Local SEO may not be as well-known as traditional SEO but it can be equally, if not more important. If you operate a local business, local SEO efforts can drive significant business to your door if done well. Let’s look at what exactly local SEO is and why it is beneficial to local businesses.
1) What is Local SEO?
When we think of SEO, we think of the work we put into our website such as content and keywords, to attempt to reach the top of search results for various queries. Typical SEO can have a global reach. You may have a small business in Florida and someone from California may find your website. If you offer online services this can be a good thing but if you are a small business focused on local customers and service, this type of broad reach may not be ideal.
This is where local SEO comes in. Think of local SEO as a collection of all of the various things you do for your business, both online and offline, to attract people in your area to your business. This can include updating your business information across various online platforms, or asking clients to leave you a positive review to boost your online reputation. The goal of local SEO is to ensure you land in the “local 3 pack” for search terms related to your business.
2) What is the local 3 pack?
When you conduct a search for a term, if Google thinks you may be looking for a local business, a list of 3 local results will be displayed along with a map showing the location of those results. This collection of 3 local businesses is called the local 3 pack. Below is an example of the local 3 pack for the search term “pizza.”
3) How are local 3 pack results determined?
Local 3 pack results are determined by three main factors. Relevance, distance, and prominence.
Relevance is how strong of a match your business is for the particular search term. To ensure your business is found for appropriate searches, it is important to update your business information in Google My Business, as well as other various online directories. This includes making sure your business name, address, categories, hours, phone number, and all other relevant fields are accurate and up to date.
Distance is simply how far you are from the location of person conducting the search. If someone is searching for pizza, they are most likely looking for something nearby. Businesses closer to that person will have a greater chance of appearing in the local 3 pack.
Prominence is a measure of how well known your business is. Information is gathered about your business from various sources and compiled by search engines to evaluate prominence. This can include information on your own website, information about your business on other websites such as news sites, and most importantly, reviews of your business. Positive reviews about your business that are posted online will have a strong impact on your prominence ranking.
4) Do I need local SEO?
The easiest way to answer this question is to ask yourself, “do I serve any customers face-to-face?” If the answer is yes, you will likely want to put some effort into local SEO. Google recognizes numerous different business structures including
Brick and Mortar
Service Area Business (SAB)
Hybrid (physical location but also provides services at customer locations)
Any of these business structures will find an investment in local SEO to be beneficial. Generally, the only businesses that won’t have a need for local SEO are companies that do strictly online business.
5) Where do I begin with local SEO?
Local SEO is an ongoing effort that will get easier with time but if you are new to local SEO, there are a few things you can do now to get on track quickly.
First thing that any local business should do is create and optimize a Google My Business profile. As mentioned above, it is very important to fill out as much information as accurately as possible. This includes your business name, address, phone number, hours, a description of your business, appropriate categories, etc. Be as thorough as you possibly can be so that Google can get the most accurate picture of your business. Add pictures of your office, staff, and some of the products you may offer. Make sure that when you complete your profile that you verify your business.
Next, you can begin to do this on other sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and the other various search engines and online directories. Claim as many of your business listings as possible on the numerous directory sites and ensure your information is accurate. If your business appears differently across many of these directories, Google many struggle to build an accurate profile for your business.
If you have not already, begin gathering as many positive reviews for your business as you can. If customers have a pleasant experience, simply ask if they can leave you a review on Google. You might be surprised by how many customers would happily do so after having an enjoyable experience. Set aside time to respond to reviews as well, both positive and negative.
Local SEO might not be as straight forward as traditional SEO, but it is not something that should be ignored if you are looking to compete in a local market. If you are curious how your business information appears online, run a free online scan at 220local.com.