There are four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation. When users conduct an informational search about a certain geography (e.g. “plumber washington dc”) the search algorithm looks for websites optimized for these local searches. This is why local SEO is important.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of making adjustments to your website so it has higher search visibility for keywords with local intent.
This includes searches such as “near me” and “[service] [city]” searches. These queries will pull up a different search engine results page (SERP) layout than a general search. Depending on the industry, Google may serve up local home service ads, regular ads, and a map pack that displays the top three businesses.
Below is an example of a SERP for the search phrase “plumber washington dc”, which is a highly valuable search with local intent.
At the top of the page are the local home service ads as well as regular paid ads.
Below that is the all-important 3 pack map listing. This section is critical because it’s a 24/7 lead generator, and any leads or clicks are unpaid. This area of the SERP also takes up significant real estate and is a huge driver of traffic on mobile.
Why is local SEO important to your business?
If your business has a physical brick-and-mortar location, or if your business services a specific geographic area, you can reap the benefits of optimizing for local search. Some of these categories include; local home service, law firms, hospitality services, restaurants, and medical practices.
- Nearly half (46% to be exact) of all searches have local intent.
- The common “near me” searches that trigger map listings have risen 900% in the past two years (source Chatmeter)
- Local searches result in a purchase 28% of the time (source hubspot)
- An offline purchase is the result of nearly 78% of local searches on mobile devices( source)
- Position one on the map pack results in 24% of all clicks (source)
How do you rank for local searches?
Google My Business
The very first and most critical step is your Google My Business listing. This is the most valuable asset a local business has, second only to your website. You will either need to claim or create your listing and then optimize.
You must make sure that your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are consistent across the web with what appears on this listing. This helps build credibility in the eyes of Google as well as the consumer. Listen to the podcast episode below to learn more about how to create a robust Google My Business profile.
Local Links and Citations
Link building has changed quite a bit, especially in the last few years. For example, you should not submit your website and business info to every directory listing site across the web.
However, there is still value to the core listing services such as Yelp, YP, BBB, etc. Having your website as well as the correct NAP information will be a huge help for your business.
While you won’t want to submit your website to every deep web listing service, you will want to work to generate local backlinks to your website. These are very valuable to Google because they are relevant to your business and local to your area. Some of these include:
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Sponsoring a local event (Look for a sponsor page on the event website)
- Supplier links (Not necessarily local but a strong backlink)
- Church websites
- Local newspapers, and forums
- Local bloggers
We have touched on the off-page factors that can boost your rankings for local searches, now let’s take a look at what you can do on your website.
You should have localized content that matches what your searchers are looking for. These pages should have target keywords to help boost up your organic presence as well. Each page should be optimized with an appropriate title, headings, images, meta, alt, etc.
The local NAP used on your website should be consistent with the GMB profile and every other listing as well.
These are some of the most critical local SEO ranking factors for your business. In many cases further and more ongoing work will be necessary due to the competitive nature of the industry.
Keyword Research, Tracking, and Implementation
Along with on-page optimization, proper keyword research, tracking, and implementation is critical.
Local keyword research must be done to see how your customers are finding your business and services. It is also important to track these keywords and how they change over time.
Below is an example from the same industry and search area as before:
We can see that the maps are pulling “emergency plumbing” keywords from the site. This is why a business would want to optimize services keywords for their local area.
The future of local SEO
Nobody ever truly knows what the next major update from Google will look like, as well as what the changes in user behavior will entail.
One-third of the population is now using voice search, which can drastically change search queries and how people make decisions.
This is why it is important that local SEO is not done with a “set it and forget it” mentality. What has ranked you above the competition in the past may not work in the future.
Get started with local SEO
As mentioned earlier, the return on investment for local SEO is astronomical. Building credibility with Google early will increase your rankings. But this will take time. Especially if the industry is highly competitive or if your business is just getting started with its online presence.
But this investment will be worth it when these keywords start to display your business as one of the top 3 map positions.
Here are some of the Local SEO services offered by Silverback Strategies:
- Technical audits
- Ongoing site maintenance & optimization
- Keyword strategy and tracking
- Content optimization
- Monthly reporting
Contact us today for a consultation with an SEO expert.