhat similar to that of traditional SEO practices, except for a couple of extra steps in the process. This article is a good place to start if you are planning to dip your toes and wish to excel in Local SEO.
What is Local SEO and How does this work?
Local SEO is a move towards promoting local and community-powered businesses to become relevant searches for location-based or service-area related key terms. Local SEO optimization is similar to traditional SEO optimization where you target keywords that can increase footfall and increase brand awareness in a specific geographic zone. Compared to traditional SEO search terms, the search engine platform uses a different set of ranking factors for local search terms and gives them preferential placement over traditional results, while displaying the results. In the example below, when you search for ‘Hairdresser’, Google presents three local hairdressing businesses followed by the most common questions related to hairdressing and then the organic search results are displayed.
The ranking factors for improving your result visibility for Local SEO keywords are innumerable but some of the factors that Google takes into consideration are:
- The location where the search was made
- Google My Business profile has been claimed
- Approved Name, Phone no., and Address present in the GMB profile
- Services targeted
- Keywords used in the GMB profile
- Number of ‘check-ins’ by customers
- Reviews posted
- Photograph of establishment is provided in GMB profile
- Mentions on Facebook, Yelp! Or Foursquare
- Overall Google star ratings provided
- The website mentioned in GMB profile
How to get started with Local SEO
Now that you are aware of the presence of Local SEO, let’s move ahead towards getting started with Local SEO.
1. Claim your GMB profile
A glance through your locality in Google Maps can give an idea if your business has a Google my Business profile created. When you click on the location of your business, you shall see a pre-made Google Profile (shown below) with the option of ‘Claim you business’. It is advised to claim it before your competition claims and fills it with wrong information.
2. Optimize your profile
After claiming the profile, you have the option to edit the information in your profile. Add the correct business name, include a USPS-approved address, mention the phone number, input the website (if available). Optimizing the GMB profile involves adding a summary that explains your business, adding relevant photographs, new Google update posts, asking customers to post reviews. Some more aspects to optimize your profile are:
Adding more categories;
- Mentioning your opening hours;
- Listing out all the individual services that you offer
- Mentioning service areas
Keywords work in both traditional as well as local SEO. Include the relevant keywords in your GMB profile extensively for Google bots to recommend your business for the specific keywords.
3. Create location-focussed content
You are good at something and by creating content around your expertise, you build authority over it. Moreover, content marketing is a great inbound marketing tactic that is supported by most search engine platforms. Just like writing on a general topic can grab you, visitors, worldwide, writing on location-focussed content can help you grab visitors that are looking for similar content. Share information about local updates, news, event announcements in Google posts.
4. NAP Consistency across all platforms
Your business is unique and so should the mentions of it. If your business is present in local Yellow Pages or any other local directories, ensure that the Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) is consistent with the NAP mentioned in your GMB profile. When adding them to your website, keep it as a crawlable text for the crawl bots of search engines to easily identify.
5. Build Citations
Citations are mentions about your businesses by others. Other than profiles on search engine platforms, people tend to check out other popular social platforms such as Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Angie’s list, or Foursquare. Make sure you are present on those platforms as well. Going ahead of the competition curve, you can also generate citations on local sites (and generate useful backlinks) by guest posting useful blogs. Getting mentioned in your local Chamber of Commerce can be a great plus point in terms of citations.
Why Choose a professional for Local SEO ranking?
Local SEO, just like the traditional counterpart, takes time and needs to be done alongside traditional SEO practices. When optimizing your profile, years of experience can help identify the most common points to optimize and allows different tactics to gain the edge over the competition. For someone starting out, Local SEO can be intimidating as there are a lot of things to consider and keep an eye on. By outsourcing the Local SEO to a professional, you have the following advantages:
- Re-invest time to propagate the business
- A better experience with SEO
- Get better-targeted audience
- A better understanding of local trends
- Cost-efficient in the longer run
- No need to train a resource
Local SEO has become a boon for businesses to mark their presence on the maps for their clients. We hope this article helped you gain a basic understanding on what is local SEO and the steps involved in ranking locally. Share your experiences in the comment below to get the conversation started.