Local SEO Is Crucial If Your Customers Are Geographically Determined
If your services are location specific, then attracting customers in and around that location is critical to the success of your marketing efforts. If your location is impactful to your business, then focusing on local SEO (search engine optimization) will be vital to your marketing strategy.
Local SEO is an SEO-based strategy that focuses on attracting customers in specific geo-locations. Google’s primary goal is to match the intent of its users’ queries with the results it displays. Realizing that people often search for services that are local to them, they have made a concerted effort to provide results that are relevant to their users’ locations. For example, when a user looks up “restaurant,” Google’s algorithm will assume that the user is looking for restaurants in their area when pulling up results. Optimizing your website for local SEO will make it easier for Google to match your business with relevant queries.
Understanding The Search Engine Results Page For Local Business
Because Google puts a particular emphasis on local results, you must rank well for local SEO. Focusing on local SEO will improve your chances of ranking at the top of Google’s search engine results pages for queries relevant to your business. It will also increase visibility due to the way that Google displays local search results. Understanding how Google structures its SERP for local results is useful to understanding the importance of local SEO. The elements that make up a typical SERP follow:
The Google Ads Layer Comes First Always
At the very top of the page, there will always be a layer of Google Ads. This layer will display one or two Adword ads relevant to the query. For example, if someone looks up “delivery,” Google will display ads from relevant delivery services in that person’s general vicinity. Investing in a PPC strategy and optimizing Google Ads campaigns for local SEO is always a good idea.
The Map Pack Is Crucial For Local Business
When someone searches for a local service, Google will display a “Map Pack” directly below the display of Google Ads on the search results page. It’s called a Map Pack because it presents a map along with three listings for local services that match the user query. These local services not only have their names, addresses, and reviews listed in the Map Pack, a mark of their location on the map displays as well. Users can click on one of the listings, which will redirect them to a more detailed Google My Business page, where they can find information such as a phone number, hours of service, website link, and more.
The idea of the Map Pack is to make it more convenient for users to not only find local services relevant to their search but to make it more convenient to find information about that service without having to leave Google. As a result, many customers are likely to contact the business directly without even going to the business website.
Featured Snippets Are Less Prominent For Local Terms
Featured snippets appear commonly at the top of Google’s search results pages. These snippets act as highlighted answer boxes meant to provide information from a website page that directly addresses the query of a user simply and concisely. For example, if you search “how does a TV work?” a featured snippet will be displayed answering the question. It is undoubtedly valuable to have information from your website be highlighted in featured snippets since this will be the first thing users see on their search results page and will help boost your authority. Conversely, featured snippets rarely show up for local searches because featured snippets intend to address questions seeking an explanation, where local searches occur to find businesses in the area.
Organic Results For Local Search
Finally, the bulk of the SERP contains the organic results deemed most appropriate to address the search query. These are the listings that come up based on Google’s page ranking algorithm, which takes into consideration the quality of the content indexed and the relevance of the indexed content to the user’s query. If the user’s query is determined to be a local-based search, either by the use of local keywords or by the context of the search, then the listings displayed will be deemed relevant to the area the user is searching for or in.
Keyword Research For Local Business Is Unique
Just like with regular search engine optimization, local SEO will require keyword research. While some of the keyword research that you might do for SEO, in general, can apply to your local SEO efforts, a good local SEO strategy requires unique keyword research. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using keywords for local SEO:
Some Keywords Will Have Geographical Modifiers
When users perform search queries on Google in search of businesses or services, they will often use geographical modifiers. For example, a person living in Atlanta, GA, who is looking for a dentist might type in “dentist Atlanta” or “dentist Georgia.” These types of geographical modifiers are an important part of local SEO.
Some Users Search With No Geo Targets
When someone is in an area they are unfamiliar with and are searching for nearby services or businesses using their mobile devices; they may use geographical modifiers. However, people who are at home are more likely to perform searches without them because they are used to Google serving up location-based results despite the lack of a geographical modifier. Despite this, you should still use geographical modifiers in your keyword targeting since this is how Google will identify that your webpages are geographically relevant to those user queries.
Some Users Search With Wide Geo Targets
Your local SEO keywords don’t always need to be super-specific. If you are using geographical modifiers limited to the street name your business is on, you are narrowing the local optimization too much. You will miss out on potential customers who are nearby but not at that exact location.
If your business is capable of providing services throughout a more extensive area outside of your location, you may want to use a wider geographic modifier. A wider geographic modifier may apply to B2B companies who provide services outside of the specific location of the company. For example, if you are a business in Miami, FL, that wants to provide services outside of the city, a good idea would be to target keywords that expand beyond your city, such as “South Florida” or even “Florida.” The reason being is that these might be the types of location-based modifiers your target audience may include in their queries.
