As a local business owner, I’m sure you’ve heard of Local SEO, but you may be wondering “What is Local SEO?” and “What are the benefits of Local SEO for my business?”
To put it simply local SEO connects businesses with people nearby that are searching for the products or services that they offer.
Imagine for a second, you’re sitting at home relaxing.
Suddenly, you hear a loud noise coming from your basement.
Opening the door at the top of the stairs, you flip the light switch and holy sh*t!
It’s like Niagra Falls down there!
A pipe burst and is flooding your basement — What do you do?
Before you even realize what you’re doing, your phone is in your hands, thumbs feverishly tapping away.
You Google “Emergency Plumber Near Me.”
Instantly, Google returns a list of local plumbers.
Like the majority of searchers (75%+) you ignore the ads at the top of the results.
Just under the ads is the “Local 3 Pack” (Map Pack).
You scroll down and click on the plumber at the top of the “Local 3 Pack.”
You’re brought to their business listing that pulls data from their Google My Business.
The business listing shows their address, phone number, website, photos, services and reviews.
That plumber, or any small business that appears at the top of Google for localized searches, isn’t there by accident.
They are there because they recognize the benefits of local SEO for small businesses.
Perhaps you have a brick and mortar business, like a dental practice, and you’re curious about the benefits of Local SEO for Dentists.
Either way, by the end of this post you’ll agree; local SEO is hands-down the most effective method for promoting your business online.
Before we look at the benefits of local SEO, let’s first answer: “What Is Local SEO?“
72% of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within 5 miles of their current location. Source
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and presence online in order to increase your visibility in the local search results.
In short, local SEO makes it easier for customers that are nearby to discover your business.
No one wants to get in their car and drive an hour to buy something.
Especially, if they can find it nearby!
Local SEO makes finding the products and services offered by local businesses possible.
SEO vs. Local SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves using keywords, optimizing your website, building links, and social signals to rank a website for specific keywords that their audience is searching for.
That audience can be anywhere… location is irrelevant.
Local SEO, on the other hand, takes things a bit further by targeting customers that are nearby.
The most notable differences between conventional SEO and local SEO is the utilization of local keywords, NAP data, reviews and citations to target nearby consumers.
The primary aim of local SEO is to get your business to appear in Google Maps, Google’s “Local 3 Pack,” and the localized organic results.
The results in these areas of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are specific to the local area or are within a certain proximity from the searcher’s physical location.
In order to determine which businesses should appear in the local 3 pack, Google uses a number of ranking factors.
To keep things simple, Google’s ranking factors can be thought of as influencing one of the following broad areas.
What Are The Benefits Of Local SEO?
Now, let’s look at the Benefits of Local SEO & Why It’s Important For Your Business.
Prefer Video? You’re in luck!
The Top 10 Benefits of Local SEO
- Increased Visibility in Google Maps and Local SERPs
- More Foot Traffic, More Qualified Leads & Ultimately More Sales
- Local Search Delivers More Targeted Traffic For Relevant Search Terms
- Content & Local Backlinks Improve Relevance & Prominence
- Positive Reviews Build Trust in Your Business (Prominence)
- Local SEO Is Sustainable Long-Term & Results Compound
- Your Competitors Are NOT Optimizing For Local SEO
- Learn About Your Customers’ Intent (Using GMB Insights)
- Your Business Will Be Where Your Customers Are (On Google)
- Local SEO Is Free (Mostly)
This list of the top 10 benefits of local SEO only scratches the surface.
The benefits will vary depending on the business and location.
To start enjoying the benefits listed above, you simply need to implement local SEO for your business.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, we can help.
Check out our Local SEO Services to learn more.
Now let’s explore the benefits of local SEO a bit more closely.
1. Increase Visibility in Google Maps and Local SERPs
The primary benefit of local SEO is greater visibility in search engines, namely Google.
If you’re on the second page of search results, you’re effectively invisible.
2. More Foot Traffic, Leads, and Sales
78% of location-based mobile searches result in offline purchases!
Your customers are out there right now searching for local businesses, and they’re intent on buying.
That’s part of what makes local SEO so beneficial for local businesses.
The people that are searching for nearby businesses aren’t just searching for the sake of searching.
