Once upon a time, SEO was a global issue. Companies looking to expand their reach beyond their communities used the internet as a tool. In 2004, Google and other key search engines developed geographic intent. In other words, they wanted to expand their reach, as well, by localizing search rankings.
To make this happen, they started using end-users data to personalize search results. So, if users entered Chinese food, they could get search results relevant to their location. That meant businesses had to shift their thinking when it came to SEO. They also had to worry about optimizing their content to ensure the search engines recognized their location.
Today, local SEO can give businesses a competitive edge by appealing to local and global markets. Local SEO is tricky. There are a lot of intricate details to understand, and mastering it can be the difference between being the most popular Chinese restaurant in town or the one no one recognizes.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO improves your rankings and visibility in local searches. It also improves search rankings when Google decides a searcher’s query would benefit from local rankings. If you are looking for the best cup of coffee, you want to find it locally, even if you don’t say so in your search phrase. If the algorithm detects local intent, it will list community-based businesses first.
If you are still not sure local SEO matters, take a look at some numbers:
- 76% of users who do a local search via their phone visit that business within 24 hours
- 30% of all searches relate to a locality
- 50% of internet users rely on their mobile devices for local searches
Local SEO is literally what puts your business on the map.
How Local Ranking Works
Google creates local search rankings based on three key factors:
- Relevance – How well the business profile matches the search. If you want a cup of coffee, you don’t want to see listings for sports apparel stores.
- – How close is the business to the user’s current location
- Prominence – How well-known the company is based on Google’s information. If you search for fast food, you are more likely to see listings for McDonald’s than a small, local diner. Google recognizes McDonald’s as a prominent fast food restaurant.
When creating a local SEO strategy, your goal is to be on top of the listing when someone local to you searches for a product or service you offer. But, how do you get there?
Mastering Local SEO
Many theories exist for mastering local SEO because it is a complex topic. Taking a few simple steps will help, though.
Google Business Profile
A practical place to start is with your Google Business Profile page. This is where you give Google the information it needs to identify and categorize your business. To qualify, your business must be available to customers during set business hours with a few exceptions like ATMs and seasonal services.
Verify Your Page
Verification allows searchers and Google to know your business is legit. First, do a Google search for your business. You should see a Knowledge Panel appear on the right. Click the “Own this business?” and Google will walk you through the rest. Once complete, a blue verified checkmark will appear next to your business name in search listings.
Double-Check the Details
Go through your website, Google business information, and directory listings to make sure they have the correct location. The listing should have your accurate business name, and be consistent, and address. Make sure the address is what the post office considers your accurate one. You can use the USPS online tool to verify it.
Your phone number should also be local. If you have an 800 number, list the landline in your Google information.
Put Some Thought Into Your Photos
When creating your business profile for Google, they will give you a chance to upload three photos that show in the search results. Your goal is to compel searchers to click on your information or visit your business.
Think outside the box when choosing your photos. For example, you might use a screenshot of your business on a Google map for the cover photo. You will also need a logo photo. Ensure it includes the business name, web address, and a business photo. A picture of the outside of a brick-and-mortar store will improve your recognizability to local searchers.
Ensure the photos are good quality and clearly visible. This is how searchers see your business, so keep it clean and professional.
Optimize Your Website for Local Searches
Use localized keywords to make pages more recognizable to search engines. For example, if your keyword is “dental office,” make it “dental office in New York City” instead.
You also want to optimize your meta description and title tag. The title tag should list your city and state along with a keyword.
- Acme Dental Office – Dental Experts in New York, NY.
Add something similar to your meta description.
Double-check the information about the business location to make sure it matches what you used for your Google business page. The address, city, state, and zip code should be identical.
Create Backlinks With Local Businesses
Backlinks have a significant impact on SEO. Ones that come from local businesses will also improve your local SEO. Work with local vendors or businesses on your block to see if you can help one another. If a searcher stops you by the local coffee shop, they may look to see what else is on that block.
Also, enter your business in local awards like the “Best of” series that most city Chamber of Commerce will sponsor. Make sure to note on your website that you won, too. That will add another layer to your local SEO.
One of the best things you can do to improve your local SEO is to hire an expert. Let the SEO experts at Vinci Digital help. Find out more by consulting a marketing specialist at Vinci Digital today.