In the world of business and marketing, new changes in trends happen all the time. This includes changes in SEO and online marketing strategies.
Before, companies focused more on their websites’ SEO to improve online visibility. Now, there’s a new way to increase online visibility, reputation, and local sales—Local SEO.
Local SEO may sound pretty much the same as SEO, but they’re technically different. They both use different methods too.
In this article, you’ll learn about the difference between Local SEO from standard SEO and how your business can benefit from it.
How Local SEO is Different
The main difference between these two SEO concepts is the search focus.
Standard SEO focuses on improving your website’s ranking in the search engine results page (SERP). Standard informational searches mainly drive the ranking.
Local SEO, on the other hand, focuses on the consumers’ purchase intent for local products or services. It is driven mainly by local searches.
Local Search vs. Informational Search
Local searches and informational searches are both made through the Google search engine. They are also both driven by search keywords, but they yield different kinds of results.
Informational searches yield results that are not location-specific. The keywords used in this search usually lead to a list of websites from anywhere around the world that contain relevant information.
Local searches, on the other hand, are location-specific. The keywords used in this search contain the name of a location and yield results that pertain mainly to that location.
For example, the search phrase “mortgage lender” can be considered an informational search while “mortgage lender Jackson, Mississippi” is a local search.
When you enter “mortgage lender” in Google search, it will yield a SERP that contains a list of websites that mention or discuss the topic of mortgages in general, such as benefits and industry. The listing is not limited to websites within one specific country or state.
But when you enter “mortgage lender Jackson, Mississippi,” it will yield a SERP that contains a list of websites and businesses that offer mortgages in Jackson, Mississippi, and surrounding areas. You’ll also notice that the top part of the SERP shows a map of the region followed by a list of three local businesses that provide relevant services and products.
The part that displays the map and list of businesses is called the “local pack” or “map pack.” This is an essential part of SERPs in Local SEO.
Sometimes, even if you don’t enter a location name in your search, a local pack will still appear if the keywords are relevant to certain products or services.
Again, for example, when you type in “massage therapy,” the SERP will also display a local pack that is based on your computer IP’s location as detected by Google. If Google detects that you’re located in California, the SERP will show local pack results on massage therapy businesses in California near you.
So, unless you type in a specific location name, Google will yield search results with local packs based on your IP address if Google determines your intent is to find a masseuse.
Components of Local SEO
Local SEO involves methods and techniques different from that of standard SEO.
The following are the main components of an effective Local SEO:
Google My Business Listing
First of all, in Local SEO, your business doesn’t necessarily need to have a website to rank for local searches. All you need is to have your business listed in “Google My Business.”
Although, ultimately, you want to have a branded website as soon as possible.
Google My Business (GMB) is a Google program where businesses can submit their business profiles. Google uses the data and business details in the submitted profiles in displaying the local packs in the SERPs. They’re also the data used for Google Maps and or when someone searches for a particular business or company (branded search).
In branded searches, important business details in your GMB profile are displayed on a “Knowledge Panel.” This is the panel on the right side of the SERP that you see whenever you search for a specific brand or company.
The Knowledge Panel usually displays the following details:
- Business Address
- Opening/Office Hours
- Phone Numbers
- Email Address
- Social Media Profiles
Aside from these necessary details, the panel also displays the company’s Google rating if a customer has reviewed your business through Google Reviews. Excerpts of the top 3 reviews can be shown to provide search users with some quick details to read.
The business description and photos are also displayed at the lower part of the panel. This data is usually pulled from your GMB profile.
An online citation refers to another place on the web (aside from your website or social media profile) where your business’ name, address, phone, and website (NAPW) are mentioned or listed. GMB is one powerful example of an online citation.
Other examples of citations are business directories (Craigslist or Angie’s List) and business or customer review websites (Yelp or Yellowpages). These websites are where many customers go to in search of local businesses near them.
These citations provide users and Google bots data that can lead them to the right business or place that match local searches.
If you aren’t listed in any of these sites, then customers (and even Google) won’t be able to find you too. It’ll be hard for you to compete with other companies that are effectively building their citations.
Aside from appearing on business listings, your business also needs to be rated positively to rise in the ranks. This is because Google is more likely to promote and display businesses that are highly rated in the SERPs’ local packs.
To get high ratings, you need positive reviews from customers. The more you get positive reviews, the higher you get rated.
For example, if you get poor reviews on your business’ products or services, you’ll get fewer stars from customer ratings. Google bots also become less likely to match your business with local searches, especially if competitors have higher star ratings.
