SEO is vital to any business. But what’s the difference between local SEO and the other kinds of SEO (technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO)?

The main difference is that local SEO specifically is crucial for out-ranking LOCAL competition.

You’re essentially battling other businesses that are in your same area who offer similar services or products as your business/

Local buildings in digital economy
Local Businesses Connected to the Internet

What is Local SEO/Search Engine Optimization?

“Local SEO is focused on optimizing a business’ online presence so that its web pages and search engine business listings will be displayed by search engines when local users enter searches for any information related to what a business provides as a product or service.”

What We’ll be Discussing in This Post:

  1. How people find local businesses online
  2. Local Google business listings
  3. How to make sure your business is getting found on Google business listings
  4. Optimizing your website and business info for local searches

How Do People Find Local Businesses Online?

If you’re a local company or have a local business presence it’s important to realize that many people are searching for products and services like yours and are using search engines to find them.

Search engines are pretty good at giving searchers what they want when they want it.

If a tourist had a sudden emergency and didn’t know any doctors or medical places around town, they would probably end up searching for one on a smart device of some sort using a search engine.

If their service provider is good, they’ll have millions of results for their search within seconds.

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Local results (as shown above) show lots of different information about the different business listings in the area of the searcher.

It shows:

  1. reviews
  2. hours
  3. contact information
  4. directions
  5. questions and answers
  6. custom information sections

If you have a local business, you should at LEAST have a local listing if you want to be found by potential clients and make sure that the information you want out there about your business is easily accessible through google my business.

This is low-hanging fruit and a lot of times your competition can be outranked in this factor of local SEO fairly easily.

Oftentimes people will just take their content from their site and put it on google my business. And that’s fine but make sure you always check that it looks good and makes sense in the context you view it in from the searcher’s perspective.

So how do we make sure that your local business shows up when people are searching for products or services like yours?

The first thing that you want to do is ensure that you have a local business listing with Google. The first step to doing this is heading over to Google.com/business to go through the process of setting up and verifying the business listing as soon as you can.

Below is what the business manager looks like on the backend.

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About 80% of users use Google over other search engines but you should also make sure that you have these taken care of on other search listings as well.

The next thing we want to make sure you understand is the concept of a citation. 

CITATION: a local citation refers to any mention of your company online

The more citations your business has from companies such as yelp (or other review sites that aggregate information about businesses), the more your business establishes credibility/domain authority with each search engine.

What citations do is tell the search engines that your business is a business that searchers are looking for. This also adds to your business’s ability to rank on Google search results outside of the local 3 pack (the maps listing on local google SERPs).

Every mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number is considered a citation.

Another big factor that Google takes into account is your website and its content.

And not only that but the relevance, speed, structure, experience, and tons of other factors (many of which we have no idea about).

This (your website) should be one of the biggest variables that you weigh in your online marketing strategy.

This is essentially what you’re telling Google is the hub of your business online.  This is also where online users will visit when looking for more information about your business and what your business has to offer. 

You want to make sure that you have very structured and separate pages for every product or service and category of product or service that your business has to offer.

It’s also important that you have keywords that are relevant to your products and services used on your site pages.

You’re also going to want to add something called schema by making sure that you’ve added the necessary markup to your website pages.

You can find out more about local markup here.

How to Get Your Local Business Found Online

Google My Business is where businesses can place themselves online to display information about themselves and what they do. 

When you first start, you’ll have an opportunity to add all kinds of different information about your business.

This is also where people will leave reviews for your business.  As an admin of the google my business listing, you’ll also be able to view stats about your visitors and how they found your business.

But obviously, if you aren’t ranking or being seen you won’t get any stat reports or dashboard data.

You’ll be able to see exactly what terms people have searched for to find your business which will give you insight as to how people are searching and what situations they are in when searching for businesses like yours.

The three major variables that Google uses to display your website and business are:

  1. Proximity
  2. Relevance
  3. Prominence

Proximity – Local searches are bound to a specific geographic location and google uses the information that it has about its users and the devices being used to refine and better help searchers locate the nearest locations and services related to what they are searching for.

Relevance – Google uses the search query (what someone typed into Google’s search bar) to match up what they’re looking for with the best result according to word usage and the sequence of words used in the search by the user. A majority of the time, the more complete the business listing is, the easier it is for Google to understand what your business is about which tends to indirectly impact search results in a positive way the more information you provide.

