Local SEO and how it works

Learning the way in which Google works for local searches will enable you to grow your business by optimizing it for local search results. This guide is meant to help you achieve just that.

Local SEO is a technique for search engine optimization (SEO) which makes your business to be more prominently displayed in search engine results when local customers search Google.

Local SEO benefits any business which provides services to a particular geographic location or which has a physical location. When you search for the services which your business offers, a map with three listing generally comes up. If you have done your local SEO well, your business should ideally appear in that listing. That way you get the most benefit from Local SEO.

However, to understand Local SEO you need to understand how Google search works. The following question and answer articles can further enlighten you.

How did search engines evolve?

How does Google search work?

How does Google rank search results?

Local SEO is a different pattern

In what way are local organic search results different? Analysis of trillions of search results made Google realise that there were a large number of searches from people who were specifically seeking certain businesses, products or services within their immediate location. This is the reason for the inclusion of the proximity factor in ranking criteria, meaning that when you search for a local key word Google considers your location with respect to the service provider is considered. This only makes sense, since it is only logical to get what you are looking for you from the nearest source where possible. Local intent in this case does not necessarily come from the mention of your location in the search query. Google is able to determine your current location through maps and use it in determining search results. For example, if one searches for fast food delivery or lunch delivery from their office, Google will show a list of delivery services near the office in the search engine results pages. Making the same search from home will produce totally different search results! This is because Google use proximity to determine the most relevant delivery services for you.

Local search is not a new thing at all. In the past it was however limited due to the use of desktop computers. The rapid growth of mobile internet access has resulted in more and more searches being done from mobile devices, making local SEO an essential factor for local marketers as well as businesses which offer local products and services.

What matters for local SEO?

What are the implications for search marketers? Although they both appear within the listings for standard Google search local map pack listings and Google search results for local rankings are powered by different algorithms. The local business is trying to take advantage of both the local map pack and the main organic search results in one go.

If you are getting introduced to the idea of online marketing for your business, it is never easy to know what your efforts should be focused on in order to come up with the most effective outcomes. The best insights can be found from sources such as the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey which is conducted annually by Moz which is a marketing analytics software company which bases its survey on contributions from the top 35 to 40 worldwide Local SEO experts. Its findings are a good guide to identifying the factors which determine visibility in local search results.

Localising content and the popularity of local links are also factors in the same way as it features in the original Google search algorithm. It is therefore important to have a local landing page for each of a business’ unique locations. Local landing pages are supposed to specifically highlight business details such as the business name, phone number and address. In line with best SEO practice, the meta descriptions, meta titles and tags also need to be optimized. These should be the focus of a well designed and consistently implemented link-bulding and content marketing strategy.

In addition, location-based practices such as creating a Google My Business listing complete with local citations and reviews from customers are important. Review signals which are published in Google by the business’ local customers are important for local SEO rankings and hence should be a key focus in your SEO efforts.

Tools exist which can be utilized for auditing local SEO performance and which help in searching for key words which target the local audience. Tools are also useful in the management of Google My Business listings, business profile management, citation building and even monitoring your business’ inclusion in local SEO results.

The content of your website is just as important in local SEO as it is in the algorithm for traditional Google search. However local SEO complements the website content with review signals, citations and Google My Business as location factors.

Start harnessing SEO

Now that you have understood the basics of SEO and the way in which local search results are determined by Google, you can focus on the signals which are necessary for the optimization of your website’s digital footprint in the ecosystem which focuses on local search. That way you can drive your business to the top of the results page landing more customers to your doorstep.

The visibility of your business in local search depends on many factors and it is important to realise that local search as a discipline continues to grow and with growth comes change. Moz’s annual survey is a good place to stay abreast by keeping track of changes in the relative importance of the signals and factors which determine a local ranking. Improvements in the important signal areas are bound to position your business to get more customers in your service area and achieve faster growth.

Written by Brian Muyambo for Express Media Web Hosting. Brian is an expert in local SEO.

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