What Is Local SEO?

Ben Tippet

If you are asking “What is local SEO?” it probably means you are a business owner and you have been researching ways to beat your competitors. If that is the case, you have landed on the perfect page to answer all your questions and boost your local business. Search engine optimisation has gained a lot of prominence over the last few years thanks to its huge potential when it comes to improving website rankings on online search engine results pages (SERP).

If your business has not been implementing an SEO strategy then you have probably been losing out on a lot of potential customers without even realising it. Local searches have become the make or break of many businesses that are struggling to improve their online visibility. There is a huge pool of potential customers that can be accessed online, but the competition is very stiff.

Without a proper local SEO strategy, you do not stand a chance against your competitors. However, the term local SEO is a very broad one, which is why it is difficult for some business owners to understand “What is local SEO?”, let alone know how to implement it. That is why we came up with this detailed article to delve deep into the world of search engine optimisation and help you gain the required knowledge to formulate a winning local SEO strategy.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is perhaps the most important branch of search engine optimisation that allows businesses to target customers in specific locations that are within their spheres of influence. In other words, local SEO allows a business to communicate directly with the members of its community who are most likely to be close enough to do business with. Using the power of various tools, such as Google maps, map pack rankings, and online reviews, a business can appear on organic search results which will ultimately lead to making sales.

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How Do You Do Local SEO?

To implement a local SEO strategy means doing everything you can to get a local business listing on Google maps and attain good local pack and map pack rankings. This means you have to adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, plus paying close attention to the name, address, phone, number (NAP), and other relevant details that allow Google maps to recognise your location and filter search results accordingly. You also have to produce high-quality content made with local intent to maintain your local search presence once you have attained it. A successful local SEO strategy will not only help you become visible on local search results but also achieve a high conversion rate of the organic traffic that has been filtered your way by Google search engines.

What Is The Difference Between SEO And Local SEO?

Now that we have answered the question “What is local SEO?,” we will look at some of the key differences it has when compared to a traditional SEO. The most obvious difference lies in visibility on local search results pages. With a local SEO strategy, you go beyond just ranking high on Google search results pages by focusing on reaching out to the community around you. SEO can help you rank high on pages being searched by people thousands of miles away who will never be able to do business with you. Local SEO generates organic results by targeting potential customers in your local area. If you take a quick look at Google maps right now, you will probably recognise a few local business listing results of companies that you drive past every day. That is the power of a successful local SEO strategy.

Why Does Local SEO Matter?

Organic search results combined with local search presence form the backbone of a successful local SEO strategy. Its importance lies in its ability to get a good map pack or local pack for your business listing. Local SEO is built on a foundation of local intent, meaning everything you do is geared towards generating Google posts with high-ranking factors for local searches. If you want your Google business profile to be the first thing on Google Maps your community members see when they run local searches for your services, stop asking “What is local SEO?” and start working towards organic search results.

What Are Local SEO Keywords?

Local SEO Keywords are phrases that are location specific and that generate local search results on Google Search, Google Maps, and other search engines. These keywords are generated with local intent to help you target potential customers in your local area who have run a local search for the specific products or services close to them. Specific business information, such as name, address, phone number, and business hours are all examples of local SEO keywords that are used to generate local search results for a local business.

The Google Map Pack

You can’t rank high on local search results pages (or any other search results pages) if you do not know what a map pack is. A Google map pack is the highest position that you can attain in Google search results pages. A map pack is the Holy Grail of SEO because it means your business information is the very first thing anyone sees when they search for your products and services. If you have ever run a search for any items and seen business information listed as the first result with markers placed on Google Maps to indicate its location, this is an example of a map pack.

Local Pack vs. Map Pack

There is not much difference between a local pack and a map pack except that a local pack is part of local SEO, which means it targets potential customers in your local area. In terms of organic results, a local pack trumps a map pack because local search results that show a business within traveling distance are better for you and your customers. A map pack shows businesses that best fit a searcher’s product or service requirements, but it is a local pack that gives them practical search results for businesses close to their location.

Importance of Map Pack Rankings

Just like on normal Google search results pages, there are ranking factors that will enable you to be listed high on map pack results. This has the potential to significantly boost your visibility on Google Maps which will lead to an influx of web traffic. One other thing you will immediately notice whenever you open search results on Google is that Google Maps cover a significant portion of the screen area. This means that whatever is ranking high on the map pack will be one of the most visible items on the entire page.

Focusing on a Local Pack

Did you know that Google map pack features in up to 93% of all searches with local intent? That is a significant reason to prioritise local pack over everything else. If you manage to rank high on the local pack it means out of all your local competitors you will be among the first results anyone in your area sees. Not only that, but the local pack will allow you to display all the important information about your business clearly so that whoever is interested in contacting you to do business will have no difficulties. 

