Local SEO: The Definitive Guide 2021
Local Seo is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy that helps local businesses to rank in Google for local search results.
It improves your business’s Google rankings and increases traffic from local searches through the use of local keywords, building citations, and other strategies that we cover in this guide.
What is Local SEO?
Google discovered that people looking for businesses on their search want results for local businesses.
In fact, Google’s 46% of searches have local intent.
Therefore, local SEO is essential for your business to attract potential customers.
How Does Google Rank Local SEO?
When you type something in Google Search, it checks the rankings, relevancy to your search, and the pattern of several sites and then returns those results.
Google searches the Google index to come up with these results.
The Google index is formed by spiders web crawling search pages and following links on sites to store them in the servers.
The algorithms in Google check the index and return search results based on the link popularity, prominence and relevancy of the list of sites with your search query.
The process can be a little different for local searches.
Google’s algorithms for local search include a proximity factor.
This means that when searched for a local keyword, Google also considers your location for the results.
You do not necessarily need to write your location for the search results to be localized.
For instance, if you are searching for hair parlors in your office, you will get the results of hair salons near your office building.
However, if you search from home, you will get a different set of results because of the change of location.
Local SEO Domination has a different set of ranking factors like NAP citations, presence of Google My Business and local keywords. More on this below.
Local Seo Keywords
Keyword Research for Local SEO does not need to be extensive.
All you need in the beginning are keywords that can help searchers find your business. You can do so by being mindful of your services and forming keywords from that.
You can start by listing out keywords you want to be ranked for. One way to form keywords is to look for service in the location.
For instance, if you provide web designing services then your keyword can be web designing in Dubai. Or others like web developing Dubai, website development in Dubai.
See the pattern. The service in the location. Likewise, you can come up with many similar keywords for your business.
Moreover, you can use tools like Google Autocomplete to look at what your service ranks for. Just put your primary keyword and you may even come across suggestions you did not think of before.
You can also use Yelp Suggest to look for more keywords based on your location.
Furthermore, you can check your competitor’s website’s keywords.
Like in On-page SEO, using high volume keywords can help improve your rankings.
One way to search for them is by looking at your competitors.
You can also look at your competitors through Craigslist. List the service of your business in the service section and look at the prominent keywords they use.
You can use the keywords your competitors have been using but you can also come across some special keywords your competitors don’t use to increase your ranking.
For instance, some product business sites are directly in competition with Amazon but they also rank on the first page. How?
Well, they use long tail and medium tail keywords that are not really used by Amazon and localize them for their region.
So by looking for services in a bigger city, you may come across keywords from your competitors that are not used in your local are searches. They can help give you prominence over your local competitors.
Setting up Your Google My Business Account
One of the most crucial elements of Local SEO is optimizing your Google My Business listing. Having your business listing well set in Google My Business will help you form your online presence across Google platforms like Search and Maps.
You are not limited to using only Google My Business. Being listed at Apple Maps and Bing Places can improve your rankings too
Optimizing Your GMB
First, you will have to make an account on Google My Business.
This is made the standard way. You enter your business name, address, location and category.
Especially, write the category and description keeping in mind what your business is rather than what it has in the form of services.
You can also add additional details like your website and phone number and then verify your business listing.
Furthermore, you can optimize your website as follows:
- Be consistent with your NAP citations (read below for more details)
- Uploading photos of your workplace and services
- Add secondary categories
- Providing additional details of your individual services
- Ask customers to review your business through an email and reply to them
Now that you have your business listing, your business can appear in the Map Pack.
The Map Pack also termed as the Snack Pack or the Local Pack are the three map results that come as a result of a search with local intent.
A map pack may also appear in the search results without the mention of a location.
Basically Google understands that you want a search result for a specific location.
If terms like “near me” are used or your location is on the search engine results pages (SERPs) shows the first three results in the form of a map pack.
They realize that you want results in consideration with your location so they present business listings on local SERPs.
Underneath the map and local business results are the organic results which are the normal Google search results.
These results in local SERPs can be obtained by On-page SEO. Keep reading to find out more.
The downside of the map pack is that the results will be different for every location. Therefore, you can’t really track your local ranking and progress from one location.
Even if you come at the top for one place, you may not even be in the map pack at another place with the same keywords.
One way to track your local ranking across a wide are is using a tool like Local Viking.
This can help you analyze who outranks you in certain areas. As well as what are your rankings throughout your locality.
NAP (Name Address Place) Citations are local citations mentioning the business name, address and phone number.
Your NAP citations can be structured and unstructured but they should be consistent everywhere.
Importance of NAP Citations
Consistent NAP citations are one of the top local ranking factors.
Inconsistent NAP citations confuse the server as well as the customer and create a bad user experience.
Moreover, Google is not the only place to search for your business.
You can also find customers through Facebook and Instagram. So having, your correct NAP citations will not confuse them and lead to sales.
Therefore it is necessary to have consistent NAP citations.
How is that achieved?
Through a NAP Audit.
Chances are there are some places where your Name, Address and Place citations will be different than your current NAP citations.
WhiteSpark is a NAP audit tool that can help you correct your incorrect NAP citations.
Incorrect Citations can be divided into two parts. The ones you can change and the ones someone else has to change (because they have mentioned it somewhere).
You can change them one by one or by using tools like Yext.
You will have to reach out to people one by one for the second type of incorrect citations. Do so with friendly one to one outreach emails.
Once you have corrected your citations, you can build more relevant citations.
Either these can be geographically relevant or on sites related to your business and services.
You can use WhiteSpark to find some local sites and keywords for citation opportunities.
On-Page SEO techniques can land your business in the organic search of the local SERPs.
The organic search is as important as the Map Packs because some people might just skip the Map Packs entirely.
Strategies for On-Page SEO
You should have local landing pages if you operate in multiple cities.
These location-specific landing pages help in ranking in different cities.
If you have one location, there is no need to make multiple landing pages.
Perhaps you should make content relevant to that location.
Proximity, Prominence and Relevancy are important for local SEO.
So if you provide services in one or more locations, your content for a place should be different than the other.
You can also use Title Tag Cliffhangers to drive more traffic.
Give your title tag a click-baiting heading that entices readers to know more. However, increase the word limit so that it does not fully appear on the local SERPs.
This way, the reader will get curious to know more and click on your site.
Other SEO strategies like using LSI keywords, meta description, alt tags are all applicable for Local SEO as well.
Link Building (Locally)
Link Building strategies for local websites and non-local websites are more or less the same.
However, there can be unique link building opportunities because they are tied by locality.
You want to benefit your audience so you can start by building local guides of things they might find useful.
You can make local event calendars that can serve as reminders for events in the city and those organized by you.
Since, your business is local, you can reach out to your personal network for link building. You can also reach out to people through cold emails if your network isn’t that strong.
Moreover, you can sponsor a local event to get featured on their website and get your link. This can further lead to being covered in a local newspaper or media site and you will get another backlink.
Local SEO is specific to your physical location and geographic area.
Hence, if you implement it well, your small business can appear in google maps and the local pack through mobile searches and social media attracting local customers to your products and services.
Following these Local SEO strategies, you can increase your businesses’ local ranking and attract numerous customers. Keep revisiting this guide when you need to improve your Local SEO.