A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO

The goal of a terrific digital marketing campaign is for people to find your business and become customers. Whether your small business offers products or services, it can be difficult to compete on search engine result pages (SERP) when it comes to organic search, especially with the popularity of paid search and the reach of large, international companies like Amazon and Walmart. 

But if your business has a local presence – either a physical store, or a targeted regional area for sales – local SEO is a tool in your marketing strategy that you might not be currently using to its fullest potential.

For some quick insights into improving your local SEO strategy, check out our recap video! Keep reading for a detailed overview.

What is Local SEO?

You’ve spent hours working on SEO for your brand website to help search engines find you, but have you taken the time to think about how your potential local customers browse? Their search engine terms – or Google Maps searches – likely include local indicators, like the city, town, or region where they hope to make a purchase.

By optimizing your content to include keywords that reflect locality, and by setting up business profiles and place cards like Google Business Profile and Apple Business Connect, you can help your business to rise in local search rankings and reach the customers most likely to purchase your products or services. 

Why is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses?

As a small business, it can be hard to break out digitally from the herd of online competitors. But many of your potential customers prefer to shop locally, so taking the time to understand and leverage local SEO will help guarantee that those customers can find you, online and in person. 

Local SEO has a number of key benefits for small businesses, including:

  • Increasing brand visibility, making it easier for new customers to find you
  • Offering opportunities for customers to rate and review your business
  • Building trust with consumers, raising the likelihood they’ll return
  • Being associated with a higher conversion rate

Why is Local SEO Important for an Overall SEO Strategy?

A healthy SEO strategy has many facets, and local SEO is one of them. Keywords and relevant, up-to-date website content is still useful for local SEO, but tools like your Google Business Profile are critical for making sure your business appears in the Local Pack at the top of SERPs and among the listed businesses in services like Google Maps. 

How Do I Know If I Need Local SEO?

Does your small business have a physical, brick-and-mortar location – or even multiple physical locations? You need local SEO. 

Does your small business serve specific regional areas? You need local SEO.

Is your business currently lost among local and national competitors on SERPs? You need local SEO.

The bottom line: Local SEO helps you reach nearby customers who would like to find your business. Why wouldn’t you want to make that search easier for them?

How Do I Improve Local SEO?

Improving local SEO means doing the market search to understand what information and localized keywords will best help you to reach your customers and using that knowledge to enhance your business’s web presence. Here are a few places to start:

  • Build out your Google Business Profile, Apple Business Connect place card, Bing Places card, and other tools that interact with key local searches.
  • Include product and services descriptions that use localized keywords and otherwise follow SEO best practices, including within image descriptions on your profiles and site.
  • Ensure that profiles and websites have accurate contact information like your address, phone and email, and hours of operation.
  • Monitor your profiles and website to keep their content fresh with new photos, video, and posts, as well as responses to reviews.
  • Create targeted FAQs to answer pointed questions on products and services, allowing search engine crawlers to see this information so that users will be able to click through directly from SERPs.
  • Get your business listed in local directories and on review sites like Yelp and Bing to increase your local citations and improve the likelihood other sites will link to your business.
  • Where useful, post maps on your site showing the area your business serves.  

How Do I Use Local SEO for Multiple Locations?

Your business might be small, but if it operates in multiple locations, how are you meant to use local SEO for all of them? Just like with international SEO, you will need to develop your site and your profiles to encompass all of your locations so your business will rank well in local searches in each area. 

That means understanding how folks in different locations and regions search differently, including regional differences in language – like how some parts of the US use the word soda and other use pop! If what is offered by your business differs between locations, you’ll need location-specific pages so customers know exactly what is available to them in their area. If you focus your local strategy on your potential customers, you will be able to better tailor the browsing and shopping experience to meet their needs.

How Do I Use Local SEO with My Google Business Profile?

Your business must be visible in local organic and Map Pack search results if you want potential high-value customers to find you. Tools like Google Business profile are invaluable for this. While Google draws local business information from a wide variety of sites, directories, and networks around the web, the search engine uses its own profiles as a single source of truth about any local business. In fact, you don’t even need a business website to have a Google Business Profile and be present in the Local Pack.

Today, GBPs provide key business information such as location and contact information, as well as enable you to:

  • Help searchers understand the experience they’ll have at your business through a variety of high-quality photos and videos.
  • Showcase offers, events, and more with Google Posts.
  • Interact with customers via Messaging, Q&A, and responding to reviews.
  • Proactively share differentiating features, health and safety information, payment methods, and more.

Google is open about the fact that there are three main local ranking factors: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence. Reviews are part of Prominence, and high review counts and scores can have a positive impact on local search. By maintaining a complete profile with useful data, you help Google to properly position your business for nearby customers who want to find your products or services.

Work with NetElixir

New to local SEO or looking to revise your approach? NetElixir’s SEO experts are here to help you design a digital marketing strategy that will connect your business with local customers and help convert their interest into sales. 

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