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Chapter 1: What is Local SEO and Why Is Local Search Important

What is Local SEO and Why is Local Search Important
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    Did you know that roughly 50 percent of all local searches on Google have a “near me” qualifier? This is clear evidence that people are regularly looking for great businesses in their community.

    With that being said, it’s important to understand what Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is and why it plays such an integral role in the long-term success of many organizations.

    The goal of this definitive guide is to teach you everything you need to know about Local SEO – from its basics to best practices – so that you can properly optimize your business for gaining visibility on local searches.

    What is Local SEO?

    Local SEO is a specialization of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that focuses on increasing the visibility of local businesses in local search results. 

    Just like with regular SEO, local SEO uses tactics like keyword research and link building to improve a website’s ranking in local search results. However, local SEO also takes into account factors like location and distance when determining which results to show for a given query. 

    There are several things you can do to optimize your local SEO, including

    • claiming and optimizing your local listings;
    • building citations;
    • and creating content that is relevant to your local audience

    Typically, investing in local SEO is often more cost effective than traditional advertising methods and can help build a stronger connection between your business and customer base. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, repeat business, and better reviews for your business. 

    Now that we’ve covered the basics of Local SEO, let’s look at why it is so important for businesses.

    Why Is Local Search Important?

    Local search is a key way for local businesses to increase their visibility and reach potential customers in their area. 

    When someone searches for something locally, they’re usually looking to find an answer quickly — whether it’s a store address or the opening hours of a restaurant.

    When your business appears at the top of local search results (the top 3 local positions on Google are referred to the Map Pack, or 3 Pack), it helps to build trust and credibility with potential customers. It can also help you capture local market share from competitors who may not be investing in local SEO. 

    Local SEO is also important for the discovery of new local businesses. With more local searches being done on mobile devices than ever before, local SEO can be a great way to capture new customers who are looking for local businesses via a “near me” or “close by” search. 

    It’s also important to take advantage of local SEO as local search results tend to be highly visible — often appearing at the top of the page, above organic search results. This can help drive more traffic to your business and increase conversions from local customers.

    Google's Map Pack - the top 3 organic search results

    Some Local SEO Statistics

    By now, we hope it’s clear that Local SEO is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy, as it’s crucial to reach new customers in your area.

    Knowing the right local SEO statistics can help you craft the perfect strategy for your business.

    Recent stats reveal that:

    • over 46% of all Google searches have a local intent
    • 88% of those searches result in purchases within 24 hours
    • 50% of consumers who search for a business near them will visit the store within one day
    • 28% of mobile searches are related to location
    • over 79% of local searches result in purchases

    These stats demonstrate the power of local SEO and its ability to drive local customers to your business.

    Do You Need a Website to Implement a Local SEO Strategy?

    If you’re looking to implement a local SEO strategy, you may be wondering if you need a website. The short answer is: yes and no.

    Businesses with a website have an advantage over those without one when it comes to local SEO. With website ownership comes more opportunities to optimize your website locally and establish yourself within the search engine results pages (SERPs).

    Put simply, having a website provides a platform for improving your visibility within local search results — something that shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to outrank competitors in the local SERPs.

    John Muller reiterates this sentiment by saying “If you really want to make the most of the chance in local rankings, having your own website is crucial.” No matter what size or type of business, utilizing a website as part of your local SEO strategy can help open up new opportunities for reaching targeted audiences within your area.

    On the other hand, building local citations and optimizing a Google Business Profile can be an effective local SEO strategy even if you do not have a website.

    Citations, which are references to your local business online, in local directories, local publications and other websites adds to the visibility of your local business.

    Google Business Profile will help you appear in their local listing results (the Map Pack) with relevant information like address, contact number and more. Utilizing these two strategies together is one of the more efficient ways to implement a local SEO without having a website.

    Example of a Google Business Profile

    What Types of Businesses Benefit the Most from Local SEO?

    Local SEO services can provide businesses with a significant edge in the congested online landscape.

    For lawyers, it offers an unparalleled opportunity to stand out among their peers and reach potential clients. By maximizing their local presence on major search engines, lawyers and other service providers like contractors can be easily found when local customers are searching for help.

    Here is an example of local rankings for Silver Tax Group — a tax lawyer who recently opened a new location in Farmington Hills, Michigan. As we can see, STG is ranking in the top 3 positions on Google throughout their area for the term “Tax Attorney.”

    Local SEO Rankings for a Tax Lawyer

    Restaurants and hotels can also benefit immensely from optimizing for local searches, ensuring that people searching for places to eat or stay know where they’re located and the services they offer.

