Imagine this: You search for “best Italian food near me,” and a group of three local search results pops up at the top of the search engine results page. Their locations are indicated on a map of the town you’re currently in, and you see ratings and reviews with each restaurant listing.
You choose the result with the best review after clicking on their website and discovering from their driving directions that they’re just down the road from you. In this scenario, your experience was made possible by local search engine optimization (SEO).
Local SEO is a fantastic way to market your own local business to people in your area. But what is local SEO, and how does it work? Read on for a full local SEO guide!
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What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a facet of search engine optimization that helps your website reach nearby users in search results. With a local SEO strategy, you can rank for searches with local intent, such as those with “near me” in the search query or those seeking information about nearby services or businesses.
Why use local SEO?
Many local businesses, such as bakeries, retail stores, bowling alleys, law firms, and more, utilize local SEO to target users who are closest to them and more likely to convert.
A dry cleaning business in Philadelphia wouldn’t want their business listing to show up in the search results for someone currently in Nebraska, would they? That dry cleaning business will have the most success by targeting the customer base closest to their place of business.
By optimizing local SEO, a business can better draw leads from the closest and most relevant traffic, which leads to an overall increase in return on their business’s marketing efforts.
Local SEO is a proven Internet marketing strategy for driving in-store visits, online sales, and real business growth. Up to 88% of users who perform a local search on their smartphone visit a relevant store within a week. Utilizing local SEO is your best option if you want to be the business that shows up in your target audiences’ search results.
How does local search work?
Local SEO may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple. Essentially, Google pulls “local signals” from various sources, including business websites, social profiles, review platforms, and more, to determine which local results will be most relevant for a user entering a query with local intent.
Remember the Italian food example from the beginning of this post? That’s a prime example of local SEO in action. You’re hungry for Italian food, so you search for nearby Italian restaurants. Google delivers local results to your current location, providing you with the most relevant information to better inform your decision on where you should eat.
Whichever restaurant you choose is most likely optimizing for local SEO to some extent. That could mean maintaining their Google Business Profile listing, including location-specific content on their website, adding their location to title tags, and more.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to local SEO. Simply by optimizing one local SEO-focused item, you may be able to position yourself ahead of others in your local industry. And when you take steps beyond that, you can assert yourself as an imminent threat to your local competitors.
How to optimize for local SEO
There are many ways to approach SEO, but there are a handful of best practices to follow to help your business grow in local search results. Below is your local SEO guide for driving the best results.
Optimize your Google Business Profile listing
The first step you should take in optimizing for local SEO is creating or improving your Google Business Profile listing. Your listing may show up in the local 3-pack — a group of about three business listings displayed on the first page of search engine results.
These listings often receive the most impressions and clicks due to their preferred position on SERPs, and your business can land one of these premium spots by optimizing your Google Business Profile. Ensure that your business hours, services, name, and contact information are all up to date.
For added value, consider uploading a Google post or promoting an event on your listing as well.
Rake in the reviews
When researching restaurants in your area, do you ever look at the reviews and ratings? If you’re like the vast majority of Internet users, the answer is yes.
Reviews and ratings are a significant trust factor to not only users but search engines as well. Businesses that encourage positive reviews on their Google Business Profile listing, their website, and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are more highly favored by users and search engines.
Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) information is consistent
To signal to search engines that your business is what it says it is and is located where it says it’s located, ensure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are the same on all of your listings across the Internet.
Inconsistent NAP info can hurt your visibility in search results. If Google isn’t sure which information is accurate, it may avoid showing any of it.
Build location-specific pages on your website
If your business has more than one location, consider building location pages on your website. These pages will provide users (and search engines) with your NAP and other location-specific information, such as business hours, parking information, directions, promotions, and more.
Include the location of your business wherever possible
To alert Google that your business is in or near a location, include your city, county, or state name wherever it makes sense. This may include your title tags, meta descriptions, location page copy, and “About Us” page.
Create local content
Assert yourself as the local authority for your industry by creating and publishing local content. This content is most commonly stored on your website’s blog or news page but can be applied to other areas if it makes sense for your website structure.
Examples of local content for a veterinarian office in Boston may include “where to buy organic cat food in Boston” or “best dog parks in the Boston metro area.”