How Google Determines Local Ranking

The map pack, local pack, Google search, and all the other special features of this search engine rely on specialised algorithms to that use ranking factors to determine which website appears first on the local search results pages. Historically, this algorithm has always been very brutal in terms of its requirements, but recently the ranking factors have become even more stringent thanks to Google’s drive to improve the web experience for users. As a result, if you want to rank high on the map pack, for example, you have to meet the requirements of the ranking factors as closely as possible. Any deviations will result in a lower ranking for your local business.

Google Local Ranking Signals

In our attempt to answer the question “What is local SEO?” we have to go over the important ranking factors/signals that you need to pay special attention to if you are going to stand a chance of out-ranking your competitors.

THE RANKING OF LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS ON GOOGLE IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING LOCAL RANKING SIGNALS:

High-Quality Content

All Google posts are analysed for the quality of their content, so you have to do a lot more than just string together a few lines and hope for the best. Proper research of all the facts is essential because if Google identifies false information, your rank will drop on local search results pages. Your content needs to have real value for the user, be easy to read, and be interesting enough to keep the reader engaged. Three things you must focus on when producing high-quality content are local intent, keyword usage, and freshness. If you nail these things, while providing factual information, your business will rank high on local search results pages.

External Links/Inbound Links

Inbound links, sometimes called backlinks, are a great way to make your webpage an authoritative site. This should be your number one local link-building target. The more inbound links you have on your site, the more Google will trust your website and as a result, it will likely rank you higher than your competitors on map pack or other results pages. Local link building is not something everyone agrees with, because some websites do not have any such links at all However, this is a powerful tool with proven results, especially when addressing a local search.

Mobile Optimisation

Smartphones have evolved so much over the past few years that very soon it seems likely they will replace traditional desktop computers. With that in mind, Google has made it a priority for any webpage that wishes to have a good map pack to make sure their site is mobile-friendly. This means adjusting various parameters to make it easier for a local search to be conducted on a mobile interface. You cannot afford to have any drag whatsoever when running a local search on a smartphone compared to a traditional computer.

Internal Links

Local link building cannot be separated from local SEO because it is an integral part of the overall optimisation strategy. The more natural internal links you have on your page, the easier it is for users and search engines to find them. However, if you are working to improve your local search performance, you cannot just plug links randomly throughout your content. It has to be as natural as possible so that your Google posts meet the required content quality for local results pages..

Page Experience

Page experience refers to how well the website performs from the user’s point of view. This covers both desktop and mobile local results pages. Your page must load fast and all the text must be properly aligned and easy to read. One thing you must focus on is site architecture. It not only focuses on the visual experience of surfing your website but also makes sure that important links and keywords are also placed strategically to help web crawlers find the page easily. The impact of your local SEO also relies on the Ad experience of your website. Any violation of the Google Ad policy will result in all Ads being stripped from your site, which would negatively impact their value to the user.

On-Page Optimisation

All the “behind-the-scenes” components of your website are handled by on-page optimisation. When it comes to local SEO, on-page SEO is probably the oldest and most well-known technique there is. However, it is surprisingly still very useful and has a definite impact in improving how those doing a local search will view your webpage. If you dedicate some time to tweaking your website, you will see a rapid increase in web traffic and ranking. There are various online tools that you can utilise to help you meet the requirements for creating a high-ranking webpage.

Page Speed

You need to put as much effort as you can into making sure that your page speed is up to date if you want Google to rank your website highly. The first disadvantage of having a slow-loading webpage is that it will test the patience of all those who try to use it. Today’s world is fast-paced so no one wants to spend more than a few seconds waiting for a page to load. The other downside is that thanks to Google’s new approach to the web experience, slow-loading websites are being punished severely. If it takes more than a fraction of a second to launch your site, you have no chance of ranking high on local search lists. Slow-loading videos and broken links are some of the main culprits that severely slow down your page.

Website Safety And Security

One of the biggest problems facing the online community is that of cybercriminal activity. Having SSL encryption on your platform is one of the first things you need to look into. It only takes a few negative online reviews regarding the security of your platform to make you lose tons of web traffic and for your website to drop on local search list ranks.

Improving Your Local Search Presence

All the work you do on your local SEO is to ensure that you improve your local presents and that your business is among the first to feature on any local search lists. Although it may seem very complicated, with the right knowledge and dedication, your website visibility can easily improve. The following are some tips that you can apply to your local SEO:

Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile is what your potential customers see when they look up your business and also contains all the business information used by Google to identify your website. There are two basic methods you can use to improve your Google My Business profile. The first is to simply enter all the relevant details of your business and allow Google to identify which category you fall into as well as your location. The second is to go on the local search engine, look up your business, and then claim it. This will tell Google that this website is verified and safe. Both methods have the same effect on local SEO and will result in a higher ranking for your website on local search lists.

