What is local SEO and why local search matters

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Local search is an integral part of any SEO strategy targeting customers in a specific region, city, or neighborhood.

Simply put, local SEO is where you focus on improving your rankings and visibility in local search results like Google’s Map Pack/Local Pack.

Organic SEO is how you improve the ranking of web pages in organic search. Your website’s ranking in these organic results can also positively influence your local pack’s ranking.

Organic listings are another great opportunity for your local business to appear in front of motivated searchers when Google determines the query has local intent.

So while local and organic SEO are interconnected in these ways, each requires a unique strategy with different optimization tactics.

Let’s start at the beginning: what is local SEO and why is local search important?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of search engine optimization for local search results.

On Google, this means helping your business listing in the Local Pack/Map Pack rank higher and show up more often in response to more relevant queries.

Think about the last time you were out in the world, looking for something you needed. Maybe it was [men’s shoes]Where [daycare providers]Where [coworking spaces].

Google’s mission is to provide searchers with the best answer to any query.

And when its algorithms detect that your intent is local – that you’re looking for something in the area around you – those Map Pack results will appear prominently on the first page of search results.

They can also be supplemented with organic results about businesses and services in your area.

If you are looking for something like [Mexican restaurants open now], local results may appear as the default view on top of any organic content. Google has detected that you have an immediate local need.

Information available in local search results – business name, address, phone number, website, photos and videos, customer reviews and ratings, etc. – are more likely to fulfill this need than a simple blue link.

Adhering to Google’s webmaster guidelines and creating a great user experience on your website are best practices for SEO in general.

This is essential if you want your website to rank in organic search results when Google has determined that there is local intent to the query.

But you can appear in the Map Pack without even having a website, because MapPack results are largely informed by your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. They may include information compiled by Google from other places on the web and even user suggestions.

Google has a separate set of local SEO guidelinesalso, the most important of them being his ‘Guidelines for representing your business on Google.’

These guidelines are essential to maximizing your visibility in the Map Pack and avoiding suspension of your ad.

As you go through our local SEO guide, keep in mind the differences between local organic and map pack.

Sometimes we will talk about Google search algorithms, technical SEO of your website, optimizing your web pages on the page, etc. These topics refer to your opportunities to appear in local ads. biological results and to support Map Pack rankings with your website presence.

By reading local reviews and star ratings, Google Posts, and other bits of your GBP, you learn more about local SEO as it relates to the local results you see in Google Maps.

Why local search is important

Here are some statistics that prove how important local search remains for businesses:

  • According to Google, 76% of people who search locally on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.
  • 30% of all the searches it processes are location-related, also according to Google.
  • 61% of consumers said in a recent local search survey that they conduct local searches every day.
  • A recent local SEO survey revealed that 82% of consumers read online reviews of businesses during a local search and spend nearly 14 minutes doing so before making a decision.
  • 86% of people rely on Google Maps to find the location of a business.
  • Yelp appears in the top five search results for small business searches 92% of the time.
  • Worldwide, 74% of in-store shoppers who did their research before physically arriving at the store said they looked for things like [closest store near them], [locations], [in stock near them]and other types of hyperlocal information.
  • More than half of Internet users worldwide use a mobile device for their local searches.
  • 83% of researchers use Google search to learn more about nearby businesses; 55% use Google Maps, 44% Apple Maps, 39% turn to Yahoo and 31% choose bing.

How Google Determines Local Ranking

Google keeps its organic search ranking algorithms a closely guarded secret, but is much more open about what it takes to rank in local results.

The three main categories of local ranking factors, according to Google, are:

  • Relevance.
  • Distance.
  • and Prominence.
“How to improve your local ranking”, Google, screenshot by author, January 2022

“Relevance refers to how closely a local business profile matches what someone is looking for.

Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches,” Google says in its help resource on how to improve your local rankings.

Google defines distance as “the distance between each potential search result and the location term used in a search. If a user does not specify a location in their search, we will calculate the distance based on what we know of their site. “

And prominence in this context refers to how well-known Google considers that business to be. This is perhaps the most complex of the local ranking factor categories, as search algorithms also attempt to factor offline prominence into the equation.

According to Whitespark’sLocal Search Ranking Factors 2021‘, here’s what local SEO experts consider to be the top local pack ranking factors:

  • GBP primary category.
  • Keywords in the ad title.
  • Proximity of business address to researcher location.
  • Physical address in the search city.
  • Additional GMB categories.
  • High star rating.
  • Entire GBP list.
  • Quality and authority of inbound links to the associated domain.
  • Keywords in native Google reviews.

Improve your local search presence

As you can see, local search is a critical channel for businesses of all kinds that serve local customers – franchises, retail chains, so-called Mom & Pop stores, financial services brands, service providers, retail brands. business and SMEs.

In “Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Local Search Rankings,” you’ll find everything you need to know to develop and implement a successful local SEO strategy.

You will learn:

  • The best local ranking signals you need to know and why they matter.
  • How to create a winning local SEO strategy.
  • Tips and processes for analyzing competition in local search results.
  • Why accurate NAP information and user experience is so important in local SEO.
  • How and where to find the best local link building opportunities.
  • Why reviews and ratings are important – and how to make the best use of them.
  • How to completely optimize your GBP SEO.
  • All the different attributes you need to know to help your GBP ad stand out and convert customers.
  • Local SEO and listing management tools to save you time and improve your performance.
  • And much more.

You’ll hear local search experts Ben Fisher, John McAlpin, Alexandra Tachalova, Marshall Nyman, Maddy Osman and more share their top tips and tricks to help you craft a strategy designed for your business.

Download the guide for free here.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

What is Local SEO & Why Local Search Matters

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