With local SEO in mind, we have put together a comprehensive guide which covers tips and tools to help you optimise your business for local SEO.
Small businesses can benefit greatly from local search: 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information and are looking for local businesses. In the event that your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could miss out on potential customers who are looking for local items. The importance of local SEO is critical if you want to stay relevant for your business over the long term.
In the world of SEO, local SEO is of great importance. Therefore, if you are a local business looking to grow your business online, and you don’t have your local SEO in order, you’re missing out on a big opportunity every time someone local searches for your products or services on the internet. It’s time to get started!
What is Local SEO?
The purpose of local SEO is to increase the online visibility of local businesses by increasing their online visibility. In some ways, it’s like organic SEO, but with an added geographical component to it. In order to accomplish local SEO, businesses need to find local keywords, optimize their Google My Business profile, as well as build citations with their “NAP” information.
As a local search marketer, you’re expecting to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) for terms that are local in nature.
As a means of gathering information about local search results, search engines use signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user for their search.
Any business that has a physical location or serves a geographical area can benefit from local SEO.
Here’s what a local search result looks like on Google:
It is possible for businesses to use local SEO in order to position their products and services so that they stand out to local prospects and customers who are looking for them. Consequently, if you are looking to increase your organic local traffic, it is imperative that you improve your local SEO.
Local SEO – Why is it Important?
Approximately 46% of all Google searches have a local intent (Search Engine Roundtable). According to RankRanger, about 29% of all Google SERPs contain a local pack as a part of the search results. According to a Google study, 76% of consumers who search for something local on their phone visit a store the same day they search for it.
In a nutshell, it is obvious that local searches make up a big chunk of search engine optimization. If you’re able to get your local business in front of these searches, chances are good they’ll be walking through your doors a few minutes later if you succeed in getting your business in front of the right searches.
How to Use Local SEO?
It is important to understand that local SEO works in the same way as regular Google search at a high level.
The first thing Google does when someone does a search is scan through its index to determine the best results that can be provided for that query.
The unique aspect of Local SEO lies in the fact that Google uses a different set of ranking factors for ranking the results for local searches.
As a matter of fact, local SEO has a unique set of ranking signals, including:
- The location that the person is searching from
- Keywords used in online reviews
- Number of “check-ins” at that location
- Shares on social media
- Google Maps star rating for that business
- NAP citations
- Presence of Google My Business listing
- Keywords used in Google My Business profile
- Sentiment of online reviews
How To Track Map Pack Rankings
If you are embarking on a local SEO campaign, one of the first steps you need to take is to benchmark your current situation.
To be specific, you want to know where you rank in the Map Pack for your city. Keep a track of your Map Pack rankings over the course of time and see how they change.
A Map Pack tracker can be found in just about every rank tracking tool on the planet.
The problem with local SEO is that the location from which you are searching has a big impact on your ranking. It is important to note that the Map Pack results can vary widely from one mile to another.
Consider for a moment that someone is searching for a “coffee shop” near 72nd, 2nd, and 3rd avenues in New York, for example.
As you can see, those results will be targeted specifically to the situation in which the individual finds themselves.
Interestingly, a search performed just a few blocks away can turn up a completely different set of Map Pack results (or the same results listed in a different order) if that same search is undertaken just a few blocks away.
There’s a significant risk in tracking your local rankings only from a single local location (say “New York”), as you’re only getting a small sample size of your organic ranking in the world as a whole.
Which is the reason why you should get as granular as you can with your local rankings. By viewing your ranking on a city or local area basis, you will be able to see how you compare to your competitors.
The best tool for tracking detailed map information would be a tool called Local Falcon by Google.
Nonetheless, there are some other companies that do pretty much the same thing – like Local Viking, for example.
To get started, you will need to choose your business name (unfortunately, this feed comes directly from Google Maps so you will need to create a Google My Business profile in order to use this tool).
Choosing one keyword you would like to check your rankings for is then the next step.
In the final stage, you will need to determine which level of specificity or broadness you prefer for your rank tracking.
