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Local SEO: The Foundations

Last Update: Mar 1, 2024 @ 1:01 am
RubenLicera

Introduction

It’s not enough to merely exist online in today’s digital world. Businesses must strive to achieve visibility, especially in their local market, to stay relevant and competitive. To fill this void, businesses can take advantage of Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a highly efficient internet marketing strategy that promotes a company’s services to local clients at the precise moment those customers are searching for them online. This introductory article sets the stage for the immersive and informative journey into the realm of Local SEO, a critical component in the broader SEO landscape.

The surge in internet usage and digital reliance has brought forward a new paradigm in the business world. According to a report by Google, 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information.^1^

The Necessity of Local SEO

Local SEO is a targeted approach that allows businesses to position themselves prominently in local search results. With 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either calling or visiting the business within 24 hours, the importance of local SEO cannot be understated.^2^

Furthermore, a poll found that 64% of consumers have used Google My Business to look up local businesses’ contact information.^3^ Consumers’ increasing reliance on search engines like Google to find local companies highlights the growing importance of local SEO methods for local businesses.

What Sets Local SEO Apart?

The primary differentiator between standard SEO and Local SEO lies in the geographical component. While SEO broadly focuses on improving a site’s visibility on a national or global scale, Local SEO hones in on capturing traffic from searchers in a specific geographic area.^4^ This involves optimizing a business’s online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches, which occur either on Google and other search engines or Google Maps.

Understanding Local SEO begins with recognizing the various elements that influence it—Google My Business optimization, generating positive customer reviews, creating locally relevant content, and building citations in local directories, among others. However, at its core, Local SEO is about giving search engines clear signals of the specific location(s) a business operates in and the services it offers to better match with local customers searching for their services.^5^

Unleashing the Power of Local SEO

A well-planned and executed Local SEO strategy helps businesses achieve higher local search rankings, which translates to increased web traffic, leads, and sales. With focused efforts on elements like local keywords, Google My Business, and online reviews, Local SEO can transform the digital fortunes of businesses and create an optimal user experience that brings customers back for more.^6^

Local SEO is the stepping-stone for any business aiming to establish a robust local online presence. As we delve deeper into the world of Local SEO in subsequent chapters, we will uncover its various aspects and provide insights on how to leverage its full potential for your business. Stay tuned, because this is just the beginning of a game-changing digital journey.

References

^1^ Google. “How Search Ads can help businesses reach more customers.” Google Economic Impact Report. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://economicimpact.google.com/reports/featured/#!/stories/featured

^2^ BrightLocal. “Local Consumer Review Survey.” BrightLocal. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey

^3^ BrightLocal. “Google Local Insights Study.” BrightLocal. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.brightlocal.com/research/google-local-insights-study

^4^ Enge, Eric. “The Role of Local SEO in Today’s Business Environment.” Moz. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://moz.com/blog/the-role-of-local-seo-in-todays-business-environment

^5^ Fishkin, Rand. “What is Local SEO?” Moz. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://moz.com/learn/seo/local

^6^ Rozdeba, Dale. “Why Local SEO Is About to Become Even More Important.” Forbes. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2016/05/09/why-local-seo-is-about-to-become-even-more-important

Setting Up Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile Sign Up Page From the Web

Setting Up Google Business Profile

In the landscape of Local SEO, a well-optimized Google Business Profile (GBP) is a non-negotiable asset for businesses. It provides a simple yet effective way to manage how your business information appears on Google Search and Maps.

Setting Up Google Business Profile

Creating your GBP is a straightforward process that begins by visiting the Google Business Profile Manager website. Here’s how you proceed:

  • Click ‘Add a Location’: If your business isn’t already listed, select ‘Add single location.’ For businesses with multiple locations, choose ‘Add multiple locations.’^1^
  • Provide Your Business Name: Be consistent with how you represent your business across all digital platforms.^2^
  • Categorize Your Business: Accurately categorizing your business is crucial. It helps Google understand your business and ensure it shows up for the right local searches.^3^
  • Add Your Location and Service Area: Include your business address. If you serve customers outside your business location, specify your service area as well.^4^
  • Include Contact Information: Make sure to provide a contact number and website link if available. If you don’t have a website, Google can help you create a free one.^5^
  • Verify Your Business: Verifying your business confirms to Google and customers that your business is legitimate. Google typically verifies businesses via a verification postcard sent to your business address.^6^

Optimizing Your Google Business Profile

A GBP is more than just a business listing—it’s a dynamic snapshot of your business. Here’s how you optimize it:

1. Provide Detailed Business Information: The more information you provide, the better. This includes business hours, payment methods, and other attributes.^7^

