Local SEO. A Complete Guide
Do you run a local business in your city or region? In this case, local SEO is something that you absolutely need to consider in your marketing campaigns. In this guide, I will explain to you what local SEO is, how you can benefit from it and what are the most important elements of local SEO. Dive in and explore everything you should know about local SEO!
Table of Contents:
- What is local SEO? Definition
- Benefits of Local SEO
- Local SEO Checklist
- Local SEO: Final Thoughts
What is Local SEO? Definition
Local SEO is the process of website optimization and planning both off-site and on-site strategies to increase visibility in organic search results for local user searches. Who can benefit from local SEO? Businesses that have a physical location, such as restaurants, bars, barbers, therapists, law offices, or any other types of local businesses that operate in a given city or region.
Benefits of Local SEO
The main benefit of local SEO is that you can increase your visibility in search results for local keywords, such as those that include the name of a city (for example, “best Italian restaurant in Berlin”). This way, more users who are looking for some specific services nearby will be able to find your business easily and receive all the necessary information to choose your local business and not national or even international giants. Simply put, the biggest benefit of local SEO is that it gives you the opportunity to stand out and get local customers.
The main benefits of local SEO are:
- high positions in search results for local searches,
- increased web traffic,
- more leads,
- higher revenue,
- better brand awareness and recognition,
- more loyal local customers.
Still don’t believe that local SEO can do wonders for your business? Here are some statistics that, I hope, will convince you:
- 76% of mobile users who search for a local business on their mobile device visit the business within one day,
- 28% of local searches translate into a purchase,
- 30% of all mobile searches on Google are related to local businesses.
Local SEO Checklist
If you’re planning to include local SEO activities in your marketing plan, here’s a list of things you shouldn’t forget:
1. Google My Business
We can’t talk about how to do local SEO without Google My Business. It’s absolutely a must-have for any business that has a physical location and operates within a city or region.
To see a Google My Business profile, enter a business name in Google, and you’ll find it displayed to the right of the search results:
How to optimize your Google My Business profile? You need to provide as much information about your business as possible. These can include:
- Business name,
- Address – provide your real physical address so that users can easily find you on maps,
- Contact information – add your phone number, this way, mobile users will be able to contact you,
- Website – include your homepage URL,
- Opening hours – inform users when they can visit your local business,
- Photos – show what your headquarters looks like, introduce your team.
- Category – Google suggests a number of business categories, choose the one that best describes your business,
- social media accounts – add links to Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms,
- Questions & Answers section – answer your users’ questions.
If you want to learn more on how to have a perfect Google My Business listing, read the guide on our blog!
2. Google Map Pack
Google Map Pack (also known as Local Pack) are local search results that include Google Maps. These come up every time you search for local businesses. Let’s look at this example from the search results. When you enter “SEO agency Kraków” you will get not only search results but also a map of Kraków with highlighted locations of SEO agencies based in the city:
What’s interesting is that The Map Pack has a slightly different algorithm than Google’s traditional search results, so you should properly optimize your site to appear high in Local Pack.
Here are the most important elements of Google Local Pack optimization:
- register in Google My Business and include all the relevant information about your local business,
- add your business to Google Maps,
- include photos of your services, products or team,
- get users’ reviews,
- make your website mobile-friendly (read my mobile SEO guide to discover how to optimize your website for mobile devices),
- include local keywords on your website.
3. Local Keywords
If you want to achieve success with your local business, local keyword research is one of the most important elements of your strategies, without which it is practically not possible to begin your SEO campaign.
Let’s start by defining what’s the difference between traditional keywords and local keywords. When it comes to local keyword research, the most important rule is always to include your location, whether it is your city (Kraków, Rome, Berlin), your region (Tuscany, Bavaria), or your country (Poland, Italy, Germany).
Basically, a local keyword can consist of 3 elements: modifier + core term + location.
To properly understand the structure of local keywords, it is worth understanding what they stand for:
- modifier – a phrase that makes the keyword more specific and adds an additional value to it; e.g. best, near me, cheap, professional,
- core term – the most important part of a local keyword describing what you actually do or sell, e.g. hairdresser, SEO agency, lawyer, florist, web development agency,
- location – where your business is located, in which city, region or country, e.g. in Rome, in NY, in Mississippi.
What’s especially important when choosing keywords for your local SEO process, search intent is something you should never ignore. In a nutshell, search intent is what a user wants to get by typing in a given query, i.e. what is the main intention behind Google searches.
There are 4 main types of search intent:
- informational – users want to get information on a topic and get a better understanding,
- navigational – users are looking for a specific brand or website,
- transactional – users want to buy something or use a service,
- commercial Investigation – users already know what they want to buy, but are looking for reviews or opinions about it.
