Local SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is the process of developing a product, service, or business for an online search query that is location-specific. Search engines, such as Google, use someone’s location based on their geolocation (for cellphones) or IP address (for desktop computers) to determine what results to show them. For example, when someone conducts an online local search for an exterminator, tent company, or retirement home, the search engine will only display businesses relevant to their location.
In order to achieve success with local search engine optimization, it is important to implement various strategies to improve your business’ position on local search rankings. Businesses can rely on three key local SEO strategies:
- Local citations (including Google My Business (GMB))
- On-site Content (including long tail keywords)
Why Local SEO Matters
Studies show that 64% of local customers use search engines and directories as their main way to find a local business. Furthermore, 50% of these online searchers visit businesses within 24 hours of their online local search. Local SEO increases your business’ online visibility with potential customers. More specifically, local SEO is an important tool because it helps your business rank high in search results, or SERPs, for search queries of keywords that are related to your business and the areas that you serve. People are more likely to work with a company that is close to them, so local SEO efforts send targeted, accurate, traffic to your website to optimize your return on investment.
In addition to improving your company’s online branding, local SEO drives leads, sales, and online or in-store traffic for local businesses.
Common Misconceptions of Local SEO
There are a variety of misconceptions regarding local search engine optimization; we will take you through them step-by-step.
First, if you sell your goods or services online (rather than through a bricks and mortar store), you might assume that local SEO won’t work for your business. This is incorrect. No matter how you operate your business, you will want your website to appear when users search for related services and products. If the majority of individuals are using local searches to conduct their research, you need to ensure that your web page will be present in their search results. Thus, you need to focus on local SEO.
Second, there is a misconception that Google My Business (GMB) is not important; this is absolutely false as GMB is one of the most important aspects of local SEO. If a local business has not created a GMB listing, they are losing out on potential customers because Google is not getting key information about their products and services, their location, their phone number, their business hours, and more. If a business’ information is not updated–if their GMB listing is not optimized–they are less likely to attract customers.
Keep in mind that while contact information (name, address, phone number, or NAP) is essential, there are other aspects of a business listing that are equally important to attract potential customers. Google My Business allows businesses to add posts, create events, and even offer promotions.
Third, there are a lot of misconceptions about the role of reviews within local SEO. Some people believe that local SEO is only about reviews (particularly Google reviews) while others argue that reviews are useless. The truth is that reviews do matter, but local SEO is more than just reviews. Effective local SEO also includes effectively leveraging applicable keywords.
For more information about local SEO, APD has put together a local SEO playbook to help you develop your strategy. You can start here: Beginner’s local SEO playbook.