What is local SEO? Local SEO (search engine optimization) is a series of steps that businesses must take to drive consumers or other buyers to their locations when they are specifically searching for “near me” options.
More than ever, convenience and proximity have become key factors in decision-making. Just as search engine optimization helps a brand appear at the top of online searches, local SEO is geared toward showcasing nearby options. Buyers may make decisions based on a mere quarter of a mile.
A number of factors go into whether or not your business will be found via local search. Big brands with multiple locations, as well as small single-unit stores, service businesses, and restaurants, are all optimizing and competing to appear in that “Google 3-Pack” (the first three listings one sees when performing a local search).
5 key components of local search
1. Claim your GMB listing
Google remains the most-used search engine. Claiming your Google Profile listing and making sure all the information it contains is current and accurate is the first step. According to Google’s site, “relevance, distance, and prominence” are the most important factors in determining your local ranking.
Make sure you’ll be found for those products and services that your target customers seek. In other words, if a local variety store sells toys, you’ll want to be sure to include that in your product listing (especially around the holiday season).
2. Ensure consistency across websites
This may seem obvious, but make sure your address and basic information are accurate and consistent across websites. Always list your business(es) the same way (e.g., Street versus St., Rte. versus Route). Pick one format and stick to it. Keep your store hours up to date.
Local citation is the term SEO experts use to describe this. You may also hear the term NAP (name, address, phone). Tools exist to check consistency across the web from companies like Ahrefs, streamlining the process.
3. Maintain reviews
According to BrightLocal‘s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. As you can see, reviews are critically important to consumers and will also positively impact your ranking in local searches. Both quality and quantity are important.
4. Optimize your landing pages and website
If you have multiple locations in your business, build a local landing page for each. Many larger brands use services to keep all of their pages up to date and recommend enhancements and locally relevant keywords.
Your website is critically important too. On-page optimization refers to the keywords you use on your site. They should be aligned with those words that consumers or businesses use when they are searching for what you offer. You need a fully optimized site for mobile, especially now that many searches are performed from a phone rather than desktop or tablet.
5. Leverage all media and organic mentions
Local listings in directories, mentions on social media, and cross-promotion from other local businesses (as well as local PR) can all also factor into your ranking (and customer perception of your brand).
Local SEO is ever-evolving.
Google often fine-tunes its algorithm and is also continually enhancing its GMB (Google My Business) listings. Consider your GMB page a mini-site and make sure that what the customer sees is appealing and detailed.
Above all, train yourself to see the world through the eyes (and screens) of your customers. Check your ranking often and make sure your specials, new products, photos, and reviews are all current. Stay active on social media and engage your local community in collaborative marketing efforts.
Hiring experts to create content and fine-tune your search strategy is well worth the investment. You’ll be able to stay on top of trends and make sure your business is found by the right people at the right time and place.