Ever wondered that you can manipulate Google searches in terms of location?
That’s what most of the well-known internet marketers do by applying few strategies so that they are the only ones visible for a particular service in their respected areas.
And if you are into local business, this one thing is a must for you in terms of getting more and more sales.
This well-known method is known as Local Seo and in order to provide an in-depth information, We have prepared a Local SEO guide that is a sure shot read for you.
What is Local SEO?
Did you know that there are local and worldwide searches available on google?
For example: You can search “best bakery shop” to get a general knowledge about the actual best bakery in the world, and you can also search “best bakery near me” to get the best bakery shop near you.
Now, either they can be the best one or they cant, but it is sure that they have optimized their online presence upto that level if someone searches for “best bakery near me” they are the ones who rank first.
Local SEO is that art of manipulating and marketing your business in your locality to ensure that you don’t lose your local clients.
That’s a lot of “local” right?
But that is what Local SEO is all about. In short and easy language, it means to market your product in your localities organically through search engines.
Local SEO definition
There are a hell lot of Local SEO definitions but the best ones are
By barkleyus.com that says, “Local SEO marketing or local search optimization is the process of optimizing your owned properties to generate traffic from location-based searching.”
Barkleyus definition simply means that Local SEO means to optimize your online assets in such a way that you are able to generate organic traffic from your respected location.
Here, Econsultancy also defined Local SEO as, “Local SEO is focused on providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their current location.”
It simply means that it helps in providing localized results based on the service a particular user is looking for.
History of Local SEO
To be honest, Search engines have revolutionized a lot in the past few years. From the time they used to provide results based on our query, now those particular queries are separated in location-based and interest based.
Location-based has truly and fully helped a lot of people in the past. Why do I need to mention that?
Well… Almost 47% of queries were based on
- Beauty parlor in united states
- Cake shop near me
- Salon in Manhattan
And considering all these queries, Search engine has also evolved by providing them with the best possible result near them.
Also, most of these searches type are from mobile. Actually, there are almost 4 mobile searches in every 10 random searches from google.
So if you are in kind of a local business, you must surely optimize your website for location-based results to get potential and quality leads.
Nevermind, let’s have a quick look about the journey of local search
2003: Birth of Google Local
Relevant local searches started flowing up. Local map listings and directions started showing up in searches resulting in building a strong online presence.
2005: Birth of Google Maps and Google Earth
Google maps, one of the most trusted navigation site till now was then launched in 2005 and with the help of Google Maps and Aerial Photography, Google Earth came into existence which was also called as the first virtual planet earth.
2005: Local business center and Google maps merged together
After the launch of Local Business Center in March 2015, Google immediately merged it with Google maps resulting in a better place for local businesses. For users, it created a one-stop page where all the info was found such as business info, timings, directions, etc.
2009: Birth of Google Place Pages
Google Maps got an additional feature known as place places. The beneficial point of Google Place pages was that it provided all the relevant information at one place itself.
2012: Birth of Google Plus Local
Google introduced the power of sharing favorite places on its social media platform, Google Plus. And this is how it made it possible via Google Plus Local. Users were able to share and check other users reviews before opting for a particular local business service.
2012: Venice update rolls out
Just like all other algorithms update, Venice update was one important one. With the help of this update, one got localized results despective of not using the particular location filter. Businesses in the same geographic location got an advantage with this update and the chances of ranking higher for that particular area increased irrespective of the competition.
2013: Hummingbird: Google’s new bird pet
For those who don’t know about Hummingbird, it was one such massive algorithm update where results who were not only given to a website which were targeting a particular keyword but also its long tail queries.
Because of Hummingbird, many of the businesses needed to change their overall SEO plan or else their ranking would drop down just like a stone in water.
2014: Pigeon spread its wings
The main aim of Google Pigeon algorithm update was the centralize overall SERPs ore deeply by providing more accurate results to users queries. This time it focused on the content structure, content quality, and site architecture part.
Many of the Local businessmen need to change their overall content in order to suit the requirement of Google so that they could continue by being on the first position of SERPs.
2015: Attack of Rankbrain Robot
Google injected itself with an artificial intelligence (AI) called Rankbrain that automatically used to learn about “which to rank and which do not rank”.
Things like the content quality, information, Proper use of multimedia, etc was taken into consideration. It was actually a game changer update as one could now easily fool the system if you have to rank, quality is a must.
2015: Snack packs were limited
This was not a major update as it did not affect SEO much. Google just reduced its snack pack from seven to just three. This resulted in acquiring even more quality localized results.
The loss was to those Local businesses that were below the 3rd snack pack as they suddenly disappeared and in order to get on the top 3, they need to add extra efforts in order to optimize their local listing.
2016: Another Google Update: the Possum Update
1st September 2016 was the day when most of the local businesses lost their ranking because of a new Google Algorithm update.
In Fact, it was one such massive update after the pigeon one where almost 93% of people had lost their rankings. The filtration process was based on the same contact details and domains which were used in Google My Business and Google did de-listed them as always so that uniqueness and relevancy do stay still.
