Local SEO: What it is and why it matters

Even on the web, geographic location matters, especially if you own a local business. In fact, whether it is a supermarket, coffee bar or restaurant, Google is always ready to show us the closest solution to our location. But how to be more visible on the search engine and thus appear among the results suggested by Google in that location for that particular search query? And on Google Maps? The answer is the so-called Local SEO: let’s see together what it consists of.

What is Local SEO

Local SEO is an organic web-to-store ranking strategy, which is the act of a user surfing the web before going to a physical store to make a purchase. It is the set of all optimizations implemented to improve the store’s ranking within the SERP and Google Maps.

If you own a business, Local SEO is essential to increase visits and sales. To do this, you need to have your store show up in the top Google results for specific queries, especially when they contain a geographic indication.

For example, someone who is unfamiliar with a particular area and wants to go eat at a restaurant or wants to try something new, relies on Google for the so-called discovery phase. Next, he sifts through the solution most in line with his tastes among those proposed by the search engine. Finally, to make his choice, the user is likely to be influenced by the photos, description and opening hours in the restaurant’s tab. Thus, it goes without saying that being present among these results is essential to establish a touchpoint with our potential customer.

Local SEO and general SEO, what is the difference?

Local SEO refers to the optimization of a website for “geo-referenced” searches, so that it is indexed for more specific local search intents, while SEO in general aims to ensure global site ranking. If you want to learn more about this aspect as well, we recommend reading this article.

Today, it is no longer necessary for the user to indicate the area of interest because Google’s algorithm has evolved to the point where it can independently identify the geographic location of the user.

In fact, there is also a difference at the query level. Google has differentiated generalist SERPs from local SERPs by showing available geolocated search results at the top of the screen in a map of the area.

Below the map is the so-called local 3-pack, the three most relevant results for the keywords searched by the user. These are direct links to the business, in fact they include the name, address, phone number, opening hours and other information that the business chooses to share on Google. Thus, the goal of a Local SEO strategy is to be in the 3-pack: you will have a distinct advantage over your competition.

How to do Local SEO

A Local SEO strategy involves several aspects to consider, including Google My Business (GMB), your own website and the various social channels associated with the business you want to promote. In order to have a better chance of ranking in the 3-pack, it is a good practice to provide consistent data: on the Facebook page you will enter the same contact data as in the GMB tab, which must in turn be the same as the ones listed in the contact page of your website.

The goal is to give Google the answers to the 3 questions it asks to establish the local hierarchy: relevance of the business, distance from the user, and prominence (or authority) of the business itself.

Activate Google My Business for Local SEO

As mentioned, Google certainly plays a key role in a Local SEO strategy. Indeed, it is essential to redeem your business on Google My Business, a free form to share all the details of your business, such as:

  • Full name
  • Exact address
  • Days and hours of operation
  • Contact information: phone number, website, email addresses

Once you have filled out all the information, it’s time to verify your identity so that Google knows that the entered data is real. There are several methods to verify one’s identity on Google My Business, including mobile number, email, live video recording or video call, or postcard mailed directly to the point of sale.

In addition to the basic information, you can enrich and complete your GMB with a description of your business, services or products; showcase when the activity is closed for holidays; add photos, FAQs or a booking form. In addition, Google allows you to advertise your business profile and provides a report on the performance of your profile, with data on interactions, calls made, directions asked, site visits, messages sent or reservations made.

So, if carefully maintained, Google My Business has the potential to become an excellent digital touchpoint as well as a useful tool for building your Local SEO strategy.

Keywords research for Local SEO

The company website is also critical to a well thought out Local SEO strategy. The goal is always to provide the search engine with all the information about the business, its location and hours of operation. This can be done by leveraging the About Us page and contact information.

To best index the site and its content, it is necessary to perform research work on the keywords that users usually use on Google locally. To find them, you can gather ideas by analysing the competition: competitor websites may feature a structure and content with recurring keywords, probably the same ones that users search for on the web.

Another useful tool is Google itself: just go to the search bar and start typing something related to your business. A series of automatic answers will appear to save users time by predicting their search intent. This feature is very good for discovering longer keywords, called long tail keywords, which are precisely composed of more than one word. This is because Google’s autocomplete predictions also depend on the geographic location where the search is made.

For example, if you search for a business on Google, the search engine will immediately suggest results with the city closest to the place where you are, as seen above. Or, if you search for a business specifying the city as well, the search engine will suggest additional cues based what users have searched before, such as hours and reviews.

Why it is important to do Local SEO

Having arrived at this point, it should be quite clear why it is critical to have a Local SEO strategy, especially if you have a local business. If that was not enough to convince you, think about the fact that searches from mobile devices are increasingly preferred over desktop searches, and that Local SEO is intrinsically linked to browsing from smartphones. Thus, businesses that manage to earn a place in the local pack or “geo-localized” SERP will have a significant competitive advantage, both in terms of visibility and authority, and of economic return.

In addition, Local SEO has a considerable value for all the so-called “neighbourhood” searches, those that are done from mobile when one is in a specific location looking for a restaurant, store, bar, or pharmacy.

Contact us to set up the right Local SEO strategy for your business.

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