What is Local SEO and How to Use It to Grow Your Business

Image
By Digital Deluxe / July 1, 2023

Imagine you hold the perfect recipe to the most delectable dessert, but nobody knows about it. You can whip up magic in your kitchen but only if your patrons know where to find you. In the bustling digital market of 2023, this scenario is not uncommon for businesses that haven’t discovered the power of Local SEO yet. 

Much like seeking directions to a hidden culinary gem, Local SEO guides customers straight to your doorstep. But what exactly is it? And how can it add spice and bring simmering success to your business? Buckle up as we take you on a thrilling ride into the landscape of Local SEO—an unmissable ingredient in today’s business growth recipe!

Understanding Local SEO

Local SEO is the practice of optimising your website for local search traffic to improve your rankings and visibility in the local pack or map pack on Google. It is an integral part of any SEO strategy that targets customers in a specific region, city, or neighbourhood. The primary goal of Local SEO is to provide relevant and accurate information about your business to people searching for products or services you offer.

To understand Local SEO, let us first familiarise ourselves with organic SEO. Organic SEO emphasises improving the quality and quantity of your website traffic through non-paid search engine results. It involves optimising various factors such as content, keywords, meta descriptions, backlinks, and more to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

For instance, suppose you run a bakery that delivers cakes all across Sydney. You want people searching for “best cakes delivery in Sydney” to find you on Google. To optimise your website for organic search traffic, you need high-quality content on your website targeting relevant keywords. This will significantly boost your organic search rankings.

However, optimising for organic search traffic alone can only get you so far, especially if you operate in a highly competitive market. That’s where local SEO comes into play.

Local SEO vs Organic SEO

Local SEO and organic SEO are interconnected but have different objectives and strategies. While the former focuses on ranking in local search results, the latter aims to improve overall search rankings by boosting website authority.

Unlike organic SEO that relies heavily on backlinks from other websites to drive traffic, local search prioritises proximity, relevance, and prominence to offer users the most useful results based on their location.

Here’s an example: Suppose a person in Sydney searches for “best pizza”. As Google knows their location from the IP address or device GPS data, it will show them a list of pizza restaurants nearest to their location that meet Google’s quality standards. This list, known as the local pack or map pack, is intended to provide users with the most accurate information and ensure they get what they need.

Some people believe that organic SEO is more important than local SEO because it targets a broader audience and has a more extensive reach. While this may be true, local SEO aims to attract people who are actually searching for products and services in a particular location.

A way to think about Local SEO versus Organic SEO is comparing fishing in an ocean versus fishing in a pond. In the ocean, you have access to vast amounts of fish, but you will also compete with other fishermen, making it hard to catch specific fish species. On the other hand, fishing in a pond, while limited in scope, allows you to focus on catching the type of fish that live in that water body specifically. This analogy sheds light on why local SEO can be better than organic SEO in driving high-quality traffic to your business.

Now that we have discussed Local SEO versus Organic SEO let us look at how Local SEO impacts business growth and its importance when it comes to local search rankings.

  • According to a survey by HubSpot, around 46% of all searches on Google are local.
  • A study by Think With Google suggested that up to 72% of consumers who perform a local search will visit a store within five miles of their location.
  • The data from BrightLocal shows that approximately 88% of mobile ‘near me’ searches result in either a call or business visit within 24 hours.

The Impact of Local SEO on Business Growth

Local SEO has become an increasingly important aspect of business growth in recent years. With more consumers turning to the internet to search for products and services, businesses who aren’t optimising their websites for local search may be missing out on a significant amount of potential traffic.

For example, a local bakery in a small town that specialises in gluten-free options may only have a limited pool of customers within their town. However, by implementing local SEO tactics such as targeting relevant keywords and building backlinks from other local businesses, they can expand their reach and attract new customers who are searching specifically for gluten-free bakeries in the surrounding towns.

Numerous studies have shown that local SEO can have a significant impact on business growth. According to Google, 46% of all searches on their platform have local intent. This means that nearly half of all searches are from people who are looking for products or services near them. Additionally, 72% of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within five miles.

Some may argue that the impact of local SEO is negligible for larger businesses with national or international reach. While it’s true that large corporations may not see the same immediate benefits as smaller local businesses, they still need to optimise for local search to remain competitive in specific regions or cities. For example, a national hotel chain may not need to rank highly for “hotels” nationwide, but will likely see increased bookings and revenue if they optimise their website for “hotels in San Francisco” or “hotels near Golden Gate Park.”

