What is Local SEO?
Local SEO helps businesses be more visible on search engine results pages within their locale. Any business with a physical location that serves a specific geography can benefit from Local SEO.
Why is Local SEO important?
When your business relies on footfall or website visitors from the area local to your physical offices or shops, optimising for local SEO can make a significant difference to your results.
When you are trying to find a restaurant local to where you are, do you Google it? Of course you do! … as do many, many others!
46% of Google searches are looking for local information – places to go, local services or how to get there.
86% of users rely on the internet to find local businesses, and 29% search for local businesses at least once a week.
50% of users visit a store within 24 hours of searching for it on their smartphone. (Source : Google)
When someone types “Dry Cleaner near me” into the search bar, you can be pretty sure they have some dry cleaning that needs doing!
So how do your optimise for local SEO?
How does local SEO work?
Local SEO is not the same as standard SEO. The primary ranking factor involved is the physical location of the user. Search engines show results to “near me” types of searches based on where it understands the searcher to be.
Results can be shown as Text results or as Map results (including the hardworking “snack pack” recommendations under the map)
Local SEO results are based on 3 pillars :
Businesses within the local postcode area to the searcher are prioritised.
Relevance of your website page to the search is as critical as it is for general SEO. Search engines read the following, looking for keywords and phrases that meet the searcher’s intent :
- Image labels
- Citations (directory listings for your business)
- Google Business Profile
- Online reviews
- Your site content
For local search, the search engines are looking for the appropriate combination of product / service and geographical cues.
Prominence describes how well your business stands out from the rest of the pack. Search engines judge this mostly based on reviews.
5 tips for improving your local presence online
1. Claim and set up your Google Business Profile for each site
When Google is deciding whether to show your business in response to a local search, it takes into account the content on your nearest Google Business Profile.
Your profile is free to claim, and is a powerful tool when it comes to “near me” searches.
Your profile comes up to the right of relevant search results, like this :
And helps you to come up as a “pin” on Google Maps like this example of a search for Marks and Spencer Food halls :
Within your profile you can :
- Showcase your Brand – re-enforcing the messaging on your website, but with a local twist
- Describe your services in that particular location
- Post social media content
- Request and host reviews
All of which is read by Google when deciding whether to show you in response to a search.
Bing has their own version of Google Business Profile, called Bing Places for Business, which you can synch with your Google profile.
2. Create localised content
To start with, either set up a location lister page, or micro-sites for each location (depending on how much control you want the local teams to have).
Then, work with your local teams to create location specific content – this could be :
- Post reviews or testimonials with the location specified
- Showcase photos of your work with locations in the alt-text and descriptions
- Craft Blogs talking about events, projects or successes in a specific location
3. Link back to your own content
Google follows links created within your site to validate that you are re-enforcing your own messaging. When you are doing this well, it improves your “authority” score within the Google algorithm.
Where you have local content, create internal links back to your core brand and services pages to demonstrate that what you are saying centrally is being delivered locally.
4. Use local keywords
If you want to be recognised as an expert in a specific locale, include the location as a target keyword in your SEO strategy.
Weave the name of the location naturally into your site copy, blogs, image labels etc – remember, neither Google nor your Users like to read overly repetitive language that doesn’t flow nicely.
5. Request and showcase local reviews
According to Statista, 91% of online shoppers typically read 1 or more reviews before making a purchasing decision, so you should think of reviews as a marketing channel to be nurtured.
If you use a review platform (such as Feefo or Trustpilot), look out for reviews associated with a specific location, and when you respond, include the location in your reply.
If you don’t use a central platform, request reviews by location through your Google Business Profile.
Remember, reviews are about engagement, so encourage your teams to craft well worded, on brand responses.
If your locations are cross-border, you need a broader tool-kit than in-Country local SEO. Here is a recent article from SEMRush that explains more about it.
Local SEO is all about creating intentional Geo-targeted content for your website. Whether it’s generated centrally, by local teams, or is user generated, implementing a local SEO strategy across your various locations will help your locations get found in response to “near me” searches for products or services like yours.