They know what they want, they just need to find a local business that offers it.
3. More Website Traffic
The more your business is showing up in local search results, the more people you’ll have visiting your website.
While more website traffic is pretty much always a good thing, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, visitors are just going to leave your site.
In fact, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
4. Content & Local backlinks Improve Relevance & Prominence
Creating content is a fundamental component of both SEO and local SEO.
Taking the time to create high-quality content with a local focus is a great way to connect with your target customers.
47% of consumers view 3-5 pieces of content created by a company before talking to a salesman.
Localized “Evergreen Content” is also the best way to acquire backlinks from relevant local websites.
Backlinks act like “Votes” online, and getting links from relevant local or industry-specific websites will increase your prominence and relevance signals.
5. Positive Reviews Build Trust in Your Business (Prominence)
As I’m sure you’re aware, reviews are extremely important for local businesses.
More and more consumers are turning to reviews when looking for local businesses online.
According to BrightLocal, local shoppers expect to see 4-Star reviews as a minimum and incredibly 88% now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
6. Local SEO Is Sustainable Long-Term & Results Compound
While advertising online certainly has its perks, it’s not very sustainable.
As soon as you stop spending money, your ads disappear.
Not to mention the fact that 70-80% of people ignore paid search results, choosing instead to click on the organic results.
With local SEO, your business can enjoy the benefits long-term.
7. Your Competitors Are NOT Optimizing For Local SEO
Even performing a few local SEO best practices will likely put you ahead of your competitors.
56% of local businesses haven’t claimed a Google My Business listing.
As you know, ranking on the first page of search and maps results is essential to getting clicks to your website or views of your business.
8. Learn Customers’ Intent (Using GMB Insights)
Just like with regular SEO, your local SEO strategy can be informed by analytics.
More specifically, with Google My Business “Insights.”
This feature of Google My Business allows you to see exactly how searchers are finding your business online.
What words or phrases are they searching for that led them to your business listing?
Here’s how to view insights for your business:
- Sign in to Google My Business
- Click on the “Insights” button on the left
- Scroll down to “queries used to find your business”
Knowing the keywords and phrases that people are using when they find your business will enable you to optimize your site to increase visibility further.
9. Your Business Will Be Where Your Customers Are (On Google)
Another benefit of local SEO for your business is that you’ll be where your customers are, on Google.
97% of consumers research products online before making purchases locally.
As incredible as that statistic is, it’s not surprising.
Given the ubiquity of smartphones and our reliance on them, I don’t see that number going down.
10. Local SEO Is Free (Mostly)
One of the greatest benefits of local SEO is its cost.
For the most part, local SEO if free.
It will require an investment of time to learn local SEO best practices, and time to implement local SEO for your small business.
The rest of this post will go over some local SEO strategies that you can implement for your business.
For a more in-depth guide, I recommend checking out my post on Local SEO for Small Businesses.
How Does Google Determine Local Rankings?
According to Google, Local Rankings are based primarily on 3 broad factors; Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
Google combines these factors in order to provide the best possible match for a search.
For example, Google algorithms might rank a business that’s farther away from the searchers’ location higher in local results, if it’s more likely to have what they’re looking for than a business closer by.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches the users’ search.
You can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches by adding complete and detailed information to your Google My Business Listing.
As the name implies – distance refers to how far a potential search result is from the location term used in the search.
If the user doesn’t specify their location, Google calculates the distance based on what’s known about their location at the time of the search.
This refers to how well-known a business is.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (e.g. Links, Directories, Articles).
Google also looks at the review count and score when factoring local search ranking.
As you might expect, the more positive reviews and ratings you have the more it will improve your business’s local ranking.
Your position in organic search results is also taken into account, so optimizing your site for organic search will help your local rank.
Why Is Local SEO Important For Your Business?
Local SEO offers enormous benefits to your local business, especially if you have a business with a physical location.
50% of local mobile searches are looking for business information like a local address. Source
Modern consumers are impatient.
When we want something… we want it now!
Therefore, when I grab my phone and start looking for “Pizza Near Me” or “Emergency Plumbing Services in Phoenix, AZ,” you can safely assume I’m ready to make a purchase.