Some Users Search With Hyper Specific Geo
When a user knows exactly in what area they are looking for services, they may use hyper-specific geographical modifiers. For example, a person in a larger city like Atlanta, searching for a dentist, and doesn’t want to travel to the opposite side of town, may do a search like “Dentist Buckhead” instead of “Dentist Atlanta.” Using more hyper-specific geographical modifiers, along with more general ones, can be a smart strategy. Many companies will create separate landing pages for their services using more specific geographical modifiers to ensure that they address each specific area that they serve.
The Rise Of ‘Near Me’ Searches
Finally, some users will perform searches that lack a specific geographical modifier but includes the phrase “Near Me” in their queries. This ‘Near Me’ addition immediately indicates to Google that they are searching for a service in their current area. If you have optimized your content using the relevant geographical modifiers, your listings will likely display on the user’s search results page.
Google Uses Location Services To Adjust Results Already
The way that Google identifies where its users are is through their BSSID (basic service set identifiers) information. Google obtains this information from its users’ WLAN Access points, allowing them to get a general idea of where a user is performing their search — even if the user has their GPS or WiFi turned off.
Because Google has this information from its users, Google can provide much more relevant search results and, in turn, affects what they show on their map pack, what Google Ads they display, and what organic listings they display. In reality, users don’t need to use geographical modifiers in their search queries unless they are looking for services in a different location from where they are.
Google My Business Controls The Map Pack Listing
Knowing that local SEO is the best way to increase visibility for search queries that Google deems to be geographically-based, you will want to make sure to optimize your website for local SEO. Doing so will improve your chances of being displayed in not only the organic listings but also in Google’s Map Pack. However, Google doesn’t use the same methods to display listings on their Map Pack as they do for their organic search results. Instead, they rely on Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free feature that allows businesses and organizations to set up free accounts. Once set up, you will be able to use your Google My Business account to manage your online presence on Google by providing relevant information that Google can use to determine the Map Pack listings on their search results pages.
We Audit Your Current Positioning And Profile Setup
Optimizing your Google My Business account is essential, not just to improve your chances of being listed on Google’s Map Pack, but also to ensure that it provides useful information to potential customers. If you have already claimed your Google My Business account, then we can audit your current positioning as well as evaluate your business page. If you have yet to claim your Google My Business, we can help set up your profile.
The Most Significant Component Is NAP Data
One of the most critical components of your Google My Business page is your NAP data (name, address, and phone number). The NAP data is what Google will display on your Map Pack listing, which means that you need to make sure the information is not only available on your Google My Business profile, but also that the information is correct. We will also evaluate other NAP entries online, and if there are inconsistencies on your social media pages, webpages, or in online directories, we will identify them and correct them.
Reviews On Your Google My Business Page Matter Greatly
Your Google My Business page will provide access to all of the reviews left by customers on Google and the average score displays on your Map Pack listing. If your average score is low, the odds of being displayed as part of the Map Pack are not good. Google will only want to show high-quality results in their Map Packs, so maintaining a high average score is critical to your Map Pack visibility.
We will audit your reviews to identify any negative reviews that require attention. If a substantial number of negative reviews are bringing down your score, we can determine whether there are any common issues shared across those reviews and look to reconcile the issue with your team.
Review Collection Campaigns
In some cases, it might not be an issue of having poor reviews. Even if you have an average five-star rating, it won’t do you a lot of good if you only have five reviews in total. Google takes into account both the average rating of your business and the number of reviews left by your customers. We can bolster your review numbers by implementing a customized review collection campaign.
Review Response Management
Every business gets a few negative reviews, especially if they’ve collected hundreds of reviews in total. It is how you address negative reviews that is important, and whether or not you solved whatever issue the reviewer had. Some reviewers may even be willing to edit their review if you’ve successfully addressed the problem that they had. Having a review response management system in place is crucial.
Ongoing Review Management
Obtaining a high average rating and implementing a review collection campaign aren’t short-term strategies. You should always monitor your Google reviews to ensure that your rating stays high and that you are addressing negative reviews in real-time. We will monitor your reviews to ensure that this is happening and that negative reviews receive attention before they cause more significant issues.
All Best Practices From SEO Apply At The Local Level
Creating and maintaining a successful SEO strategy means you cannot ignore local SEO. A well-defined local SEO strategy is a necessary component of your overall SEO strategy. Without local search engine optimization, you will be less likely to show up in search results in which Google deems the location to be important, and you could be missing out on potentially high-quality prospects.
When it comes to implementing an effective local SEO strategy, keep in mind that all the best SEO practices still apply.