Local SEO Needs Organic SEO

We cannot stress enough the need for organic content on your website if you are working to improve local SEO. It doesn’t help to funnel large volumes of traffic to your website only to present them with stale information or even worse, inaccurate information. Not only will this get in the way of your most important local SEO goal of converting traffic into sales, but it will also result in Google lowering your rank on local search pages.

Voice Search Is Important, Too

These days, as technology advances, voice search is quickly becoming a normal way to run a local search. Mobile phones, especially, are now making use of specialised software that can recognise a wide range of phrases in different languages. If you want your website to rank high on a local search page you need to combine organic results, local intent, and other parameters with the ability to run a voice search.

Local Search Is Mobile Search

Local results that perform poorly on mobile devices will be of no use to you at all. Once Google identifies a slow-performing site, it will immediately be dropped on local search rankings. Make the best of your local SEO and high rank on local search pages by making sure that you have a website that performs optimally when called upon. All it takes is a few tweaks and cleaning up broken links to have your webpage performing at its best.

Implement a Dedicated Strategy

Your strategy needs to be focused on one thing only, which is to push you up the rankings of your local search pages. However, there are many different ways of going about this, as we have already shown you. Your choice will depend on what type of business you are running, the location, and your overall organisational goals. If you find that implementing a dedicated strategy is not easy, there are many SEO companies out there that specialise in helping businesses rank better on local search lists. You can hire one of these that best suits your company goals and let them work on your website.

Photos and Videos

You should never underestimate the power of visual images and videos. A lot of users scrolling through local search results are usually attracted to pages with photos and videos. The downside of putting pictures and videos on your website is that if not done properly, it could significantly reduce the speed and performance of your website. However, the advantages of having properly uploaded visual aids on your webpage far outweigh any disadvantages. The fact is, local results with eye-catching images produce more traffic and sales than those without. That is why adding a lot of pictures and videos is an important part of any optimisation project aimed at having an impact on local search lists.

Location SEO

A local search is all about bringing together a customer and companies that are close enough to do business together. If customers are not sure about your location, chances are they will move on to the next business. The people around you are your biggest customer base, and as such, the strategy you employ for your local SEO should reflect that. Make sure the details of your business that pop up when you run a local search are up-to-date and accurate. This is one of the rankings signals Google takes very seriously.

Listings on Review Sites

There are many important review sites, such as the Better Business Bureau and Business Consumer Alliance that can greatly impact how users perceive your business. The majority of people who look at local search results rely mostly on trusted sites such as these to steer them in the right direction. If you can get a high rating, you will prove that your business can be trusted, which is something both Google and potential customers look at.

Positive Reviews

Organic results that appeal to your audience are great at generating good leads, improving the chances of making and sale, and encouraging the customer to leave a good review. The more positive reviews you have, the more trustworthy Google will view your business, and is likely to give you a high local search rank. However, even negative reviews can be used to great effect if you can show your clients that you are making efforts to fix any issues you might have.

Social Media Presence

Today, most of the world spends a surprisingly large amount of time on social media. Some of the most visible local results are those that are featured regularly on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now, TikTok. If your business has no significant social media presence, you are not performing as well as you should be on local search rankings. The great thing about social media is that it allows real-time interaction between you and your customers. Your target audience loves to feel valued and one of the best ways to do that is to use social media platforms to reach out to them. If you were still wondering “What is local SEO?”, now you know that social media is a big part of it.

Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)

Whatever else you may leave out, these important details should always be there on your Google My Business page. Not only that, but they should be accurate too. Your local search optimisation efforts will amount to nothing if you happen to leave the wrong phone number.

Domain Authority

Last but not least, you need to make sure your website is considered an authority in your chosen field. Local search engines prioritise authority websites over all others when ranking pages on results lists. To be considered an authority, you need to build links with high-ranking websites as well as ensure that you are targeting organic results by having only the best content on your site. Do these things and you will see your website move swiftly up the local search rankings. 

The Final Word

Can you now answer the question “what is local SEO?” Are you ready to cultivate organic results on your website and move up the ladder to the highest rankings on search engine results pages? You need to work on your local SEO. It is the key to all you have been hoping to achieve on your online platform. Want to learn more? Contact the team at Perth Digital Edge to elevate your brand and stay ahead of the competition. Find your digital edge today.

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