Businesses that are seeking increased traffic, leads, and brand awareness in their geographical area must focus on local SEO. By optimizing their visibility in local search results, they can reach those who are looking for their products and services.
With 76% of individuals who carry out a local search on their smartphone visiting the business within the next 24 hours and 28% of them making a purchase, no business can afford to overlook its local SEO strategy.
How can businesses ensure their name appears at the top of the results in local searches? Local SEO is, in some respects, similar to national SEO. Google scans its index to provide the best results when a person performs a search.
This means factors such as keywords, page loading, backlinks, and structure remain important. However, local SEO also entails a unique set of ranking signals, many of which relate to the business’s Google Business Profile listing.
When consumers in their area perform a search for local businesses, a prominent feature known as the local Map Pack is displayed. This Map Pack is influenced by the contents of this listing and various other factors, determining which businesses appear prominently within it.
Here is a look at what matters most when optimizing for local SEO.
One important factor is the proximity of an address to the location where the user is carrying out their search.
Although this is currently believed to carry less weight than it did in the past, it remains a very important factor and is one of the reasons there are no static number-one spots in local search rankings; users will receive different results according to where their devices are when they search for the keyword.
There is not much that business owners can do to place their business closer to a higher number of searchers unless they are willing to relocate.
However, it is important to keep in mind that different search phrases will yield different results, and businesses that optimize for highly specific searches are more likely to come out on top and appeal to a broader audience.
For example, if someone owns a bakery, they may find that searching the term “bread” will just provide results with bakeries clustered in one neighborhood in the immediate vicinity.
However, when the search is expanded to something like “vegan birthday cakes”, Google will be forced to widen its net, and it may return results that span an entire city or even the suburbs.
Businesses that look into these keyword variations can find opportunities to optimize for more specific terms and ensure their name is placed in front of customers who are situated further away from them geographically.
Google Business Profile Categories
A Google Business Profile listing is essential for local SEO success, and it must be properly optimized with the right keywords. However, categories are also valuable ranking signals. Businesses can choose multiple Google Business Profile categories, but it is the primary category that has the biggest impact.
Businesses can log into their Google account and search for their business by name, then navigate to the “edit profile” tab to choose their primary category. It is important to choose the category carefully and ensure it accurately reflects what the business offers.
In some cases where there is significant competition within a very small geographical area, such as a densely populated city, it may help to choose a more specific primary category.
Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)
A business also benefits from NAP citations, which are instances of the business’s name, address, and phone number being listed on various pages online.
Google relies on these listings to confirm a business’s information is correct, and the more often they find NAP citations for a business, the more confident they will be that everything is accurate and they can promote the site accordingly.
Review signals play a significant role as a local ranking factor, where negative reviews on a business’s Google Business Profile can have a detrimental impact. It is also believed that Google uses the content of reviews on third-party review sites such as Yelp in assessing a business.
Reviews and the way owners respond to them can help to build trust in a business, which is a major ranking factor. Business owners are encouraged to reply to every review they receive, whether it is positive or negative, to show Google as well as prospective clients that they care.
Businesses can attract more reviews by asking happy customers to leave reviews; they can make the process easier for them by emailing them links to where they should post the review.
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