2017: The 3rd Bird “Hawk”
On 22nd August 2017, Google came up with a new algorithm update which was called as Hawk update. The only thing this update did was to filter out relevant content similar to the ones that were already ranking.
This was launched because many companies were repeatedly making new Google My Business accounts and were adding their listing so, in order to encounter duplicate content, hawk was the key.
Hawk used to filter out listing based on how far were they from one another and it legitimate helped a lot of Local businesses.
2017 and further…
No one can ever predict any more Google updates as it never fixed by them. Not only that, never ever full or even partial information is provided by the updates which can lead to a great confusion for all the local businesses.
Why local seo is important to your business?
The best thing about Local SEO is to capture quality audience/ leads from your locality. Following are a few more important points
- Local SEO helps in converting the Normal audience into potential buyers/ Clients. There are a hell lot of non-locals who are searching for a particular service. If you are one such service provider and your Local SEO is upto the mark, CONGRATS!! You just got a new client.
- Local SEO helps to filter the audience and fulfill their particular need. For example, you own a cafe and you provide free Wifi. This particular info will be displayed too on search engines encouraging people who are looking for free Wifi to visit your cafe
- For Local SEO it is not compulsory to have a website, you will still be listed on the local searches and whenever a lead is generated, it will immediately be forwarded to you.
- Many times when a person is searching for a particular service, he ends up calling the business that is available on top of the page of Google. This certainly means that Local SEO can provide you a potential lead that actually converts.
- Local SEO can help in building a strong and trustworthy foundation between you can the customer. The trust factor certainly increases when most of the information about a service and your service matches a lot with any hidden T&C.
How does Local SEO work?
Recently I was searching for a salon in my area and after searching for almost 20 minutes offline, I finally opened Google and just search for “Best Salon Near me”.
In a fraction of seconds, I got the best ones on the top of the screen. Further after checking out all the salon’s, I came across that 2 out of 3 were providing a free head massage and one out of those two was a bit cheaper compared to another one.
Checked all the reviews provided by previous customers and found of both of them had an average and similar kind of rating.
Took me only a couple of seconds to think and I just called the cheaper one and booked an appointment.
This is how strong Local SEO impacts our day to day life.
Local SEO works on a lot of factors and is truly one of the best things for a Local business.
Factors such as
- Building up a Google My Business page
- On-Page optimization
Are some of the main factors that will be discussed in detail below.
Keep reading till the end to get a secret hack for Local SEO
Local SEO Guide for beginners
Local SEO is not that tough thing. In Fact, if all the things are carried out smoothly, it’s just butter on a bread kind of simple thing. Do follow each and every step mentioned below and you can surely capture few quality potentials leads.
#1 Setting up ‘Google My Business” Correctly
Google My Business is one of the most important parts of Local SEO. You can imagine it as a middleman who sends all the details who Google which then gets displayed on the search engine.
Completely this thing is an important task as if you leave a small detailed thing, then to it can affect on your listing.
- First things first!! Fill all the details correctly. This is going to be the roots of your Local SEO as these things will be replicated on other pages.
Do double check the Name, Phone number, Address as these are the most important things.
Make sure the names on all the places like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest are similar to each other to create relevancy.
- Now comes the verification step. It’s an easy process though but can take a few weeks as a secret code will be sent to your physical address. As you enter that code on “Google My Business” verification page, Voila!! Its over.
- Kinda serious step now.
No matter how big or small your business is, do use a custom email address. Just take these two cases of jason who is a chef, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Chefjason.com one right??
Yup!! Because that looks more professional.
- Do fill the “About” section with a lengthy and readable information with relevant linking to various parts of your website. Kindly note that this is the time when you can actually sell different services so make sure all the relevant parts of your website are properly linked.
- As we discussed earlier QUALITY IS A MUST, don’t forget to upload quality images on the listing. You can insert images of
- The main gate
- The staff
- Work area
- Catchy moments of your customers
- Awards (if any)
- Your banner/Logo, etc
Well, that was all the information that you need to fill while getting your business listed on “Google My Business”. But wait, Local SEO is not just about completing Google My business setup. In fact, it’s just the glimpse of Local SEO.
Keep reading to gain all the knowledge.
#2 On-Page Optimization
On-page Optimization simple means to optimize your website so that it ranks higher in Local Search. There are a lot of page elements present in your website that can be easily manipulated in order to rank up.
Optimizable content such as:
- Content (Referred to paragraph)
- Page Title (Header of the website)
- H1, H2, etc (H1 being the most important)
- Short page URL
- Images (Google cannot read images, but an “alt” tag can help it.)
- Keywords (add them in your content, H1, H2 and sprinkle few of the LSI keywords to provide Google about an overall idea of your website content.)
Now, you have a clear idea about the basic elements, let’s have a look over the step by step procedure.
- Once you have completed designing your website, immediately add Google Analytics code and Google Webmaster Verification code in your website in order to gather data and index the site in search engine.
- Site structure plays an important role in Local SEO. Google does take various things into consideration like images, brand logo, Testimonials, address and phone number (same as Google My Business), etc. Make sure if you are providing different services in your profession, you better specify all of them using different pages on your website as it can have a huge effect on your ranking.
