Local search engine optimization is a branch of SEO that is focused on the optimization of a website for local search
Here are a few stats that prove how important local search continues to be for businesses:
Lawyers & Law Firms
The reason why this is such a huge benefit is that anyone who has been in an accident or has another issue will be on the phone attempting to find attorneys who offer free consultations.
When done right, local SEO will push the attorney to the top of the search results for that location, and the dominant call to action will be the “call us” button.
Doctors & Medical Practices
When someone is searching for a doctor, in my experience, it has been that someone is always searching for a doctor nearby or a doctor “near me.”
When it comes to doctors, people are more comfortable calling to set an appointment, and they are most likely looking for an easy way to look up directions to the doctor’s offices.
The Google search results provide an easy way for someone to call a plumber directly, read reviews, and access local plumbers immediately if they have such an emergency
These businesses achieve the most benefit from local SEO because of the immediacy of customer reviews and local address information prevalent in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
While, as SEO professionals, we would love to see everyone benefit from local SEO and sell these services to more clients, the reality is that some businesses just don’t lend themselves well to local SEO efforts. Businesses like online-only ecommerce shops, local authors, businesses that don’t want to share their local information, and private online sellers who want to keep their information private are likely not great candidates for local SEO services.
When it comes to local SEO, it isn’t all that different from organic SEO – keyword research, content, links, and on-page technical SEO. It just has a local focus. These elements are important to get right for your website and its industry overall in order to outperform the competition in the SERPs. When optimizing for local search, however, these parts contain more of a local focus on searches people are performing in the immediate area surrounding the business (e.g., local city names)
Keyword research for local SEO has not changed all that much, although some aspects are a little bit different. Now, statistics show that people have more access to devices like smartphones, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. These devices pave the way for voice search to be one of the primary avenues of executing local searches. It’s easier to say “find a doctor near me” or “find a plumber near me” for most people than it is to type. Thus, it isn’t surprising to see a rise in local queries based on conversational voice search. If your industry is service-oriented, try out keyword variations that include questions.
Content with a local focus has a significant importance on local SEO efforts. Depending on your industry, content with local focus, depth, breadth, and knowledge tends to do well.
Writing custom local content with all of these factors will help you achieve the quality content Google wants to return for certain local results
What should you not do when it comes to content? Wikipedia-type content is the worst type of content you could write.
The reason why this is the worst type of content is that not only is the content usually thin, the value that it brings and the value of the research put into the content is usually just as thin. Thin content adds little value to your SEO efforts.
For local SEO, links are a little bit different than organic SEO. First, you must consider Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when acquiring all links. You don’t want your link acquisition efforts to result in a manual action (i.e., penalty) from Google. If you build links that violate any of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, Google will eventually detect them. The next thing you know, your entire website could disappear from the organic search results.
In local SEO, there are various link categories that make up a quality local SEO link profile. These include:
Current statistics, data, and trends suggest that local SEO is headed toward a paradigm shift in significantly improved context and understanding. The proliferation of devices, like smartphones, Amazon Echo, and Google Home, suggest a trend towards the creation of devices that have more conversation-like approaches that equal or exceed human understanding. It could even be suggested that these devices implement higher-quality, faster, and overall improved algorithms to serve enhanced voice search results to the user. Google is always adjusting and updating its algorithms. It remains to be seen what will happen, but hopefully it will help improve all search results.
Below, I have broken the most critical local SEO ranking signals into two sections
The traditional thought process when we think about link building is that we want high authoritative domains to link back to our websites and we want as many of them as possible. However, that way of thinking might not always be relevant for a small or mediumsized local business.
If you’re tasked to build links for a local brick-and-mortar store, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for when building those links.
Local backlinks are done with the intention to build relevance for a website towards its locality.
Local SEO professionals fixate on:
These tasks are all done to serve the purpose of establishing a presence within the SERPs for local terms in the local pack with Google My Business, and the organic search results for geotargeted keywords. So, a local backlink should serve the following criteria
Citation building, finding general directories, and correcting the information you are currently in will help you get started. Citations are great because they offer the ability to place your NAP information somewhere and allow you to put a link down on some fairly decent websites that are not spam and might even be seen by some random searches if the query is low enough in competition. The idea behind this process is to get into the habit of getting the business’ name out there in as many sources as possible.
To answer the anonymous quote above, here are some types of local links you can build for a sandwich shop:
If you’re caught up with your assumed competition for your space in search in respects to backlinks, then the natural next step for you is to get more links than your competition.
Explore other local businesses and where they have acquired press. Doing this will help you get some insights on how other businesses not in our industry have built links in the same local space.
