Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website or business listing for visibility in a specific geographic area. The main goal is to increase the number of visitors to a website or business’ physical location, resulting in more sales or service inquiries. Local SEO is an important part of a holistic marketing strategy and should be included in every business plan. Businesses that benefit the most from local SEO include brick-and-mortar stores, local restaurants, personal and professional service providers like housecleaners, plumbers, lawyers, or marketers, small business owners, hotel owners, and retail establishments, and tourism-related sites such as tourist bureaus and visitor guides.
Google uses multiple factors to determine local search rankings. Some of these factors are relevance, distance, prominence, and accuracy (i.e. how well the business listing matches the search query). The other major factor is citations. This includes mentions of a business name, address, phone number and website on third-party sites such as review platforms and directories. Citations help Google verify the information on your website and GMB listing. They also contribute to the overall quality of your online presence and may influence your rank in local searches and snack pack results.
Getting a large number of quality referring domains is key for any local SEO campaign. However, this is particularly important for local SEO because it gives you more visibility in search engines and improves the likelihood of your site ranking high in both organic and local search results. A good way to find potential referring domains is by using a tool like Semrush’s Listing Management. This tool lets you add your business NAP to 70+ directories, track customer reviews, and monitor your rankings on a ZIP code level or in the local search pack.
Another way to improve your local SEO is by creating valuable content that speaks to the needs and concerns of your target audience. This can be done by leveraging keywords or by adding details that your competitors don’t offer. For example, a plumbing company can include helpful articles about common problems and how to fix them. They can also show off their credentials by including information about the certifications they have received.
A hotel can create a resource page for its local guests with tips and advice about visiting the city. The page could also include links to useful websites or organizations. The Maine Audobon, for instance, has a page called Naturalist HQ that links to birding blogs, guides to local trails and nature centers, and other resources that connect people with their local environment.
Local SEO is not only an effective marketing tool for businesses of all sizes, but it is especially critical for smaller businesses that want to compete in their local markets. By following these best practices, small business owners can ensure that their online presence is optimized for local search and gain the visibility they need to grow their client base and drive more revenue.