What is Local SEO and Why it’s Important for Small Businesses
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website or Google Maps Listing so that it ranks higher in local search results.
This means targeting rankings for geographic-based searches like “pizza Chicago” or “plumber near me”. Local SEO is crucial for small businesses looking to drive nearby customers to their website and physical location.
With more people using their smartphones while on the go, local SEO has become a must have for your small business website. Google says that more than 50% of mobile users conduct local searches to find information about businesses in their area and that this percentage is growing monthly. Successful local SEO plans makes it easier for these prospects to find you and helps your business stand out from the competition.
Here, we’ll walk you through all the essential aspects of local SEO, tailored especially for small business owners. Discover why optimizing for local search is an absolute game-changer and one of the most vital steps you can take to boost your business’s success. Let’s dive in and explore the world of local SEO together!
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your online presence so that your business’s website, Google My Business listing, and other profiles rank higher for searches within a geographic area. The goal is to appear prominently when potential customers search for terms like:
“Chiropractor in Chicago”
“Plumber near me”
“Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles”
Ranking high for these types of searches helps drive foot traffic, phone calls, and bookings from nearby prospects looking for your products or services. While traditional SEO focuses on ranking well nationally or globally, local SEO is all about standing out in your town, city, or region.
How Do You Perform Local SEO?
To perform effective local SEO for your small business, focus on optimizing three key areas:
- Your website
- Google My Business listing
On your website, be sure to express your business name, address, and phone number. Create location specific pages and content that includes your city and state.
Your Google My Business listing serves as your digital storefront on Google. Complete your listing with photos, business information, services, and customer reviews.
Citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number across the web. Getting citations on directory sites and review platforms helps reinforce your local relevance.
Other local SEO best practices include encouraging customer reviews, optimizing content for local keywords, and building links from location-relevant sites.
What is Local SEO vs National SEO?
- Local differs from national SEO in a few key ways:
- Geographic intent – Local focuses on ranking for searches with geographic intent like “pizza places in Miami”. National SEO targets broader, non-geo keywords like “order pizza online”.
- Local relevance – When optimizing locally, signals like having a physical address, local citations, and content about your city matter more. These don’t influence national rankings as much.
- Hyper-local targeting – Local may involve optimizing for specific neighborhoods, streets, or zip codes. National SEO is about ranking well across an entire country.
- Different search results – Google displays different types of search result “snippets” for local vs. national searches. Local packs, maps, and business information are more common locally.
- Mobile optimization – Mobile and voice searches are critical for local SEO. Optimizing for mobile users and local spoken keywords is crucial. This takes a backseat in national SEO.
So in summary – local SEO requires honing in on a specific geographic area, while national SEO takes a broader nationwide or global approach.
Is Local SEO Worth It?
Local SEO delivers an impressive return on investment for small businesses of all kinds. Consider these local SEO stats:
- 46% of all Google searches have local intent. This means consumers are looking for local businesses to patronize.
- 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within 24 hours. Local SEO helps convert this search behavior into customers.
- 97% of consumers searched online for a local business in the last year. Local lets you connect with this huge audience.
- 72% of consumers who search for local businesses on mobile call or visit the business within hours. Ranking higher locally leads to offline conversions.
Given how many people now search for nearby businesses online, especially on mobile, local SEO is undoubtedly worth the investment. It allows customers in your area to easily find your website and store location.
What is the Average Cost of Local SEO?
Most professional local SEO agencies charge between $500 to $1,500 per month based on the market size and competitiveness. On average, expect to invest around $750 to $1,000 monthly for effective ongoing optimization.
Smaller towns and less competitive industries are on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Major metro areas and highly competitive keywords usually cost more for local SEO services. One-time projects like initial optimization and setup tend to range from $1,000 to $5,000 on average.
While you can DIY basic local SEO, working with an expert like MBDEV Boston provides the best return on your investment. Specialized agencies stay on top of Google’s local algorithm and newest features. Their expertise saves you time while maximizing your local presence.