Consider the following (source):
Those numbers are incredible, and the businesses that have implemented a Local SEO strategy receive the most benefits.
If you’re a local business and you don’t have your Local SEO squared away, you’re missing an incredible opportunity.
In a study conducted by Moz, when conducting a local search 44% of users clicked on a Local 3 Pack listing, while only 8% clicked on “More Places.”
The majority of the clicks landed on the #1 local listing, on the business name itself (as opposed to the website or directions).
This clearly demonstrates a preference for the top local listings.
What Influences Local SEO?
Now that you understand what Local SEO is, and the numerous Benefits of Local SEO, let’s check out what actually influences local SEO.
While Google doesn’t actually tell us what the ranking factors are, there are several great SEO companies that invest significant resources into studying search engines.
One of those companies is Moz, and in their 2019 “State of Local SEO” Industry Report, they reported proximity carries the most weight in local searches.
How close searchers are to particular businesses at the moment they search significantly impacts whether those businesses show up in Google search results.
Unfortunately, short of moving a store to a more populated area, this isn’t a factor companies can control.
Aside from proximity, what other factors influence Local SEO?
The 8 Factors Influencing Local Rank:
- Google My Business Signals – Your business’ Google My Business Listing, Proximity, Categories, Keyword in Business Title, Etc.
- Link Signals – Google looks at links coming to your site from other sites around the web. Google will look at things like the inbound anchor text, Linking Domain Authority, Linking Domain Quality, Etc.
- Review Signals (Review Quantity, Review Velocity, Review Diversity, Etc.
- On-Page Signals – Google looks at several areas of your site like the presence of ‘NAP’ (Name | Address | Phone Number), Keywords in Titles, Domain Authority, Etc.)
- Citation Signals (IYP/Aggregator NAP Consistency, Citation Volume, Etc.)
- Behavioral Signals (Click-Through Rate, Mobile Clicks to Call, Check-Ins, Etc)
- Social Signals (Google Engagement, Facebook Engagement, Twitter Engagement, Etc.)
That may seem like a lot, but it’s not too bad.
Keep in mind, you’re not optimizing your presence for every ranking factor at once.
Local SEO is an ongoing process, and maintaining consistency will lead to much greater benefits from your Local SEO efforts.
I think it’s fair to say that by now, you understand:
Now we can move on to the good stuff.
First, we’ll take a look at a few of the top Local SEO Ranking Factors in more detail.
It’s important to take the time to understand the role each factor plays in Local SEO, and how it influences Local Rankings.
Then I’ll explain exactly what you can do to get your business to appear in the Local Search Results.
How To Improve Your Local Search Rankings
1) Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is, as you might have inferred, your business’ profile on Google.
It allows you to control what people see when they do a local search for your business.
Additionally, it provides the tools to update your business profile and engage with customers.
You can access your Google My Business profile from your Phone, Tablet, or Computer, and the best part; it’s 100% Free!
Your Google My Business listing feeds information to a variety of places, such as the “Local Pack” and “Google Maps” search results.
Your listing also provides the information used in the “Knowledge Panel.”
How Google My Business Benefits Local SEO
Google My Business makes it extremely easy to create and update your business’ profile.
Keeping up-to-date information about your business, as well as quality photographs will help you stand out, and bring in new customers.
Google My Business is your opportunity to ensure that Google has accurate and up-to-date information about your business to display in local search results.
Include as much information as possible when filling out your profile, like the services you offer, contact information, a description of your business, what category your business is in, and hours of operation.
Setting up and continually updating your Google My Business profile plays a pretty significant role in Local SEO.
Keeping your Google My Business profile up-to-date and accurate gives Google the information it needs to verify the legitimacy of your business.
However, Google My Business is much more than a one time “Set it and forget it” aspect of Local SEO Marketing.
Your customers are on Google—all in one place
Google My Business not only makes it easy for customers to find you in Local Search but allows them to connect with you in a number of ways.
Customers are able to:
- Message You
- Follow Your Business
- Request A Quote
- Ask A Question
- Book Your Services
- Leave a Review
Right from your business profile.
Another great feature is the insights.
They allow you to discover how people find your business.
Additionally, you can learn how customers are interacting with your Business Profile.
