There are certain types of businesses that should be focusing heavily on local SEO. For example, the legal industry is one such industry. According to the National Law Review, 96% of people seeking legal advice begin with a search engine.
Ninety-three percent of SERPs contain what’s called a local pack. Local packs get around 44% of user clicks, meaning that before they even get to the organic results, users are clicking on an option.
A local pack is a SERP feature that appears on the first page of results when a search query has local intent. The local pack features a map including nearby businesses relevant to the search. At one point, the local pack would show seven results, but now it shows three, and then users can click over to a more extended page of results on Google Maps.
Google creates the results in the local pack through Google My Business listings. The search engine algorithm will identify what it thinks the most relevant results are for a localized search.
The local pack is important if you need to improve your visibility and connect with an audience at the local level. When you’re ranking in that local pack, you’re going to be appearing at the top of search results, and it’s an excellent way to get the visibility you couldn’t get through just SEO.
It’s also easier for people to find essential information about your business such as your address, phone number and hours.
Having a premium spot in that local pack not only puts you front and center, but it’s organic, so you’re not paying for it as you do with paid search campaigns.
With that in mind, the following are more things to know about local SEO and how to put yourself in front of the eyes of nearby customers.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO, in general, beyond just the consideration of being in the local pack, is optimizing your website in a way that’s designed to increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness through local search. Local search elements include your Google My Business Profile and the use of local keywords.
There are benefits to focusing efforts on attracting local customers. First, they’re cheaper and easier to reach. Second, they tend to be loyal, and third, they may provide recommendations about your business to other new clients.
Local SEO is for brick-and-mortar businesses, and to gather the information for these searches, a search engine will use social profile pages, links, citations and local content.
Around 46% of all searches have local intent on Google, and nearly 30% have a local pack as part of the results.
If you have a physical location, or you serve a particular geographical area, you probably need local SEO. If you’re a business that travels to your customers, such as a plumber, you should also consider focusing on local SEO.
Signs you need to start putting more of your attention on local SEO include:
- Your competitors are ranking higher than you. You always want to be above your competitors, and if you’re not, then you might need to rethink your strategy.
- If you notice a significant slump in your organic traffic suddenly, it could be due to an algorithm change, indicating you need to make some changes in your strategy.
- You’re not optimized for what is sometimes called “near me searches.” A near me search is when where people are looking for something that’s physically located close by to them.
SO, how do you get started?
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Undoubtedly, the most critical thing you can do in terms of local SEO is claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing. When you get a GMB account, you find and claim your business online, add contact details and categories and then verify your listing.
It’s a pretty simple process, but one that a lot of businesses overlook.
Keep the following in mind when setting up your GMB listing:
- After you claim your listing, enter as much information as you can about your business. The more complete your profile, the more likely it is that you will rank well for local searches. Your information should be kept up-to-date and accurate, including attributes of your business and your business category, as well as your actual address. This is what Google uses to make sure your business is relevant to a search.
- Verify your location through the Google verification process. This is done to ensure accuracy of location-based information. Your location verification affects your Local Pack results and your visibility in Google Maps.
- Add images. You can add a variety of pictures of your business to your listing, and they’re going to offer more context to people who connect with you through local search.
- If you change anything, like your holiday hours, make sure it’s updated on your GMB listing.
- When you get customer reviews, respond to them to show your dedication to customer service. The Google algorithm wants to see that you’re responding to the reviews you get, and when you do you’re likely to improve your visibility.
Online Directories and Citations
A local citation is any mention of a local business online. For example, it might be your name or your phone number. Citations help people to find local businesses, but they also impact your local search rankings.
Some of the types of local search citations can include local business data platforms. Google My Business is the primary one of these, and others include Acxiom and Infogroup. There are also business listings on Yelp and Facebook.
There are geo and industry-specific platforms, such as chamber of commerce websites.
Then, there are additional citations that you can earn on various types of sites including news sites, blogs, and government databases.
You can automate the process of getting local citations with software solutions, or you can fill out forms directly on local business platforms.
You’ll often find that you have citations that appeared without you taking any action from automated aggregation and data flow from local platforms.
A citation has a few core components, which are name, address, and phone number. These components are also referred to as NAP.
The number of citations you have, the accuracy, and the quality of the platforms where they appear is all relevant to your local SEO.
You need to do an audit to see what citations are floating around out there because inaccurate ones can actually be problematic for SEO and they can misdirect customers.
One of the most important overarching themes to remember with local SEO is consistency. You want all the information online about your business to be consistent. For example, you want your GMB to match your website which should both match your citations. Otherwise, when there are inconsistencies, it’s a red flag to Google.
Add Location Pages
Location pages are a great way to optimize your site for local search. Location pages provide things like your name and address, descriptions of your business, promotions, and customer testimonials.
If you just have one brick-and-mortar location, you can optimize your About Us page.
If you have a service-based business, such as a home improvement company, you might want to make location pages that specific all the locations where you go.
When you’re optimizing your content, you can add location modifiers. This might include town, region, and state. In some cases, it can also include region or neighborhood.
When adding location pages or creating content driven by location-based keywords, every page needs to be completely unique. You can’t use the same content on multiple pages and just switch out the location keywords. The content can be similar but not duplicated.
You want to build many high-quality inbound links back to your website. This shows Google that you have something high-quality to offer people, making it a key ranking factor.
This is important for general SEO as well, but for local SEO efforts, you want to try and get links from local authority sources.
If you have relationships with other local businesses, start there. You might have to do some cold email outreach too.
Read:- Choosing an SEO Company
Getting involved in the local community can help with link-building. For example, if you sponsor a local event, then you might get a link to your site on the event page or within a press release.
Work on Getting Reviews
The importance of responding to reviews was mentioned above, but in general, for local SEO, you need to work on gathering reviews from customers. Even when a review is negative, having it and responding to it accordingly can be helpful.
You should ask your customers directly to leave reviews and make it easy for them to do so.
For example, send your customers an email with a review link after your interactions. Finally, local SEO isn’t something you can set and forget, and this is true of general SEO too. You have to be watching to make sure your listings are accurate consistently, your content is updated, and you’re following along with any changes Google might make to their algorithm.