What is Local SEO Checklist?
Here is a general checklist of key local SEO tasks to boost your rankings:
- Optimize your website for local searches – Mentions your business name, city, state and keywords in text, use local URLs like cityname.businessname.com.
- Create optimized Google My Business listing – Completely fill out your profile and include photos, services, business info. Enable booking, etc if applicable.
- Build local citations and reviews – List your business on 50+ top local directories. Get customer reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp.
- Focus on local link building – Earn links from location-relevant sites like local chamber of commerce, newspapers, sponsors.
- Create local content – Blog about your city. Make landing pages targeting local keywords including neighborhood names, streets, landmarks.
- Optimize for mobile – Make sure your site is fast, mobile-friendly. Use click-to-call, location schema markup.
- Analyze and improve – Track your local rankings and traffic. Fix technical problems. Expand to more keywords and locations.
- Consistently executing on these key local SEO tasks month after month is the blueprint for dominating local search results.
How Long Does It Take for Local SEO to Work?
Most businesses begin seeing local SEO results within 3-6 months after fully optimizing their on-page elements, Google My Business profile, and building initial citations and reviews.
However, ranking #1 locally for competitive keywords can take 6-12 months of steady optimization. Hyper-competitive markets with multiple established players (like “lawyers in New York City”) generally take longer to see significant progress.
Don’t expect overnight results – effective local requires patience and consistently executing the right strategies month after month. Prioritize optimizing for less competitive long-tail keywords first before tackling harder short-tail keywords.
How Does Local SEO Increase Profit?
A successful local SEO strategy boosts visibility and direct business profitability in a few key ways:
Increased foot traffic – By ranking higher in local search results, you’ll pull in more nearby customers visiting your brick and mortar location.
More phone calls – When you rank well for “near me” keywords, it leads to more phone inquiries and bookings. Calls are a top conversion factor.
Improved brand awareness – Dominating local SERPs strengthens community awareness and trust in your brand.
Higher conversion rates – People who find you via local SEO often live nearby, making them high-intent prospects primed to buy.
Richer customer data – You can track calls, site visits, and customer behavior driven specifically by your local SEO efforts via tools like Google Analytics.
Compound growth – Once your local SEO is established, you gain a sustainable advantage that’s hard for competitors to replicate. Results compound over time.
Investing in local SEO has one of the best ROIs of any marketing channel due to its direct impact on lead generation and new customer acquisition. The payoff is well worth the time and effort.
What Three Things are Involved in Local SEO?
The three core elements involved in effective local SEO are:
1. On-page optimization – This includes optimizing keyword usage, content, and technical elements on each page of your website. Priority pages to optimize include your homepage, contact page, and service pages.
2. Off-page optimization – This focuses on building local relevance signals such as Google My Business, citations, and local backlinks. Having a strong local link profile tells Google your business is authoritative in the area.
3. User experience – Your website must offer an excellent user experience, especially for mobile visitors. Fast load times, easy navigation, and mobile responsiveness increase clicks, conversions, dwell time, and signals like time on site.
Perfecting these three foundational local SEO components is key to outranking the competition. SEO agencies excel at core elements like keyword research, content strategy, technical optimization, link building, and conversion rate optimization. Leverage their expertise to accelerate results.
Who Benefits From Local SEO?
Here are the types of businesses that benefit most from investing in local SEO:
- Brick and mortar retailers – Drive foot traffic into physical stores by ranking for “near me” searches.
- Restaurants – Attract nearby diners looking for local eateries on Google Maps and Search.
- Service businesses – Rank higher locally for searched services like “plumber Dallas” or “electrician near me”.
- Medical and dental practices – Reach patients in your metro area searching for healthcare.
- Gyms and fitness studios – Bring in neighborhood residents seeking a place to work out nearby.
- Contractors and home services – Get found locally by homeowners needing renovations, HVAC, plumbers and more.
- B2B companies – Connect with other businesses in your region needing your products and services.
