What is Local SEO? [Ultimate Guide 2021]
Local SEO refers to the optimization of business websites to attract customers or the local audience as per local searches. In simple words, Local SEO makes your website appear in the top 10 search results (10 blue links) whenever a customer searches for a business near him.
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What is Local SEO?
In the past decade, Local SEO has undoubtedly become something of enormous importance. Earlier, people were not aware of local SEO, what local SEO means, and local SEO strategy.
Do you know that even today, people trust local stores more than the online business? A good local search engine optimization strategy can help you appear in the top results of Google Maps.
Related: How to Start an Online Business?
Local businesses can be like a grocery store, networking institute, a garments store, a coffee shop, a beauty parlor, an electrician, or a house cleaning company. There is not just one store of each type. There is fierce competition among these types of local businesses. And to appear in the top search results for local business, you should have a good local SEO strategy.
What’s more important is that your business should appear on top at the right time. The advantage of local SEO is that the competition is limited. You have to compete within a specific location and not with the world.
Related: What is SEO and How it Works?
What is Local Search?
Local search refers to any search aimed at a particular geographic area — for example, SEO training in India or PHP course in Kanpur. In simple terms, Local search is when you search for some businesses you want to visit near you.
To make it clearer, let’s take the easiest example of local search, suppose you are on vacation and staying in a hotel. You do not know much about the place, but you want to visit a restaurant and being a tourist attraction place there are many restaurants, and you don’t know which one is the best.
So, you search for the best restaurants near me (though near me is not necessary because Google tracks your location and, based on it, displays the results), and you get a list of top restaurants arranged rank-wise. Hence, making it easier for you to find out the best restaurant. This is known as local search and the technique of doing this is known as local search SEO.
Local search can be doctors near me, lawyers near me, sweet shop near me, a mobile store near me, or a confectionary shop. The local searches can be many and are the most important aspect of local SEO.
Around 60 percent of Americans visit a place based on their local search results. 20 percent of local searches lead to sales in one day.
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free and easy to use SEO tool for business websites. GMB is your business profile on Google, how your business profile appears to the customers, whether all the important information is present or not is managed by GMB. The information includes name, location, phone number, adding photos or video, and learning about your customers’ whereabouts.
GMB profile is essential because it enables you to appear in Google maps and Google search. Suppose you want to appear in the local listings of businesses and the Google maps. GMB profile is like a proof for Google that your business is legitimate, and you are a valid owner of that business.
You have to optimize your GMB profile. Google My Business is a flexible platform for you to interact with your customers, answer their queries, respond to their views, understand and expand your presence on GMB. Optimize your GMB profile by writing descriptions, add working hours, payment gateways, and much more.
Your GMB profile is like that of a social media platform. You can upload publish posts of your products and services on your Google My Business profile. The only difference is that the posts in your GMB profile delete automatically after 7 days. Even customers can upload photos of the products in the reviews section.
What are Local SEO Citations?
Local SEO Citations are the Name, Address, and Phone number of a local business. They are also known as NAP citations. Local search citations are important because they help the customers know about the local business and contact the business person. They also ensure a high local search engine ranking.
If the NAP citations are not accurate, the customer can’t contact the business, which creates an adverse impact on the customer’s mind regarding the website. Moreover, it also brings a negative effect on the local search engine ranking. Perform citations audit and SEO audit timely to check if customers are facing any problems due to some issue.
Though the major components of citations are Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP citation), although there are other more components of the citations, they include business type, hours of operations (opening and closing type), business description, driving directions, images, videos, payment forms, reviews, email addresses, fax addresses, and alternate phone numbers.
Accurate citations create a positive effect on customers and search engines. If the data is accurate and there are more clicks on that particular local business website and reviews are right, the local business’s ranking and reputation increases. The best part is that a good ranking and reputation come with good revenue.
How to do Local SEO?
There is a need to follow a particular strategy for performing good SEO because work done with strategy gives faster results than the one with more efforts and no strategy.
Here is the list of Local SEO Optimization Strategy & SEO Tips:
1. Optimize Your Title, Meta Description, and Content
To increase the traffic of a website, it is evident that you will post regular content daily. And new content is a new indexed page of your website. Therefore it is essential to optimize every page. Optimize the title tags, use the H1 tag in the heading, and H2 & H3 tag for subheadings, and the titles should be unique and can have 40 to 50 characters. Write a meta description in 140 to 160 characters giving the summary of your article, or write a definition of the topic in your meta description. Optimize the headers and content of the post.
Optimize the content by writing unique content and adding high volume keywords. Don’t compromise with the quality of the post. Add optimized images and videos for a better understanding of the user. In local businesses, customers tend to attract more by the images than the content of the post.
Instead of writing the hot topics about the types of local business you offer, write local content. Write why your business is different from others, what different products you offer, write about local news or industry news, discounts and deals, and many other such things.
2. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Customers are not going to carry a laptop while traveling with them. Around 89% of the local searches come from mobile phones. Therefore your website should be mobile-friendly. In the coming years, businesses without a mobile-friendly website will face a significant drop in rankings and customers.
The website should have the menus, fonts, and colors as per the mobile screen. Your website should be adjustable, and the buttons should be large enough for the user to use.