“For eg: you own a salon, all the services that come into consideration are hair cutting, manicure, pedicure, facial, bleaching, etc. Every particular service must have a specific page on the website to provide an easy experience to the end user.”
- Apart from just listing your services on your website, make sure it is properly explained to a customer. 750-1000 words are the average content length for each service and it should be structured in such a way that it solves end user’s problem. Google do prefer quality over quantity, so the better and unique (not copied) is the content, the better is the ranking for the same.
- Most of the people often search from their mobiles rather than their desktop nowadays so it’s better to optimize a website for mobile searches first.
Overall, content should be well explained, links are a must in order to get ranking and the most important thing, the structure of the site. These small things can have a huge effect on your rankings if not taken proper care.
#3 End User’s Reviews
Reviews are vitally important for your Local SEO. These actions can be taken consideration as off page action too. Higher the number of reviews a Local business has on its Google My Business profile, higher the CTR (Click Through Rate)
Audience usually searches and click through the result that has
- Loads of reviews
- Score more than 4+ in their profile
- No negative (1-2 star) reviews.
Just take into consideration case of any e-commerce store. While you search for a product, many products of that type are available on your screen, You usually would check the ratings and choose accordingly. Just here what you have done, your customer does the same to you. So it’s better to have a nice amount of reviews.
The question here would be HOW TO GET MORE REVIEWS??
Be a little creative, you can drop a mail back to your clients about reviewing your business based on their experience, or simple you can run an ad campaign for the same, or just distribute few freebies as such. You can be creative in your own way and get loads of reviews to your profile.
Just like any other thing, Citations are also an important element in the recipe of Local SEO.
Citation does provide ranking signals to Google if provided correctly on relevant sites.
Moz Local can lend a hand in this situation as this tool is amazing because it provides you sites accordingly to your niche for citations. If simply hunts sites for you where you can enter your business information and you are done.
Patience is the key for Local SEO, just go with the flow and you may achieve what you want.
More like citations. Less like link building.
YUP!! I’m talking about directories. Submitting relevant information into high-quality directories can legit help you in getting a boost in ranking.
By directory submission, I haven’t mentioned anywhere about spamming as such. A few handfuls of quality directories are enough to get variation.
Below are few high-quality directories that can be used by you
Local SEO Myths: Better to stay away from them
Why are you worried to get into Local SEO?
What is stopping you from taking the necessary steps?
Local SEO Myths? A huge LOL for you as these are just some useless sentences by someone who don’t have proper knowledge.
Let’s check the top 5 Local SEO myths and why are they useless.
#1 Suite numbers are just numbers and not a ranking factor
This practice is rolling out from years and still active. People actually believe that having a particular suite number or entering a particular suite number in Google My Business can actually help them to increase their ranking.
Suite number are basically numbers provided to a particular house which can be entered in NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) form.
While carrying out this practice, if one does enter wrong details in the assumption that he/she will rank higher, then he/she is totally wrong. Entering a fake address can result in removing your listing as it is a kind of spam and as we all know, Google takes spam very seriously and treats the same too harshly.
Search Engine Land has briefly explained about this myth.
#2 Consumers don’t care about reviews
As expected, another fake thing rolling one’s ear to another that consumers don’t care about the reviews.
Well in that case, why do we check review before going forward to buy anything online?
Do we exactly know about the functioning of a particular product?
Similarly, if I am searching for a particular service and I found someone on the internet, I would definitely check their reviews before opting for their service.
Also, Google does consider reviews as a ranking factor for Local SEO.
Main street ROI has provided more information about this myth.
#3 Backlinks or Citations?
One more common myth is that if you have made citations, there is no need to make backlinks.
Did you know?
Backlinks are considered as the second top most ranking factor, be it normal SEO or Local SEO.
For Local SEO it won’t be considered too much, but if the niche is competitive then backlinks can only be your saviour
Over that, Google does gives priority to quality instead of quantity because of the rankbrain update, so it’s better to build backlinks as well as a citation in a particular ratio.
Following the article from Cognitive SEO provides a brief idea about this myth.
#4 Ranking problems can be solved by Google My Business Support
Done all the optimization part, still not able to rank?
Well…here the myth that asking Google My Business support for ranking issues is totally fake as they are there in order to solve your technical issues and not to solve your SEO problem.
They are available via Facebook, Twitter, Live chat, Email, etc and they are there to solve all the issues related to features of Google My Business.
I specified ‘Features’ in the above sentence just to tell that they can’t actually help you with your ranking problems. They are not the Engineer team, they are the GMB specialist so you won’t be getting a solution to your problem.
Check out an official statement by Google
#5 Directories don’t help in ranking
While researching about Local SEO myths, found this article from seo hacker, where it told about the myth “directories, don’t help in ranking”.
Directories must be shady, but still, they are considered as a ranking factor.
Moreover, the larger the anchor profile is diversified, the better it is for Local SEO.
In order to get a diversified, clean and well-going link profile, Directories are always considered as rare stone.
Finally, I do come to an end of this post where I have explained almost everything about Local SEO, right from the History, definition, and meaning to the technical parts.
Meanwhile, if I have left anything out, don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll surely reply.