A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO Strategies and Tips

Local search engine optimization is vital if you want your business to show up in several areas of local search and win against competitors. Small and multi-location businesses can grow their company, attract more clients, and boost profits by using local SEO. 

We help a lot of local businesses optimize their website and properties for local SEO. 

To help you optimize your website for local SEO, we’ve created a guide to explain everything from the basics, strategies, and tools. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of how to optimize your local business to reach customers in your area.

What Is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimization is a type of SEO that focuses on optimizing a website to show up in local search results specifically. It helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers and prospects. 

For example, have you tried searching for phrases such as: 

  • Pharmacies near me 
  • Graphic artists in [city name]
  • Bookstores near me
  • Laundry shops in [city name]

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Four out of five consumers use search to find local information on businesses. Your customers are doing it too. If you don’t optimize your business website for local search, you may miss out on 80% of potential clients. 

How Local SEO Works 

Local search engine optimization relies on signals such as content, link building, citations, social media, online ratings, and more to generate the most relevant local results to users.

Local SEO is a bit like ranking a website’s content, but with the added component of locality added in. 

Local SEO requires a strategic and targeted approach to ensure all potential signals across Google’s local search landscape are correct. 

Person searching for a local business on their phone

Remember, it’s about increasing search visibility for businesses, especially those that serve their communities face-to-face. It applies to businesses with physical locations, like a bakery or flower shop. 

It also applies to service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area, such as a house cleaning company or food delivery app. Even if you don’t have a dedicated store front, you still need to focus on local SEO. 

Importance of Local Search Engine Optimization 

Consumers do local searches to find a local business with a product or service they need. Typically they don’t use a specific business name in their search, and this is why it’s important to focus on local SEO. 

Person interacting with her local veterinarian

If you have a physical store or you provide service in a certain locality, take a look at some of the benefits of local search engine optimization:  

  • Location-based searches are a major avenue for potential clients. In fact, 50% of mobile users are most likely to go to a physical store after doing a local search using their phones. 34% of consumers on computers and tablets do the same. 
  • About 18% of local smartphone searches led to a sale within one day.  
  • With people searching for local options online, your local business may gain better foot traffic: 72% of consumers did a local search and visited a store within five miles. 
  • Local SEO boosts offline purchases, with 78% of people doing local searches on mobile devices resulting in a direct purchase within 24 hours. 
  • Unlike traditional advertising, there is little wasted exposure in local SEO. Because of quick searches, customers reach you in a timely manner, not when they don’t need you. This makes local business SEO cost-effective. 
  • 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information, which means ranking high on Google gives you better chances of being found. 
  • With the available information about your business, consumers make an informed decision before purchasing or heading to your physical store. This is why 97% of people search the internet to learn more about a local company. 
  • 85% of consumers trust “word of mouth” and what other customers have to say about a local business. A business with several good reviews online has a higher possibility of customers believing in credibility. 
  • Local search acts as advertising that results in up to 50% conversion levels. This means that getting your business accurately listed can convert one in two leads into an actual client.
  • 86% of people use Google Maps to get directions to a location. Hence, consumers will likely discover your business if there’s accurate and consistent information about your location or address.
  • There are times when consumers need immediate products and services, which is why 76% of local mobile searches include the keywords “near me”. Local SEO is an advantage if your location is near them, you post business hours, or you offer same-day delivery or shipping. 
  • To save time and effort, 46% of shoppers look into inventory online before going to a physical store. Businesses that use local SEO attract customers by putting a product list or menu online. 

It’s important to come up with a comprehensive plan for your digital marketing strategy. Once you start executing, make sure you track progress and results so you can make adjustments. 

Local SEO Strategies

Local businesses depend on geographical data to drive search rankings up, attract clients, and secure sales. When outranking your local competitors, you need these local SEO strategies to get your business to stay relevant and growing. 

Many of the strategies for ranking your local business follow in line with broader SEO strategies, such as:

However, there are a few additional factors that you have to add to a local SEO strategy:

  • Build niche relevant citations
  • Optimize your Google My Business listing
  • Encourage and manage reviews

Lets walk through each of the key components for ranking your local business. 

Citations

In essence, a citation is any online mention of your brand or business. 

Citations are important because they help Google validate and verify that your business exists, and that they can trust you. Citations validate important data points like your business name and the address and phone number you use.

The abbreviation NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. Citations are NAP data found on the web, apps, social platforms, and local business directories. Together, the quality and quantity of citations and NAPs are factors in determining how your business ranks locally.