2. Include Keywords: Much like your website SEO, use keywords in your GBP that your customers use to search for your services.^8^

3. Upload High-Quality Photos: A picture speaks a thousand words. Regularly update photos of your products, services, premises, and staff.^9^

4. Encourage and Respond to Reviews: Reviews significantly impact your local search ranking. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews, and respond promptly and professionally to all reviews.^10^

5. Create Google Posts: Regularly post updates, news, and offers directly to your GBP to keep customers engaged and informed.^11^

6. Use the Q&A Section: Answer questions from customers, and even post your own questions and answer them.^12^

7. Analyze Insights: GBP offers valuable insights about how customers find your business, what actions they take, and more. Use these insights to continuously optimize your GBP.^13^

A well-optimized Google Business Profile boosts your local visibility and credibility, drives customer engagement, and promotes online and offline conversions. It’s not just a business listing; it’s a powerful marketing tool that every local business should leverage.

References

^1^ “Add or claim your business listing.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778

^2^ “Enter your business name.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177

^3^ “Choose a business category.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7249669

^4^ “Enter your business address and service area.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038174

^5^ “Enter your business phone number and website.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038173

^6^ “Verify your business.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7100296

^7^ “Edit your business information.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3039617

^8^ “Improve your local ranking on Google.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091

^9^ “Add photos to your Google Business Profile.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/6103862

^10^ “Read and reply to reviews.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/3474050

^11^ “Create posts on Google Business Profile.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7390603

^12^ “Questions & Answers on Google Business Profile.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7750644

^13^ “Understand your Google Business Profile Insights.” Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7689763

Local SEO Keyword Research
Keyword Research Illustration From the Web

Local SEO Keyword Research

When it comes to molding a formidable online presence, the adage “words have power” couldn’t be more apt. Local SEO keyword research is the compass that guides your local SEO voyage, steering your digital ship towards the land of high local search rankings and increased traffic. This article will explore local search engine optimization keyword research, breaking down its significance and revealing its best practices.

What is Local SEO Keyword Research?

At the very foundation of SEO, lies keyword research – a process that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines. Local SEO keyword research is a more specific strand. It’s about finding keywords used by prospective customers in a particular geographic area. By optimizing your content with these local keywords, you stand a better chance of connecting with the local audience. And in the words of the SEO magnate Rand Fishkin, “Keyword research is the most valuable and high return activities in the search marketing arena.”^1^

Why It Matters?

Picture this: you run an Italian restaurant in Boston. Your website is sleek, but your online presence is bleak. Why? Because you’re not visible to the locals searching for you. Maybe you focused on keywords like “Italian pasta,” but your audience is searching for “Italian restaurant in Boston.” Spot the difference? This is what local SEO keyword research rectifies.

Google’s Pigeon algorithm update in 2014 was a turning point for local SEO, where local results became more closely aligned with traditional SEO signals.^2^ Knowing the local keywords is imperative to rank higher in geographically related searches.

How to Conduct Local SEO Keyword Research?

  • Understand Your Audience: Knowing your local audience is paramount. Which words and phrases would they most frequently use? What are their pain points and preferences? Understanding this will help you craft keywords that resonate with them.
  • Utilize Keyword Research Tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Moz Keyword Explorer are invaluable in discovering local keywords. For example, with Google Keyword Planner, you can specifically target a geographic area, and get data on search queries from that area.^3^
  • Evaluate Local Competition: Analyze local competitors’ websites and see which keywords they are ranking for. Tools like SEMrush’s Competitor Research can be an asset here.
  • Long-Tail Keywords and Voice Search: Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific. With voice searches on the rise, these are gold.^4^ People are more likely to say “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant in Boston?” than “Italian restaurant.”
  • Incorporate Local Landmarks and Jargon: Including local landmarks and jargon in your keywords can also work wonders. For instance, “Italian restaurant near Fenway Park.”

Implementation: Beyond Research

Post research, it’s time for implementation. Embed these local keywords naturally in your content, titles, meta descriptions, and alt text for images. Be cautious of keyword stuffing as it can lead to penalties.

Google My Business also plays a vital role here. Make sure to include keywords in your business description and use categories that reflect your keywords.

Keywords: The Seeds of Local Success

In the world of local SEO, keyword research is not just a chapter; it’s an ongoing story. It requires constant tweaking and optimization. When done right, it can be the seeds from which the tree of your local digital success grows.

In a nutshell, local SEO keyword research is your gateway to being found by the local customers who are looking for you. By targeting the language and phrases they use, you can ensure that your voice is heard above the clamor of the digital marketplace.


