Step-By-Step Guide To How Local SEO Works

Ben Tippet

Understanding How Local SEO Works

If you have high-quality products or offer refined and well-thought-out services but have not yet managed to reach a certain market in your area, then local SEO practices could help you find a solution. However, you may have some questions about it. What is local SEO, and how does it work? Why should you include it in your marketing strategy? Read on to find all the answers and learn how to bring more customers to your door by claiming top positions in local searches.

What Is Local SEO And How Do You Do It?

Before delving into any specific strategy, it’s essential to understand what local SEO is and how it differs from the search engine optimisation strategies you already know. Overall, local SEO defines a practice that can help local businesses improve their online presence. With this strategy, you can leverage local searches to make your business more visible when someone in your area googles keywords related to your business. Any business with a physical location or those offering services in specific geographic areas can benefit from local SEO to attract more potential customers and grow.

Why Is Local SEO Important?

Now that you know what local SEO is, it’s time to answer another key question: why is it important? Does your business really need this strategy? Local SEO has become more important as people use search engines. As you may think, the number is huge. However, other figures support this practice’s relevance. Google, the most popular search engine, revealed that around a third of mobile searches were related to a specific location in 2016, while just over 25% of local searches resulted in purchases. However, according to the latest reports, 46% of Google searches were related to local information in 2022! In other words, the numbers have continued to grow and are expected to be much higher in the coming years! In addition, almost 80% of users who search for nearby products or services on their phones visit one business per day. What does it mean? Why are these figures important for your projects? With such a large number of users searching and buying from local businesses, if you don’t have a solid strategy, you are falling behind and missing out on great opportunities.

Is Local SEO Effective?

If you have a well-thought-out strategy, local SEO can be the most cost-effective way to reach a specific audience and increase your visibility in nearby markets. Many see local SEO as a small part of their search engine optimisation strategy, but it goes beyond that. Considering the huge number of local intent searches, don’t you think local SEO should be a priority? Both large and small businesses can benefit from local SEO. Again, think about the numbers. Google processes at least 8 billion searches a day, and it has already revealed that almost 50% of them have local intent. Therefore, if you do not include this practice in your strategy, you would be losing valuable online traffic for your business.

Is Local SEO Paid?

If you are a business owner, another question to keep in mind is whether local SEO requires an investment. Should you include it in your budget, or can you do all this work without spending a penny? The answer depends on your goal. If you really want to get good search results and leverage local SEO benefits to grow your business, you need experts’ help. In order to be effective, any search engine optimisation strategy must be designed correctly. Otherwise, you would not only be wasting money but also time. Do you want your local SEO efforts to pay off? You must make sure that each step you take brings you closer and closer to your goals, and that’s something that only professionals can do. If you invest in a solid and smart local SEO campaign, you’ll see new customers coming and your business gaining visibility in your location. However, whether you plan to hire an agency or not, check out a step-by-step explanation of how local SEO works below!

How SEO Works: Step-By-Step Guide

Now, it’s time to start considering what you need to do to execute a local SEO strategy. All search engine optimisation-oriented campaigns require specific steps according to the organisation’s or project’s goals. However, when it comes to local SEO, the process falls into two essential halves: map pack and blue link results. Both are based on the two types of local results that Google displays.

Map Pack Results

Also known as “local pack,” it’s a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that displays a map. When users click below that item, the top local business listings appear. This map often appears at the top of search results, and the companies or brands you see in the business listings are part of Google Explore.

Blue Link Results

The “blue link” results are the ones you see every time you google something. These listings with links to websites are organic and usually appear below the business listings. Google returns organic results based on various aspects, including the website’s authority and experience. Once you understand the difference between those key elements, you can get down to business and execute the following steps to develop your local SEO strategy.

Keyword Research For Local SEO

If you already have your goals clear and know what local SEO can do for your business, keyword research comes in. This process allows you to understand how people search for the services or products you offer, helping you optimise your actions to give them exactly what they need. Local keyword research is also divided into several steps, including the following: Identify Service-Based Keywords People can search for the services or products they need in different ways.

