The Importance of Local SEO

Are you looking for ways to increase the visibility of your business in a certain region? Whether you need to attract customers in a specific neighbourhood, city or county, local SEO is the solution. It is the process of optimising your business to appear at the top of the search engine listings when someone is looking for a business or product nearby. Therefore, any type of business that has a physical location must account for local search in their overall SEO strategy. This article will guide you through the essential steps for attracting more local customers.   

Why Local SEO Matters

More than 30% of all search traffic is for local searches. Here are some other important statistics:  

  • 98% of consumers performed local searches in 2022.
  • 28% of local searches on mobile result in a purchase.  
  • 61% of local searchers perform such searches daily.  

Aside from increased brand awareness and visibility, local search brings several more benefits. 

Improved Customer Experience

Think about a time when you were looking for a local service. Did you feel better about those businesses that made it easy to decide whether you’d visit them? If you were looking for a local Italian restaurant, for example, you’d probably have a more favourable impression of one who listed their menu and opening hours, so you didn’t have to waste time searching elsewhere to check whether they would be able to book you in at the time you needed.  

Part of optimising for local search involves making sure detailed information about your business is available. Therefore, you can look forward to creating positive first impressions on many prospective customers.   

Increase ROI

Optimising for local search is also an easy way to generate leads at a low cost. For some types of businesses, Google displays a call button, which reduces the steps required when prospective customers want to contact you. So, by simply ranking high for relevant searches, your cost per acquisition will be much lower in comparison to other aspects of your marketing campaigns.  

Social Proof

A big part of optimising for local search is generating customer reviews. Thanks to social proof, this will help sway prospective customers towards spending their money with your company.  

Local Search Optimisation

When a user enters local search terms into Google, a section known as the Google Map Pack, or Local Map Pack, is displayed. This section shows the top-ranking listings relevant to the user’s keywords, displayed with a map. By clicking on a listing, users can discover helpful information about the business as well as use the map to navigate to its location.  

Google ranks local results based on the following criteria: 

  • Relevance: How closely the product or service the business provides matches what the consumer is looking for.  
  • Distance: If the user doesn’t include their location in their search (as with ‘near me’ searches), Google uses any other information it has about their location in order to show rank results based on how nearby they are.  
  • Prominence: How well-known the business is.  

Other important factors include the keywords in the listing title and in Google reviews, as well as star ratings. Google also considers your site’s organic SEO, with the quality and authority of inbound links being an important factor. If you’re going to start optimising for local search, now is the time to revisit your link building strategies.

Because so many local searches are performed on mobile devices, Google’s algorithm accounts for mobile friendliness. So, make sure your mobile site is optimised to provide a good user experience. 

With those fundamental details covered, let’s look at some other important steps in optimising for local search.  

Also, start using Surfer SEO to write and optimize your content faster than ever.

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business), is a free service for setting up a page that enables your business listing to show up in local searches. To get started, you need to do a search for your business name and address and in the results, you will have the option to ‘claim’ your business. From there, you can build your profile. You can also start here. 

The completeness of your profile is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm so make sure you add all the important information that customers will want to know, as well as photos. Also make sure the business category you select is as specific and relevant as possible.

You should do the same for Apple Maps and for Bing searches by using the service, Bing places for business.

Google Reviews

Reviews are crucial for getting your Google business listing to the top of the search results. The most important ranking factors in terms of reviews are:  

  • Star ratings 
  • Keywords within reviews 
  • Positive sentiment in reviews 
  • Quantity of reviews 
  • Recency of reviews 
  • Responses to reviews 

It’s not just Google’s algorithm that you’ll impress by replying to each Google review; 51% of consumers trust local businesses more when they actively respond. You must also respond to negative reviews in an appropriate and timely manner, showing empathy and understanding. (This is something you should be doing anyway to increase the chances of that customer returning and talking positively about your business.)

You can request reviews in follow-up emails, providing the link for customers to do so. It’s also a good idea to incentivise customers to leave reviews (i.e., offering a discount on their next order), especially since quantity and recency are such important factors. Also note that incentivising is not the same as buying fake reviews, which can be penalised.

How can you get customers to use keywords in their reviews? You can prompt them in the way you ask questions. For example, if your target keyword is the name of a specific service such as “Swedish massage”, ask what service they booked. You can also ask them which location they had the treatment at. They will then be more likely to type those words into their Google review.

Also make sure you prompt them with open ended questions – this will lead to longer reviews which are not only helpful for potential customers, but there will be a higher chance of them including several relevant keywords.

3rd Edition of Digital Marketing Strategy OUT NOW

The third edition of my international best-seller, Digital Marketing Strategy is out now. Including updates on cookies, covid, TikTok and much more with new case studies and supporting guides. Pick up a copy now.

Digital Marketing Handbook

The Digital Marketing Handbook is out now and includes over 250 pages of practical tips and advice on running all areas of your marketing campaigns from paid search and SEO to web design and email marketing.

Create a Presence on Directories and Review Sites

Whilst Google reviews have the most weight behind them, reviews on sites like Yelp provide further important signals – and more channels through which people can discover your business. Other popular options include:  

  • TripAdvisor 
  • Foursquare 
  • Trust Pilot 
  • Which?  
  • Citysearch  
  • Yahoo! Local Listings  
  • Glassdoor 
  • Manta 
  • Consumer Affairs 
  • Angie’s List 
  • Superpages 
  • OpenTable (for restaurants)

As with Google Business Profile, make sure these profiles are complete and that your contact information is accurate, and consistent across all sites. Always include a keyword optimised review section on your own website as well.

Create Social Pages

If your business is not already listed on the major social channels such Facebook and Instagram, now is the time to set up those profiles. This is not one of the most important factors that Google checks for, but it will give your business more credibility when potential customers are browsing. 

Remember to get Facebook page reviews. To get started, you’ll need to switch on the ratings and reviews setting for your page – then you can ask customers to leave their comments.   

Local SEO Tips

First of all, your web pages should contain keywords that include the location. For example, instead of “Italian restaurants”, you’d want to include terms such as “Italian restaurants Hackney”. The same applies in your website’s metadata. 

You also need to create content on topics relevant to local searches – for example, you could discuss local events or comment on news stories that are related to your business. As with any content strategy, you should publish this content consistently.

Earlier, I mentioned how Google’s algorithm considers high-quality inbound links when ranking sites for local search. Well, links from relevant, authoritative local sites is important, even more so if they include the keywords – including your location – in the anchor text.

Wrapping Up

With such a large volume of search traffic relating to local search, any brick and mortar business needs to be optimising for it. And with the majority of local searches being done on mobile devices, make sure you have a mobile friendly website. 

Distance, relevance, and prominence are the three main factors Google considers when ranking local companies – along with your site’s overall rankings.

The first step in local search optimisation is setting up a Google Business Profile and completing it as fully as possible, including photos. You also need to regularly get Google reviews from customers. The top criteria Google’s algorithm looks for in its reviews are star ratings, keywords, positive sentiment, quantity and recency of reviews, and responses to reviews. Encourage customers to leave reviews, using incentives as needed.

You should also ensure your business has a profile on the main social media platforms, and on at least a few other review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Finally, keep in mind the essential SEO tips for local search: use location related keywords on web pages; create locally themed, optimised content; and get high-quality in-bound links, especially from local websites.

If you need help with your SEO or overall marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch – my team and I would be delighted to assist.

report cover

Download the full report

Share this post


Related Posts

Need help with your marketing? Get in touch