A 5-mile (8 km) rank tracking radius is an example of what the tool can do.
The grid is divided into 7 x 7 sections, so you will be able to get a clearer picture of where your business is ranked within this entire market.
If you would like to see the edges of where you might rank on this grid, you can set it up at 15 by 15 if you so desire.
As soon as that is done, let’s look at the rankings for the website.
Upon running the tool, you will be presented with a visual interface that displays your ranking based on each geographical location you have selected:
You will see that you have a nice interactive map that shows your ranking in a range of different spots throughout the city as you can see from the video above.
On this map, you can see that the rankings are best on the outskirts of the city, and as you get closer to the downtown, the rankings get progressively worse.
There is no need to worry about this, as it isn’t necessarily a problem. There is a possibility that one of your competitors may have a hotel that is located in a more central location than yours. If a user searches for a product or service using a mobile device from that location, Google considers the competitor to be a better option.
So, with that being said, if you want to find places where you should rank well, but don’t, use the tool.
As an example, you can see that the local paving business is ranked first in the north of the city, with only one exception.
It would be better for you to click on the result of the search, in that case, to find out who surpasses you in rankings:
As you can see, a competitor is ranking number one in this case.
In case you aren’t satisfied with the position #2, check out the competitor’s listing on Google and you will find the address there. It will be easier for you to verify the physical location of your contact on this map if you do so in this manner.
Putting the competitor’s position on the ranking map will enable you to see why you aren’t beating them to the top spot if you put it there.
In a simple explanation, the reason for this is that this search location is MUCH closer to the competitor than the previous one. It is therefore not surprising why Google is attempting to boost this competitor’s search engine ranking at the top of the results.
How To Optimize Your Business for Local SEO
The most important factors for Google local search rankings and how to optimize for them are discussed here.
1. Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business) give information about your business for free.
Details like your location, services, products, and photos can be provided.
Once it’s listed in local search results, it will appear on Google.
An example of how it could look on a mobile device is shown here.
Google considers optimizing your Business Profile to be the most important ranking factor for local SEO.
The local pack can’t be accessed without a Google Business Profile.
Tips for writing a Business Profile:
- Establish detailed business hours (including holidays)
- Describe your business using various attributes (such as outdoor seating, WiFi, etc.).
- Regularly upload photos and videos (promotes engagement and improves rankings)
You can learn more about setting up and optimizing your Business Profile by reading our guide.
2. Name, Address, & Phone Number (NAP) Citations
Online NAP citations are listings that include your name, address, and phone number.
Social media profiles and business directories usually feature them.
In order for Google to know that all of your business information is accurate, you need NAPs.
This is how it looks:
Google is more confident that your address is where you say it is and your phone number is what you say it is the more NAP citations you have for your business.
Therefore, you should gain consistent NAP citations on as many reputable websites as you can.
The Listing Management tool from Semrush makes it easy to check your local listings and distribute them worldwide.
The first step is to open up the tool and enter the name of your company.
This report will show you how your online presence is currently performing. Included are the total number of listings, listings to be fixed, and the average star rating.
You can see a list of the most important directories, as well as your status in each:
- Present (your business is listed, the data is correct, and no further action is needed)
- With issues (your business is listed, but the data is incorrect)
- Not present (your business isn’t listed, and you’re missing out on potential customers)
- Unavailable (the directory doesn’t currently support your business category)
The “Export” button in the top right corner allows you to download all this information.
This is how it looks:
Subscriptions allow you to automatically distribute your business information to all directories.
Ensure your listing is current first.
Click “Edit information” if anything needs to be changed.
Additionally, you can add photos, videos, a Google Business Profile, and social media handles.
Next, you’ll see a dashboard with seven tabs:
- Your listings (a table view of all your listings and their current status)
- Google Ads (launch and track ad campaigns right from inside the tool)
- Duplicates (see all possible, processed, or removed duplicate listings)
- User Suggestions (where you can approve or reject customer-suggested changes)
- Reviews (monitor reviews and ratings from different sources for all your locations)
- Local Rankings (see how well your business ranks for any city location)
- Heatmap (track keywords on a hyper-local level with rankings around your local area)
Here’s how it looks:
Update and detail all your information.