^1^ Fishkin, Rand. “The Most Valuable Activities in the Search Marketing.” Moz. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://moz.com/learn/seo/keyword-research

^2^ Sullivan, Danny. “Google Launches ‘Pigeon’ Algorithm To Provide More Useful, Relevant Local Search Results.” Search Engine Land. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://searchengineland.com/google-launches-pigeon-update-197932

^3^ Sullivan, Danny. “Using Google Keyword Planner for Local SEO Keyword Research.” Search Engine Land. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://searchengineland.com/using-google-keyword-planner-local-seo-keyword-research-216008

^4^ Sterling, Greg. “What the Rise of Voice Search Means for Local Businesses.” Search Engine Land. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://searchengineland.com/rise-voice-search-means-local-businesses-271459

Implementing Local Schema Markup
Local Schema Markup Graphics From the Web

Implementing Local Schema Markup

When it comes to local SEO, leaving no stone unturned is the name of the game, and one such hidden treasure that often goes unnoticed is schema markup. By bridging the gap between your site and search engine crawlers, schema markup provides an unparalleled opportunity to boost your local search visibility. In this article, we will unravel the enigma of local schema markup and guide you on how to implement it effectively.

The What and Why of Local Schema Markup

Schema markup, a semantic vocabulary of tags or microdata, is added to your website’s HTML to provide search engines with richer, more insightful information about your website’s content. Local schema markup is a type of schema that’s geared towards providing specific local business information to the search engines. It helps paint a clearer picture of your business’s offerings, operations, and location. According to Google’s Search Gallery, “When you use structured data to mark up content, you help Google better understand its context for display in Search, and you achieve better distribution of your content to users from Search.”^1^

Implementation Guide: Getting Hands-on

If you take the appropriate technique, incorporating local schema markup into your website will be a breeze. Here’s a simple guide to get you started:

  • Choose the Right Schema Type: First, choose a schema for your company. Schema.org provides a myriad of LocalBusiness subtypes, including FoodEstablishment, Dentist, and RealEstateAgent, among others.^2^
  • Fill in Business Details: After deciding on the right schema type, you can proceed to providing your company information. This includes the basics like name, address, and phone number (NAP), along with additional attributes like opening hours, payment accepted, area served, and more.
  • Add Schema to Your Website: After compiling the business details, the schema script should be added to your website. This can be done by including the code in the website’s header or footer, or on individual pages’ HTML.
  • Test Your Schema: The final step is testing your schema markup. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is an invaluable resource here. It will help you identify if Google can correctly parse your structured data markup and display it in search results.^3^

The Power of Local Schema Markup

The role of schema markup in SEO is not only pivotal but also multi-dimensional. By providing a deeper understanding of your website content to search engines, schema markup can significantly improve your site’s SERP visibility and Click-through Rates (CTR). Additionally, it enables rich results, enhancing the overall user experience and potentially boosting conversion rates. A study conducted by WordStream found that using schema markup can increase CTR by up to 30%.^4^

Staying Ahead in the Local SEO Game

In an era where search algorithms are becoming more complex and competition for local search visibility is ever-intensifying, implementing local schema markup is not a choice, but a necessity. It offers a distinct competitive advantage, enabling you to deliver more precise and enriched information about your business to search engines.

Remember, in the local SEO battleground, it’s not about surviving but thriving. Implementing local schema markup is your step towards turning the tide in your favor.


^1^ “Introduction to Structured Data.” Google Search Central. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data

^2^ “Schema Type: LocalBusiness.” Schema.org. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://schema.org/LocalBusiness

^3^ “Structured Data Testing Tool.” Google. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/

^4^ Litsa, Tereza. “10 reasons why you need schema markup.” Search Engine Watch. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2016/08/29/10-reasons-why-you-need-schema-markup/

Understanding Local Search Ranking Factors
Local Search Ranking Graphics From the Web

Understanding Local Search Ranking Factors

Competing well in SEO requires an understanding of the factors that determine a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). For businesses operating within a specific locale, local search ranking factors carry particular importance. This article delves into the crucial factors influencing local search rankings and provides insights on how to optimize your website to excel in the local SEO landscape.

What Are Local Search Ranking Factors?

Local search ranking factors are the variables that search engines consider when determining the ranking of a webpage for localized search queries. According to Google, local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence, which means how well your business matches the search, how far it is from the searcher, and how well-known or reputable your business is, respectively.^1^ These factors collectively create a more localized search experience, directing users to businesses that are in close proximity and suit their specific needs.