The insights will even let you see how people found you and where they are coming from.
Google My Business-Features
Keep your Business Profile relevant and fresh by posting new photos and updating holiday hours.
Create GMB “Posts” To Attract New Business
Update your Google My Business listing by sharing things like “What’s New,” “Latest Offer,” “Events,” “Discounts & Special Promotions.”
Make it count every time a potential customer finds you on Search or Maps.
Develop Loyal Customers By Engaging Online
You’re able to build relationships with the people who are or will become your customers.
Open up lines of communication with your customers by responding to reviews.
See How People Find Your Business
With Google My Business, you’ll have access to ‘Insights’ (Analytics).
Accessible on your phone, tablet, or desktop; Insights allows you to learn how your customers are interacting with your business online.
2) Citations (N.A.P. + W)
What are Citations?
Local Citations are any mentions of your brand online.
Consisting of any combination of the Name, Address, Phone Number, or Website (NAP +W) anywhere on the web.
These are usually directory or business listings like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Social Media Profiles, Etc.
Consistency is essential when it comes to citations.
They make up 11% of the Local Pack-Ranking Factors.
Inaccurate citations, such as the wrong address, an old phone number, or incorrect business name, can negatively impact your Rankings in Local Search.
Only build citations for real physical locations.
Google does not accept P.O. Boxes or Virtual Offices.
If you have multiple physical locations, you can build individual citations for each of them.
But ensure the Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website URL is correct for each citation.
Why Are Citations Important For Local SEO?
According to Moz, citation signals make up around 11% of the Local Search Ranking Factors.
Consistent NAP information across the web helps to legitimize your business to Google.
Alternatively, inconsistent NAP information may be perceived as misleading by both Google and customers.
If a potential customer can’t find accurate and consistent information about your business, they’ll just move on to a competitor.
Keep in mind, Google isn’t the only place people turn when they’re searching for businesses.
Sites like Facebook, and business directories, etc.
3) Optimize Your Website For Local SEO
If you hope to climb the Local Search Rankings, your website needs to be properly optimized.
Keep in mind, optimizing your site for Local SEO needs to be done in addition to traditional SEO best practices.
Check out this blog post to learn How To Make Your Website SEO-Friendly.
Seeing as the majority of Local Searches are conducted on a mobile device, it’s essential that your website both looks and performs great on mobile.
One of the best ways to ensure your website is performing at lightning-fast speeds for users browsing on their phones is to implement Google AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Use Keywords + Location Strategically
Incorporating your target keywords and location(s) strategically throughout your website is extremely important.
The most important areas to include your keywords + location(s) are:
Title Tag (Page Title)
For example, Cre8tive Digital Media is located in Phoenix, AZ.
We provide Local SEO Services in Phoenix, AZ, as well as a number of cities throughout Arizona.
I didn’t want to offer local SEO services in a city until I was ranking in that city.
To do that, I created individual pages for each city I wanted to rank in.
The Title Tag (Page Title) for each page was structured like this: “Local SEO Services in [City] AZ” (Keyword + Location).
Create a Dedicated Contact Page
Make it easy for people to contact you.
People like to do their due diligence before doing business with a company.
Your contact page should clearly display your:
- Phone Number
Make Phone Numbers Clickable
This is primarily for mobile devices, and considering that 30% of mobile searches are location-related, it’s essential that your website is optimized for mobile devices.
A mobile-friendly and responsive website is a must-have to ensure you’re delivering a great user experience.
If someone arrives on your site using their phone, make it as easy as possible for them to contact you.
It’s incredibly annoying when you want to call a business, but you have to try to remember the number while you quickly switch apps.
Then as you start entering the number, you forget what comes next.
So you switch back to the website, and then back to your dial pad, and on and on.
Remember, 76% of local searches result in a phone call.
Make it as easy as possible, by making your phone number clickable.
Google has an article that explains and walks you through how to make a phone number clickable on your website.
Once you’re done, when a visitor clicks on your phone number, they’re prompted with a popup asking if they’d like to call the number.
Embed a Google Map on Your Website
Seeing as the entire point of Local SEO is to make it easy for people to find you, it would make sense to embed a Google Map on your site.
“86% of people look up the location of a business in Google Maps.”
