What Is Local SEO?
Is your business visible to local customers when they search online? Without a local SEO strategy in place, you could be missing out on the opportunity to be found by people searching for businesses in your own community.
Local SEO is built on many traditional SEO practices. On-page factors, backlinks, social profiles, and indexing all play a role. However, local SEO is also a bit more nuanced. It hinges on the claiming of local listings on location-based platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook, as well as citations on online business directories and online reviews.
Websites that are optimized properly rank higher in Google search results. Top search engines like Google and Bing are able to identify users’ location based on IP address, geolocation, keyword content, and search history. The search engines use this information to decide which results to show. So, for example, a person searching for an “ice cream shop” in Austin, Texas, will likely see very different search results than a person searching for the exact same term in Portland, Oregon.
Local search results that are relevant to the user’s intent drive more conversions and engagement than generic search results. Conversions and engagement are two of the key metrics that businesses want to be looking at when they measure the effectiveness of SEO strategies.
Ideally, we like to see businesses optimizing their websites based on a combination of location and business category or categories. As part of a comprehensive local SEO strategy, businesses should also make sure to claim their local listings on top location-based platforms.
Local SEO plays an important role in Google My Business, Google’s platform for managing business listings. The best local SEO strategies include optimizing both the business’ website and the business’ Google My Business profile for local search queries.
Local SEO Checklist
The following steps in this local SEO checklist are considered the fundamental building blocks of a local SEO strategy:
- Claiming online profiles. Businesses should take control of their online profiles across top online directories and review platforms.
- Optimizing Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Claiming a Google Business Profile isn’t enough to ensure prime placement in local search. Businesses must fill out their listings with relevant and engaging information, monitor and respond to reviews, and keep listings up to date if they want to do well.
- Identifying precise location. Is the pin marker on Google Maps appearing in the correct position when people search for your business? If not, log into your Google My Business profile and make the necessary adjustments.
- Eliminating inconsistencies in citations. A business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) should appear consistently across the web. Even small differences can negatively impact a business’’ ability to rank highly in local search.
- Adapting on-site SEO for local search queries. Optimized business websites should be updated to include location information in all page titles, meta descriptions, and H1 tags.
- Using Schema markup. Schema markup is a part of on-site SEO. This allows businesses to display important information, like store hours and their addresses, in search engines.
Multi-location businesses may require an enhanced approach to ensure citations and websites are properly optimized for local search. These businesses will typically do better working with a partner specializing in local SEO for larger organizations.