How Local SEO Works
Local SEO typically works around the main components, but some factors affect how the local search ranking works.
Three main factors influence your business’ ranking in local searches:
Relevance pertains to how closely your business relates to the users’ search criteria. This applies to your business services, products, and or website content.
For example, if someone searches for “body massages San Francisco” and your business offers mostly facial massages, your business might not rank well for that local search criteria. Although your business may still appear on the SERP because it matches the keyword “massage,” it probably won’t be at the top.
Another factor that affects local search rankings is the proximity of your business’ location to the user’s location.
For example, a plumbing business is located in San Jose, California. A user who is located in Glendale searches “plumbing California” on Google. When Google detects that the user is in Glendale, it’s more likely to display plumbing businesses around Glendale at the top of the local pack.
Likewise, if the user is located in San Jose, Google will be more likely to display businesses around that location even if the user doesn’t directly specify San Jose as the location.
Reputation and Prominence
Your business’ level of prominence also affects your local search ranking. Prominence mainly refers to how customers talk about your business. If customers talk positively about your products and services, you get a positive reputation. And the more positive your reputation gets, the more prominent your business becomes.
Google likes that sort of thing. If a business has a positive reputation and is prominently talked about, it’s more likely to be displayed on the local packs.
Benefits of Local SEO
If done right, your business’ Local SEO can bring many benefits, namely:
You increase customers’ awareness of your brand.
Brand awareness is an essential factor in the conversion chain. The more the customers are aware of your brand, the more they are likely to consider contacting you.
You can increase your local sales.
If you’re a small business or a company with various locations, you can boost your sales with Local SEO. If customers love your products or services, you’ll build trust, repeat business, and referrals.
You can strengthen your reputation.
Reputation is a powerful thing for businesses. Once you establish a strong reputation by increasing your sales and positive reviews, you become harder to beat by your competitors.
How To Improve Local SEO
To improve your business’ Local SEO, you need to combine the key components and execute them effectively. You might be able to pull this off on your own if you have some IT skills and knowledge. But, most of the time, it’s best to leave the job to the experts.
To improve Local SEO efficiently and effectively, you’ll need the help of Local SEO professionals who can execute the following:
If you have a business website, you’ll need to “localize” it to rank well in local searches.
This method involves mentioning or including your location name (country, state, or region) throughout many parts of your website. It uses a strategized approach in planting the location names in informational and promotional content within your site.
- Everything with Google revolves around content. You have to focus on consistently producing localized content in the form of a blog post, case studies and success stories.
- Creation of Effective GMB Profiles
Your GMB profile should not only include the necessary details. You also need to create SEO-friendly content for your business description.
This content and other business data should also be updated regularly too. When Google detects that your profile is updated from time to time, it’ll be more likely to appear in local searches. This is because Google values fresh content more than old ones.
If you pay attention and are involved enough, you will notice that Google tells you what they want from you.
This is part of the reason your GMB post only lasts 7 days. If Google wants you to update your GMB post every seven days, then it is a good indication of how you should be posting on your site.
Positive Citation Building
Aside from building a positive GMB profile, you also need to develop positive profiles in other citations. Positive citations improve your online reputation, which is essential for both consumers and Google.
Customer Review and Rating Management
A crucial part of Local SEO is managing the reviews and ratings from local customers.
Merely knowing that you get many reviews and ratings from customers isn’t enough. It would be best if you made sure that more of those reviews and ratings are leaning towards the positive.
If you don’t pay attention to the quality of reviews your business is getting, your reputation will decrease, and customers (as well as Google) will not value your business as much.
Management of Backlinks
Backlinks are another thing that you must manage. Most citations will provide backlinks to your website’s or social media profile URLs.
To make sure that customers can find or reach you through those backlinks, you need to make sure that they’re working properly. It would be best if you run through your list of backlinks regularly to see whether there are broken links that should be fixed.
Aside from their working conditions, backlinks should also be checked for relevancy. Google doesn’t like it when a business website’s URL pops up in many places that aren’t even relevant to your industry.
These low-quality backlinks are viewed as “spammy” and are condemned by Google.
Final Thoughts on Local SEO
Now you know how Local SEO works and what it can do for you. If you think your local business can do better using Local SEO but don’t’ know where to start, your best option would be to hire professional help.
If you are in the Reverse Mortgage business, start by getting your free Reverse Report to analyze where you stand with your digital marketing efforts.