Local search should be an essential part of your SEO strategy if you’re a business targeting customers in a particular city, region, or neighborhood.
Beefing up your local SEO profile is a great opportunity for your business to appear on local search results or any keyword searches that Google deems to have local intent. Although local and global SEO are interwoven, each one requires a different strategy that has distinct optimization tactics.
So let’s start at the bottom—what’s local SEO and why does it matter?
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business or its website in order for it to rank on a search engine’s local search results.
On Google, this means having a local or map pack and then optimizing it to rank higher and appear more frequently on related search results. Once the algorithm detects that a searcher’s intent is local, Google displays the map pack results prominently on the first page of its search results.
For instance, if you search for “Indian restaurants open now” or “gas station near me,” what will mainly show are local search results above the global organic ones.
When this happens, Google recognizes that the searcher is looking for something that’s local and accessible at that moment.
If you’ve already claimed your Google business listing, your business name, address, and phone number along with your website link, photos, and customer reviews will be shown by Google as displaying business info is more likely to satisfy search terms with local intent.
One way to make sure your business gets shown on top of local search results is to adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. You have to create a great user experience for those navigating your website and apply SEO best practices.
This is crucial if you want your website to rank in search terms that Google has regarded to have local intent.
The good thing is, that you can appear in Google’s map pack results even without a website. You can do this once you have a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Whether claimed or unclaimed, having one will surely give your business a boost on local search results.
Why Local Search Is Important
There are a number of reasons why local search is important—from expanding your business reach to resulting in more sales, here are what data shows us:
- According to Google, 76% of people who perform local searches on their phones end up visiting a business within the list of search results in 24 hours with 28% of those searches resulting in a purchase.
- 30% of all searches Google processes are location-related.
- 61% of users said in a survey that they perform local searches daily.
- 82% of consumers checked online reviews for businesses they found when doing a local search on Google. On average, they spent almost 14 minutes before making a decision to patronize a business or not.
- 86% of people depend on Google Maps to find a business location.
- Globally, 74% of in-store shoppers have already performed a search on Google before arriving at a store that they found on local search results.
- More than half of Internet users around the world use a smartphone to perform local searches.
- 83% of searchers use Google to learn more about surrounding businesses to their location with a majority of 55% opting to use Google Maps instead of other competing maps.
How Google Determines Local Ranking
Google doesn’t really reveal how it exactly ranks different websites when it comes to organic search. But with ranking on local search, Google has been more forthcoming on what it takes to dominate it.
Google, rank local search results based on three primary categories: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance pertains to how well your business profile fits what someone is searching for. In order to rank based on relevance, make sure to complete your business info so Google can better understand what your business is about. This way, they’ll be able to match your business to relevant search terms.
In terms of distance, Google defines it as how near your business location is from the searcher. While prominence refers to how well-known Google considers your business to be. Out of all the three stated ranking factors, prominence is likely the most complex since there’s no exact definition revealed of how Google assesses a business as “well-known”
Aside from the three factors stated above, local SEO experts also tout the below factors as crucial in dominating your local search results ranking:
- Having a primary category for your GMB listing
- Including keywords in your listing
- Having your business’ physical address in the same city as the searcher
- Putting additional categories in your GMB listing
- Having high ratings in your business reviews
- Completing your GMB listing
- Quality and authority of links pointing to your business website
- Having relevant keywords in your business’ Google reviews
For businesses: How can we improve our local presence?
As you can see, local search is an amazing tool for businesses that serve local customers—whether for small to medium businesses or large companies.
But to further improve your local presence, start by improving the content on your website. List the areas you cater to and create a dedicated page for each. Have a map on each page showing where you’re located so prospective customers can find you sooner.
Another aspect of improving your site’s content is making sure it’s mobile-ready. Since most local searches are done on the go and 94% use smartphones for this, you have to make sure it’s optimized for viewing.
But the good things don’t stop at that…
It was also found that almost 75% of these mobile searches led to actions such as a store visit. purchase, phone call, or referral. And 55% of these actions took place within an hour of the performed mobile search.
The next step is to execute the above recommendations. When you do, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of growing your business’s local presence. With most of today’s consumers increasingly relying on various online channels to research businesses, it’s high time you get on the bandwagon as well.