    Doctors, dentists, and clinics are also among the business types that benefit the most from Local SEO since they rely heavily on locals as customers. It provides doctors, dentists and other clinic professionals with an effective way to attract more clients in their area. With Local SEO, doctors are able to target highly specific regions or even specific zip codes to ensure that their practice appears prominently in search engine results. 

    John Muller — Google’s SEO spokesperson — emphasizes the importance of optimizing locally first and branching out from there as businesses grow. All types of businesses can find unbeatable value from investing in Local SEO, ultimately leading them towards profitability.

    What Types of Businesses Don't Benefit from Local SEO?

    While e-commerce is by far one of the most innovative and profitable types of business today, it ironically does not benefit from local SEO.

    Since e-commerce businesses can be conducted anywhere in the world, customers are more likely to look for specific items as opposed to a business based on its proximity.

    Despite this potential drawback, e-commerce businesses still have plenty of opportunities for success; by implementing clever marketing tactics such as high quality content creation and effective outreach activities, e-business owners can get their e-stores at the forefront of users’ minds and greatly improve their bottom line.

    What are the Most Important Local SEO Ranking Factors to Know Today?

    Local SEO ranking factors are incredibly important when it comes to improving local visibility and search engine results.

    Promoting local business requires building local citations, managing reviews, ensuring NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) accuracy across local directories, and having local backlinks with rich anchor text from quality local websites — to name a few.

    Additionally, content must be tailored for local target audiences for increased relevance and better SERP rankings.

    Showing up when local customers are searching is one of the biggest advantages of local SEO; getting there relies on proper optimization according to the most relevant ranking factors for your area.

    We’ll go into greater detail on important local ranking factors and how you can meet those search engine expectations in Chapter 2: Local SEO for Beginners [Getting Started]. 

    Does mobile responsiveness affect Local SEO rankings?

    Yes, mobile responsiveness does affect local SEO rankings.

    With the majority of searches being conducted on mobile devices, it is essential for local businesses to ensure their websites are optimized for smartphones and tablets in order to reach local customers.

    Google has shifted its algorithm to favor sites that offer a more user-friendly experience on mobile phones. That is why local businesses should focus on making their websites as mobile-friendly as possible to avoid being penalized by the search engine giant.

    Furthermore, local businesses should also ensure that local listings and NAP details are consistent across all devices in order to further increase local visibility. 

    Does Organic SEO Impact Local SEO?

    Organic SEO and local SEO are two distinct types of search engine optimization strategies, however they can both be used together to amplify local visibility.

    When local businesses employ an effective local SEO strategy, organic SEO efforts become more prominent more quickly since local search results often appear above the main SERP rankings.

    By focusing on driving local traffic and local-specific content, local businesses can reap the rewards of both local SEO and organic SEO — giving them more exposure within their local area and nationally.

    Ultimately, local businesses should strive to make use of both local SEO and organic SEO in order to maximize local visibility, attract potential customers, and experience a boost in sales.

    What is Local SEO Software?

    Local SEO software makes local search engine optimization easier for local businesses by automating many of the tedious tasks associated with local visibility.

    By leveraging local SEO software, local business owners can streamline their local marketing strategy by managing local citations and NAP accuracy across multiple local directories in one place.

    Furthermore, local SEO software can also be used to manage local reviews, optimize local backlinks, and track local SERP rankings — all of which are essential elements of local SEO.

    By taking the guesswork out of local optimization, local SEO software can help local businesses save time and resources while improving their local visibility in a more efficient manner.

    Key Takeaways

    • Local SEO is an essential part of local marketing and local businesses should focus on optimizing according to local ranking factors in order to increase local visibility.
    • Mobile responsiveness plays a major role in local SEO rankings and local businesses should ensure their websites are optimized for mobile phones.
    • Organic SEO and local SEO can be used together to amplify local visibility, and local businesses can make use of local SEO software to streamline local optimization efforts.

    John Mueller — Google’s Webmaster Trend Analyst — reiterates the importance of local SEO optimization and encourages local business owners to make local search engine optimization a top priority. 

    Check out Chapter 2: Local SEO for Beginners [Getting Started] to learn how to implement a local SEO strategy or contact our team to speak with a local SEO expert today. 

    About The Author:

    Connor Wilkins

    Connor Wilkins

    Connor Wilkins is the Chief Marketing Officer at Direction.com. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 following studies in marketing & the media, editing & writing, and audience psychologies. Connor is an avid writer and researcher who specializes in learning consumer personalities and engaging those interests through thought-provoking content.
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