Everyone has used Google Maps to find a nearby business. In fact, GoGulf found that 46 percent of all Google searches are looking for local business information.
Since 72 percent of consumers who performed a local search visited a store within five miles, a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is imperative to any business that physically sells products or provides a service.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a marketing strategy that involves optimizing a company’s online presence to attract more business from local customers. As BrightLocal puts it, local SEO “helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them online.”
A significant amount of online searches are for local goods or services, and businesses of all sizes must appeal to these searchers in real time.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Local SEO uses several tactics and tools to get a business in front of customers in their community looking for products, services, or answers on search engines such as Google.
Google also has a feature known as Local Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This block of local business listings appears along with a map in the organic search results for queries with a local component. The main difference between these results and standard organic rankings is the use of a Google My Business displaying imperative company details such as an address, phone number, and website.
To see local SERPs in action, a user can search for “Coffee shops near me” on Google, and a three-pack or a local pack of listings will appear for this search. Because these listings appear before the organic search results, they are considered “rank zero”—a coveted ranking spot.
A strong local SEO strategy will work to rank a company for organic rankings, as well. For instance, a search for “coffee shops in NYC” will result in a local or three-pack in rank zero, but following it will be a wealth of organic results related to the phrase. Since this query has a local nature, coffee shops want their websites to appear on Google Maps as well as in the organic results for the most exposure and probability of being clicked on by a user.
Components of a Successful Local SEO Strategy
Much like a regular SEO strategy, local SEO relies on several tactics to successfully rank a business on search engines.
Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other map listings are arguably among the most important areas for local SEO. Customers use map listings to find new restaurants, plan out vacations, get directions to the doctor’s office, and so much more. As such, it’s a lucrative tool for businesses to receive attention from local customers searching in real time.
On Google Maps, these listings are generated from Google My Business profiles. These listings contain a wealth of information about a business, including:
- Hours of operation
- Customer reviews
- Contact information
- Map directions
Google My Business listings are also an example of a “citation,” another critical element of a local SEO strategy.
Just as Google My Business powers Google Map results, other listings around the Internet provide local searchers with information about businesses in their community. In local SEO, these websites and profiles are known as citations.
A local SEO strategy requires successfully claiming and optimizing a company’s profile on websites across the Internet. Each listing profile must contain the company’s key information:
- Phone number
These four elements are the bare minimum for a local SEO citation. To fully optimize a profile, companies can add imagery, customer reviews, and product and service details, too. With 93 percent of consumers saying they become frustrated by incorrect information in online directories, it is vital for companies to properly claim their listings.
A few of the top online listing websites include:
- Apple Maps
Local Website Content
On top of having the business name, address, and phone number prominently displayed on the homepage, a company must also have localized content on its website. This can be in the form of local service pages, blog content related to community events, dedicated pages for each business location, and other creative content with a local nature.
Creating localized website content shows search engines that the business is relevant to a searcher’s query through the use of specific keywords and phrases.
Metadata and URLs
A local SEO strategy also involves editing the metadata of a website for local keywords. From title tags to meta descriptions, a website’s metadata and specific URLs can be updated to include relevant local phrases.
As with every SEO plan, internal and external links help search engines understand the architecture of a website and its authority on the Internet.
For local SEO, internal links demonstrate the connection among topics, and external links (also known as inbound links) prove authority within a local area. A local SEO strategy will optimize a website’s internal structure while also seeking out external linking opportunities, such as:
- Guest blogging
- News articles
- Social media posts
- Hosting events
Responsive Website Design
Given that a majority of local searches are done on a phone or tablet, search engines prioritize businesses with mobile responsive websites. Responsive website design uses code to automatically adjust the contents of the website to fit within the dimensions of any device without sacrificing functionality.
After all, as of 2019, Google’s mobile-first index crawls the mobile version of a website to determine local and organic search rankings.
How Much Does a Local SEO Package Cost?
Local SEO marketing is not a one-time investment. This form of online marketing requires ongoing effort to maintain local rankings and generate website traffic. As a result, most local SEO companies will charge an onboarding fee plus a monthly retainer.
Depending on the reputation of the agency and the scope of SEO work required, the onboarding fees can range from $100 to more than $500. Local SEO companies offer several levels of packages, ranging from approximately $250 to more than $2,000 per month.
The price of each package is determined by the services provided as well as the number of business locations the SEO agency must work to rank.
Local SEO packages typically include services such as the ones listed here.
Online Citation Claiming and Optimization
Each month, the SEO agency will find and claim new listings while optimizing existing citations. The company should provide a report of all the listings claimed for the month and the status of current citations.
Some local SEO packages may limit the number of citations claimed every month.
Local Content Creation
From new local website copy to community-based articles, local SEO packages often include content creation services in their monthly packages. These pieces of content are created to help rank the website locally and drive relevant, qualified traffic to the website.
Online Review Management
Online customer reviews are key for local SEO. These reviews help local searchers form an idea about a business before they visit. Local SEO agencies advise businesses on how to obtain more reviews and manage existing ones for the best online reputation.
Keyword research is an important process that guides the entirety of a local SEO strategy, from link-building to content creation. SEO agencies will identify local keywords to target through in-depth research and analytics.
As part of a local SEO package, a business will receive a report of where its business and the competition rank locally in relation to these keywords each month.
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