What Is Local Business SEO?

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“What Is Local Business SEO?” written by Mike Marko.

Local business SEO is becoming more and more popular these days.

With good reason — 46% of Google searches are now local.

It makes sense when you consider how important location is to most searchers’ purposes. If you’re craving Thai food, you’d search for a Thai restaurant nearby, not one in the next state.

Most businesses can benefit from local business SEO. With it, they can ensure they’re more visible to customers in their area of operation.

However, it could be tricky as local search is still undergoing changes. It’s not too long ago since the 7-pack in Google’s search results changed to a 3-pack… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Still, most of the changes to local search have been more or less focused on user convenience. So if you keep it in mind when doing your search engine optimization or SEO, you’ll be fine.

This article can also help. Today, I’ll help you better understand local business SEO and what it involves so you can start doing it for your business.

The Importance of Local Business SEO

As I mentioned, local business SEO is growing increasingly important for businesses. This is due to the rising number of local-intent searches every year.

Google revealed in 2018 that mobile “near me” searches with a variant of “to buy” went up 500% from 2015-2017. Research also says over 75% of local-intent mobile searches lead to offline store visits within 24 hours.

And most importantly, almost 30% of those searches lead to a purchase.

50% of local searchers also visit businesses within 24 hours following a search.

Combine that with data that says 97% of persons now learn more about a local business through the Web and 92% of them pick businesses in the first page of local search results.

It’s pretty clear that every brand with a local sales element needs to use local business SEO.

But before we dive deeper into that, let’s start with understanding local SEO a little bit better.

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What Is Local SEO?

Local business SEO is search engine optimization with a geographic component.

In other words, it’s SEO that aims to get you in the top results for local searches.

What’s a local search? Any search with a geographic element to it.

Going back to my earlier example, I could run a search for “Thai restaurant Cincinnati”. That’s because I live in Cincinnati and want to go to a restaurant near me to satisfy my Thai food craving.

Since I’ve specified Cincinnati (a geographic element), this counts as a local search. The results Google shows me are therefore local search results.

That said, you may not even have to add “Cincinnati” to get localized results.

That’s because Google now tries to provide local results for searches that could have a geographic component, even when that component is unspecified.

After all, when people search for a restaurant, they’re searching for something with a physical location/address, right?

So Google determines my location via my Internet Protocol address, then gives me Cincinnati-based results even if I don’t specify “Cincinnati” in my search.

Chances are, you’ve done a local search at some point yourself. You’ve probably also noticed the local pack or 3-pack in the results.

The 3-pack shows the top 3 results for a local search. This section is just below the map in local SERPs (search engine results pages).

Businesses in the 3-pack are the most visible local search results. Thus one of the main goals of local business SEO is to land your business in the 3-pack.

The details in the 3-pack come from businesses’ Google My Business (GMB) profiles. Hence, GMB is a vital part of your local business SEO marketing strategy.

We’ll talk more about that later, though. First, I want to talk about how local business SEO compares to organic SEO.

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1) Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

You might be wondering about the difference between local SEO and organic SEO.

Before we proceed to the factors that influence a local business SEO strategy, it’s best to know the difference between these two SEO strategies.

As I mentioned, local business SEO is focused on searches with local intent. These are the searches that are focused on a specific location.

Again, “Thai restaurant Cincinnati” is an example of a local search that local business SEO would consider.

On the other hand, organic SEO is focused on strategies that will make a page rank on organic search. This means it doesn’t necessarily have local intent.

So for example, a search for “Thai recipes” wouldn’t be a local search and wouldn’t be considered in local SEO.

After all, Thai recipes can be found just about anywhere and the search doesn’t have a geographic element.

2) Can You Do Local and Organic SEO Together?

You can do both local and organic SEO strategies for your business.

That’s because both of them work to make you more visible to your target customers.

That said, there may be cases where it makes more sense for you to focus on one more than the other.

For example, if you have a physical store or a specific area of service for your brand, you’ll probably get more out of local business SEO than organic SEO.

But if your business isn’t actually bound by location, it might be a mistake to focus on local SEO. That’s because it would unnecessarily limit the number of consumers you reach online.

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Local Business SEO Factors

When you plan to work on your local business SEO, there are several factors that you should consider.

These local business SEO factors include the following:

  • Business signals – This includes the proximity, categories, etc.
  • Link signals – This includes the inbound anchor text, linking domain quantity, etc.
  • On-Page signals – This includes your NAP (name, address, and phone number), domain authority, etc.
  • Citation signals – This includes citation volume, aggregator NAP consistency, etc.
  • Review signals – This includes the number of reviews, review diversity, etc.
  • Behavioral signals – This includes the click-through rate, mobile clicks, etc.
  • Social signals – This includes Google engagement, Facebook engagement, etc.

All of these are important for local business SEO. However, we’ll focus on arguably the 3 most important ones, starting with your GMB listing.

1) Google My Business (GMB) Listing

GMB is one of the most important factors for ranking in local results. GMB listings have huge visibility and can thus be instrumental in driving customer traffic to your business.

