What Is Local SEO (And Why Should You Care?)

Building an online presence for your business is one of the best things you can do to promote your services. The strategic use of SEO (search engine optimization) can ensure even the smallest business can carve out a strong web presence and increase revenue. However, just ranking on the first page of Google for a keyword is not always enough. If you’re selling a service that relies on being physically present with your customer, a good strategy is to target your marketing locally.

What Is Local SEO?

Where SEO is about optimizing your website to rank highly in Google searches, local SEO takes that process further and aims to optimize for those looking for you in your local area. If you’re a paving contractor based in Washington state and you only do business in your local area, having inquiries from potential clients in Florida will not help move your business forward.

Why Is Local SEO Important?

When someone performs a local search, Google will return a map and a list of businesses in the area. This is called the map pack or local pack and enables customers close by to find you. It’s the first thing you see when Google returns search results.

Google also returns results for an organic search that sits below the map pack. The map pack is important because, while local search has always been popular, with the growth of mobile, demand for local search results has exploded.

As a business, you can rank in both local and standard searches, and your marketing strategy should take this into account.

How to Rank in The Map Pack: The Basics

To determine where you rank in a local search, Google uses a different set of criteria than those used for organic searches. Google looks at the following data when ranking for a local search:

• NAP citations (Name, Address, Phone number)
• Your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business)
• Keywords used in your Google profile
• Your business rating based on online reviews
• Keywords used in online reviews
• Amount of check-ins at your location
• How many times your profile has been shared on social media
• Your Google star rating

Let’s look at some of these in a little more detail.

NAP Citations

A NAP citation is a mention of your key business information anywhere on the web where NAP stands for name, address and phone number. Google has confirmed that local citations are important in ranking, so it’s worth ensuring your business details are registered across the web. Start by checking your contact details on your website and anywhere else your business is registered with are correct and match. The key to NAP citations is consistency. If your budget allows, you can use a third party to ensure your NAP citations are consistent across all business directories. Semrush offer a listings management tool to help businesses ensure their citations are consistent.

Your Google Business Listing and Keywords

Google’s directory, Google Business Profile, is arguably the most important place to register your business.
Creating a Business Profile is free and easy to set up. Follow the setup instructions and provide as much information as possible, including the name of your business and its category. When prompted, make sure to add your location and provide accurate and up-to-date information. When asked, add a description of your business and make sure you use your chosen keywords.

Reviews, Check-ins, Social Media and Your Star Rating

Reviews, check-ins and social media are all opportunities to promote your business, and it’s well worth putting together a social media strategy so that you are consistent across all the platforms you use. In addition, providing good customer service and encouraging your customers to review your business online will help build your authority and get you noticed by the Google algorithm.

Want to learn more about promoting your business? This is a brief overview of using local SEO; for more in-depth coverage, try these articles:
Semrush – The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business
Semrush – The Beginners Guide to Local SEO
Moz – The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide

Our team is always looking for ways to help our readers improve business operations and boost marketing effectiveness. Check our blogs regularly for more top tips to grow your business!