Before we get into the benefits of local SEO, let’s first define it. Local SEO is short for local search engine optimization. Local SEO explained in layman’s terms, is a form of SEO that includes location-based keywords and phrases. For example, you could include keywords related to the city, neighborhood, or metro area in which your business is based in your content. You’ll get extra points with customers if the location references are in the website description or paragraph headings. Search engines prefer businesses to use a variety of location references beyond your business’ address.
Local search engine optimization has a number of advantages. We’re going to share the greatest benefits of local SEO here.
You can’t win the competition for high-value keywords like “insurance” or “pest control”. Search engine ads for these search terms are too expensive for small businesses, and you’ll lose to higher authority domains when you write content on these subjects. However, you can win the competition for local search terms like “pest control in X city” or “insurance provider 1234567 zip code”. This means you can rank well for local search terms, even if you wouldn’t show up in the first 100 search results for a broader search term. If your business isn’t showing up on the first page of Google, you’re invisible to your customers.
The importance of local SEO cannot be underestimated when you have a limited service area. For example, your restaurant is paying for ads seen by people all over the world that will never walk through the door. If you have a limited service area such as only providing a service for several towns or counties, you don’t want people outside of that service area seeing the website. This also leads to disappointment when these visitors try to schedule an appointment. This is why local SEO will generate more qualified prospects, people in your area who are looking for your products or service.
Instead of paying for expensive online ads, hoping you’ve properly narrowed down the results to a given area, you can lace your content with location-based references. This can be location-based search terms combined with target keyword phrases. For example, you can reference “X service in ABC area” as well as “X service” and “ABC area”. Adding a few terms like this to your website takes relatively little time or effort. You could even start by spelling out the neighborhoods and towns you serve on the footer of your website while you determine which location-based search terms should be integrated into your webpage.
You can also provide information that is valuable to your clients while integrating local SEO. For example, you can include driving directions on the “About Us” page. Location references like cross-streets and major landmarks ensure that your website comes up when someone is searching for a business like yours near them. You can provide useful information about public transit routes people can take to reach your store or tell them where the nearest free parking is located. This information doesn’t dilute the SEO of your website. Furthermore, it will capture location-based queries that weren’t explicitly searching for your business but may visit it in the future. Now you’re building brand awareness without getting in prospect’s faces.
Optimizing to reap the benefits of local SEO dovetails into other forms of digital marketing. For example, search engines use the information in online business directories to determine where your business is located. Your business must have an accurate and consistent name, address, phone number (NAP), and business category information on the online equivalent of the phone book. This will help customers find you when they search on these sites. That information needs to be consistent across business directories because search engines use that information to determine your location when someone is searching for your business on a map.
Furthermore, the information in business directories determines the location of businesses when someone does a location-based search. The classic example is “pizza restaurants near me”. The search engine looks for businesses in that category near the person’s reported location. It presents the top few matches on the map. If your business is listed as an Italian restaurant, it won’t show up in a pizza-themed search. However, conflicting location information will confuse search engine algorithms and result in a weaker match. That means your business shows up lower in the search results. Correctly utilizing local SEO is important, especially if most of your customers are doing web searches to find a business like yours.
How do you fix this? By having a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP) information in the top 20 business directories for your business. In addition, ensure the NAP matches the NAP on your company’s website. The format must be exactly the same. This is because search engines consider 123 Main Street and 123 Main St. to be different. Also, don’t reference your location as “second floor” and “upper story” in the NAP entries. You will need to use the same spelling everywhere and every time you reference it in online discussions. If you want to add the second location reference, tie it to other location references. For example, list it as “upper story of the Johnson shopping complex”.
What should you do if you have multiple locations? You need to create a separate online presence for each. Give them their own subdomain on your website with a location reference in the title such as “ABC Store – Neighborhood A” and “ABC Store – Downtown Flagship”. Each location gets its own reference in business directories. Then your customers see 2 or more stores in the area when they search for your business by name. Furthermore, your results in location-based searches aren’t diluted by AI confusion when determining your actual location.
There are other ways to boost your location-based SEO without altering your NAP entries on business directories or your website. For example, you can share references to your business in the local newspaper on your social media profile. This improves the domain authority search engines assign to your site. Receiving newspaper mentions for everything from donations to hiring events will increase the overall profile of your business, as well.
Capitalizing on the benefits of local SEO should be the default choice of small businesses that serve a local area. It’s the only way to ensure your reaching your target audience, and it’ll certainly fit your budget. Most importantly it will also enhance your overall marketing strategy across all channels.
Have additional questions after reading this blog post? Our team would be more than happy to give more insight into local SEO. Contact us here.