Prominence – Google looks at how well known your business and your website is across the internet. If it seems that your website and its pages are good sources of information according to the variables that it measures like social shares and other pieces of evidence that indicate you are a topic of conversation, this will increase the chance that you will show up higher on the listings.

Having all of these factors optimized will help ensure that you show up higher in the local business listings which will increase the number of opportunities.

When going through this process make sure you provide as much information as possible in your business listing, make sure you take the time to properly enter hours of operation, payment methods, and photos/videos if you have them available.

If searchers can see that what you offer meets their needs faster than other companies like yours, they’re more likely to choose to do business with you because they aren’t risking wasting as much time finding out if your solutions, hours of operation, and other parameters that your business operates within, meets their needs.

The more detailed and clear you are about the business on the listing the better the chances are of searchers choosing your business to serve their needs.

Why Reviews Are Important to Your Business’s SEO

Online reviews can be a HUGE asset for you and your business.

This is especially true for local SEO.  The majority of searchers say that positive customer reviews increase the likeliness of them using that local business and that they trust the reviews as much as they would trust an actual personal recommendation.

You’re missing out on a massive opportunity if getting reviews online isn’t happening right now.

Putting emphasis on receiving reviews from customers would help tons for just about any company. And the effects of doing this are, like I mentioned earlier, even greater from a local SEO standpoint.

Reviews mostly come in three forms:

  1. Offline reviews
  2. Email reviews
  3. Online reviews

Using methods like email to connect with customers or clients to ask about their experiences with your business is an opportunity to find ways you can improve or get testimonials you can use as social proof and promotional materials if needed.

One of the best ways to receive reviews and testimonials about your business is through email.

Collecting emails and creating an email list of your customers becomes a massive asset for your business that can be leveraged and used at any time.

Whether you want to connect with your customers to promote an article, an in-person event, a new product release, or customer satisfaction surveys, email marketing campaigns can help.

And the best part is you don’t have to pay to get your message in front of them as you do with other channels.

Make sure that there is a place on your website where customers can information about your business. But don’t skip out on making sure you are seen on industry-specific reviews and listings. You can use Moz Local to help you with syncing all of your website and business information online and making sure that reviews are seen and responded to.

Yahoo, Google My Business, Bing Local, and City search are some of the common review sites people use to review and do research on a business. Google your industry-specific review sites. No matter how you collect them, make sure that collecting reviews are a part of your local SEO process.

How to Optimize For Local Search Results

Well, below is a checklist for local SEO if you want to follow that directly. You can even go to MOZ’s site and download the sheet yourself if you want. Just click the image and it should take you to their local SEO checklist download page.

I’ll continue explaining for those who still want to stick around and learn a bit more before checking off their local SEO cheat sheet.

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For your business to show in the rankings in SERPs, your business needs to be constantly pushing out valuable and relevant content for local searchers. For instance, for someone that has a business in Las Vegas you could create a piece of content with this title:

“How *your target audience (business owners, dog owners, software engineers, etc.)* in Las Vegas are using *Your products/services* to increase/decrease *pain point or desired outcome*.  

An example of this would be something like: “How this local business owner increased their company’s sales by 37% and lowered their online ad spend by 72% using local SEO tactics and strategies”

After creating content (blogs, infographics with data about your industry, videos, memes, or any other media that would create value for your audience) you should be distributing it on social platforms and anywhere that your audience may be hanging out online.

Another item you should have on your SEO checklist is making sure that the contact info and schema are properly placed on your site and that you are using the correct schema elements that make sense for your type of business. You can use Schema.org/LocalBusiness to help with this.

There are all kinds of specific schema that should be used in different scenarios, so make sure that you are using the right kind of schema for each of the different types of information you’ll have on your website.

The last thing we’ll go over is one of Google’s helpful tools called Page Speed Insights.

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It lets you see what your site looks like on mobile devices that people will be using to view your website. It also scans your site and makes recommendations on areas to improve on.

Improving speed is one of the most important things you can do to your site to bump you up in search results. Speed improves everything else that happens on the site when people visit.

Conclusion

Focusing on your website user experience, on-page optimization, contact page, schema mark-up, and specific device performance will make sure that you are on the right track for more visibility in your local area.

If this was helpful to you at all, please let us know in the comments what you found to be the most helpful part of the post so that we can create more content around that topic.

If you’d like help getting your business ranking on Google reach out to us here. We’d love to help you get ranking higher so you can start increasing revenue for your local business.