What is Local SEO and How do you Optimize for Local Search Results?
Local SEO is a strategy and execution of combination of SEO services to optimize a site or pages on a website to show for organic queries in the search engines where the intent of the searcher is to find local information. In other words, Local SEO is about how to optimize your website to rank better for a local audience. Of Course, any website gives you the opportunity to target the entire (online) world. But if the target audience for your business is located in or near the city you have your office, store or shop, you’ll need to use Local SEO. Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a very effective way to market your local business online. It helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them online. This is achieved through a variety of methods, some of which differ greatly from what’s practiced in standard SEO and some of which are the same or similar.
This page will explain the following importance of the following elements as they relate to Local SEO:
- Google Local Pack
- NAP – NAP Consistency
- Initial Steps for Local SEO
- Website Optimizations
You need to optimize for your city name, optimize your address details. In short: you need to optimize so people know where you are located and can find your business physically. Examples of local search queries include searches with geo qualifiers like the city or town name, or with a zip code, but do not necessarily have to have the geo qualifier either as Google often identifies the current location of a searcher. On this page, we will endeavor to explain what local SEO is, so you know what steps are necessary to accomplish Local SEO. On this page we will cover
Features of The Google Local Pack
As you can see below, the Local 3-Pack refers to the SERP feature that contains a map and displays places related to the search query submitted to Google as well as a 3-point list of businesses with their NAP data (name, address, phone, etc.). Note that the search used to create this image was: https://www.google.com/search?q=pizza which if you execute your self will return a different local map pack based on your current location (assuming you are allowing Google to receive your location information).
As you can see in the image below the map pack is even more prominent in a mobile search. Google Local Search for Mobile inherently assumes that you want geo related results.
In both cases except for filters and the map itself, we can see a list of businesses together with their NAP data, review rate, office hours, and sometimes a call button. For marketers, it means that all these elements should be properly optimized to create optimal results.
What is NAP and why is it important to Local SEO?
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. NAP is extremely important for businesses wanting to rank well in the local organic search results (local SEO). Search engines like Google take NAP data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches. What can businesses do with their NAP to boost their local search rankings?
To begin with, insure that your NAP is correct – both on your website as well as on other sites on the Internet. We know that Google and the other search engines cross-reference NAP information across a variety of websites as a method of validation that a listing in their system (even if unedited by the owner) is both valid and legitimate. For example, it’s highly unlikely that a website built solely to achieve rankings (i.e. not a real business) is going to have a physical address listed on their website much less consistent NAP information across other sites ranging from local directories and Yelp to Facebook and Foursquare. Thus, the larger number of “local citations” you can create with consistent NAP information the higher confidence level Google will have in the data that they present is accurate.
Where should you enter your NAP?
In terms of local citations, it’s probably worth listing your business on any reputable directory – especially local directories and/or industry specific directories. InfoUSA, local chambers of commerce, the BBB, Yelp, Citysearch.com, 411.com, merchantcircle.com, foursquare.com, and others.
Consistency Consistency Consistency
As mentioned above Google scans and compares all the entries related to your business and this helps them determine the accuracy and validity of your Google Business listing. It’s incredibly important that all your submissions and listings are exactly the same, not similar, but exactly the same. For instance, if a company’s information listed in Google Business is:
Bob’s Heating and Airconditioning
1234 Anywhere St. Suite 102
Someplace, FL 34788
Then you wouldn’t want another listing to be:
Or the address to be:
1234 Anywhere Street #102 (St. replaced with Street and Suite 102 being replaced with #102)
Google may recognize those listings as a different company. If you want credit for the citation and the authority that comes with them, then they need to be exactly the same as your Google Business listing.
What are Citations and Their Importance to Local SEO?
Citations simply put are anyplace on the internet that references your NAP information. Whether it be on a directory site, social media site, or even a non-profit website acknowledging a donation. It’s important that you have regular citations generated on an ongoing basis. They need to be from relevant sites within your geography if possible.
Like mentioned before Citations validate your business in the eyes of Google, they also play an important role in growing your authority.
