Local SEO is a type of SEO strategy that helps brick-and-mortar businesses get more visible on Google’s local search results.
If your business serves a specific geographic area, you can definitely benefit from local SEO. It can help you grow your business as you get discovered by more potential customers and, in turn, attract more foot traffic to your physical store.
How did search engines evolve?
But first, let’s delve into how search engines became the thing they are today.
In the Internet’s early days, there were only a few websites, and navigating it was easy. However, once the internet ecosystem grew, search engines were created in order to provide users a way to discover sites that can offer what they’re looking for.
Back then, when you type a phrase into a search engine, it was matched to websites that had the keywords you searched. Google used the same approach and later on became the first search engine that used the links between sites as a way to determine which websites were trustworthy and had authority.
Today, Google looks at more than a hundred different factors of both on and off-page elements of your website to learn if a website is relevant to include in a specific search result.
The hundred-plus factors that Google looks at can be considered as your “digital footprint.” But the thing is, not all factors are treated equally. Each one’s weight or value varies and then Google combines all of that in order to determine what to return in its results.
So how does Google work?
When you type a phrase into Google, it checks different website signals, or what we call ranking factors, to decide how relevant your site is in relation to the search term.
What not many people realize is that Google doesn’t do a live search of the whole internet every time users type something into their search bar. It’s just searching within its stored copy of all of the sites that Google has crawled or discovered. This is what you call the Google Index.
In order to form this index, Google uses small programs that are called “spiders” to crawl the web. Each spider starts on a single page and then follows the links on that page and then it looks at the content on the next pages as well.
As Google’s spiders crawl web content, it’s then stored in Google’s servers which become its index. The work involved by the spiders happens at a mind-blowing scale, constantly crawling pages that number in trillions at an incredibly fast pace.
This guarantees that the index is always up-to-date as much as possible and new sites or connections are found quickly.
How Google ranks search results
Google has numerous processes to rank hundreds of thousands of websites in less than a second. These processes are what you call algorithms.
When you search for something on Google, the algorithm will check the index and return a list of sites that matched what you entered in the search box. Those results are then ranked based on relevance and authority.
In order to return the most relevant results for a user’s search term, Google’s algorithm looks at different on and off-page factors to determine which sites have pages or posts that are related to your search.
Everything it considers relevant gets added to the list and then further ranked according to authority.
This is why improving your SEO influences several factors in your site. Optimizing all the right elements means your website shows up higher in relevant search results.
Local SEO uses a different pattern
Local SEO runs differently since Google figured out that users searching for certain types of businesses require results from within their local area.
That’s why Google’s local search algorithm has proximity as a factor. This means Google takes into account where you’re searching to provide relevant results. They do this even when the city name or “near me” phrase isn’t included in a search.
For instance, if you’re at home and want pizza delivered for lunch, Googling “pizza delivery” will show a list of locations near your home.
But if you try the same search at your office, the results will be entirely different. This makes sense since you’ll need a pizza place that can deliver from somewhere near.
Local search has been around for years. However, it was limited since people for the most part only used their desktop computers. With the growth of mobile internet access also brought with it the widespread use of mobile search.
This is why local SEO has become tremendously important for the success of any business catering to a local clientele.
What matters in local SEO
All the above only means that Google uses separate algorithms. And as a local business, you now have the chance to appear both on the main search results as well as the local map pack.
So how do you make sure that your business ranks on local search results?
According to Moz’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey, the factors that influence local search visibility are as follows:
Localized content and local link popularity
An example of localized content is building local landing pages for each of your locations. This is especially important if you’re a multiple-location business. Each page should include your business name as well as the details of each branch like the address and phone number.
You should also optimize your title tags, and meta descriptions, and follow the rest of the SEO best practices to rank locally.
Having a business listing in Google My Business as well as getting local citations are big factors in local SEO. Another thing that matters are your business reviews. Encourage your customers to leave one since Google prefers to show business that has reviews.
Use the right tools and process
It’s also important that you use the right SEO tools in improving your local search. Use credible tools that will help you do keyword research focused on a local audience as well as build citations.
Make sure to manage your Google My Business listing as well as its accompanying business profile, and Google posts. This shows Google that your business is open and active thereby strengthening the chance of your inclusion in local packs.
Start harnessing the power of local SEO
Now that you have a better understanding of what local SEO is as well as how local search results are ranked, you can then start concentrating on signals that will increase the chances of your business showing up higher on the results page.
Since the field of local SEO is ever-growing and changing, you have to keep up with the latest updates to stay on top of your competition.
Once you start to strengthen your local SEO profile and improve the different factors that affect ranking, you’ll be able to reach a wider pool of potential customers. This will then provide your business an opportunity to serve more people in your locality so you can further expand and grow your business!