Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy used to help target potential customers in a particular geographic area. Typically the targeted geographic area is based on the physical location of the business and will be specific to a city and/or state. Local SEO is crucial for location-based businesses to ensure their website shows up in both Google Maps results and traditional organic results. The goal of Local SEO is to gain more visibility to business online as well as drive more in-store traffic or contact leads.
What is a Local Search?
A local search is when a person is looking for a product or service that is close to their proximity, about 46% of all Google searches are users seeking local information. Local searches will commonly include “near me” or exact locations such as “roofer in chicago”. There are, however, local results for terms that do not include the specific geographic location but have local intent such as “clothing store” or “chinese restaurant”. Google’s search results page changes when a users search intent is local.
The most noticeable change in the search results pages for a geo-based search is the addition of a Local Pack. The Local Pack includes a map along with relevant listings of business information. Business listings include name, hours, address and more.
Another, less noticeable, change to the search results are the actual organic listings. A person searching from Chicago and a person living in New York City will see different results based on the businesses in their area.As you can see from the examples below, a search for “roofers” in Chicago and New York produce vastly different results.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Improving your business’s local presence can be an essential part of your overall marketing strategy, especially if the business makes a majority of revenue in a particular geographic area. According to Social Media Today, 86% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses and Google has stated that 50% of users that search for a local business on their smartphone visit a physical location in one day. This emphasizes the importance of being found online even if you are a business that functions mostly offline.
Users typically use local searches to find these things:
- Discovery: They may be looking for a new lawyer, restaurant or somewhere to buy furniture locally and they use search to find and discover new options.
- Information: The user already knows the place they want to visit but they need more information like address or phone number.
- Legitimacy: Users like to verify the legitimacy of a business before visiting. This can include reviews and photos to help determine if this is the business they want to work with or visit.
If your business isn’t found online, then a potential customer may never enter the store or make a phone call because they are unable to effectively discover your business, find accurate information about the business or verify the legitimacy of the business.
How to Improve Local SEO?
Now that we understand that Local SEO is important, what’s next? Local SEO strategy can be complex, so we always recommend working with a search professional to get the best results but here are a few first steps that you can take to help propel your business into the local limelight.
- Claim Your Listing
You’ll want to claim or create a Google Maps/Google My Business listing. You’ll want to search for your business in Google Maps, click on the listing, then click on “Claim this business”. There will be a process to verify ownership, make sure to fully complete this process.
- Manage Your Listing
Once the listing is claimed and set up, use Google My Business to control the business information, answer questions, share updates and more. You should fill out all the information you can including hours, website and overview.
- Check & Respond to Reviews
Keep a diligent eye on reviews both good and bad and respond using My Business. It’s also important to encourage current and new customers to leave review because more positive reviews typically equals better placement in the Local Pack.
- Improve Your Website
Make sure your website is also set up for local searches. Have an address page that contains Name, Address and Phone Number as well as an embedded Google Map.
- Make Your Information Easily Accessible
Ensure your address and phone number are clickable from mobile and easy to find. The goal is to make this critical information one click away.