You can then let the tool take care of maintaining your NAP citations automatically.
Tips for NAP citations:
- Ensure that your citations are 100% consistent (same name, address, phone number) everywhere.
- Don’t forget to submit your information to popular industry and local directories
- Get your listing on big players (such as Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing Places, Facebook, etc.).
3. Online Reviews
Trust is built through reviews and testimonials.
Potential buyers gain confidence in your business when they see social proof, validation, and social proof.
Consumers regularly read reviews and consider them to be essential.
Furthermore, Google recommends replying to reviews to demonstrate your appreciation for customers’ feedback.
The Listing Management tool can help you find reviews to respond to.
Simply click on the “Reviews” tab.
The tool allows you to read any review.
Click the “Reply” button after entering your comment in the tab.
Toggling the drop-down at the top of the “Reviews” table will also let you sort by newest, oldest, highest rating, or lowest rating.
This is how it looks:
The following tips can help you improve your online reviews:
- You must verify your business profile before responding to a review)
- Share the link to your Google Business Profile with your customers so that they can leave reviews.
- Offer or accept no money in exchange for reviews (against Google’s terms).
4. On-Page SEO
SEO on-page refers to optimizing a page’s content to increase its organic search rankings.
It’s essential for local SEO as well.
You are more likely to rank in the local pack if you rank higher in the organic results.
You can use Semrush’s On-Page SEO Checker to perform a quick audit and gauge your on-page SEO health.
The tool will automatically begin running an audit once you enter your domain and click “Get ideas.”.
A dashboard will appear after a few minutes with different on-page optimization ideas.
A convenient way to sort your pages is by “priority.” Scroll down to see how.
Pages like these are the most likely to rank on Google’s first page.
The most impactful results can be achieved by optimizing these pages first.
Using the keyword research you conducted, you can now create content and optimize existing content.
On-page SEO tips:
- Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions contain your locally targeted keywords
- Promote your local services on your website by adding location pages
- Provide internal links to and from pages where appropriate
A backlink is a link that points to your website from another site.
Google’s search algorithm considers them one of the strongest ranking signals.
Based on our analysis of over 600,000 keywords, we confirmed that ranking positions are correlated with referring domains.
Your website has links to one or more referring domains.
A higher ranking is more likely if you have a large number of referring domains.
In addition, traditional link-building strategies can also be used for local link building.
Local businesses have access to many unique opportunities.
To build links locally, follow these tips:
- Seek out links from other local (non-competitor) businesses
- Share your stories with your local newspapers and websites
- Participate in local events and sponsor them
Tools for Local Seo
The following tools will help your business remain visible to your target audience consistently.
1. Google Search Console
Your site’s visibility in search results can be monitored, maintained, and fine-tuned with Google Search Console. This tool is great for ensuring your site is crawlable and understanding how Google sees your pages.
2. Listing Management
This tool helps you manage and distribute your business information with Semrush’s all-in-one local SEO tool. Keep track of all your customer reviews, submit your NAP (name, address, phone), and submit to 70+ directories.
3. Position Tracking
The most important feature of the Position Tracking tool for local SEO is that it monitors keywords and rankings in ZIP codes and local packs. Moreover, you can monitor changes in position and keep an eye on your competitors.
4. Social Media Toolkit
With the Social Media Toolkit, you can schedule updates on all your social media accounts, including Google Business Profile (GBP). Posting frequently on your GBP is one of Google’s best practices. Among other things, you can share offers, events, products, and general information.
It is critical to local SEO for your business’s success since more and more people rely on search engines and online reviews to find information. Establish relationships with other local businesses, participate in community events, and join organizations in the area. B2B SEO practices should be used if your customers are other businesses.
An SEO campaign for a local business cannot be treated as a standalone project. As part of your SEO strategy, you must also use social media marketing to improve your rankings.
Offline realities always influence online efforts. The reviews you receive will also be bad if your business isn’t performing well. You should therefore concentrate on building the best possible business.