Different business niches require different approaches to be competitive in the SEO landscape. An e-commerce store will have different needs than a service business. A non-profit will have different needs than a for-profit business. No matter your niche, one area that many businesses overlook is Local SEO.
Local SEO is technically a sub-category of SEO but deserves to be treated as its own entity. If you run a business that serves clients locally or regionally, you need to improve your local SEO. Ignoring Local SEO is leaving money on the table.
What is the difference between SEO and Local SEO?
The main difference between SEO and Local SEO is the importance of maps, social media, local directories, and business citations.
When it comes to maps, the big ones to focus on are Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Bing Maps. Local searches will often incorporate a map feature to show the searcher businesses that are nearby and that align with the search term they entered.
Social media sites also function as search engines, as sometimes people search for services and products within Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Depending on your niche, it can be important to have a presence on these platforms.
And finally, local directories and citations include websites like Yelp, Yellowpages, and any other website that provides a space for businesses to be listed and for searchers to find local businesses.
A vital component of all of the above is the acronym NAP. Otherwise known as Name, Address, Phone. Having consistent business contact information across the internet is essential to Local SEO success.
How much does local SEO cost?
Local SEO is often sold as a recurring service. This is because SEO requires consistent effort and maintenance, especially on the local front.
This cost will vary depending on the size of your business. If you have multiple locations, expect to pay more. The amount of content creation included in your Local SEO package, backlink building, and technical SEO needs will all also play a factor in determining the cost.
Why Local SEO is important to SEO?
Local SEO’s importance to SEO is related to unlocking a handful of SERP (Search Engine Result Page) features that do not appear in a non-local search query.
The most noticeable SERP feature that a local search triggers is Google’s Map Pack, which displays three local businesses and a map to show you their location, number of reviews, phone number, website link, and directions.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
To rank well locally, it’s important to understand Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors.
1) Map Listings
Showing up in the “map pack” for a keyword can drive a ton of traffic and business to your website. One of the first steps to showing up in map listings is to create a business listing on Google My Business, Bing, and Apple Maps. Without a listing, your business will not show up in the map pack or a map search.
Don’t sleep on this one. Name, Address, Phone. This information about your business should be consistent to make it easier for your customers, but Google also considers NAP to be important to ranking locally.
Although it was mentioned in item 1, I’m highlighting Google My Business separately because it’s that important. Google has a 94% market share on searches and so having an optimized Google My Business page is essential to local SEO success.
Depending on your niche, your business should be listed on a handful of directories. For example, there are often directories for lawyers organized by state or city. There are also general business directories, directories for women and minority-owned businesses, and more.
5) Yelp and Other Local Search Engines
When it comes to local services, many people also turn to search engines and listings other than Google. Some examples of this are Yelp, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack.
From an SEO perspective, top business lists from Yelp and similar websites often land on page 1 of Google, so it is worthwhile to have an optimized profile on Yelp and other similar sites.
6) On-Page SEO
Another important component of Local SEO success is taking care of On-Page SEO elements. On-Page elements, such as the meta title and meta description, affect how your website shows up on Google and can affect the click-thru rate on your organic rankings.
7) Link Building
When another website links to your website, this is known as a backlink. A backlink is a vote of confidence, proving to Google that other websites value your website. The more authoritative the website, the more valuable the backlink.
Over time, earning backlinks will make your website more authoritative, which will help your content rank on Google.
Reviews are social proof that your business delivers quality and value. Earning positive reviews on your Google My Business page, Yelp, and other websites with review features can help your business rank higher, and build consumer confidence.
9) Social Media
Have you ever noticed featured tweets showing up on Google? Or visited a high-ranking blog post that showed how often it had been shared on social media? That’s because social media engagement can affect SEO.
From a local perspective, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook can be great for people to discover new restaurants or upcoming events. Posting images to your business’s social media profile and building a following can be a great way to get your business in front of more people.
A strong social presence can also help unlock more “brand demand,” meaning more and more people are searching for your exact business name, which of course, you’ll rank first for as long as your SEO is in order.
Wrapping Things Up
What we’ve covered in this post is an excellent primer in Local SEO. The key to any SEO success is consistent action. It’s essential to create fresh content, earn reviews, and build authority again and again in order to rank well on terms that are relevant to your business.