Not sure what to write? Here are a few ideas to get you started
Once upon a time, local business owners had tunnel vision for NAP and directory links when it came to local SEO. But what about content? For years, so many local business owners developed an innate fear of creating local content. But, times are changing.
Content is crucial if you want people to find your local business online and visit you IRL. Search engines have seriously upped the ante on all things local. Sure, you still want to have the correct NAP and build directory links. But if you want to grow revenue and your business, you need to create hyperlocal content.
NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local and Local Pack algorithms, and building citations with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business listing and listed online addresses can influence your local rankings.
However, having a consistent NAP is also important to the user journey as online directories and social bookmarking sites aren’t just used by Google, they’re used by humans too.
Think with Google data shows that there are five touchpoints that, more often than not, lead to a purchase/affirmative site action: WHEN THE USER JOURNEY STARTS
When users are performing their first searches, this is your first opportunity to make an impression and be a part of the user journey. If you’re appearing prominently in the Local Pack or within the SERPs, you want your users to click through to content that both provides value and satisfies their user intent. Lazy Local Pages Help Nobody In a lot of cases, when a website “localizes” it means the generation of local content and local pages. These are executed with varying degrees of effort, care, and detail, but ultimately lazy local pages help nobody.
A lazy local page is in effect a doorway page, a thin page that offers little value to the user and has the sole purpose of trying to rank for local search terms. Google doesn’t like doorway pages (due to them offering poor user experience) and rolled out a doorway page “ranking adjustment” algorithm in 2015. The Possum update in 2016 also went some way to tackling poor quality and spam, but this is a tactic that has been persisted with and in a lot of verticals they are still effective (until something better comes along). Google’s official support documentation defines doorways as:
Sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.
Even if you rewrite all the content on these pages making sure they’re not duplicate, but they all carry the exact same message just with a different city targeted, they offer no value at all. Google can see through this, and users will be left dissatisfied.
Creating Good Local Value Pages
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines define content in two parts: This is the way you should look at local search.
When someone in London searches for [plumbers in london], Google has to break down the query into both main and supporting sections, as well as look for intent.
Common Reasons for Inconsistent NAP
From experience, inconsistent NAP can be caused by a number of human errors and business changes, including:
Google Local Pack: User Experience & Attribution
Google’s Local Pack runs on a different algorithm to the traditional organic search results, and is heavily influenced by user location when making the search. Google My Business has an attribution problem, and more often than not a lot of clicks from GMB listings are classified as direct traffic rather than organic traffic in Google Analytics.
Local searches often represent higher than average conversion rates, as customers seeking out a local product or service are likely to pursue and complete their actions. That being said, a lot of local businesses are still not taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of them and tying in performance and user satisfaction.
Most online searches are conducted from mobile devices. That is especially true when it comes to local queries, so optimizing for mobile should become your priority. Follow Google’s guidelines for creating a mobile-friendly website. Also, there’s a great SEJ article about optimizing websites for local search on mobile. Take a look at the mobile version of your website through your customers’ eyes. Take a user journey to see if all interface elements are functional, navigation is easy, and all necessary information is accessible in a couple of taps. SEMrush’s analysis of 150,000 random websites showed that 82 percent have issues significantly affecting their performance. Your website most certainly has issues dragging its speed down. So, the next step of optimization should be fixing technical mistakes: ensuring nothing slows down page loading, viewport tags are correct, and AMP (if you have it) is implemented properly. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to fix universal issues, like crawlability, site architecture, and content structure. Once again, the SEMrush toolkit can help you here with the Site Audit tool. Select Mobile User Agent when setting up, so the tool will go for a mobile version of your website:
Did you know that two people divided by just a few miles will get different results for the same query? Proximity is very important in local SEO, and having the ability to manage your search engine performance in an exact location is extremely beneficial. National-level data is useless for a local business. Even city-level data will soon become obsolete in most urban areas. Following that trend, SEMrush features targeting by ZIP code in its Position Tracking tool. Now, when you’re adding a location to your tracking campaign, you can just start typing your postal code, or the name of your street, and get a drop-down list of suggestions:
1. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Google My Business (GMB), the most recent incarnation of what was previously called Google Places and Google Local, is the starting point for any online review marketing strategy. Ratings here determine your star rating in Google Maps results, as well as in the Google Local Pack, the list of Maps results that show up when users perform a local search.
2. INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC REVIEW SITES
While industry-specific review sites don’t directly impact your star ratings in Google Maps and Google’s local search results, they do impact your rankings in search results, and star ratings in non-local search results are often visible before clicking through. On top of that, 97 percent of customers say they’re influenced by customer reviews. On every measure, the more reviews available, the better, which is why you want to earn as many reviews in as many places as possible, provided your products and customer service are meeting the expectations of customers. Irate or irritated customers are the most likely reviewers – and they can do serious damage to your brand reputation. So it’s important to make an effort to encourage reviews from a more representative sample of your customer base. Industry-specific review sites are sites built for or usually used within specific industries, such as Yelp for restaurants and TripAdvisor for hotels.
3. PRODUCT-REVIEW SITES
Product review sites are third-party sites designed to help companies earn reviews while vetting them for accuracy. Because customers are more likely to leave a review when they know it will be vetted and published by a third party, and since customers are more likely to trust these reviews than those selected and perhaps manipulated by the company itself, reviews on these sites are more likely to lead to conversions and positive brand sentiment than reviews on your own site using your own native system.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA
Everything we discussed above applies to social media as much as it does to Google My Business, industry-specific review sites, and product review sites, but there are a few additional things to take into consideration :
If digital marketing is a somewhat new endeavor for you and your business, there are some basics to recognize to ensure you fully understand Google My Business and the value it offers. First off: yes, using Google My Business is free. And, no, a GMB listing doesn’t replace your business’s website. Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence with a listing on Google, the most popular search engine in the world. The information you provide about your business can appear in Google Search, Google Maps, and on Google+. If you’ve previously used certain Google tools to complement your business, or your business has been operating for a while, chances are your business is already listed on Google My Business. Google Places for Business and the Google+ Pages Dashboard were the best ways to manage your business information previously, but both have automatically upgraded to Google’s universal platform, Google My Business
First step to getting your Google My Business listing up and running is to actually conduct a Google search to ensure your business doesn’t already have a GMB listing.If your business has been around for a while (several years or more), it’s likely it already has a GMB listing and you just need to claim it. Once successfully claimed, you can manage the information just as if you started the GMB listing yourself years previous. Head over to the Google My Business page for adding and claiming GMB listings and enter your most important business information (business name and address) to ensure your business doesn’t already have a listing that you need to claim
Sign in to Google My Business and make sure you’re using “card view.” If you’re viewing your locations as a list instead of cards, switch to card view by clicking the cards icon on the right side above your locations
Once you have submitted your business info and your service area (if applicable), you’ll need to verify your listing. This is crucial for the visibility and performance of your business listing.It’s probably easiest to verify your listing by mail. By doing so, Google knows the address you’ve provided as a business address exists and you receive mail there. This helps Google weed out the false listings that will only misdirect users and derail the usefulness of Google Search and Maps, among other tools. It’s important to recognize that Google won’t display your business or its edits until the business is verified. You also can’t access any page insights/analytical information or business reviews. Verification typically takes less than a week, in which Google will send you a verification code postcard that, once you receive, you verify with the enclosed code and your business will officially be live.
It’s important to use all resources Google My Business offers within its listing details to get the most out of your business locations. Some basic but crucial tips for optimizing your listing:
The most important piece of imagery in your GMB listing is obviously your profile photo. There likely won’t be an image that gets more exposure, and there likely isn’t one that will have more of an impact either. Your business profile photo should not be the brand logo itself, but of something appealing and encompassing of the brand, what it stands for, and/or what it offers.
Over the last several years, Google has made tremendous strides with available analytical data for Google My Business listings.
Now called Insights, Google offers businesses a different way to understand how customers interact with business listings, including:
LOCAL SEO & LISTINGS MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Why do enterprises view local SEO as a grocery checklist?
In short, local SEO fails when businesses lack a well-structured plan. Common misconceptions include, “If I complete A, B, and C, then my local presence will improve” or “If we’re doing traditional SEO, local will fall into place.” Wrong. In order for local SEO to succeed, businesses must define what success looks like and develop and an ongoing plan that is scalable. While businesses of any size can fall susceptible to the “grocery checklist” mentality, it’s the large enterprise businesses that have the greatest risk of catching the disease.
Regardless of channel, large businesses have built-in advantages over small competitors including but not limited to:
You’re probably already crazy busy promoting your business. Adding even more marketing tasks might seem a bit like overkill. Nowadays though, neglecting to incorporate social media into your marketing plan can cost you – not just in terms of new potential customers who don’t know you (and who your competitor is happy to collect!) but also in terms of retaining your existing customers. By building a relationship with your clients, your chances of retaining them increase, and so does their potential lifetime value.
Now let these other compelling arguments convince you even more: ‘Hey, Guys… Does Anyone Know a Good…’ Folks on social are constantly asking their friends for recommendations for almost everything, ranging from local restaurants to car repairing services. Social media platforms (as the marketing machines that they are) hone in on these conversations
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