Initial Steps for Local SEO
- Create a Google My Business page for your company
- Verify the address of your company
- Optimize your business listings
Google provides tips containing the three factors that it considers for determining how to rank local results: relevance, distance, and prominence. This means that, firstly, to be ranked high in local search results, your website and business listing needs to be relevant (optimized) to various related search queries. Secondly, your business listing address must be located in close vicinity to the user that does the search. And, lastly, your business listing should be well-known to customers and have high authority both online and offline. Google clearly indicates that they take review count and score into consideration.
Website optimization and strategies for Local:
- Understand SEO in its simplest form.
Strip out all the SEO tactics and contemplate about why you’re doing local SEO what you’re doing, and more importantly, why Google is doing what it’s doing.
When you search online, you’re seeking an accurate answer, more specifically when you are performing a local search you are looking for “something” in the area near you. Often you expect your answer in a split second. In fact, in today’s day and age you want Google to read your mind. Your prospective customers want this too. Google delivers this and it’s pretty good at it. Think about it — if Google served up ten links that didn’t provide what you’re looking for, you’d take your business elsewhere. This is the simple psychology behind user experience on SERPs. So, all of this said Google is looking to you and your website to provide the data your prospects are looking for. While we want Google to read our minds, unfortunately, they can’t. They don’t know exactly what your business does, what product it sells, or what services it provides. This is where optimizing your website comes in to play. If you provide this information in a clear method and you do it better than anyone else, your data and content will be promoted to a better position.
- Listen to how your customers speak, then speak their language.
Choosing keywords needs to be from your prospective customers viewpoint. Your industry might use all kinds of acronyms. Do your customers know these, or do they tend to search in more layman terms? Align with how your customers think and speak, and you will find the right mix of keywords and keyword phrases that they are searching, then you can align your content appropriately.
- Provide insanely useful content.
People tend to read more when they find the content useful, they also tend to only share content they find useful, informative, and helpful. Making your content into a “Sales Brochure” is not likely to garner this depth of reading or sharing.
- Give your website a check-up repeatedly.
Google doesn’t want to send a visitor to a site filled with errors, a site that is slow, or a site that gives a lousy customer experience. We run regular site audits to identify these and a whole lot more. A single site audit (run one time) is simply not enough. Why? Let’s say that you have an external link to another site (good for SEO). Do you know when that other site takes down a page or changes its URL? If you aren’t monitoring, you’ll miss a change that can have a detrimental impact on your rankings. Check site quality regularly.
- Check out who’s linking back to you.
Again, ongoing monitoring applies here. You should make yourself aware who is linking to you and that will also help you identify who you might consider linking to.
- Get listed!
Company listings (called citations) on local, national and niche directory websites let Google and your prospects know where to find you. See the NAP section above for complete details. Consistent, authoritative, and up-to-date citations create more exposure for your business and improve Google rankings.
- Take care of security and be mobile friendly:
SSL certificate: Google wants everything on the web to be travelling over a secure channel (https). Secure websites get a boost over sites that aren’t secure.
If you aren’t mobile friendly, you’re sure to get out ranked by sites that are. Further Google’s implementation and roll out of mobile first indexing applies heavily here. If you aren’t mobile friendly you are almost guaranteed to lose.
- Create more.
The job of creating ongoing content is never done. Regularly update and add additional content to your site. This expands your keyword “width” and will establish you as a thought leader in your industry and specifically in your local area.
- Track your progress.
There’s a lot to do here, but here are some of the areas we regularly check for our clients and recommend that you do the same:
- Google Search Console Reports
- Keyword rankings
- Organic search traffic
- Page visits
- Time on page
- Visits: pages per session
- Returning users
- Page load speed score
- Mobile bounce rate
SEOCompany.com is the leading SEO company for businesses seeking Local Search results. Our teams’ experts will help you execute a local SEO campaign. Now that we’ve answered the question “What is Local SEO?” we hope that you fill out a form or call the number above so that we can help your local business grow.