Have you ever searched Google to find a business located near you?
Maybe you were looking to get a haircut and you searched for “barber near me”, or perhaps you were on vacation in unfamiliar territory and searched for “best seafood restaurants”.
Both of these searches are perfect examples of running what’s called a local search.
Local search is all about showing the user the best businesses related to the given query within your local area.
Local search marketing is what you as a business owner can do to influence these results, and be found when users are searching for local queries related to your services.
Local search marketing, also known as Local SEO (search engine optimization), is a part of the online marketing toolbox that a local business can use in order to reach their potential customers through search.
When you run a Google search that triggers what’s called the map pack (shown below), you’ll see a listing of the three most relevant results:
As a business owner, you want to ensure that when customers within your area are searching for your services, that you’re being found in Google (and of course, preferably in the first position of the results.)
Through the process of optimizing your website with local search marketing strategy, not only can you make your listing appears in local search results, but also make it appear on the first page of Google.
There are multiple search engines that offer local listings, such as Bing and Yahoo, but Google is the dominant play so we will be focusing on them throughout the remainder of this article.
There are a few different types of businesses that are eligible to be listed in Google local search results:
There are a few exceptions to these rules.
For more on the guidelines for representing your business on Google, you’ll want to check out Google’s official page.
In order to have a local online presence, and to start your local search optimization journey, you’re going to want to first get your Google My Business account setup so you’re eligible to be found in the local business listings.
If you don’t already have an account setup and you’re not familiar with the process, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Check out this massive A-Z guide on Google My Business optimization and setup.
Local search marketing includes optimizing for multiple factors that can have a direct impact on your search rankings.
Below are the five most important ranking factors for Local SEO according to Moz:
In order for your business to rank for local searches, you’ll want to start by optimizing your current online presence.
It’s important to organize and include information about your business in order to allow this information to be found by search engines, and it’s also important to properly set up your Google My Business profile as well as your website so that you’ll be found by the right searchers.
I’m going to preface this section that I’ve built out a monster guide on optimizing for Local SEO.
If you’re looking to launch a local search marketing strategy and want a deep-dive, you’ll definitely want to go check that out.
Launching a local search campaign is like launching any type of marketing campaign – you need to first understand what are your goals, business needs from an internet marketing perspective, and what you can do to achieve those goals and meet your needs.
When it comes to local search rankings, we know what factors can influence rankings to drive pages up to the top of the results.
Let’s cover the five most important ranking factors and the biggest things you can do to see the most results:
In order to get your Google My Business listing to appear in Google Maps and potentially the top three listings (the local pack), you’re going to need to have an optimized profile.
Setting the right categories for your business, especially the primary category is crucial to success.
Google doesn’t give an outright full list on Google My Business, but we have compiled the full GMB category list that you can use to choose the best primary and secondary categories for your profile.
Additionally, linking to the right page of your website is also important.
If you have multiple locations setup, you’re going to want to link to that local landing page for the relevant location rather than your homepage.
By doing this, you can build out location specific information on that page, including your NAP, hyper-local content, driving directions, and so forth.
You’ll also want to consider the proximity in respect to your user’s search locations.
Proximity plays a large part in how you rank – essentially the proximity of the searchers location when the search was made, versus the physical location of your business.
Users on their smartphones are naturally going to be moving, and this is where proximity begins to play a role in the overall equation.
Google is attempting to give searchers the best user experience by matching them with the right businessess closest to their location.
If you’re a business in NYC and one hour outside of the city, with a lot of competition in the downtown area, it’s going to be tough to reach customers with local search.
You’re really going to have to get everything right and put up a fight to get high rankings for searchers who are located right smack-dab in downtown NYC.
In another scenario, if your business is located in LA and you also serve customers in Boston, you can choose to be a Service Area Based business. Through this method, you’ll be able to target multiple cities with one listing.
Although this is the case, it would be preferred to actually setup a physical office location in Boston in order to create a new account to drive local rankings.
As you can see, local search engine optimization can get a bit tricky, and it’s really dependent on your goals, how your business is structured, and about finding the way to being found by your local customers.
Reviews play another integral part of the local search engine optimization equation.
Not only do reviews help to increase your rankings, but reviews also help to drive both trust and conversions for your product and/or services.
You’ll notice in the image above the bolded text “SEO company”.
Reviews help to drive keyword relevancy, and make your website rank higher as well based on relevant contextual terms that reviewers naturally leave in their feedback.
BrightLocal ran a consumer survey showing that 91% of consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 take online reviews into consideration, trusting them as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.
You want to be collecting positive reviews using Google My Business, and also embedding those reviews on to your relevant landing pages.
If you have a landing page set up for one or multiple locations, display those reviews using rich snippets, and you’ll be driving more conversions and displaying stars in organic search results (huge click-through-rate booster!)
Links are still everything when it comes to SEO.
Simply put, links are the gas the energy source that allows your car to drive and reach your desired destination.
Without gas, you’re not moving.
Building links to your web pages (especially your “money pages”, or your most important pages where lead generation or sales occur) is needed for success in search rankings, whether we’re talking about organic or local SEO.
For Local SEO, building high-quality local links is a huge win.
Think about local businessess in your industry that might want to link out to your website.
Also, consider local news that might want to cover your product or service, or even the university where you studied who might want to do a quick write up.
Reach out, pitch them, and build links to your website.
NAP stands for the name, address, and phone number that you are listed on the following:
You want to ensure that these three elements are consistent and identical across all three of the above-listed areas.
If they’re not, you’ll want to go back and clean those up.
Having the correct business information is essential not only for rankings, but to allow customers to find or get in contact with your business.
Other on-page signals are also important.
You want to have your on-page SEO game tight, and ensure that you’re doing everything on important pages when it comes to ranking in Google.
You’ll also want to be adding relevant keywords to the right pages of your website, especially the page you’re linking to from your Google My Business profile.
In order to do that, you’ll want to dive deeper into local keyword research.
Building citations on social media sites such as Facebook and general citation sites such as YellowPages also are a necessity when it comes to implementing a successful campaign.
Citations are essentially business directories where you can list your business and relevant information.
It’s important to list your platform on the big name citation sources, but more importantly, you’ll want to list your business on the lesser-used local directories.
Think about your local Better Business Bereau for example.
Such citations cost normally to sign-up and list your business, but most businessess don’t want to the often times minimal fee.
That means less competition, and more value that can be had from paid citation sources.
If you Google “city name business directories”, you’ll get a ton of options for your specific location.
If you’re a small business owner, you might consider taking on the task of building out a local SEO campaign yourself.
When you’re ready to set up your local search marketing campaign, we have a ton of resources to help you learn.
That’s not to say that local marketing efforts are not a big undertaking for most business owners.
You’re taking care of all of the other day-to-day items, and Local SEO requires a lot of time, effort, and patience to be successful.
I’d definitely encourage going the do-it-yourself route if you’re ready to learn, and put the time into doing things the right way.
Otherwise, it’s worth considering local SEO marketing services from a top-rated local SEO company.
The expertise that a digital marketing agency can bring to the table when it comes to building out SEO strategies can be priceless.
I might sound a bit biased, but even I’ve worked with another marketing company on past local projects years ago, so trust when I say, it can save you a big headache.
PPC can be another great strategy to quickly reach your local customers, but in the end, an evergreen local and content marketing strategy always helps to build and grow traffic well into the future (without the continual monthly ad spend.)
I’m under the thinking that you should be working on your business, not in your business.
Feel free to reach out if you need help with your local search marketing or digital marketing strategy.
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