- Local shops and boutiques – Increase local discovery by neighborhood regulars and new customers.
If your customers use Google to find businesses like yours in their area, you’ll benefit immensely from prominence in local SEO and Maps.
What are the Three Ranking Factors for Local SEO?
Google’s local search algorithm weighs three primary factors when determining rankings:
1. Proximity – Businesses located physically closer to the searcher are given preference. Local IPs help indicate close location.
2. Prominence – Strong online visibility via GMB, reviews, citations, links, and brand authority improves local rankings.
3. Relevance – Matching the searcher’s intent with relevant keywords, content, and locally-targeted pages boosts rankings.
Getting the closest combination of these three factors – proximity, prominence, and relevance – is key to dominating local SERPs. Continuously improve all three areas through ongoing optimization.
What’s the Most Important Factor of Local SEO?
Of Google’s main local ranking factors, prominence is the most important and influential lever.
Prominence refers to your overall local authority, visibility and “social proof” as a business. Key elements that build local prominence include:
- Positive Google My Business reviews and photos
- Strong local link profile
- High volume of quality local citations
- Strong domain authority and brand awareness
- Positive local reviews and mentions on third-party sites
- Strong local search click-through-rate (CTR)
Without sufficient prominence on Google, it’s difficult to rank against established local competitors. Focus first on building your local authority and digital footprint across the web.
What is the Most Important Local Search Ranking Factor?
- Google My Business (GMB) is the most important local search ranking factor. This free tool lets you manage how your business appears locally on Google.
- Optimizing your GMB listing improves local pack/map rankings more than any other single factor. Key optimizations include:
- Complete profile – Fully fill out your business info, description, photos, products/services, etc.
- Consistent NAP – Sync your Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) exactly with all citations.
- Positive reviews – Get more 5-star reviews. Reply to both good and bad feedback.
- Accurate categorization – Select the most relevant business categories and attributes.
- Posts – Frequently post updates, events, photos, and offers. Engage followers.
Since GMB acts as your local homepage on Google, perfecting your listing should be the cornerstone of your local SEO strategy.
Local SEO creates tremendous visibility and profit opportunities for small business owners who need to attract customers nearby. With mobile searches surging and “near me” lookups more common than ever, ranking higher locally is now a competitive necessity.
By appearing prominently on Google Maps and in the local pack, local SEO allows you to connect with high-intent prospects in your metro area. Successful optimization leads to increased foot traffic, phone calls, brand awareness, and new local customers finding your business every month.
Key optimization areas include your GMB listing, website, citations, reviews, link profile, and mobile user experience. Work with an expert local SEO specialist to execute proven rankings-driven strategies. Be patient and focus on long term results.
Don’t leave this important strategy on the table.
Contact us here at MBDEV Boston if you need any help improving visibility and growth through precision local SEO. We’re always happy to answer additional questions and point businesses in the right direction.
Here are some helpful resources from Google on local SEO best practices:
- Local SEO guide – https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091 – Google’s comprehensive local SEO help center
- Optimize your GMB listing – https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177 – Step-by-step guide for optimizing your Google My Business profile
- Measure local SEO results – https://support.google.com/business/answer/7042493 – How to track and measure your local SEO using Google Analytics
- Local ranking factors study – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/local-seo-mobile-ranking-factors/ – Google research on top local SEO ranking factors
- Local SEO videos – https://www.youtube.com/c/GoogleMyBusiness/search?query=local%20SEO – YouTube video tutorials on local SEO from Google
- Google Maps SEO guide – https://support.google.com/business/answer/7042830 – Optimizing your business listing on Google Maps
- Local Opportunity Finder – https://www.google.com/business/local-opportunities – Google’s tool to find local SEO keywords
- Think Local Seminar – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/localize-mobile-strategy-seminar/ – Recorded webinar going in-depth on local SEO strategies
Reviewing these free resources directly from Google is a great way to further educate yourself on proven local search optimization best practices. Let me know if you need any other recommendations!