SEO 101 Part 4: Local Search
There was once a time when the phonebook was king. For local businesses, appearing in the yellow pages was mandatory and advertising in them was nearly as important. Just take a look at the cost of advertising in the phone book – many are still priced as though it was 1995 and physical books reigned supreme in the local business market. The times have changed and there is a new game on the block – local search engine traffic. It is estimated that 20% of all desktop searches and 50% of all mobile searches are for local businesses, services, or locations. This meteoric rise of local search has led to a new branch in the search engine optimization tree: local search SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local search SEO is optimization that focuses on gaining results in a specific geographical area. This effort includes the more traditional areas of SEO work like content creation, keyword targeting, and page structure; but also looks at targeting local directories, business profiles, customer reviews, and social media presence. Because more and more people are turning to Google, Bing, and other search engines to determine business locations, contact information, hours, and reviews; it is vital to have web presence that is optimized for local search.
Like traditional SEO, the goal of local SEO is to appear at the top a SERP – but focusing on specific geographic-based searches (whether explicit or based on the searcher’s location). A further goal of local SEO is to appear in the featured carousel that populates the very top of a local Google search. Cracking this top-three list is critical to success for local businesses and services.
Excelling at local SEO usually means optimizing the following four areas to maximize your chances of appearing in local results:
- Organic Search – Local and traditional SEO are not in competition; a strong organic reach is a good thing for local SEO results.
- Geographic Search – Location-based searches are the lifeblood of local SEO
- Social & On-Line Presence – From social media to review sites, an up-to-date and accurate on-line presence is essential to local SEO
- NAP – Or name, address, and phone number, and critical to getting listed locally.
What to Do
So if local SEO is so important, how does a business go about optimizing their on-line presence? There are three basic steps to the process:
- Get Listed – This applies to numbers 3 and 4 on the previous list. A great start to local SEO is to get your business listed on as many directories as possible. Accomplishing this will build your on-line presence and help to verify your correct name, address, and phone number – just make sure all the information is accurate!
- Get Local – National and industry-specific directories are good, but getting local is better. Find local business listing (like at the local chamber of commerce website) and get listed there. These sites are typically trusted and have respected site authority so their information and links will carry heavier weight. Also, seek out local bloggers that cover businesses in your area.
- Get Social – Keep all your social media profiles up to date with the name, address, and phone number. The longer you have a consistent presence, the better you will rank in local SEO. Also, keep a close eye on review sites like Yelp; making sure your information is correct and reviews (both positive and negative) are being properly addressed.
Just like traditional SEO, local work takes time. Google has laid on a page of best practices on optimizing your on-line presence for local SEO, check out their guidelines for representing your business on Google.
Leaving local SEO to chance is a great way to get lost in the crowd. As more people turn to search engines as the new phonebook, it is increasingly important to make your business easy to find, appealing, and visible. Maintaining a consistent on-line presence that extends from social media, to your website, to review sites can be a full-time job!
If you’re feeling the pressure of local SEO and just don’t have the time to ensure that your business is appearing accurately and well placed, then consider turning to the experts at Fusion Group USA to help set up a local SEO plan for your business. Contact us today to set up an in-depth consultation covering just how we can help grow your business with local SEO.