The main purpose of local SEO is to make your business more visible on what’s called location-based search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s essentially a variation of “regular SEO” but local SEO is important to increase your online presence in a specific locale, such as where your business is based, or if your business is closely-linked to a locale. For example, you own a souvenir shop in Perth, or a local market in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Local SEO comprises searches that involve specific geographic qualifiers. For instance, province or state, city, zip code, as well as ‘near me’ searches in which the search engine uses the location of the user to provide search results that are relevant to their current area in real-time.
The Importance of Local SEO
Business today is more competitive than ever. The online marketplace made entrepreneurship more democratic, which is great of course, but it also created an oversaturation of competitors in the same niche or market. That’s why it’s important for business owners to come up with innovative ways to get an edge on their competitors.
For local businesses like clinics, car mechanics, dentists, local SEO is critical because their business models are tied to their location.
For instance, small local businesses have to compete against giant corporations who have massive marketing budgets, resources, connections, locations and manpower. Large corporations also tend to be household names (e.g. Nike). If you’re a small, little-known retailer selling original sports products, you’re not going to win against Nike or Adidas just yet. So, you focus on the local market, and rise up in both the location-based SERPs and reputation. Don’t forget, Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, started out in small town Eugene, Oregon, selling shoes out of his car at local track meets. Jeff Bezos famously started what would become the juggernaut that is Amazon out of his garage in the Seattle suburbs. We all start out locally.
Local SEO’s importance is even more pronounced if you have a local brick and mortar store. That’s because physical stores–even those with a website and online presence–have to operate in a specific area. Let’s say you’re a local retailer in Adelaide. Even if you have a decent online presence and a pretty good sales rate to customers outside of your locale, you shouldn’t forget about the potential of local foot traffic coming into your store. After all, you’re paying high overhead costs for your brick and mortar store (i.e. space rental cost, utilities, etc.), so you might as well optimise your visibility in the local area. That way, you can get local customers to walk through your door.
Speaking of online shopping, did you know that more than 90% of shoppers utilise “near me” searches?. A study conducted by Search Engine Watch found that 70% of smartphone users click to contact a local business directly from the contact information provided by Google in the SERPs.
So, what does this tell us about location-based searches? That they are a goldmine of potential waiting to be utilised by business owners like you.
Basics of Local SEO
Now that you understand what local SEO is and how important it is for your business, let’s go over some of the techniques you can implement for your business.
First, your business should have an up-to-date address that can show up on local search engine results pages. This is because local SEO is geared towards location-based searches.
Secondly, make sure that the basic information about your business is consistent throughout all directories they appear in, in particular the name, address, and phone of your business. Any inconsistencies will lead to Google and other search engines not listing your business in its local 3-pack. Google’s 3-Pack is the method the search engine uses to display the top three results for local SERPs.
Citations are another way to optimise your business’ online presence and get it to show up in the local SERPs. When a third-party website cites your business’ contact information, address and name, that is a citation. The third–party website doesn’t even need to include a backlink to your website (although that would be nice, too).