What Is Local SEO and Why You Need To Think About Local Search

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online presence so that you improve your visibility in localized search results. 

When someone searches for a service or product in their local area, for example a co-working spaces or hairdresser, Google uses a complex algorithm which determines that your intent is local (you probably don’t want to travel hundreds of miles for a haircut right?) and it will show which businesses are most suited to the search query and show them in the Map Pack high up the search page. 

Optimizing your online presence for local SEO helps to improve your chances of showing up in the top search results and map pack, in turn bringing more local customers to your business. 

Why is Local SEO so important?

Local SEO is becoming more and more important for businesses of all sizes and locations. According to Google, 46% of all search results have local intent. Almost half of all searches online are made with the intention of finding a local business or solution. So it’s obviously important you consider it in your SEO strategy. 

What does local SEO mean for my business?

Aforementioned, local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence and website so that you stand a better chance of showing up in local search results. Steps include optimizing your website for local keywords and locations, setting up and optimizing your Google My Business listing, building local citations and backlinks. 

If we talk about Google specifically, this means helping your business listing show in the local map pack, which is shown above organic search results, meaning you typically get more exposure as you appear more often and to a higher volume of relevant queries. 

Screenshot that shows the map pack for “pediatric therapy miami” search query on Google

What’s the difference between Local and Organic SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there are two main types that you are going to come across and need to be aware of: local and organic SEO. While they both aim to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), there are some key differences between the two. If you are confused by some of the lingo used in SEO, check out our helpful SEO terms article.

Organic SEO is all about optimizing a website’s content and structure to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords and phrases. It involves various techniques such as keyword research, on-page optimization, content creation, and link building. The goal of organic SEO is to attract more traffic to a website and improve its visibility in search engines.

On the other hand, local SEO is a specialized form of SEO that focuses on improving a business’s visibility in local search results. This type of optimization aims to help businesses attract more customers from their local area by targeting location-specific keywords and phrases. Local SEO techniques include optimizing a website’s content for local keywords, building local citations, creating a Google My Business listing, and earning local backlinks.

The biggest difference between local and organic SEO is the scope of the target audience. Organic SEO targets a broader audience, regardless of their location while Local SEO, on the other hand, focuses on a specific geographic location or region. For example, a bakery in New York City may want to optimize their website for the keyword “bakery in NYC” to attract more local customers.

Another difference between the two is the way search engines display results. Local search results are displayed in a separate section on the search engine results page, known as the local pack or map pack. This section displays a map with business listings and reviews for businesses that match the user’s search query. 

Screenshot showing the Map Pack results for “Bakery NYC” on Google

Organic search results are displayed below the local pack and may be more general in nature.

Screenshot showing organic search results for “Bakery NYC” on Google

Importance of Google My Business listing

Your Google My Business listing is one of the most important factors in local SEO. This is the listing that appears in the local search results and includes important information about your business, such as your address, phone number, and hours of operation. 

Screenshot which shows the Google Business Listing for Always Keep progressing on Google

Google will compare other information available online to your business listing so it is important you keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistent across all online platforms. 

By creating and optimizing your Google My Business listing, you can significantly improve your chances of appearing at the top of the local search results and attracting more local customers to your business. Best of all, it is totally FREE! 

How Google ranks Local search results

Google Algorithms change a LOT, and the exact details are normally kept secret. But on the Google website you find this information about how Google determies local rankings, and it is broken into 3 main categories. 

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence 
Screenshot from the “How to improve your local ranking on Google” from Google

In Google’s documentation it states “Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for. Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.” 

Clearly then your business profile should be complete and accurate, with all relevant information about your business available. 

“Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we do know about their location.” 

The most complex of these criteria is Prominence as it tries to factor in offline popularity into the search results. “Prominence refers to how well known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking.For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands are also likely to be prominent in local search results.”

But it doesn’t stop there, while the exact ranking factors are secret, many leading local SEO experts believe these factors affect local pack ranking  

  • Additional GMB categories
  • Internal Linking across entire website 
  • Proper placement of map pin
  • Age of lsiting
  • High numerical star ratings
  • Completeness of GBP listing
  • Quality and authority of inbound links
  • Keywords in native Google reviews.

Importantly Google adds “Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.” meaning you also need to make sure you are following all the organic SEO best practices to stand the best chance of climbing the local map pack rankings. 

How To Improve Your Google Business Listing

Now you know how important having your Google Business profile optimized it’s time to make sure yours is up to scratch. To get you started we have put together a 30 point checklist to for improving your google business listing and improving your local SEO. Inside is 30 steps you can take right now to improve your listing today.

It’s perfect whether your an established brand who wants to run an audit or a new business looking to get set up right from day one. You can simply tick of the tasks as you complete them and you will be well on your way to improving your local rankings on Google.

Click here to get 30 Point checklist for improving your Google business listing for local SEO.


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