Local SEO 101: What Your Business Needs to Know about Local Search Engine Marketing
Whether you’re a local business or a service-area based company, your business can benefit immensely from local SEO and other search engine marketing tactics.
Local SEO is a digital marketing strategy that helps local businesses and service-area companies outrank competing companies in Google within the same region. While similar to traditional SEO, there are many unique challenges to face and tactics to employ that are specific to local searches. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of local SEO.
Local Search Engine Marketing
Let’s begin with a few stats about local search. Just Google “local search stats,” and you can find plenty of evidence to support just how important local SEO is. Here are a few we’ve cherrypicked just for you from hubspot.com!
- 46% of all Google searches are people looking for local information
- 88% of searchers looking for a local business on a mobile device call or visit the company within 24 hours.
- 78% of local searches that take place on a mobile device result in an offline purchase!
These days, most people in need of a local business recommendation turn to Google. Whether you’re a plumber, a lawyer, or a pizzeria, if your business isn’t on page one of Google when people search for your product or services, you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of potential business.
Local search engine marketing means applying typical search engine marketing strategies such as SEO or PPC to a local business website. People are searching for your services on search engines like Google – the goal of SEO is to use Google as a source of free inbound leads for your business.
Local SEO can be immensely effective when executed by experienced professionals, but it is increasingly competitive as more and more local businesses realize the value of these types of services.
While the strategy and implementation of ‘regular’ SEO and local SEO are very similar, the rules of engagement do differ. You’ll want to work with a company that specializes in Local SEO services (not local in terms of proximity to your service area.)
Local Searches vs. 'Normal' Searches
People looking for a restaurant in Cleveland might search for something like “restaurants in cleveland” or “restaurants near me.” By now, if they just search “restaurants,” Google will still serve largely localized results:
Google can deduce your location in a variety of ways, including your IP address, GPS information provided by your device, or the context of your search query. Additional information on each business is provided by the business via their Google My Business profile.
Once Google determines that you are looking for a local business, they will provide you with an entirely different set of results based on their best understanding of your current location. Even the structure and layout of the SERPs page changes for local queries. When a keyword has local search intent, we refer to the search engine results page (SERPs) as the local SERPs.
Since people looking for information on a local business tend to want different types of information, like maps, store hours, and review information, your typical SERPs (search engine results page) look a lot different than a standard search results page.
Google also evaluates local businesses and their websites a bit differently than it does other websites when it comes to ranking in search results. While technical SEO tactics are still important, you may have less competition to “beat.”
With local businesses, Google relies more on customer reviews and the company’s public perception (as much as it can deduce algorithmically). This is why Google My Business is such an important part of local SEO.
In other words, you don’t have to have the best plumbing website in the world, just the best plumbing website in your city or service area. Alas, you won’t be the only plumber who has realized the value of SEO either.
Google My Business
Google’s “Google My Business” is a way for businesses to manage their business listing and company profile information on Google. Business owners can claim ownership (verified via a Google postcard to the business’ address) to gain control over how their company information and profile, respond to reviews, and more.
Google will use the data and company profile information to feed the local pack, and Google maps search results whenever your business pops up. More importantly, by properly optimizing your GMB profile, you can better tell Google what your company is about and improve your chances of showing up in searches related to your business. Proper management of a GMB profile is one of many crucial components of a successful local SEO strategy.
Below, you can see the entire knowledge panel displayed, most of this information being fed from our Google My Business profile.
Citations and Local SEO
Citations are basically “mentions” of your website that don’t necessarily link back to your website. Google takes notice of all of the citations related to your website. By taking deliberate steps to be consistent with things like your NAP (name, address, and phone number) as well as using the same format for your website’s URL, you can make sure Google is never confused about your company’s most pertinent details.
Citations to your business can be a result of manual placement by your business or naturally occurring by people mentioning your business on the web.
The most common components of a citation typically include NAP (name, address, and phone number), but there are many other details that can be referenced. When these details about your business are “cited” online, search engines use these as additional context clues about your business. A citation can include these types of details:
- Hours of operation
- Directions to your location
- Descriptions of your company
- Media (videos, images, etc.)