But first, you need to add or claim your GMB listing. Once you have, you can start optimizing it on your GMB dashboard for local business SEO.

Consider your GMB dashboard your base for working out how your business details will show on Google Maps and the Knowledge Graph. To find it, go to https://business.google.com/manage/.

Optimizing a GMB listing can be a painstaking process. However, here are some fundamental tips you can follow:

  • Make sure that you enter the correct NAP for your business.
  • Choose the right GMB category as well. Your GMB category plays an important role as this helps Google bots and people determine the type of business that you have. Note that you may choose multiple categories. Simply choose all the relevant categories for your business.
  • Make sure to fill out every section. Include photos, videos, and make sure that you have a proper business description.

Note that before you make further changes to your GMB listing, you have to verify it through postcard, phone, or e-mail. For more detailed instructions on this, you can visit this Google support page.

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2) The Importance of Citations

Now that you have your GMB listing set up and verified, it’s time to focus on your local NAP citations.

What are NAP citations? These refer to online directories that contain your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). I’m talking about Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.

You might be thinking about why you have to use these directories. Well, there are a lot of people who also use these directories to search for businesses.

Thus the need for your business to be on them as well.

Your local citations have a huge influence on your customers, so keep your citations as accurate as possible. This can have a positive impact on your reputation, rankings, and revenue.

You have to remember that search engines gather data about each business on the Web. If they find accurate data, you’ll gain trust from the search engine.

This will help increase the ranking of the business in local SERPs as well.

On the other hand, if the search engine encounters inconsistent data, your business might take an awful blow.

So, keep your citations up-to-date and accurate. Monitoring these citations as part of your local business SEO campaign will surely go a long way.

3) Local SEO On-Page Optimization

Local business SEO involves the use of keywords. And for you to rank for these keywords, you have to do local on-page or on-site optimization.

There are many ways to do this. But it’s important that you begin with your website structure.

Your website should have a proper structure that works well with your location pages. You should also have your meta tags properly optimized.

It’s important that each product or service that you offer has its own dedicated page. It’s not just good SEO practice, but it allows for a clearer sitemap for search engines.

As mentioned, if you have multiple locations, it’s also best that you have a dedicated service page for each location.

As part of your local on-page optimization, you also have to cover social media. And when you already have the necessary social media accounts, you have to learn how to send social media signals.

Other on-page optimization strategies that you should work on are your CTAs, reviews and testimonials, mobile-friendliness, etc.

In fact, local business SEO on-page optimization is comparable to organic SEO optimization. The difference is that your keywords may include geo elements.

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Google Ads for Local Business SEO

Google Ads can also be set up for local business SEO purposes. They represent a quick way of getting better visibility in local searches.

However, they may not be ideal for every situation. A study by Neil Patel indicates that performance still tends to be better with organic local search results over paid ones.

That is, Patel found that people still tend to click more on organic results than Ads in local SERPs. This doesn’t mean Google Ads are useless, though.

For one thing, as I said earlier, they’re quick. Local business SEO can take literal months to show results whereas a Google Ad campaign can be set up and go live in a day.

For another, Google Ad data can actually be of help to your local business SEO strategy. It can tell you which people to target for remarketing, for instance, as well as which ad copies get you the best results.

That sort of information can be repurposed for local business SEO tactics. For instance, the Ad headlines with the best click-through rates can give you ideas for better meta titles.

You can also mine the data in your Google Ad campaign’s placements for possible link partners. Look at “Where Ads showed”, analyze each site’s domain authority, and look for good link prospects.

Final Thoughts on Local Business SEO

Local business SEO is gaining popularity these days. More and more business owners are realizing the importance of this SEO marketing strategy.

Recent statistics have shown that there are now more local searches than ever. Thus a business with a geographic service or sales element can benefit a lot from doing local business SEO.

This is because local business SEO helps businesses become more visible to customers with local intent. This increases the chances of them getting better leads and higher conversion rates.

Local business SEO can work with organic SEO. It also involves a lot of factors, including GMB listings, local SEO on-page optimization, and NAP citations.

You should pay attention to all of those if you want to do local business SEO. You may also want to consider Google Ads for a quick boost in local SERP visibility — but keep in mind that they have limitations, as I noted earlier.

That about wraps it up for this primer on local business SEO. If you still have questions about local business SEO, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

And if you’re struggling with that even after these tips, feel free to leave a comment or contact me for assistance.

You should also check out the blog post, Common Website SEO Mistakes Made by Consultants and Small Business Owners.

If you need help with your SEO, be sure to check out the SEO services offered by IM Consultant Services.

If you need help in getting traffic to your website or ranking in Google, then feel free to contact me and we can talk about the different consulting options we offer.  Or use the link below to apply for your “Results in Advance” free consultation and let’s get started right away:

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P.S. – If you like this post, feel free comment down below and/or share on Facebook.

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What Is Local Business SEO - Mike Marko

Author: Mike Marko
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