SEO is a broad topic and describing it would take more than a single blog post. This is why we’ve decided to break up these posts into smaller bits of info that will be a little easier to digest. Over the course of today’s guide, we’re going to tell you a bit about the basics of local SEO.
We’ll start off by discussing the background of search engines like Google because that’s necessary info to learn more about the evolution of local SEO. After that, we’ll take a look at what separates local SEO from broader forms of SEO and we’ll also discuss what your focus should be when dealing with local SEO.
The first thing that you need to consider is how search engines evolved since there wasn’t previously a distinction between local and general SEO. Previously, Google would show you search results that weren’t based on your local area, instead just focusing on the SEO value of a site.
The Google algorithm would (and still does) take a look at many different factors, including the number of backlinks that a site has, how well it matches your search query when it comes to keywords, and much more. The technical aspects of a site also play a role in where it shows up in the search results.
Google likes to make sure that only high-quality sites show up high in its search results, so your site needs to be put together well so that it can shine. As always, popularity is a large factor when it comes to ensuring that you show up high in Google search results, so even if you have all of your ducks in a row, you’ll have some trouble if you’re not getting much traffic.
As we mentioned before, this is all still a part of the Google algorithm and a huge part of why some sites show up higher in their search results, but where does local SEO come into play? Until Google started considering the fact that people want to see local businesses, proximity was never a factor.
Local SEO and organic search results got their start when Google realized that they can better serve their customers by showing them businesses that are near them, especially in certain industries like food and hospitality. After all, why would you want to see a restaurant that’s five hundred miles away?
You’ve probably already done this before by making a search query that includes the name of your town or a “near me” in it. What you may not know is that Google factors your location into searches that don’t include those words, especially if the search involves industries that are typically local.
The proximity factor works by accounting for your location when you make the search and then boosting search results that are close to you, putting them higher up on the page. You can try this by conducting the same search from two different places in your city. If those locations are far away from each other, you’ll be sure to get different search results.
Local search wasn’t quite as important as it is now in the past because most searches used to be conducted from computers. However, with the rise of mobile devices, people can now conduct a search from nearly anywhere, and Google realized that they need to be able to cater to people based on location.
So how can you take advantage of this if you’re a marketer? The first thing that you need to consider is that there is a separate algorithm responsible for local rankings. Even though you’ll see the local map pack in regular organic searches, there’s an entirely different algorithm responsible for that.
What does that mean in practice? It means that you can get your business to show up in the local map pack and the organic search results. This may be a little confusing at first, and it doesn’t help that it sounds like you need to split your SEO efforts based on local and standard organic searches.
If you’re trying to improve your local SEO, there are a few factors that will help you pop up ahead of the competition. First, you’ll need to make it pretty clear where your business is located by mentioning your location on your site and ensuring that you have your Google My Business set up.
If your business has several locations, then you’re going to need individual landing pages for each of those locations to make it clear where they are located. As always, you’ll need to follow SEO best practices by ensuring that your heading tags and meta descriptions are all in order.
Another factor that plays into improving your local SEO is reviews. If you have reviews from users located in a specific area, then Google knows that your business is located there in the first place. This is another reason why having your Google My Business set up is crucial.
You can also use SEO tools like our SERP Checker to see how your business shows up in different areas and you can also do local keyword research to see what the crowd in your area commonly searches for. Don’t forget to include some location-based content on your site if you really want to hammer the point home.
We hope that we’ve been able to give you a better idea of what local SEO is and how you can ensure that your business is more likely to benefit from it. While local SEO may not apply to all businesses, it’s pretty crucial for those that it does, especially for businesses like restaurants.
Don’t forget that local SEO is just like every other form of SEO in that it’s ever-changing, so don’t get complacent and make sure that you keep up with all of the most recent developments to make the most of it.