In the next section, we’ll discuss why local search rankings are so important for businesses and how you can improve your chances of appearing in the coveted “Local Pack.”

Importance of Local Search Rankings

When someone enters a query with local intent, Google’s algorithms detect their location and provide them with a list of relevant local businesses. These results are commonly referred to as the “Local Pack” or “Map Pack,” and they are displayed prominently on the first page of search results.

Let’s say you’re in a new city and searching for a place to grab coffee. If you search for “coffee shops,” Google will display a list of coffee shops that match your query, along with their location on a map, hours, phone number, photos, and reviews. This information is pulled from various sources such as Google My Business listings, Yelp, Facebook, and other online directories.

Appearing in the Local Pack can be incredibly valuable for businesses since it puts them front and centre for potential customers who are already interested in their product or service. In fact, businesses that appear in the top three positions of the Local Pack receive about 44% of clicks.

Some may argue that appearing in the Local Pack isn’t necessary if they already rank highly for organic search terms. While organic SEO is important for any business looking to improve their online visibility, local search rankings have become equally as important due to the increased prevalence of mobile devices and voice search. Additionally, since Google displays different types of results for local versus organic queries (such as maps, reviews, and business information), ranking highly in one area does not guarantee success in the other.

Now that we’ve established why local search rankings are so important for businesses of all sizes, let’s dive into some of the key elements of a successful local SEO strategy.

Key Elements of Local SEO Strategy

Local SEO is a powerful tool for businesses looking to grow and reach more customers in their local area. However, to succeed with local SEO, you need to have a well-defined strategy in place that takes into account the unique demands of local search and how it differs from traditional organic search.

One of the most important elements of any local SEO strategy is keyword research. Researching keywords specific to your business and location can help you target the right audience and improve your rankings in the local pack. For example, if you’re a restaurant in Melbourne, targeting keywords like “Melbourne restaurants” or “best restaurants near me” can help you show up in the top results for local searches related to dining out.

Another key element of local SEO is optimising your Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is an essential component of local search, providing users with information about your business, such as your name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, photos, videos, reviews and ratings. Ensuring that your GMB listing is complete, accurate, and regularly updated can help improve your visibility in the local pack.

In addition to keyword research and GMB optimisation, building quality backlinks is another crucial factor for ranking higher in local search results. Local link building involves creating content that other sites would want to link to and reaching out to other businesses within your niche or location for link opportunities. For example, if you run a fitness studio in Sydney, connecting with other wellness professionals or local media outlets can help increase brand awareness and drive more traffic to your site.

Managing online reviews is another aspect of a successful local SEO strategy. Reviews not only influence consumer behaviour but also play a role in Google’s algorithm for ranking businesses. Encouraging happy customers to leave positive reviews on platforms such as Yelp or Facebook can help improve your online reputation and increase trust among potential customers. Responding to negative reviews in a professional and empathetic manner can also help mitigate any potential damage.

For instance, let’s say you own a small bakery in Perth that specialises in gluten-free cakes. Optimising your website for local SEO can help you reach more customers searching for “gluten-free bakery near me” or “best cake shop in Perth”. By conducting keyword research, you can identify relevant search terms that match your business and target audience. You can then optimise your website content, metadata, and images, to include these keywords naturally and ensure they appear on your GMB listing.

According to a report by Google, businesses with complete GMB listings are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers. It’s essential to ensure that your GMB listing is accurate and up-to-date not only for ranking purposes but also for establishing trust with potential clients.

However, some argue that keyword research may not be as crucial for local SEO because search queries tend to include location-based terms by default. While it’s true that local searches do contain geographic indicators, identifying long-tail keywords specific to your industry or niche can still provide an advantage over your competitors.

Citation Building, Local Link Building, and Reviews Management

Citation building involves creating a consistent online presence across various directories and platforms. A citation refers to the mention of your business name, address, phone number (NAP), or other pertinent information on external websites. Essentially, citations act as digital references for your business and help establish credibility with both customers and search engines.

To get started with citation building, you need to create or claim listings on major directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages or TripAdvisor. Listing your business name on these sites helps confirm your NAP details and ensures that users can find the right information about your business quickly.