You can test the mobile-friendliness of your website on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool. It’s a free and easy to use tool. It also tells you about the major issues and ways to rectify them. It shows a screenshot of how your website appears on mobile phones.
3. Embed a Google Maps Correctly
How do you think a customer visits you? How does he come to know about your location, who guides him to your store? The answer to all these questions is Google Map. Mentioning the nearby popular place or a landmark is fine, but what if the person has no idea about either of the two things. For such people, Google Map is of much importance.
Embed a Google Map guiding to your store correctly. In most cases, people only add landmarks but not add Google Maps. They think that it is of the least significance. But my friend thinks wisely. If your business is online, then there is such a damn need for a Google map.
Being listed in Google maps helps to build trust among the audience. The days are long gone when people use to ask others for a way to someplace. Now, they prefer using Google maps for fulfilling this need. Google maps draw the locals. Based on their GPS locations, people look for the nearby everything.
4. Place a Call-to-Action Button
From a business point of view, Calls-to-action (CTA) button is essential, but it is more important from the customer’s view. It’s human nature that even after reading all the details, he needs to hear it from someone authorized. That’s the reason why a call to action button is so important. A user reads all the details and then move to the call to action button for further assistance. And your way of speaking can influence the user to be your customer. According to a survey around the call to action button, the landing page increases the sales up to 70%. It also establishes trust between the customer and the business.
You can add a CTA to the headers or add it as a popup. All these small things like a CTA contribute a lot to the ranking of the website.
5. Add Reviews & Testimonials
To understand this heading, answer the question that on what basis you book a hotel room. Yes, you are right. We distinguish based on reviews and testimonials. According to a survey, around 80 percent of people believe in the reviews more than the images and personal recommendation because if they are happy, he/she leaves a useful review. If you think of a way to get more reviews, then my friend, there is no shortcut. You can only get good reviews by working hard and offering quality services to your customers.
Google algorithm the volume and content of the reviews while raking the website. Google’s algorithm has increased a lot when it comes to local business. It counts the number of reviews and considers what people are saying about you and your website. Don’t pay for spam reviews because Google’s algorithm tracks the fake reviewer, and the ranking of your website can fall.
Add feedback, reviews, or five start rating option for the customers to give reviews about your service. Don’t feel disheartened by bad reviews. The good part about bad reviews is that they help you know your mistake and places where you lack to offer much better services in the future.
6. Display Your NAP on Your GMB Profile
The NAP (name, address, phone number) citations are critical as per the customer and search engine’s point of view. Your NAP should be submitted in schema format. This format is not visible to the customers, but it is understandable by the search engines. Moreover, Google understands that schema markup faster than any other language. People often get scared when they hear the word schema. But schema markup is not something difficult when there are so many SEO tools. You can take the help of the Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT) for creating schema markup. You only have to fill the details in SDTT manually, and it automatically converts into a schema code. The details can vary from the name, address, phone number, URLs, image URL, business owner name, and many other details.
Never display the NAP in the form of images because Google doesn’t read the text written on the images. Google can not crawl your NAP citations if they are in the form of images.
What are the main Local SEO Services?
The era of diaries, printed books, and notes are over. People are becoming advanced day by day. They prefer using mobile phones for almost everything. Local customers are dependent on the internet for local businesses. Probably that’s the reason why SEO agencies and consultancies are growing up so high.
With the ever-updating Google’s algorithm, it is slightly tricky for local businesses to maintain their local search position. You have to keep a regular check on the local SEO techniques. For this, you can also appoint someone from reputable SEO firms that can manage your website’s local SEO services.
The key points or the main Local SEO services that can help you achieve successful local SEO are below:
1. Building Google My Business Listings
GMB profile is essential for any local business. Optimize your Google My Business profile for getting more audience. If you are new, your first online directory should be Google My Business.
2. Managing Reviews
Reviews are essential for both the customer and the search engine for showing the quality of service a business provides to its customers. The quality and quantity of reviews matter a lot.
3. Link Building
You must be aware of the fact of how important backlinks are for the ranking of a website. Only an expert can help you in link building. Build relevant and quality backlinks for your website. Natural and quality backlinks help the search engine to trust your website and its service.
4. Citation Building
The NAP (name, address, and phone number) citations hold the maximum importance. It helps your customer to contact you and reach you easily. Also, add some extra information like a description or why the customer should come and visit you.
5. Schema Markup
The search engines are fluent in one language, and that is schema markup. English is good and understandable by Google, but schema markup brings a fast change from the view search engine. Schema markup is a coding language that you efficiently manage using the Structured Data Testing Tool. It converts the details of the English language in the form of schema markup code.
6. Reputation Management
Reputation is everything, after all. Knowing what customers think of you is very important. Balance and monitor your relationship with the customers by providing quality services and taking the negative reviews seriously.
Some of the other Local SEO services are increasing online visibility, be found on Google maps, performance tracking, customer support, etc.
Doing local SEO of a website is not as easy as the term sounds. You can hire a professional, or you yourself can try to get expertise in this field. Though it is strongly suggested that you try doing the SEO of your website on your own so that your SEO skills improve. Do let me know if you found this article informative.
By the way, have you hired someone, or are you doing the SEO of your website yourself?
Originally published Feb 5, 2021, & updated on Feb 5, 2021