Local SEO can help local businesses show up on a Google search as users search for products and services in their area. As mobile search and trust in online reviews continue to grow, businesses will benefit greatly from focusing on local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is SEO for local businesses. In other words, for any business that has a physical address and presence in a specified geographical location, such as a restaurant, a brick-and-mortar store, or a dentist office. E-commerce sites and other businesses that may not have a physical presence and/or whose customer base is not in their same geography would not bother with or benefit from local SEO.
Many of the search queries today deal with local search. Local search connects people with products and services in their area (think “italian restaurants near me” or “dentists in Oxford”). One study showed that nearly 9 out of 10 local searches resulted in a phone call or in-person visit within 24 hours.
What are the benefits of Local SEO?
Google et. al. have different features on their search engine results pages (SERPs) for searches they deem “local,” in addition to the organic, blue-link results. These features include local packs, maps, and reviews. Local packs are the boxed results that show up with reviews and a map, as depicted in the screenshot below. If your business is optimized for local search, you have a greater chance of showing up within any of these SERP features.
Local SEO helps your business rank in these special SERP features, as well as in multiple places in the organic results below the local pack. For example, your business may show up on its own as an organic result and within another organic result, like in the TripAdvisor list which is the first result after the local pack in the image above. We’ll discuss listings within TripAdvisor and similar sites later in this article.
Additionally, local SEO is beneficial because as a local business, you’re not trying to reach customers outside of your area, so national or global SEO would be a waste of resources.
What are the main tasks for optimizing your Google My Business listing and why?
Google My Business has a sleek, intuitive setup that is not nearly as complicated as it might have once been. Focusing on the main tasks is easy and the GMB process walks you through exactly what to do and how.
Having an optimized Google business listing is a huge step in showing up in a local Google search.
What are the main considerations for optimizing your website?
- Provide substantial information on your website. For example, have separate pages for each service you offer or location you have. Don’t skimp on the content but don’t just add content for content’s sake. Fluff is worse than thin pages.
- Include your local information (name, address, phone number) on each page. List multiple locations if needed and use schema.org markup. This is best done in the footer which is easily replicated across all pages.
- Write for humans. Google is smart. You will be rewarded for content that caters to humans, rather than to outdated grey-hat SEO tactics such as keyword-stuffed mindless content.
- Continually update and grow your site. A blog is one of the most effective ways to do this. Any company can support a quality blog if they’re willing to invest in the right content strategist(s).
What are citations and why are they important?
Citations are listings in business directories such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, and Foursquare. Google rewards sites that are listed on reputable business listings so you need to put in the time to create accurate listings in these directories for your business.
Another benefit of citations was illustrated in #2 above. Your business could show up in the local pack and then in the TripAdvisor top 10 website result as well, giving you more exposure to potential customers.
Why are reviews important for Local SEO?
Reviews are helpful for SEO mainly because reviews are a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Many, diverse, consistent reviews will help you rank well in local packs especially. Review ratings also show up in the SERPs which attracts attention to the particular company. In the local pack screenshot above, you can see the associated star ratings for the three pubs suggested by Google.
In the broader picture, studies show that reviews greatly influence sales and build trust with potential customers. Reviews can also help you maintain a feel for how people feel about specifics of your products/services.
How long does Local SEO take?
This is, perhaps, the most difficult question to answer in the SEO world. Any SEO efforts are subject to numerous variables and dependent on too many outside factors for an SEO agency to give an exact time estimate generic for all clients.
However, based on our clients and research, businesses in competitively-saturated markets could expect results within 6-9 months.
Local SEO is key for local small businesses to drive traffic to their websites. Potential customers are searching (especially on mobile) for businesses in their area and local businesses have the opportunity to optimize their websites, get reviews and citations in business directories, and run local SEO campaigns in order to capture that business.
If you would like specific help with your local SEO, Boostability has a free local search website analysis. We can help you figure out how to get started and offer help along the way!