Link building is another important aspect of local SEO. Local link building entails acquiring backlinks from other websites that are relevant to your business and location. Some strategies you can use to build local links include guest posting on industry-specific blogs or reaching out to local influencers for collaborations.

Last but not least, online reviews are a crucial component of any successful local SEO campaign. Building a solid review portfolio on sites like Google My Business, Yelp or Facebook can help establish trust with potential customers and boost your visibility in the local pack. Encourage customers to leave reviews by providing excellent customer service, offering incentives for feedback, and following up with customers after purchase.

Suppose you operate a boutique hotel in Brisbane, building quality citations on platforms such as TripAdvisor, Expedia or Booking.com can help increase visibility in search results and attract new guests. Similarly, collaborating with local travel bloggers or partnering with businesses in the travel industry can provide valuable long-term benefits through inbound links and positive reviews.

According to Brightlocal’s 2021 Local Consumer Review Survey, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, while 53% of consumers won’t use a business with less than a 4-star rating.

However, some argue that citations may not be as crucial today as they once were due to the declining importance of directory listings and Google’s shift towards entity-based search results. Still, having an accurate and consistent NAP across various channels remains essential for establishing trust with both consumers and search engines.

Implementing Local SEO for Business Success

Implementing local SEO can be a game-changer for businesses looking to attract customers from specific geographical regions. Following the key elements of a local SEO strategy and utilising tactics such as citation building, local link building, and review management can help businesses improve their visibility and rankings on search engines and drive more traffic to their website.

Building citations is an integral part of any local SEO strategy. A citation refers to the online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). An example of a citation is a listing in an online business directory or a mention in a local blog or newspaper.

For instance, if you own a bakery in Sydney, getting listed on directories like Yelp or Yellow Pages Australia can help improve your online presence. When creating citations, it’s crucial to ensure that NAP information is consistent across all listings. Inconsistencies can confuse Google’s algorithms, leading to lower rankings.

Link building involves acquiring backlinks from other authoritative websites to your site. In local SEO, focus on obtaining links from websites that are relevant to your business location and niche. For example, if you run a dental clinic in Melbourne, getting links from dental associations or local health institutions can have a significant impact on your rankings.

Research has shown that links from high-quality sources have a positive correlation with higher search engine rankings. Therefore, focusing on quality rather than quantity when building links is essential. Avoid acquiring spammy or paid backlinks as they may harm your website’s reputation and lead to penalties.

Reviews left by customers on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can affect your business’s credibility and customer perception. Positive reviews can improve your online reputations while negative ones can hurt it.

Managing reviews entails responding to them professionally and promptly, whether they are positive or negative. Responding positively to negative reviews by addressing customers’ concerns can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and User Experience Optimisation

Adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines is critical for the success of any SEO strategy, including local SEO. The guidelines provide best practices that businesses can use to improve their website’s visibility, ranking, and user experience.

Aside from following these guidelines, improving user experience (UX) is essential in making websites more appealing to both users and search engines. Some techniques for improving UX include site speed optimisation, mobile-friendliness, intuitive navigation, and clear call-to-action buttons.

Website speed optimisation involves reducing loading times to speed up page loading times. Websites with longer loading times tend to have higher bounce rates and lower engagement rates since users lose patience waiting for pages to load.

To put it in perspective, if your website takes five seconds to load, roughly 20% of visitors will leave before even engaging with your content. Therefore optimising speed can help retain visitors on your site and reduce your bounce rate.

Mobile-friendliness is another crucial aspect of UX optimisation due to the growing trend of using mobile devices for online searches. An estimated 58% of all searches come from mobile devices. Therefore a website optimised for mobile users will appeal more to search engines than one without it.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines provide businesses with essential guidelines on what not to do when optimising their website for SEO. Examples include avoiding spammy link building practises such as keyword stuffing or paid links acquisition, excessive use of content rich snippets and cloaking,

By adhering to these guidelines and focusing on UX optimisation, businesses strengthen their chances of higher search engine rankings.

Implementing Local SEO for Business Success is a multi-layered process that requires dedication and commitment. By following the key elements of a Local SEO strategy and utilising tactics such as citation building, local link building, and review management, businesses can improve their online visibility and drive more traffic to their website. Additionally, adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and improving User Experience Optimisation can further enhance your website’s ranking potential.