Local SEO guide: What is it and why do you need it?

Local SEO is slightly different to general SEO so it's important to understand what it is, how it works and how you can build a local SEO strategy for your business. Read our guide to learn more about building an effective local SEO strategy for your business.

Now more than ever, customers are searching for the best products and services near them and want answers quickly. Local search has become a powerful tool for small businesses. 

46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. So, if your business is based on driving local footfall or traffic, and you don’t have a local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, you could be missing out on potential customers who are ready to shop and buy in your local area. 

28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase, so it’s important for your business to show up when your customers are looking for you. Local SEO is slightly different from general SEO, so it’s important to understand what it is, how it works, and how you can build a local SEO strategy for your business. 

This blog is a beginner’s guide to local SEO with everything you need to know about ensuring that local customers find you when they’re searching for your business online.

What is local SEO? 

Local SEO involves optimising your website to increase brand awareness, traffic, leads and conversions from local search. This is particularly useful if you are a business with one or more brick-and-mortar locations. 

Following local SEO, best practices will allow you to improve traffic to your website from searches performed by customers in your local area. Common tasks associated with local SEO include finding local keywords, optimising your Google My Business profile, and building NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) citations. 

💡 For more information on the differences between local SEO and normal SEO, take a look at our blog: Local SEO vs Organic SEO: The differences you need to know about

How does local SEO work? 

When someone searches on a search engine, such as Google, Google scans its index in order to provide the best results for that person’s query. Local SEO is unique because Google uses different ranking factors to rank local search results. These ranking signals include: 

  • The location of the person searching 
  • NAP citations 
  • Google My Business listing 
  • Online reviews - including sentiment 
  • Keywords used in online reviews 
  • Number of check-ins at a location 
  • Number of social shares 
  • Google Maps star rating 

Best practices for optimising for local SEO 

Local SEO can help to drive traffic to your website and help to drive local footfall, bookings or sales. If you own a business such as a retail shop, bakery, or plumbing business, local SEO will be a must for your business's success. 

1. Keyword research 

Find out more about what customers in your area are searching for in relation to your business. This will give you a better idea of the words you’ll need to optimise your website and make sure you’re reaching the right people in the right places. 

Once you have a list of local keywords you want to rank for, the next step is to make sure they appear on your site. Relevant keywords are just as important as ever for both general and local SEO. 

Include keywords in:

  • Page headings 
  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions 
  • Body content 
  • Footer content 

These are just some of the basics, but they form the foundations of a successful local SEO strategy. 

💡 If you’d like to know more about how keyword research works for SEO, read our blog: How to do keyword research for SEO

2. Optimise your website for local SEO 

If you want to appear in local results, the first thing you’ll need to do is optimise your website for local SEO. How can you do this? 

  • Include your business address on your website - this is the most important element of optimisation for local SEO.
  • Attach a map for your location(s). This will help local customers to find you easily - remember that local SEO is about making your business more accessible and visible to people in your local area. 
  • Include testimonials - this is a great way to show Google that your business is legitimate and that your customers trust you. 
  • Include schema - this helps search engines identify the topic of your website and will help Google better understand your business. 
  • Build a dedicated contact page - if you don’t already have this, you will need to add it in and make sure it provides as many contact details as possible. 
  • Make phone numbers easily accessible - this is important if you’re targeting local customers and you want them to be able to get in touch with you. 

3. Claim your local online profiles 

You will need to create digital profiles online to improve the visibility of your business in search engines. Google often focuses on active review platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and more - these are important factors in local SEO. 

Google My Business 

This is important for boosting your business locally. Not only will it enhance your brand and provide customers with all the information they need about your business, it can also provide a boost for local SEO. Make sure you add details such as your business address, location, contact number, and any other ways customers can get in touch with you. 

Look at local listing sites or business directories

These are essential for local SEO. Make a search on Google based on your location and have a look at the top-ranking sites. These are often listing sites, so make sure you build listings on these to boost your presence in local search. Make sure these sites are relevant to your business and industry. 

Social profiles 

Utilise social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn and make sure the right information is posted on the accounts. Keep the information identical across each platform to make sure your contact details are consistent. This will help to provide search engines with more information about your business and help boost local rankings. 

4. Create local content 

Most content marketing strategies focus on non-local content. This will help you to reach a wider audience and drive more traffic. However, if you’re a locally focused business, this might drive traffic to your site, but it’s not going to boost sales for your business. Creating local content will help you to generate more local leads and help to grow your business. 

Create local content and incorporate local keywords into your blog posts. For example, if you’re a plumber, you could create content around ‘how to find the best plumber in [your area],’ and this will allow you to incorporate keywords naturally. 

The aim of creating this type of content is to become a trusted source (by both customers and Google) in your industry. 

5. Utilise reviews 

Reviews are a crucial part of your business. The internet has given consumers much more power when it comes to their buying decisions. You can push out as many marketing or sales messages as you want, but your reviews provide proof of whether you’re actually as good as you say you are. 

93% of customers read reviews before buying a product. Your reviews can have an impact on your customer’s buying decisions, so make sure you have them displayed on your website and on your Google My Business profile will not only help with customer decisions, it will help Google to see that you’re a business that customers trust. 

6. Optimise your website for mobile

Having a website that’s optimised is part of best practice for SEO in general, but it’s especially important for local SEO. 30% of all mobile searches have local intent - this means a huge number of customers who find you on local searches are likely to be on their mobile device. 

If your site doesn’t work very well on mobile or there are navigation issues, it’s not going to make potential customers want to stay. It’s likely they will move away from your site and go to one of your competitors, where they can find the information they’re looking for more easily. 

For businesses that have a brick-and-mortar store or rely on local customers, local SEO is a hugely important strategy to have in place. As mobile search and buying through mobile devices have become more prominent, customers are able to find local businesses in their area more quickly and easily than ever.

If you’d like to know more about local SEO after reading our guide to local SEO and how it can help you to drive results for your business, please request a free digital marketing audit from our team.

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Blog written by

Dylan Bonsall
Digital Marketing Executive