Online Marketing

What Is Local SEO: A Beginners Guide

Do you want Google, Bing, Apple Maps, and other local search engines to rate your local company? Of all Google searches, 46 percent are local. Yet 56 percent of local retailers have not even requested their listing on Google My Business. For those of you who are unaware, the core of local SEO is claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing. If 56% of companies have not even asserted their GMB listing, well, I doubt they have done a lot more. But though pretending to be a decent starting point for your Google My Business page, there is far more to local SEO than that. This guide addresses the whole lot… from start to finish.

What do you do when you want to find a restaurant or a nearby auto repair shop? You’re online looking for it! What’s your course of action when you have a medical problem and you need the phone number for the nearest clinic? Of course, you will Google it. Since approximately 46% of Google searches are local in nature, companies are investing in local search engine optimization (SEO) strategies everywhere.

What is Local SEO?

Even though there is no official concept for local SEO, many brands and agencies have tried to clarify the marketing tactic. For companies that represent their communities face-to-face, Moz describes local SEO as “a process for increasing search visibility.” There may be brick-and-mortar companies with a physical location or service-area companies operating in a certain geographical area. RevLocal considers local search engine optimization to be an integrated marketing strategy for local companies, while eConsultancy refers to it as a tactic to provide searcher-relevant results based on their current location.

All in all, local search engine optimization uses different strategies and methods to boost the role of your company in local search rankings. When a user uses a local keyword term in their search, local search rankings occur or the search engine infers a position from the user’s computer. A “professional locksmith in Los Angeles, California” will be an example of a local search term.

Why Should your Business Be Involved in Local SEO?

You may wonder why you need to think about local SEO if you’re already engaged in an organic search engine optimization strategy. In reality, you could be implementing a local SEO strategy without realizing it, depending on the keywords and strategies you are using.

Simply put, by interested searchers, local SEO improves your online exposure (aka, potential customers!) Did you know that 68 percent of local customers use search engines and directories as their key way to locate a local business? And, within 24 hours of a local search, 60 percent of searchers visit companies. Perhaps not persuaded? Take into account these local search figures.

  • Within five miles, 75 percent of consumers who conducted a local search visited a shop.
  • A location is linked to 40 percent of mobile searches.
  • 77% of people state that they look up and check a company’s position before going to it for the first time.
  • Offline transactions result in 78 percent of local-mobile searches.

Local search is a major source of leads, sales, and in-store traffic for local businesses, in addition to improving the overall online brand recognition.

How Does Local SEO Operate?

Local SEO at a high level operates like Google’s “normal” quest. Google searches through its index when someone does a search to have the best results for that person’s question. What makes Local SEO special is that the local search results are ranked by Google using a particular set of ranking criteria. Local SEO actually has a collection of specific ranking signals, including:

  • The position from which the individual is searching
  • Citations from NAP
  • Google My Business listing presence
  • Keywords used in the profile of Google My Business
  • Sentiment on online reviews
  • Keywords used in reviews online
  • The number of “check-ins” at that position
  • Social network shares
  • The star rating of Google Maps for that company

Profit From These Local SEO tactics

Start with these steps in order to use a local SEO strategy for your company.

Assert Your Google My Business Listing

Google owns about 75.64 percent of the market share of search engines. This makes it the most popular search engine used globally. With this in mind, it is important for you to claim and optimize your free listing for Google My Business. This listing is what appears on Google when a user searches for your business name, location, details, or related local keywords. Google Maps also appears in these listings.

Add as much information about your company as possible to make the most of this free map listing and Google account. Users need to remember, at the very least, your name, address, and phone number. This is referred to as knowledge from your “NAP.” Google My Business also helps you to include valuable company information, such as:

  • Site of the Company
  • Operating Hours
  • Categories and Marks for Product/Service
  • Customer Evaluations
  • Data for Store/Location
  • Times of Common Visits
  • Pictures or Videos
  • Logo for Business

Fill Up Online Listings and Directories

From Yelp to the Better Business Bureau, the Internet is riddled with listing pages and business directories. These sites are, as Hubspot says, online lists of companies within a particular niche, venue, or category. Because your address and other local business details are needed by these websites, it makes sense that these sites will be helpful in amplifying your online presence. Be sure to complete these listing and directory profiles as much as possible, just as you did for your Google My Company listing. Again, always have your name, address, and phone number included.

By claiming and completing profiles on these famous listing sites, start your local SEO strategy off on the right foot:

  • Bing
  • com
  • Mantra
  • CircleMerchant
  • List Angie’s
  • Thumbtack
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare Square
  • WhitePages

Capitalize on Customer Feedback

Did you know that 89% of local customers trustonline reviews as much as personal advice? It’s easy to see how online reviews factor into a good local search engine optimization strategy with this in mind. You want to put your best foot forward, as local SEO strategies work to improve your exposure on search engines and map listings. You don’t want to make a bad first impression at the top of the search rankings, do you? Given that the star rating is the top factor used by customers to judge a brand, it is vital to generate positive customer reviews that are genuine.

