Local SEO has altered the digital landscape immensely in the past few years. Where once firms were racing to mark a global footprint, the focus has now shifted towards ensuring that SEO results are most relevant to a particular geographical location. This is amply illustrated by trends such as the voice search, virtual smartphone assistants and smart devices for consumers who are not interacting with a screen. So, web content must be optimized for local users.
The key to effective digital marketing is ensuring that your search engine optimization efforts are geared towards local searches. Successfully channeling local traffic to your website boosts visibility amongst customers looking for local options. Amping up your local SEO performance helps you ride to the top of search results and can also in turn positively influence your paid search results.
Local SEO in 2019
Google estimates that 97% of consumers look for local businesses online. Being able to convert a search result to a business deal is the difference between staying afloat and going under. According to a study (link), statistics clearly illustrate how crucial local search is for businesses:
- 50% searches on mobile phones ended in an actual visit to the same business
- 50% searches are looking for local solutions to problems
- One in three smartphone searches was conducted immediately prior to a local store visit
Local search is a broad field that’s constantly growing and changing, challenging marketers to keep up. No matter what kind of business it is, traditional marketing campaigns should always be accompanied by real efforts into local SEO ranking to boost online presence. Ranking as a legitimate business increases brand awareness and customers’ traffic, saves money on paid ads, and attracts instant publicity.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization process specifically geared to highlighting local results during online searches. Page content, link building, and on-page optimization are combined to show up on top in local search results. Since Google remains the most relevant search engine, consistent information must be provided across the local search landscape. The only way in which local SEO and organic SEO differ is in terms of the geographical component – while organic SEO is aimed at a global audience, local SEO is relevant to a limited geographical spread.
Top Google Local Pack Ranking Factors
Here are the bases you must cover if you want your website to show up at the top of search results on Google:
- Claim a "Google My Business" page and put correct information regarding the type of business. Upload photos of your location, products, and staff to increase credibility. Your NAP (name, address, phone number) should be consistent across all platforms
- The Google Knowledge Panel which collects and displays all relevant basic information about a local listing also affects ranking
- Create a presence on online directories such as Yellow pages, Foursquare, Apple Maps, and Yahoo's Localworks
- Your website should be mobile-friendly. Google’s latest algorithm first checks whether you are mobile-ready.
- Proximity of address matters most to local rankings. How close searchers are to particular businesses at the moment has an impact on whether or not those businesses show up in Google search results.
What is Important for your Local SEO Strategy?
Local SEO implies that the relevant audience is aware of your existence. These are the people who are located locally, and who conduct online searches with clear intent. Being visible to them is what wins the day. Here are some tips for becoming accessible to more and more people locally:
- Local content development – Content should be relevant and geared towards a local audience. It is best to anticipate search queries.
- Citation management – A citation contains online mention of the particulars of a business. They help the searches locate and discover local businesses.
- Review management - Allow your customers to review your performance, preferably directly on Google as these are given priority during searches. Some of the other review sites are Yelp, Glassdoor and others. Reviews greatly increase the visibility of your website, so you must ensure that the majority of them are positive. Reviews which include your location or keywords promote trust with Google. Also, always try and respond to all reviews.
- Technical needs – The local business website should be error-free, indexable, multi-device compliant, properly optimized and well structured.
- Schema – Properly configured, it allows a search engine to display user-friendly snippets about your website.
- Local link building – Email, followed by community websites and local content and news websites are most valuable for creating links that carry up local business in search rankings.
- On-site optimization – Write and arrange content on your website in a manner that local searchers find it relevant
- Website design – The website should be accessible across all mainstream devices
- Email marketing – This involves keeping current and potential customers updated on latest news from the company’s end and is the best way to get across to a targeted audience.
- Google’s Mobile-first indexing - Google has issued guidelines to create a mobile-friendly website. Follow these carefully to improve your website’s performance.
- Offline loyalty programs – Presence on major social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can help you earn local links.
In addition to the above, some local tactics are: apply geo-modified keywords to pinpoint the location, and ensure that you are featured on trusted local snippets.
Local SEO tools
Some local SEO specific tools which can be applied to increase website performance are:
- Automated listings finder – this allows identification of additional directory listing opportunities. It also ensures verification and updating of all listing information together
- Review management tools notify businesses of new reviews across all platforms so that the business can respond suitably
Apart from these, Google has a range of tools to help every business build and maintain their own specialized local SEO mechanisms. These include – Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business insights, Google tag manager and results of statistics and surveys.
The success of your local SEO strategy is determined by how the business defines overall success. A well-structured plan should be developed which is scalable as well as open to modification. To really improve local presence, local SEO too should be monitored and fine-tuned in accordance with the business environment’s opportunities and threats. Local SEO optimization is a continuous process.