Local citations may either positively or negatively impact consumers. If you have accurate citations, people can discover your business, resulting in phone queries, foot traffic, and transactions. Meanwhile, inaccurate transactions can misdirect people, causing loss of revenue and reputation.   

One of the first areas we look at is how many citations your business has, and how accurate the NAP is on those citations.

Google My Business

A vital part of your local SEO strategy is to claim and verify your local business’ Google My Business listing. Getting on the platform can boost your chances of showing up in Google’s organic rankings, Local Pack, Local Finder, and Google Maps.

Admin panel of Google My Business

Local businesses can claim this free listing on Google by adding accurate and consistent information such as business name, address, phone number, and business hours. Once you get your GMB listing verified, you can optimize it further by adding:

  • Business Description: 750 characters of business description where you can put essential information and keywords. 
  • Google Posts: Mini-ads that show up in Google search in your GMB listing. 
  • Booking: Lets viewers book directly from your GMB listing.
  • Messaging: Enables customers to send text messages using the phone number connected to your GMB account.
  • Photos and Videos: Set a visual appeal and grab people’s attention through images and videos.  
  • Services and Menus: Available for healthy, beauty, food and drink, and other service businesses. 
  • Questions & Answers: Gives a chance for people to ask questions about your business, and for you to answer them.  
  • Online Reviews: Online reviews from clients that will appear next to your listing. 

It’s one thing to claim your GMB profile – it’s another to optimize it for SEO gain. We have an in-depth article on how to set up your Google My Business profile so that it’s optimized to help you rank. 

Other Local Listings

While Google is king in search, there are a few other local listings that you should set up as well.

Apple Maps Listings 

From April 2019 to April 2020, there are about 26.8% of iOS users around the world. This means that while most smartphone users prefer Google Maps, there are still people who use Apple’s default map for their phones.

Aside from that, Apple Maps works with Siri and Spotlight. When people do voice searches, Siri or Spotlight will open Apple Maps for results. 

Apple Maps sign in page

After logging in with your Apple ID, you’ll be able to complete the listing and add the following details:  

  • Business Name
  • Business Category
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Open Hours
  • Website
  • Yelp page
  • Facebook page
  • Twitter handle

Bing Places

Bing Places is Microsoft’s version of GMB. While it’s not as amazing as GMB, it’s still an excellent way to gain organic results using local SEO. Besides, it only takes a few minutes to set up a listing. 

Screencap of Bing Places' introduction video

Like GMB and Apple Maps, Bing Places rewards websites that highlight geographical details and aims to provide the best local search results possible. Unlike Google, Bing’s algorithm considers social signals from third party sources, like Facebook, for local rankings. 

Furthermore, Bing has some cool features like the ability to create discount coupon codes and similar promotions for your business, making it easy to share across social media campaigns and marketing platforms. 

Yelp

It’s important that you set up a profile on Yelp for your business. Yelp is one of the most actively used local finder and review sites, and you need to make sure your business is properly listed. 

Search page of Yelp website

Yelp is the biggest review platform for many local businesses, so pay attention to the reviews that are being left there about your company. 

Keyword Research

Keyword research is important for all businesses, whether local, national, or international. Understanding the keywords that your potential customers are using when searching for you is vital.

In addition, local SEO involves targeting keywords that also include local intent. Whether your business is product or service-oriented, you need to be using keywords throughout your website that include location (and location variants).

Note: We can take care of your keyword research for you!

Sample of how local SEO uses specific keywords that also includes local intent

Brainstorm Keywords 

For most businesses, primary or main keywords tend to be obvious. For example, if you are an electrician in Hillcrest, people would probably search on Google something like:

  • Hillcrest electrician
  • Emergency electrician in Hillcrest 
  • Electrical repair services in Hillcrest 

Make a list of all the products and services you offer, then add your location or service area. With a few words, you can create a bunch of potential keywords to optimize your website for local searches.  

Another way to improve local SEO is to use keyword-generating tools, such as SEMrush and keywordtool.io, that will give you relevant keywords, and their search volume. 

Homepage of keywordtool.io

The bottom line: come up with geo-targeted content you can use for blog posts, meta descriptions, and citations. 

Search for Ideas on Craigslist

Craigslist is a goldmine when it comes to hunting local keywords. It’s a conversion funnel full of sellers, buyers, and onlookers. 

Head to the website’s services section, select your location, and then enter a keyword. For instance, search for “makeup artists” in Los Angeles. It will show a bunch of keywords like:

  • Mobile hairstylist
  • Best hair and makeup artist in Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles hairstylist and makeup artist
  • Pro makeup artist freelance 

This will give you some good ideas for what your customers are searching for.

