The term “local SEO” simply means search engine optimization for local businesses. We define a local business as one whose services are only relevant to consumers within a certain distance of its location.
Here are some examples of local businesses:
- Home Improvement Contractors
- Retail stores
For all of these businesses, location matters. Accordingly, their search engine optimization efforts must be locally targeted.
While there a variety of traffic channels that local SEO can help businesses tap into (ie. social media, internet yellow pages, blogging, etc.), one of the most profitable referral sources of any local SEO project come from Google’s local search results. Here is an example:
Now that we understand what the term “local SEO” refers to, let’s dig a little deeper.
- The factors that influence local search rankings in Google
- Learn how to do it yourself with these local SEO resources
- Check how your business appears online
The factors that influence local search rankings
Google looks at 4 primary factors to determine how to rank local businesses in their search results: 1)On-site optimization; 2) Inbound links (backlinks); 3) Citations; 4) Reviews. Let’s have a look at what is involved with optimizing each of these factors:
In order for Google to understand that your business should be shown in results for local search queries, it is important that your business website is optimized properly for local search.
The optimization of a local business website is really no different from the optimization of any other website, except that most of the content on the local business site will be geared toward local search queries.
Here are the most important website elements to be optimized for local search queries:
- Page titles
- Heading 1 tags
- Body content
- URL slugs
- Internal link anchor text
For a more in depth understanding of on-site optimization, check out the on site optimization section.
Backlinks are hyperlinks on pages of other websites which point to your website:
Backlinks are a fundamental part of Google’s ranking algorithmn, both for traditional organic search results and for local search results. Google sees backlinks as a vote for the credibility of the site being linked to, which in turn causes that site to rank higher for relevant search queries.
For a more in-depth understanding of backlinks, visit the link building section of the site.
In the context of local SEO, a citation refers to any online mention of a businesses name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Here is an example of a structured citation:
And here is an example of an unstructured citation:
In order for a business to rank highly in Google’s local search results, it is necessary for the businesses to have these citations. In order for those citations to be optimal, they must have the following traits:
- Consistency: The business NAP must appear the exact same way in all citations.
- Quantity: The business must be “cited” in a variety of online sources.
- Quality: The business must be cited by websites that are looked upon by Google as both relevant and authoritative.
For a more in-depth understanding of citations as they relate to local SEO, please browse the folling links:
Business reviews are another way that Google attempts to understand how a given business should be ranked in their search results. Like citations, it is optimal for a business to have reviews on a variety of relevant and authoritative websites.
Here are some examples of the types of sites on which most local businesses ought to gain reviews:
- Google+ Local
Google not only uses business reviews as an indicator that a business is relevant and popular, they also look at the type of language used in the reviews, which gives them an idea of the products and services the business provides, which makes it easier to rank the business for relevant search queries.
For a more in-depth understanding of citations as they relate to local SEO, please browse the following links:
Learn how to do it yourself with these local SEO resources:
- Guidelines for representing your business on Google
- Advanced Local Citation Audit & Clean Up: Achieve Consistent Data & Higher Rankings by Casey Meraz
- Finding and Building Citations Like an Agency by Casey Meraz
- How to Perform the Ultimate Local SEO Audit by Casey Meraz
- 5 Link Building Tactics to Improve Your Local Rankings by Matt Green
- Using Subdomains to Target Local Search Queries by Matt Green
- Mike Blumenthal’s Local Search Blog
- Linda Buquet’s Local Search Forum
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