4. NAPs Citations
Have you ever heard of NAPs? It’s a very powerful Google ranking signal that can take your local SEO process to the next level. NAP is an acronym that stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, which are the basic elements that allow local customers to get in touch with you.
NAPs are particularly important as they are sufficient proof for Google that your local business data is accurate and correct.
So add information about your business on numerous local NAPs and keep in mind the following rules so that NAPs actually work and contribute to your local success:
- complete all key information about your business: name, address, and phone number are obligatory in every NAP, however, if you have such a possibility, enter your homepage URL, email, description, logo, or images as well,
- make your NAPs consistent – always give real data,
- keep your NAPs updated – if you change address or phone number always update NAPs as soon as possible, never leave old and outdated data.
5. Schema LocalBusiness
Schema (also known as structured data) is a great solution to help Google crawlers interpret your content and find all the important information about your business. There are many types of schema, but when it comes to local SEO tools, you should implement LocalBusiness schema as it can bring tangible results to your website.
If you want to check whether your site has a properly implemented local schema, there is one great tool that will help you with that. Just go to Structured Data Testing Tool and enter your homepage URL. Then this Google tool will prepare a report for you with all the schemas for your site.
LocalBusiness schema should contain the following information:
- company name,
- opening hours,
- price range,
- homepage URL,
- phone number,
6. Local Content
This is another incredibly important part of optimizing your site for local searches. Here are some ideas of what your on-page content should be like if you want local customers to reach you:
- create city-specific landing pages:
If you want to rank for local keywords, it is necessary to have proper location landing pages prepared for them. This is especially important if you run a multi-location business and operate in several cities. So, for example, if you want to get local visitors from both New York, Philadelphia and Boston, then you should create separate landing pages with unique content for each of these cities.
- create regional landing pages:
Do you operate in several cities within the same region, state or county? Create regional landing pages where users can reach city-specific landing pages. This way, you’ll be able to get more local customers who enter both queries for the region and specific cities in that region.
- create FAQ pages:
This is a great solution especially recently as more and more users are choosing voice search which is more conversational. Thanks to the FAQ section or a separate page (if your FAQs are marked up with structured data, of course), your site may appear in featured snippets, which can boost your local SEO ranking.
- create blog articles:
A blog can bring real tangible results, not just for local businesses, but even for e-commerce giants. If you want to increase your visibility in search results and appear for more local keywords, then a blog is the perfect place to do it. Here are some types of blog content that are ideal for small local business blogs:
- product/service announcements,
- industry news,
- guest posting.
7. On-Page Optimization
The next step to success is proper on-page optimization. If you’ve ever dealt with SEO, you’ve probably heard which on-page elements need to be optimized in the first place. Keep the following things in mind when doing on-page SEO for your local business:
- include a keyword in the H1 heading,
- add at least several H2 headings to separate your content,
- make URLs short, user-friendly and include keywords in them,
- include alt text to all your images,
- use HTML emphasis tags for keywords (<strong>, <em>).
I would also like to pay special attention to the metadata, title tag, and meta description, which appear in search results and have a direct impact on whether users will choose your site over your competitors.
A title tag should:
- contain 50-60 characters,
- be unique and descriptive,
- end with the name of your brand,
- include the most important keyword related to your pages,
- contain the city or region where you operate.
A meta description should:
- contain 140-160 characters,
- include CTA,
- briefly describe your content,
- contain keywords and the city or region where you operate.
If you would like to discover more on how to correctly optimize your pages, check my on-page SEO guide!
8. Local Link Building
Last but not least… you need to create local backlinks. Link building is one of the key elements of SEO strategy as a large number of natural links coming from quality domains sends a signal to Google that your local business offers good products or services. However, you need to keep in mind that local link building is a bit different from the traditional process of obtaining backlinks. Here it is important that the links are directly related not only to your industry or niche but also to your city or region. So it is worth finding local directory sites, forums or blogs that represent the location where you operate.
Local SEO Guide: Final Thoughts
If you want Google to love your local business, then you definitely should introduce local SEO activities into your marketing efforts, and over time you will see the desired results. The COVID pandemic has changed our lives and now more and more customers are choosing to support local businesses, making local SEO solutions more powerful than ever before. Above I have listed the most important elements of a guide to local SEO – if you follow my guidelines, you will definitely increase your visibility in search results for local keywords, which will translate into more leads or revenue.
If you are looking for real experts in local SEO, you have come to the perfect place – our SEO specialists will prepare a long-term data-driven SEO process for your business. Don’t hesitate and contact us, we will be happy to help!
Thanks for the article. From my perspective, local SEO is a perfect option for services. I was implementing general optimizations since the beginning of my business but only when I focused on local elements it boosted the traffic and conversions on the website. I hit the bull’s eye with the audience I reached out then.
“Local SEO” increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related searches.
Thank you for sharing such an interesting and useful blog. Hoping to see and read more blogs like this in the future.