Google Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete is a feature within the search engine that enables users to complete searches faster as they type. It utilizes signals and search patterns to sort out results and ranking, and subsequently, predict user queries. 

Enter your main keyword in Google’s search box and take note of the suggested searches. For this, try “Santee daycare”. The top results include:

  • Santee daycare and preschool
  • Santee daycare center
  • Daycare Santee CA 
An example of how Google Autocomplete works using the keyword "Santee daycare"

You can incorporate these results when adding keywords to your content, social media accounts, or other SEO marketing materials. 

Content Creation

With keyword research complete, you need to be publishing content to your website. 

In many ways, you have to imagine how your website looks to Google and, subsequently, what that reflects on your business. If your website hasn’t been updated in years, with no new content added… well, it basically looks like it’s closed to a crawler like Google. 

Instead, if you’re consistently publishing helpful content that is really relevant to your target market, you look like a good option to rank highly! 

While it’s far more complicated than that, it is a very boiled down version of why publishing content has to be a part of your online marketing strategy

Let’s look at the different places on your website that need content.

Related: We can help you with your content by creating Content Briefs for your topics!

Landing Pages

Local landing pages on a website highlight a business’ geographic aspect for customers. Landing pages with local SEO must be appropriate for:

  • Service Area Business: SABs serve a variety of cities surrounding the location in which they are physically located. For this, landing pages must gain organic rankings for service cities. 
  • Multi-Location Businesses: If you have several physical storefronts, you can create unique landing pages for each location. 

FAQ Page

Building a Frequently Asked Questions page (FAQ) is a great way to help your website users out. It’s also a great way to help your website rank for common questions that potential buyers are searching for. 

Woman using her laptop to search something

It’s also a great way to show up in a nearly emerging area of search… voice search.

Voice search lets people access internet search results by using a smartphone and their voice to ask a question or prompt a search query. Since this is a conversation-type of searching, people tend to ramble with words and directly ask Siri or Alexa. 

Blog Content 

Blogging for your business is an entire topic in and of itself, which is why we wrote a guide on the topic. Here are a few general ideas to write about. 

  • Questions your customers ask: You know your customers best, and you probably know the questions they ask. Each of those questions, and your expert answer, makes a great blog post.
  • Large topics core to your business: There are always higher level topics that are at the core of your business model. Writing an in-depth guide for each of these topic will be helpful for your readers, but also helps to establish your expertise in the eyes of Google.
  • Informational how-to guides: Undoubtedly there are a variety of different ways to use your product or service, which typically result in how to questions. 
  • Comparisons of products and service offerings: What services and products are your customers commonly considering? You know what’s best for each type of customer, and each of these topics make great content. 

You can also blog about trending topics in your industry, updates to your company and offerings, case studies and testimonials from customers – the options are endless. 

Link Building

Links are still the most relevant way Google has to rank websites. Generally speaking, the more links you have, the higher you will rank. 

Getting links in a natural and organic way, though, is difficult. Here are a couple of simple link acquisition strategies:

Local Directory Websites

A business directory is an online list within a specific niche, category, or location. Online searchers find local businesses that have information in business directories. 

To help increase your website’s link authority for local SEO, it would be better to build these local directories: 

  • LinkedIn Company Directory
  • Yelp
  • Bing
  • Yahoo Local 
  • HubSpot
  • Foursquare
  • Facebook
  • MapQuest
  • Superpages
  • Angie’s List
  • Yellow Pages
  • Thumbtack

There are lots more, you just need to search to find them.

Industry-Related Local Websites 

Industry-relevant local sites typically increase the value of your local link profile significantly, and consequently, add the authority and uniqueness in Google results. 

Consider working with local sites that might offer local link opportunities, such as schools, non-government organizations, newspapers, and government departments. 

Outreach Link Building

You can also reach out to local businesses to build links. This process is difficult and laborious, which is why we offer link building services

Social Media

Did you know that 54% of consumers use social media to research products? What’s more, 19% of users ask questions on business accounts while 36% like/follow a brand on social media. 

If you want to use social media for local SEO, focus on sites where your existing customers are present, as well as prospective clients are likely to use. 

Person logging in his Instagram account

It’s not necessary to be on every platform. Even if your business only has a single social media account, what matters most is that you optimize content, links, images, and keywords for local searches. 

Conclusion 

Local search engine optimization is an essential part of any SEO strategy for local businesses. If you have a service area or storefront, local SEO will help your audience find you when they search online. 

Jared Bauman
 

Jared Bauman is the Co Founder and CEO of 201 Creative, LLC. With almost 20 years of experience in business management and digital marketing, he brings a rich background of both knowledge and experience in helping companies grow.

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