Think of this scenario: If your key broke while opening the door, you could try to google the word “locksmith.” However, sometimes, you may think you can find the solution, so you don’t type “locksmith” but “how to get a broken key out of a door handle.” You can also Google specific services, such as “door lock repair” or “key replacement.” Therefore, if you want your SEO strategy to be successful, you must find keywords related to your business and industry and brainstorm ideas to connect them with the services or products you offer.

As a result, you can maximise your presence on the results pages when users search for what you have. Check Search Volumes To search for terms related to your business and industry, you can use different tools. Most of them also show you the volume of keyword searches in a specific area. Google Keyword Planner is one of the best options if that’s something you need. However, there are others that can be a bit more precise depending on what you need. If you think focusing on national volume keywords, Keywords Explorer may be ideal.

Don’t Forget Local Intent When searches have “local intent,” it means that users plan to shop at nearby places. That’s one aspect of your strategy that you need to clarify. Local SEO is for businesses that can offer services or have brick-and-mortar headquarters in specific areas. In this sense, to check this element you must Google the services or products you offer and review the results. If Google shows a map with some business listings and blue link results, there’s local intent.

Again, recognising if searches have local intent and if you can provide services or products in a specific area is essential to your local SEO strategy. You can target keywords even if you don’t see local intent, but it means you’ll be wasting effort! Integrate the Keywords Once you identify the terms related to your business and if there is a local intent or not, what is the next step? Yes, it’s time to make your website lead the local rankings. To reach that goal, you need to start integrating keywords into your website pages. You should also assign keywords to the URLs, always thinking about how they might appear in the map pack. Overall, it’s hard to rank for all the terms related to your services.

Therefore, you should focus your keyword strategy on separate pages. If “locksmith” and “key replacement” map to different services or products, use them on separate pages. As you can see, the process is a bit complicated. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have professional help.

Ranking A Local Business

As mentioned, local SEO involves two key halves based on how Google ranks business websites: map pack and organic or “blue link” results. In this step, you must identify the ranking factors if you want your business to reach the top of the results lists. Therefore, you must define where you want to rank. Yes, there are different ranking factors for the map pack and the organic results, so you should pick an option before you start developing your strategy.

Google Business Profile

Previously known as Google My Business, this is one of the most important tools for local businesses. Google Business Profile lists information about local companies and brands, allowing them to appear at the top of the map pack results or Google Maps. What factors does Google take into account to put a business in local listings? Well, search engines consider the Google My Business profile as one of the main factors for ranking. In addition, it can also influence the organic results. If your goal is to reach more customers, Google My Business is also essential, as Google says that around 70% of users are more likely to visit a business that has a complete profile there.Also, at least 50% of users are more likely to buy products or services from businesses that have full profiles on Google My Business. If you want to leverage this tool to boost your business, check out these tips:

  • Don’t forget to set your business hours, including during the holidays
  • List the products or services you offer
  • Add your address
  • Specify if you offer delivery services
  • Add photos
  • Ask customers for reviews

NAP Citations

Another element your local SEO strategy needs are NAP citations. They include information about your business, including its name, address, and phone number, but why are they important? NAP citations appear in business directories and social media profiles, increasing your exposure to potential customers. SEO experts consider local citations are among the most important factors to rank a business, both in the map pack and blue link results. Local citations can help users discover your business online when searching, as business directors often rank at the top of search results when it comes to local queries. Here are some tips that you can take into account to leverage this tool:

  • Get your business in big data aggregators reliable
  • Submit on popular directors in your industry or local area
  • Increase your presence in big players like Facebook or Apple Maps
  • Work on your citations and make sure they have consistent information

Local Businesses Reviews

In order to perform well locally, you should also pay attention to your reviews, both on Google My Business and any other site, directory, or tool. When it comes to map pack results, reviews are extremely important as they help you build trust with search engines and potential customers. Do you want to improve your reviews in Google Business Profile to attract more customers and get a better ranking? These are some of the tips you can follow:

  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews (a good strategy is to send links to your Google Business Profile and invite them to comment on their experience)
  • Respond to reviews to earn your existing customers and potential customers’ trust (if you want to do this, your Google Business Profile must be verified)
  • Do not ask your customers to leave good reviews, as this violates Google’s terms
  • If you get a bad review on your Google Business Profile, just try to improve the issues or offer better services
  • Don’t offer your customers money to leave good reviews (this also violates Google’s terms)