Navigating the Influential Factors

When dealing with local search rankings, there are many aspects to consider. Let’s dive deeper into some of the most impactful ones:

  • Google My Business (GMB) Profile

Your GMB profile is a significant local ranking factor. According to a study by Moz, GMB signals (proximity, categories, keyword in business title) account for 33.8% of local pack ranking factors.^2^ A fully optimized profile with accurate and comprehensive information about your business can greatly enhance your local SEO efforts.

  • On-Page Signals

On-page SEO elements such as keywords in titles, domain authority, and the presence of NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) also play a vital role. It’s important to ensure your website is optimized with relevant local keywords and has consistent NAP details across all pages.^3^

  • Citations

Citations, or online references to your business’s NAP information, contribute to your business’s online prominence. Consistency in your business’s citation data across various online directories is critical for improving local search rankings.

  • Reviews

Customer reviews significantly influence local SEO rankings. Not only do they provide proof of your business’s credibility and quality, but the number of reviews, review velocity, and review diversity are also important ranking factors.^4^

  • Links

Inbound links to your site from reputable, high-authority websites can increase your site’s authority and relevance, thereby boosting its local search ranking. The number of linking domains, their authority, and the relevance of linking content are important considerations.

Staying Ahead in the Local SEO Race

Understanding local search ranking factors is the cornerstone of any successful local SEO strategy. You may boost your company’s online presence, attract more local customers, and boost sales by giving certain SEO aspects a higher priority.

The digital landscape is ever-evolving, and so are local search ranking factors. Keeping up with these changes and continuously optimizing your local SEO strategies is key to maintaining a strong online presence. To rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs) is a marathon, not a sprint.


^1^ “Local results on Google.” Google Search Central. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

^2^ “The State of Local SEO: Industry Insights for 2021.” Moz. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://moz.com/state-of-local-seo

^3^ Meyers, Mike. “On-Page SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021).” Backlinko. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo

^4^ “Why Online Reviews Matter For Local SEO.” ReviewTrackers. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.reviewtrackers.com/blog/why-online-reviews-matter-local-seo/

Conclusion

In the realm of digital marketing, Local SEO has emerged as an influential factor that can no longer be ignored or trivialized. As the world becomes more connected, the paradox is that local, personalized experiences have become even more pivotal in driving business growth. In this light, we have ventured deep into the foundations of Local SEO in the preceding sections, from understanding its importance to comprehending its multifaceted components. As we conclude this segment, let’s recap and consolidate our understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of Local SEO.

The Why of Local SEO

The growth of internet usage and mobile technology has reshaped the consumer journey. Users are increasingly relying on the internet to find local businesses, and search engines have responded by providing more geographically relevant results. For businesses, this means that mastering local SEO has become a necessity to ensure their products or services are visible to the right audience at the right time and place.^1^

The beauty of local SEO lies in its precision. By focusing on geographical location, local SEO allows businesses to compete in their specific market niche, giving even small businesses the chance to stand out against national brands. The positive impact on local businesses is profound, from increased web traffic to improved foot traffic, and ultimately, higher sales and revenue.^2^

The How of Local SEO

Throughout this chapter, we’ve explored various strategies to optimize local SEO, from setting up and optimizing Google My Business, implementing local schema markup, understanding local search ranking factors, to conducting local keyword research.

Understanding that Local SEO is about more than simply SEO and developing an online presence that is comprehensive and consistent with your offline presence is fundamental to these methods. This involves optimizing your website’s on-page and technical SEO, building strong off-page signals through reviews and backlinks, and ensuring a seamless user experience across devices.^3^

Moreover, maintaining accuracy and consistency across all online platforms, particularly regarding your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information, is essential. Another crucial factor is gathering and responding to online customer reviews, which not only improves your online reputation but also boosts your visibility in local search.^4^

The Journey Ahead

As we conclude, remember that local SEO is a long-term strategy that requires ongoing effort and attention. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so are the algorithms that drive local search.

With this foundation of Local SEO, we’re poised to delve deeper into the advanced tactics and strategies that can elevate your local business to new heights. The next chapters will build upon this knowledge, providing an even more nuanced understanding of local SEO. Onward to the journey of mastering local SEO!


^1^ Sterne, Jim. “Why Local SEO Is About to Become Even More Important.” Entrepreneur. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286408.

^2^ Robinson, Dave. “What is Local SEO and Why Is It Important?” BrightLocal. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/what-is-local-seo/

^3^ Enge, Eric. “The Definitive Guide to Local SEO.” Search Engine Journal. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo/

^4^ “Why Online Reviews Matter For Local SEO.” ReviewTrackers. Accessed July 2, 2023. https://www.reviewtrackers.com/blog/why-online-reviews-matter-local-seo/

READ MORE: From Visibility to Viability: The Impact of SEO on Restaurant Web Design

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