What is Local Search Engine Optimization and why it matters

70% of consumers are said to have performed an online search for a local business at least once in the past month.  As a local business owner, your goal is to get as many of those customers to see your business as possible.  Optimizing your online presence is important for your customers’ ease of use, but Local Search Engine Optimization is critical to building your business.

What is local search engine optimization?

Local Search Engine Optimization works to increase the search visibility for businesses that serve the local community.  

Let’s say you wanted to build a deck in your backyard. If you performed a search for “Deck materials”, Google would populate a list of articles about different types of materials you can use to build a deck. The sites that will appear as the result of this search  are optimized for standard organic searches – not necessarily Local Search Engine optimization. Now, if you were to perform the same search but added a suffix like, “near me” or the city you want to find the material in, you will receive different results. You will see that Google Maps will show the top 3 locations or local business where deck materials can be purchased. These locations or business have their websites optimized for local search. A virtual tour can also help a local business optimize their website for local search. 

Local Search Engine Optimization Local Search Engine Optimization

Above are the search results you may see while comparing local search vs organic search.

 

What affects local search engine optimization?

An article published by Moz breaks down the key factors that contribute to Local Search Rankings. Google’s algorithm for ranking and promoting pages is not public information. However, Moz has done a great job of testing and analyzing the key factors that are commonly believed to contribute to higher Google rankings.  The primary factors that contribute to this are:
 

Google My Business (GMB) Signals. 

Signals taken from Google My Business (GMB), a tool created by Google for businesses and organizations to manage their business listing and information, will greatly impact your search ranking. The signals taken from GMB include: Proximity (how close the searcher is to your business); what categories your business falls under or is listed under in your GMB listing; what keywords you have in your GMB business title and how optimized your GMB listing is.  Moz claims that these signals account for 25% of your ranking factors. That said, optimizing your GMB listing is the most important thing you can do to improve your Local Search Engine Optimization. 

Link Signals. 

Links to your website serve as a key indicator for Google to rate how trustworthy and relevant your business is.  Basically, Google assumes that if other popular websites embed links to your site, then your site must contain valuable information.  The popularity and ranking of sites that embed links to your site matter. In other words, if the domain authority of the linking site is low, Google will not recognize the link as relevant. For your local business, it would be more beneficial to get sites of authority in your local area to link to you.  An example of a local site of authority may be your local news paper, or your Chamber of Commerce’s site.  This signal accounts for about 17% of your ranking factors.

Review Signals. 

Reviews are critical for any local business – not only for your reputation in the community, but for your place in search listings as well.  Google considers reviews as an indication of the quality of experience searchers will have with your business – just as your customers might.  Review quantity, location, and diversity play a role in your ranking within this factor.  You will not only want to get a lot of reviews, but you will want a lot of reviews on a variety of sites – not just on Google.  Reviews can work in your favor not only in the minds of your potential customers, but through Google’s algorithm as well.    And, while they make up 15% of the overall ranking factors for Local Search Engine Optimization, they are also critical to optimizing your GMB listing.  

On-Page Signals.

On-Page Signals include the presence of your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP), and keywords in your page titles.  When adding the NAP to your site, make sure it matches exactly what your GMB listing has. Posting consistent contact information on all sites eliminates any guesswork on Google’s part, making it easier for your business to appear in searches.  On-page signals account for 14% of your ranking factors.  

Citation Signals. 

Citations sites, like Yelp and Yellow Pages, serve as directories for potential customers to find your NAP information and reviews.    As we mentioned with on-page signals, it is critical to make sure your NAP on citation sites matches what your Google listing states.  Citation signals will  account for about 11% of your ranking factors.  

And, while there are several other minor factors that complete Google’s SEO ranking algorithm, concentrating on these primary signals will give you a good start to ranking in your local area.  
 

so, why does Local Search Engine Optimization matter?

As a business owner, you know that having your business appear on Google is important, but to really drive the point home, consider these statistics:

  • Google receives over 63,000 searches per second, or 5.6 billion searches per day. 
  • 46% of all searches are seeking local information.
  • 60% of all searches are done on a mobile device
  • 80% of searches for a local business on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. 

As a local business owner, the question you have to ask yourself is, do I want to get this traffic, or do I want it to go to my competition?

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