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Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO: A Comprehensive Guide

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique that is used by business owners, marketers, and content creators to push their content to the top of search engine results pages.

If an article has been optimized for a certain keyword and is relevant to the reader’s search, it has a better chance of appearing higher in the search results.

Local SEO is a subcategory of SEO, in which the search provider will show the details of businesses that are available physically nearby. For example, when you search for “hospitals near me” the search result will show you all the hospitals, usually sorted in order of increasing distance.

Let’s dive in and find out what the role and importance of local SEO are in your business. Then, we will discuss how you can implement it to grow your audience.

Table Of Contents

Do You Need Local SEO?

At this point, you might be asking yourself this question: Are there any benefits of having an optimized local SEO over those who didn’t implement it?

Let’s try and understand the function of local SEO with the help of statistics from The Search Engine Journal:

  • 50% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visited a physical location within a day.
  • 60% of American adults search for local products and services on their phones or tablets.
  • 50% of people searching from a smartphone are looking for local information, like a business address.
  • Approximately 80% of local searches end up purchasing products offline.
  • About 71% of people prefer searching for a place of business online before visiting them physically.
  • In 2017, 97% searched online for local businesses, and 12% of consumers searched local businesses every day.

As you can see, a strong local SEO presence has a powerful impact. So, how can you use local SEO to drive more traffic to your business?

How to Optimize for Local SEO

It’s not simple for a business to survive. There are a lot of procedures and techniques involved in SEO, which helps in the survival and growth of a business. The following are some key points that can help optimize your local SEO ranking:

1. Business portfolio on Google

Google is the most widely used search engine. For the best reach, you’ll want to at least have your business on Google.

Listing on Google is fairly simple. Just visit the “Google My Business” page and sign up. You need to fill out a simple form, where they will ask you about the name, address, phone number, business email ID, category, and other basic information about your business. 

If your business has been around for a while, you may be able to verify by phone. In most cases, you’ll need to wait on a postcard with a code from Google, which you can then use to verify your business listing.

And that’s it! Congratulations, you are now listed on Google.

But completing your basic profile won’t do much until you add some more information about your business.

The most important part of a Google listing is your primary category. You can also add two additional categories to help give searchers a more complete picture of your business.

Next, you’ll want to add your operating hours and photos of your business. You can add a few photos of your location and encourage your customers to add some of their own.

Remember, this information is completely optional, but a complete profile will help your listing performance in the long run.

Check out our complete beginner’s guide on Google My Business to learn more.

2. Website

To create an exceptional online presence, you need a website of your own. Think of this as your resume for business.

The domain name should be simple, catchy, unique, and easy to remember. The website should express the nature and category of the goods or services that you are offering.

Try to make it easy for potential customers to get information about your business. More and more customers research businesses online before visiting—the more information you have, the better.

Here are a few things your website needs:

Meta Description

To make the website Google friendly, you need to optimize the meta description.

A meta description is a collection of sentences that describe the hyperlink. Sometimes, a user who is just browsing the search provider just reads the meta description and rejects the idea of clicking the link. That’s why the description should give the user a perception of what the business is all about.

Contact Page

The website must have a “contact us” page, which should contain multiple ways for customers to get in touch with you—a contact form, email, phone numbers, and any social media channels you use. If possible, provide a Google map with the address of the business. This way, the user can contact you in any way they prefer.

Whenever a new user or existing client contacts you, make sure to set expectations of when they’ll hear back.

Let them know you’ll reach out within a few business days, or 24 hours for urgent issues. Don’t leave them wondering when you’re going to get back to them. People like to work with those businesses that value their time.

About Page

Summarize your business model in a few paragraphs and include that on your about page. This way, your visitors have a clear and concise idea of what you do and how you can help them. 

It’s a good idea to embed your Google Maps location on your about page as well. Using this feature, the first time visitor can easily locate your business. If you’re nearby, they’re more likely to reach out to you.

3. Landing page

The website must contain a page to help provide more information throughout your marketing campaigns. It should give detailed information on what you’re offering your audience and how it benefits them.

This page will contain all the products and services that you are offering to the user. Take note that you don’t have to write long descriptions about the offerings, but they should be enough to grab attention. Landing page copy should be helpful, conversational, and informative to help connect with your audience.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

You need to give importance to the client’s time. Help save them a little time with a Frequently Asked Questions page. The FAQ page will list all the common doubts that you have observed among your existing clients.

