Every small or large community business with physical locations can benefit significantly from the potential growth opportunities that local SEO provides. These could be a service-area business in Jacksonville, FL, like a plumbing company, a house cleaning company, or a local dental office.
But what really is local SEO?
In this guide, we’ll discuss what local SEO means, review some key terms, and how you can boost your local search results using a well-designed local SEO strategy.
What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization marketing is a way businesses optimize their website to rank better for local search results. Local SEO primarily offers you an opportunity to streamline your target audience to just those located in or around your local city.
For many businesses, local SEO marketing is an effective way to market to the local audience, placing your business right before them just when they need it. This can be achieved by utilizing specific local SEO techniques, some of which may differ from standard SEO practices.
To fully understand how local searches work, let’s take a look at some terms associated with it.
Understanding Local SEO Marketing: Local search engine results pages (SERPs) Google classifies search according to intent and purpose based on search terms. By their standards, a google search could be transactional, informational, or navigational. Local search queries fall within the realm of transactional searches.
According to a Go-Gulf infographic, about 46% of searches on Google are seeking local information. So, while anyone could rank for search queries like “how to fix a damaged vent,” the query “best HVAC technician in [enter location]” or “best HVAC technician near me” is more transactional or intent to purchase.
The local SERP typically includes a map displaying the area covered by the search, business listings that fall within the covered area, and a set of links known as the ‘3-pack’ or ‘local pack.’ Here’s a local search result when I query “painter in Jacksonville fl“, A New Leaf Painting, one of my clients, is displayed below for example:
The local pack set holds valuable information like review ratings, opening/closing times, phone numbers, website, and business photos. This information may be pulled from your website by Google but is retrieved from your Google My Business profile.
Understanding Local SEO Marketing: Citations and Google My Business
In the world of local SEO, citations refer to any place where your business information appears together online. This information typically includes your business name, address, phone number, and website (NAPW), and may appear on business listing websites or online directories.
Appearing in local directories as a business owner boosts your chances of being seen by individuals searching for your services. Your NAPW information may appear on a web page, social media page or press release, or in business listings and directories. The first is known as unstructured citation and the latter as structured citation. Here is an example of a structured citation highlighted in red in Yelp.
Indeed, citations significantly boost your business’s chance of getting seen. And in the game of local search optimization, no citations, no game. One of the most critical structured citations for any business looking to benefit from local SEO is Google’s Google My Business (GMB) tool.
GMB is Google’s way of helping business owners position themselves as goods or service providers in their locality. A completed GMB profile provides data and information used on the local pack, Google Maps search results, and at the top right of a SERP following a branded search for your business.
Your completed GMB profile contains information provided by you on the services you offer, contact details, business category, description, and operational hours. However, it will also contain consumer-generated information, such as questions and answers (Q&As), reviews, and other business attributes. By keeping your GMB profile as accurate and updated as possible, you stand a better chance of appearing in the local pack.
Factors that Rank in Local SEO
Having understood what local SEO is all about, you might begin to wonder just how you can achieve success with a local SEO strategy. To do that, you must understand the three key elements of local search ranking. These are:
Proximity: It determines how close a business is to the searcher
Relevance: Relevance of search query to your product or service offering, and
Prominence: Your ratings and reviews from consumers of your services and products as compared to those of your competition.
The 5-Step Strategy to Successful Local SEO
As Google continues to evolve, your local SEO strategy must remain fluid enough to keep up with the changes. However, there are some basic building blocks to any local SEO strategy. Here are five critical steps to follow:
Step 1: Localizing your website
‘Localizing’ your website can be achieved by naturally including your city, country, and region names throughout your site.
Step 2: Build citations
Get your website featured on online business directories and citation sites featuring your company’s name, service/product offering, website, and phone number.
Step 3: Claim your Google My Business listing
Claim your business even if it already exists. Claiming your business listing is a crucial step to getting you featured on local SERPs and Google Map search results.
Step 4: Manage your reputation
Google analyzes your reputation through the reviews and ratings left on your page. Ensure you provide quality services and encourage customers to leave honest ratings on your page.
Step 5: Build your backlinks
Natural backlinks help search engines recognize your site as a trusted information source, further contributing to boosting the ‘prominence’ side of the local search algorithm. Getting links from local papers and blogs can help improve your local search visibility.
comScore indicates that over 96% of PC owners conduct local searches online, so there are plenty of potentials to be had by building a quality local SEO strategy. Although, it doesn’t negate the need for standard SEO, the targeted nature of local SEO places you in front of the potential customer with an intent to purchase. This gives you a chance to quickly turn a prospect into a lead through proper business positioning.
It is no surprise, then, that local search is the highest conversion rate in all of digital advertising. This makes it a high ROI advertising channel. If you do not have a local SEO strategy, then hire a local SEO expert in Jacksonville, FL, to help boost your local business online.