Display Reviews On Your Website
Reviews act as “Social Proof” to prospective customers that your business is legit and can be trusted to deliver a quality product or service.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly effective at driving customers through your doors.
Collect and proudly display reviews on your website.
It will signal trustworthiness to prospective customers, and help boost your Local SEO.
Add Relevant Schema Markup To Your Website
‘Schema’ is a common language between search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
It essentially allows search engines to understand what your website is about.
Additionally, schema tells search engines how to display your websites’ information in search results.
For example, the schema will allow you to display things like Reviews, Testimonials, Events, etc. in the search results.
To quickly check to see if you have relevant schema mark up properly implemented, and get a list of pages that don’t have schema installed you can use one of these free tools:
If your site is running on WordPress, simply install and activate the “Local Business Schema Lite” Plugin, and fill in the fields.
Most local businesses don’t bother with schema markup.
Using it on your website puts you in a better position to improve your rankings and increase organic local search traffic
4) Link-Building For Local SEO
I mentioned above how powerful word-of-mouth references are.
Think of backlinks as digital word-of-mouth.
Backlinks obtained naturally from ‘High-Authority’ websites signal to search engines that your site is a trusted source of information.
The more backlinks you get from established, local, topically relevant, and trusted sites the better you’ll rank in the Local Search Results.
You can get links from News Sites, Industry Blogs, Local Business Associations (Chamber of Commerce), etc.
In order to build backlinks, you first need to give people a reason to link to your site (Other than the fact that you’re awesome).
Create ‘Link-Able Assets’
- Local “Best of” Guides
- Research Reports / White Papers
- “How To” Guides
- Comprehensive Guide/Resource
- Quizzes, Calculators, etc. (Interactive Content)
- Funny GIFs, Images, Videos
Link Building Strategies for Local SEO
- Join active trade-based organizations relevant to your business.
- Sign up to your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Interview prominent public figures and then pitch the story to local reporters.
- Use a citation building service like Whitespark, Bright Local, or Moz Local
- Attend local ‘Meet Ups’ to network with local bloggers and other small businesses in your area.
- Take part in community events or start one yourself
- Partner with charities, non-profits, or other community-based organizations
- Join ongoing conversations by commenting on other local business blogs.
Prior to the internet, businesses could get away with pretty much whatever they wanted.
Negative customer experiences were only known to however many people that customer had told.
Technology has turned things upside down, putting all the power into consumers’ hands.
How many times have you been searching for a business, product, or service and ended up completely turned off by bad reviews?
Honest, genuine reviews are essential to showcase the quality of your products or services.
And, positive reviews signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy.
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Make an effort to respond to reviews that people leave about your business. Whether they are positive or negative.
Responding to reviews demonstrates how much you value your customers and their feedback.
Receiving high-quality, positive reviews from your customers serves to improve your rank in Local Search.
Also, they will increase your visibility, thereby increasing the likelihood of potential customers visiting your business
Create a Link for Customers to Write Reviews
Google makes it easy for customers to leave reviews about your business.
You can create a link that you can send to your customers.
Customers can then click the link to leave a review and rate your business.
To create a link that you can send to your customers, head over to Google.
Wrapping Up The Benefits Of Local SEO
In our increasingly mobile world people rely on search engines and reviews to influence their purchasing decisions.
By taking the time to improve your Local SEO, you’ll see more leads and more organic traffic.
Start climbing the Local SERPs today:
- Set up and optimize your Google My Business Listing
- Optimize your website for local search
- Build Citations
- Build Backlinks
- Get Reviews
You also need to implement traditional SEO strategies as well as a social media marketing strategy.
The most powerful marketing strategy is an amazing business that delivers awesome experiences and makes their customers’ lives better.
Now that you understand the massive benefits of Local SEO for your Business, you’ll be able to start moving up the Local SERPs.
Want some help ranking your website for local searches?
Cre8tive Digital Media LLC can help!
As an Arizona SEO & Digital Marketing Agency, we love helping small businesses just like yours outrank their larger competitors on Google!
When you’re ready to take your Business To The Next Level; Give Us A Call!
Already ranking on Google for Local Search?
What Local SEO techniques or strategies has your business benefited from most?