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Users often conduct queries with local intent on mobile devices. When you’re out shopping with friends in a town you don’t go to often, do you look up places to eat for dinner on your phone? This is the case for many users, so make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
Participate in your community
A great way to improve your local SEO is by being active in your local community. Sponsor local events or sports teams, hold fundraisers at your storefront location, or donate to a local charity. You may earn free press from local news outlets about your community contributions.
Ensure online news stories that mention your business include a link to your website. These links can further build your domain authority and increase your local rankings on SERPs.
Perform a local SEO competitor analysis
Understand how your local competitors are doing in their local SEO efforts. Ask questions like:
- Are they showing up in the local 3-pack?
- Do they have specific location pages on their website?
- Where do they mention their location? Think title tags, meta descriptions, and on-page SEO copy.
- Are your competitors creating local content on their blogs?
- Are their websites mobile-friendly?
Then, incorporate what you learn into your local SEO strategy.
Get more local SEO tips
General local SEO tips
- How to Do Local SEO Successfully and Reach New Customers
- Local SEO Checklist: How to Get Started with Local SEO
- How to Dominate Local Business Rankings with a Local SEO Strategy
- Local SEO Solutions: Your Resource for Local SEO Strategies
- 5 Examples of Local SEO Optimization
- 11 Local SEO Tips for Multiple Locations
- Local SEO Audit: 6 Steps to Increase Local Conversions
- How to Leverage “Near Me” Searches for Local SEO
- How to Dominate Local SEO to Drive More Local Leads
- How to Improve Your Local Business’s Google Visibility
- SEO for Local Businesses: 9 Tips You Need to Try
- How to Optimize for Local Search and Drive Online Conversions
- 6 Tips to Improve Your Local Search Ranking
- The Local Marketing Guide You Need to Grow Your Business
- 4 Tips to Nail Your Bing Local Listing
- Local Keywords: 3 Steps for Finding Keywords for Local Search
- 5 Local Link Building Tips for SMBs
- 5 Local Listing Management Tools That SEOs Swear By
- LocalFX: Result-Driving Local SEO Software From WebFX
Tips for Google Business Profile and Google Maps
- What Is Google Business Profile? Beginner’s Guide to GMB
- Get Your Business on Google Maps With This 3-Step Process
- 3 Steps to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
- Google Business Profile Posts: What Are They and Why Use Them?
- Google My Business Optimization: 6 Features and Tools to Utilize
- 7+ Benefits of Google Business Profile That Drive Store Traffic
Local SEO tips for your industry
Analytics for local SEO
SEO analytics is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine how your SEO currently performs and how to improve it. Using data to inform your local SEO strategy is crucial. It lets you see what’s working and what isn’t and provides a roadmap for improving your results over time.
You may be wondering what metrics you should look at for local SEO. Here are a few of the most important local SEO metrics:
- Total search impressions: The number of times a given page is displayed in organic or paid search results
- Directions requests: When a customer requests directions to your business
- Website visits: When a customer views your website
- Phone calls: When a customer clicks to call your business
- Reviews: The number of reviews left on your Google Business Profile or other local listings
Working with a local SEO agency
Local SEO agencies work to improve your visibility in local search results so that your business can capture more relevant traffic from search, ultimately resulting in more revenue. Improving search visibility involves various tasks for SEO agencies, such as:
- Strategy creation
- Keyword research
- Content creation
- Link building
- Citation management, including for Google Business Profile and other listings
- Review management
- Analytics and reporting
SEO companies have the knowledge and experience necessary to make smart decisions for your site that increase your rankings and visibility so you don’t have to waste time with guesswork. Partnering with an agency for your local SEO frees you up to focus on what you do best — running your business!
Learn about our local SEO services
Local SEO service, agency, and pricing resources
- Best Local SEO Services For Growing Companies
- Client-Managed Local SEO: Manage Citations & Reviews With LocalFX
- Local Search Marketing Services | Grow With Local SEO
- LocalFX: Result-Driving Local SEO Software From WebFX
- Local SEO Agency | Top Local SEO Company for SMBs
- Best Local SEO Company for SMBs
- SMB Local SEO Agency: Drive More Revenue With Local SEO
- How Much Does Local SEO Cost?
Additional digital marketing channels and strategies
Discover additional digital marketing strategies that your business can use to increase its online visibility, plus drive leads and revenue.
Learn more about local SEO
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For comprehensive information about our industry-leading local SEO services, check out our pricing and list of services. When you partner with us, you’ll get help implementing all the above tips and more.
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