Now, the reviews are not only limited to Google. Since search engine algorithms in the search rankings also include listing and directory pages, you should also try to compile customer feedback on these sites. Businesses also rely on collecting feedback on popular websites like Yelp and Facebook. There are other niche sites that your company can take advantage of. Consider asking clients to position feedback on websites for sector-specific or tailored reviews, such as:

  • Houzz
  • com
  • HomeConsultant
  • TripAdvisor
  • The knot
  • ROVER
  • HealthDegrees
  • Avvo

These review sites all provide links back to your website, in addition to greater visibility online. These back links help drive traffic to your website and boost your online authority, which helps to achieve your local SEO objectives.

Make Certain That Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

Local search and mobile search go hand in hand (on their devices, nine out of ten smart phone users perform local searches!). In a mobile environment, some of the most common ways people use your site are to look up reviews, find directions to your location, and search for contact information. Make it simple for your customers and prospects by making your site mobile-friendly.

Get Relevant and Authoritative Inbound Links

Inbound links are incredibly powerful opportunities to boost your local SEO—each inbound link tells Google that you’re a legitimate business, and your domain authority can also be increased by inbound links. Here are a couple of ways of getting inbound links:

  • Sponsorships or Alliances
  • Posting via Guest Blog
  • The Grants

Start with your own private network, which could include the Chamber of Commerce, districts for business improvement, licensing offices, trade groups, resellers, retailers, and/or producers and other affiliates. Consider sponsoring a webinar or conference, hosting a community function, supporting something you enjoy locally, and creating connections with influential individuals and influencers. Furthermore, learn to feel comfortable reaching out to partners to see if they can feature you in their directory of partners.

Being a guest blogger, too, will help attract connections. Speak to and about (positively, of course!) other individuals in your field, and serve as a community resource provider. The buzz around you grows in the form of inbound connections, social media growth, and media coverage if you’re an active participant in group conversations. Given that .edu links are the knees of the bee for domain authority. So, why not win some links in your geographic area by offering a scholarship? It should be applicable to your business, send your domain the right signals (given the school back links)… and make you feel good, too!

Website Content Localized

Finally, producing localized website content on your website is one of the key local search engine optimization strategies. There are many ways to make this possible. Next, make sure that your website easily finds your name, phone number, and address. Most organizations provide this detail in a website’s header and/or footer, as well as on the contact page. First, you can create content based on local keywords for websites and blogs. For example, if you were a dentist and wanted to rank for the NYC Dentist term, you might work this phrase into the content of your service page.

Be warned: stuffing with keywords is not permitted! Many professionals who first launch a local SEO strategy make the mistake of filling their websites, blog posts, and online listings with too many keywords. Search engines see this method as spam and prefer to use this tactic to demote content and listings. Rather, work the keywords naturally into your content. Remember to apply them for the best results to your page title, headings, Meta description, and image alt tags, too.

Local SEO Don’ts

Don’t create unnatural or spammy copies of your data (on your Google Places / Google+ Local pages). This looks bad, will discourage several potential buyers, and will cause the search engines to bother you. Creating pages for Google Places that do not apply to your physical address is not a good thing. It defeats the object. Don’t get the fake reviews. This may be enticing, as above, but fake reviews will look fake, and people are going to smell a rat soon. Avoid writing reviews yourself. It could be a temptation to add one or two yourself if you have one or two bad reviews or the reviews are coming in at a slow pace.

Again, these can be detected, as with false reviews, and the loss of reputation will be more difficult to recover from than the odd bad review. Overlooking your digital reputation is the worst thing. You can ask for feedback, add listings on Google +, Yelp, and elsewhere. But lots of positive reviews are what you really want. This can only be accomplished by delivering exceptional customer service. It is important to make every effort to make sure you have a strong reputation. Many factors can influence your online credibility in today’s socially/digitally linked world. They also have an effect on search results.

In Hampshire, for example, learn from the case of the Lysses House Hotel. A conflict over refunding the payment of a bereaved veteran for a party resulted in an intense backlash on social media that destroyed the hotel’s review ratings. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, this is likely to affect click-through rates. Therefore bookings via local search long after the news is forgotten.

Start Your Local SEO Strategy

Local SEO for local companies is an important part of every SEO strategy. Local SEO can help your audience discover you as they search online whether you have a bookstore or service area. It’s time to prepare and implement your strategy now that you understand why local SEO is used by companies of varying sizes all over the world! Start with our tips and continue to track the rating of your local quest.

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