There are millions of websites on the internet. People use them to find information, entertainment, work opportunities, social connections, and more.
Thanks to search engines, internet users can connect with the resources they’re looking for no matter where they are. However, when many consumers want to spend money, they often seek out businesses that are closer to home.
Local SEO was created specifically to help these shoppers find nearby businesses. Local search has become exceptionally popular in recent years. In fact, “close by” or “near me” searches increased by 900% in just two years.
Additionally, local searchers, especially mobile users, are high-intention customers. Of customers who searched for a local business via mobile, 88% called or visited that location within a day.
Naturally, you want to optimize your online presence for local search, but how do you make that happen? Here are four things to know about local SEO.
1. Proximity, Relevance, and Prominence
Remember these words — they’re the three most important factors in ranking businesses for local search. You’ll need to understand them to gain the full benefits of local SEO. Here’s a quick breakdown.
- Proximity: Proximity is how close a business is to the person who conducted the local search. It may be measured based on the user’s physical location (e.g., “near me” searches) or specific search keywords (e.g., searches that specify a city).
- Relevance: Search intent matters. Is the user’s search relevant to the local business?
- Prominence: Prominence means reputation and authority. Google uses website popularity, reviews, and other information to determine which sites are trustworthy. These will typically be ranked higher.
2. Start with Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business, is the foundation of your local online presence. To take advantage of it, start by claiming or creating your business profile. You’ll need one to appear in Google Maps search results or the trio of local hits at the top of the search results page.
When you create your profile, you can add information about your business, including your various products or services, hours, location, contact information, and photos. You can also respond directly to reviews and questions left by Google users.
3. Location Accuracy and Consistency Is Key
NAP stands for “name, address, and phone number,” three important pieces of information about your business that will appear in local search results. If you want local shoppers to find your business, your NAP info must be consistent wherever it’s published.
Keep track of every place your NAP information is posted. For many businesses, this will include:
- Social media profiles
- Business directories
- “Contact Us” page
- Homepage header or footer
This information should be the same in every place it appears.
4. On- and Off-Page Strategies Impact Local SEO
To optimize for local SEO, you must combine both on-page and off-page strategies.
On-Page Local SEO
Here are just a few of the steps you can take to optimize your web pages for local SEO:
- Use internal links to improve indexing
- Update header tags to include location-specific keywords
- Add local keywords to titles and meta descriptions
- Include local business schema markup code in your website
- Write blog posts for local audiences
That may sound like a lot, but it’s critical to check all the necessary boxes, as this is one area you have full control over. These changes will make your content more relevant to local users and optimize it for search.
Off-Page Local SEO
Things that happen on other websites impact how your business ranks in local searches as well. Your off-page efforts should include the following:
- Getting listed in local business directories
- Continually updating and optimizing your Google Business Profile
- Writing blogs or guest posts to earn citations and backlinks
- Earning positive reviews from local customers
Off-page SEO often requires a bit more legwork. You may have to reach out to other website owners, provide customers with incentives for leaving reviews, and perform other tasks to make your business more visible. But it will be worth it, as it will help you build a stronger local presence online.
Local SEO Requires an Ongoing Effort
The most effective local SEO strategies involve consistent, ongoing action. In addition to monitoring your Google My Business profile, you can use analytics tools to ensure you’re meeting your local SEO goals. Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, you can expect the awareness of your business to surge in your local community.