Local SEO or local search engine optimization stems off of SEO but with a focus on local search results. You have probably typed in your search engine “burgers near me” when looking for a restaurant that serves burgers before. Your search engine, most likely Google, presented you with a few suggestions of restaurants serving burgers around your location or in a specified area like Chicago.
Local search optimization will help your business appear on those results pages so that you appear in front of your customers at the right time and place. There are many different strategies and tactics you can use to improve your local visibility on search engines and we are here to provide you with those insights.
Who Should Use Local SEO?
Nowadays, most businesses need two storefronts – a physical storefront and a digital storefront. Local SEO bridges these two together so when you pop up on a customer’s local search result, they know where to find your brick-and-mortar location. Local SEO will improve your online visibility in order to drive customers into your physical business.
You may be intimidated by big businesses when competing to be on top of the search result page. That may valid for general search inquiries; however, with local SEO, small businesses are king and have the upper hand on big businesses.
In fact, 46% of all Google searches have local intent, and most American households spend a majority of their disposable income within 20 miles of their home. Local SEO can make you more visible, help you gain new customers, and boost foot traffic into your business while not having to worry about competing against big businesses.
Businesses that rely on their physical location or are serving a specific local area should all consider optimizing their local SEO. Maybe you are a restaurant, boutique, or office. Or maybe you are a barber, plumber, or private tutor. Any business looking to serve their local customers can benefit from local SEO.
What is Local Search Optimization?
A local search occurs when a customer uses their search engine with local intent. Recall our earlier example of “burgers near me” or “best burgers in Chicago.” Both of these are local searches performed by the customer. Their search engine will provide them with a “SERP” or search engine result page with results that fit their inquiry. Your goal is to make yourself visible enough to appear on these pages.
How do search engines know a customer is searching with local intent? Many search engines including Google use GPS. They can also gather from the customer’s query that they are looking for businesses near them or location-based information. More so, these search engines have grown in sophistication so customers do not always need to add “near me” in their query. Search engines figure that users are more likely to ask about good burger joints than a brief history of the burger.
Factors Used for Local SEO
Search engines will provide the customer with the most applicable businesses to the customer’s query in a SERP. But how exactly do you optimize your local search? You need to understand the factors search engines use in determining if a certain business should appear over others. Most search engines like Google have three key factors used in their local algorithm to present results to users.
Is your business relevant to what the customer is searching for? Search engines would not be doing their jobs right if they provided their users with irrelevant information. The best way to ensure search engines are showing you on the results page is to let them know what keywords and topics are associated with your business.
If you are a burger restaurant in Chicago, you will most likely want search engines to relate keywords and phrases like “burger,” “Chicago,” and “best burger in Chicago” to your business. We will dive into specific ways you can optimize your local search later. Just know that your business needs to be relevant to what customers are searching for.
Can search engines trust your business? Search engines want to provide users with trustworthy results. You need to build your business as a credible source to rank higher on result pages. Listing your business on online directories, having reviews, and engaging with customers on your social media platforms are just a few ways to increase your prominence. Customers need to trust your business and so do search engines.
Is your location near what the customer is searching for? This factor is probably the most important with local SEO because a customer would not want recommendations of businesses in another state. Again, having your business cited in directories and including localized reviews will help your proximity.
Local SEO Strategies
We have talked about who local SEO is right for, what local search is, and factors used to optimize your local search. Now, we are sure you are curious about what local SEO solutions you can begin incorporating to improve your local search visibility. Below are a few key tactics you should consider.
Create a Google My Business Account
It should come as no surprise that Google is presently the most used search engine. Become good buddies with Google and create a Google My Business account so your new friend knows more about you. Provide Google with your logo, store hours, address, contact info, and some of the products or services you sell. That way Google is a lot more familiar with you. Remember how important relevance, prominence, and proximity were? By providing Google your information, it will not think of you as a stranger.
Encourage Customer Reviews
You are already providing excellent services and products to your customers. You might as well have prospective customers know about that too. Encourage your loyal customers to leave a review on the many business review websites. Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List are just a few sites that can help you look good and improve your SEO visibility.
Appear in Online Business Directories
Similar to business review websites, you want to appear on many different sites to boost your local SEO. Many customers still use websites like MapQuest, Foursquare, and Yellowpages to find local businesses. By appearing on these online directories, you will not only be visible to active customers on these sites but also boost your local SEO.
Improve Your Website’s SEO
We have discussed external local SEO solutions like Google My Business, review websites, and online business directories. However, there are many other ways you can improve your local search visibility by making enhancements to your own website. These might even be easier to implement because you are the main controller of your site.
Generate Local-Based Content
You should appeal to your local customers through local news, events, or anything specific to the area you are serving. Customers are just as much part of the community as you are, so connect with them. You both share a vital similarity and that is location.
Consider adding a blog to your website and write posts about local events happening near you. Show your support to local charities or causes and highlight to your customers why those are so important to your business. The more content you have on your website that is location-specific, the more likely your business will appear on local search results.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Most local searches occur on a customer’s mobile device. You should optimize your website for mobile devices not just so it looks good on a customer’s screen. It will also improve your local SEO. Google and other search engines rank businesses with a mobile-friendly website higher than those that do not.
How can you make your website mobile-friendly? Your mobile website should utilize bigger fonts but do not overload the page with a lot of copy. A mobile screen is a lot smaller than a desktop, so you want to include only the important information without straining the user’s eyes.
Optimize Your Contact Us Page
A Contact Us page is the go-to page for customers to retrieve the essential information to arrive at your business. You probably already know to include hours of operation, address, phone number, and email address. Does your Contact Us page have an attached Google Maps on it? By doing so, it will make it easier for a customer to get directions to your location and improve your local SEO. Google has a better idea of your proximity and will rank you higher when customers search the location you are in.
Your Local SEO Strategy
Improving your local SEO can seem like a daunting task. But once you break it down into a few simple tactics, you will notice your business appearing higher on search engine result pages. Your business will now be able to compete against the online giants and big businesses.
At the core of local search, you want to ensure your business is viewed as relevant, prominent, and near what the customer is searching for. Still unsure how to conquer local SEO? SEO Design Chicago can help you bring your local customers to your website and eventually right through your doors.
- What influences your local SEO?
- What are the benefits of local SEO?
- How do you perform local SEO?
- What is a SERP?
- What is the difference between SEO and local SEO?