- Payment options accepted
- Categorization / Industry / Niche
- Email Addresses
- Fax numbers
Since many citations occur naturally without your companies intervention, the best thing you can do is take control of the manual citations that are managed by your company on platforms like Google or Yelp.
It also helps to educate your entire company on things like citations. This way, whenever citations or link opportunities present themselves to your employees, they are armed with the appropriate information to maximize the value of the opportunity and follow the best-known practices.
Outranking Your Local Competition In Search
Now that you understand how local SEO works, you’re probably wondering what it takes to beat out your competitors and use search engines like Google as a way to attract new customers to your business. The goal of a local SEO campaign is to make Google want to link to your website when people search for your services. The way to accomplish this is by convincing Google you are the best provider of those services.
How does Google rank local sites? What increases my odds of ranking for a given search query?
- Reputation – What do your customers say about your products and services on platforms like Google My Business, Amazon, etc.? Google’s web crawlers have so much data available to them, they are able to deduce a lot about your company ‘s overall perception with consumers.
- Relevance – How relevant is the search query to the product or service your company offers? e.g., lawyers that specialize in disability law may be more likely to outrank a lawyer that offers that service but may not specialize in it.
- Location – General proximity to the business. Depending on the query, people may be looking for businesses within a certain distance from their home or place of work.
How do I know what types of local SEO services I need?
If you work with a reputable local SEO company, you should be able to trust that they will determine this for you. There are many different types of local SEO services that may or may not be a priority depending on your goals and circumstances. However, it can be useful to know what types of services local SEO service providers offer.
The Most Important Local SEO Services to be Aware of Include:
- Citation Building / Citation Management
- Link Building
- Website Localization
- Google My Business Claiming & Optimization
- Social Media Management (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Review and Rating Management
- Keyword Research
- Content Writing
- On-Page Optimization
- Keyword Reporting
- Custom Reporting
How Will Local SEO Help Us Grow Our Business?
Every day, more local customers turn to the web to find local businesses on their phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers:
- 46% of all Google searches are local queries
- 92% of searches pick a business on page one and don’t look further.
- 88% of searchers looking for a local business on a mobile device call or visit the business within 24 hours.
- 78% of local searches that take place on a mobile device result in an offline purchase!
- Qualifiers like “near me” or “close by” included in searches have grown more than 900% over a two year period.
In other words, people increasingly rely on search engines to find local businesses. If your business isn’t on page one, your competitors will get all the business, and within a few years, you will likely be struggling to stay afloat. We don’t mean to scaremonger, but the trends are pretty clear and people will only become increasingly reliant on search engines moving forward. Unless you can rely on traditional marketing and word-of-mouth, you must focus on local search engine marketing if you want to grow your business in today’s digital landscape.
Attract New Customers with Local SEO from OuterBox
With local search engine marketing services with OuterBox, you’ll be able to:
- Attract highly targeted customers already looking for your product or service
- Attract customers that are ready to buy now (e.g., someone Googling “emergency furnace repair”)
- Attract customers earlier in the buying process (e.g., someone Googling “why does my furnace smell weird.”
- Capitalize on the growing ubiquity of smartphones, mobile internet growth, and mobile commerce.
- Establish your business online “on the ground floor”! While it may seem like you’re way behind ‘schedule,’ if you’re just starting a local SEO strategy, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of local businesses still have an unclaimed Google My Business listing.
Why Choose OuterBox for Local SEO Services?
For over 15 years, OuterBox has been a leading provider of SEO services. Our unique vantage point on the evolution of local search and SEO over the years provides us with a wealth of knowledge and expertise that we can put to work for your company.
Benefits of Partnering with OuterBox for your Local SEO Campaign include:
- We are a trusted Google-certified partner
- Locally-focused and tested SEO strategies
- Proven results (just review our case studies)
- In-house expert SEO team and digital marketing professionals based in USA – absolutely zero outsourcing.
- Detailed, transparent monthly reporting that proves your ROI.
- Web developers, designers, and account managers on staff to support your SEO strategist. This gives us the ability to execute our strategies without the need for you to provide those additional resources.