It would be more appealing if you use “we” as the narrative in the FAQ. The tone of your copy should be conversational and friendly, just as you would speak to them in person or over the phone.

5. Ranking for the “Map Pack”

Now that you have established the basic identity of your business online, the question is, “How can others find your business online?”

The answer is almost always through Google. But how does Google display the result? That’s an important question for the business.

Whenever you run a local search, Google lists three businesses in the top section. This is referred to as a “pack” or the top of the pack.

Things that factor into pack ranking constantly change. Location used to play a big part in what caused businesses to rank higher—businesses close to the city center or a defined “industry” center would often weigh heavily in ranking, but that seems to have less of an impact now.

Now, keyword optimization in your listing and user engagement play a much bigger role than they previously did. Making sure you have all of your relevant services listed and providing content for users to engage with is more important than location.

Businesses that have service and product listings, as well as user reviews, that mention a specific keyword will naturally rank higher for those searches.

For instance, a search for “lash extensions”—Google may prioritize a listing with lots of engagement over one that’s closer to the searcher. It looks for reviews from users that mention lash extension services and how much user engagement that listing has received.

6. Testimonials

It’s a common practice for a person to ask for reviews and testimonials before using a product or signing up for a service. You can’t blame the person, can you? After all, reviews are a great way to get insights from current customers about your products.

Moreover, if a product has good reviews, customers will be more likely to trust a product’s effectiveness and, more importantly, your business.

You can get general reviews from Google My Business. To get industry-specific reviews, you can browse through different sites listed by Local Visibility System and Search Engine Journal.

7. Virtual Office Tour

Images and photos of the place of your local business can add another level of friendly touch to the website. Putting up images will make the client familiar and interested in your business. If the place of business contains colorful and contrasting colors, then it will be more appealing to the client.

8. Local SEO Keyword Research

While presenting your business to search engines, you need to know what your audience is going to search for, so that they can land on your page. This is called local SEO keyword research. The goal is to research keywords that a user would use while finding your business.

To research the keywords, you can go to any search engine and search for terms your audience would use when looking for your business. For example, if you have a restaurant, try searching for “food corners near me”, or “restaurants near me”.

Then, look for common keywords that appear in the search results. Not all keywords will be relevant to your business—focus on the ones that are most relevant to your business. This will help drive targeted traffic and make sure you reach your ideal customers.

9. Local Link Building

Local links are created so that whenever a user searches for a product or service that you are offering, Google My Business will put your business details in the search results and help that user reach your website.

Sometimes, an existing authoritative business can also provide a backlink. But you should be careful while choosing the domain of the authoritative business.

For example, let’s say you have a grocery store and you are trying to build links locally. Who would you choose to promote your business—a grocery website or a website supplying stationery items? The right niche will attract the right group of audience to your website.

The geographical location of the existing business that you are collaborating with is also important. If your place of business is not physically near the promoter’s business, then it won’t produce the desired result.

Here are some tips to attract traffic to the site:

  • Citations: Local citations refer to the name, address, and contact information of your business. The main goal of providing citations is to familiarize the name of the business to the audience as much as possible. Yext and Moz Local are two well-known platforms that can help you build citations for your business.
  • Finding opportunities: Look for opportunities with local advertisers and other businesses. Some of the examples of businesses that might advertise your business are local newspapers and media outlets, local bloggers, conducting or sponsoring local events, other local businesses who are looking for partners, and sponsoring, volunteering, or organizing local charities. 
  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is an amazing tool to study the links that your competitors are using. You can analyze what are similar and dissimilar backlinks between your business and that of your competitors’. You need to be one step ahead of your competitor. Try to get more links than them. Also, to gather more information, look into the type of links, most searched businesses are using. 

Here’s a more in-depth guide on link building. Learn the different types of links, strategies, and the best link building practices to follow.

Conclusion

Since most of your audience turns to search engines like Google to make informed purchasing decisions, an online presence is a very crucial part of a local business. But mere existence is not the strategy for growth.

To reach more people, you need to make sure your listings are optimized for search engines. This will lay the foundation for the business to increase its online visibility and drive traffic to both websites and stores.

By Zac Almeida

Before joining the team at Ethical Digital, Izaias built a successful SEO agency in São Paolo, Brazil. With over twelve years of experience providing data-driven SEO, he has worked with businesses of all sizes - from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies. After selling his business to travel the world with his wife, "The SEO Hustler" has been helping companies in more than 15 countries and 6 languages thrive in the digital and search world.

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