Links

Besides doing keyword research and thinking about business directories, you shouldn’t forget about links. According to SEO specialists, link building is one of the most important elements for organic search ranking. However, knowing that links can influence businesses is not a surprise to many business owners. In 2016, Google revealed that backlinks were among the top three factors for search results rankings. Also, there is a close relationship between backlinks and organic traffic. What about its importance to map macks? Well, the links seem just as relevant there! Some of the tips you can follow to leverage links and benefit your business are:

  • Get your competitors’ links
  • Integrate links from authority sites
  • Think about local quotes, which often have links
  • Redirect old versions of your new web pages to the old ones to recover lost links

On-Page SEO

The term refers to where you should make changes to better rank your website in organic search results. On-page SEO is important both in blue links and in map pack results, but its greatest relevance is in organic ranking. Also, on-page SEO signals are increasingly important for local optimisation. Therefore, if you want to integrate this strategy into your campaign, these are some tips that you can follow:

  • Add your NAP details on your website
  • Optimise your images
  • Link to and from relevant pages
  • Write meta titles and descriptions
  • Use SEO-friendly URLs

Local SEO Tools

In addition to putting into practice all the above tips and gaining knowledge about the practices necessary to appear at the top of the local rankings, a local business owner must also rely on some SEO tools. You can find many local SEO tools on the market. However, the best ones include the following:

Google Search Console

With this free tool, you can monitor your website’s performance to define if your efforts are paying off and if you are gaining the traffic you need. In addition, Google Search Console allows you to know where the traffic is coming from so that you can optimise your strategy and make the most of your efforts in order to increase sales or attract more customers.

Google Business Manager

You already know this one! Google Business Manager or Google My Business is a tool that allows you to manage your business profile on Google. One of the advantages of Google Business Manager is that it’s completely free! Therefore, you don’t have to spend a fortune to add it to your local SEO plan.

Google Keyword Planner

If you want to optimise keyword search to rank your business every time there are local searches, Google Keyword Planner may be ideal for you. This tool is useful to define the volumes of a keyword and identify the terms related to the industry, which is essential to know how to integrate them and make the most out of them.

Yext

If you want to get your project to more than one business listing, Yext may also be the ideal tool for you. With Yext, you can manage business information across multiple listings! Do you remember the tip about NAP citations? This tool helps you keep all the information consistent automatically or manually.

Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker

Another tool that you can consider for your SEO campaign is Anref’s Rank Tracker since it lets you track thousands of ranking keywords by city or state.

Grid My Business

Finally, there’s Grid My Business. If your strategy focuses on map pack ranking, this one is for you! Grid My Business shows you the positions for a keyword in a specific area using this useful option linked to Google Maps. Plus, it’s completely free and can greatly benefit your local company or brand.

Local Search Results: Business Benefits

Another question that you may have in mind is: how important are search result pages for your local business? Can they help you in any way to earn more money or have more clients? Fortunately, the answer is a big “yes” in both cases. As mentioned, local SEO is not for every business. This strategy can benefit companies or brands that offer services or have physical locations in specific areas. However, when you rely on local search engine optimisation efforts, you can enjoy many benefits, including:

  • All related activities, such as link building or NAP citations, can help you gain visibility online
  • You can get targeted web traffic by optimising your online activity, attracting more leads or subscriptions, and increasing your sales
  • This strategy helps you build trust among your customers, as it allows you to manage your reputation
  • You can enjoy an improved conversion rate since search engine optimisation has an effect on the number of calls, messages, or subscriptions you get
  • Local efforts in terms of SEO help you increase sales through reviews
  • You can be more competitive since it helps you know your rivals

Final Thoughts

When it comes to search engine optimisation, strategies focused on local performance can have a huge impact on your business’s growth. As you can see, even though most of the work happens on the Internet or “online,” SEO efforts can also help you succeed in your city or state. However, if you want your strategy to have good results, you must take many things into account. From learning how to use SEO tools to defining each step to build a healthy and solid campaign, local SEO involves several aspects. Therefore, seeking help from a specialist is the best way to go. When you work with us as an agency, you can be sure that every step PDE takes benefits your business and will help you achieve your goals. Let us help you find your digital edge today.

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