What is Local SEO?

     

Published: November 2, 2015

For many small businesses, being found by local residents or other nearby businesses is essential to their success. If you think about businesses such as heating and cooling companies, or small bakeries, the search terms they are ranking for probably include a city, zip code, or the word “nearby.”

Google does a good job of figuring out where you are and when to include you in a list of local lineups, especially when the competition is not so hot. However, when you have a lot of local competition, you will want to know how to optimize your website and your business listings for local searchers.

Local SEO Best Practices

Along with the standard SEO practices, getting noticed locally will require a few additional steps and pointers. First, make sure your company is not using a toll-free number on your website, or a phone number for an area away from your business. Google will use the area code to help decipher who is near and who is not.

You also want to be sure that you are using a real address throughout your website and other listings instead of a P.O. Box or other virtual address. Make sure you are optimizing your website and content around local keywords as well as those that make sense for your industry. Think about how people will search for you and how they talk about your area to make sure you get the language right.

Of course, stuffing location information unnaturally or overdoing it will have the reverse effect. Google does not like attempts to be gamed so give them the information that they need, and that’s it.

The Google Carousel

Depending on the search terms, Google will return two types of local results. The first is a visually optimized row of local results known as the Google Carousel. Users can scroll horizontally through these pictures to see their results

To optimize your business so it appears on the Carousel, make sure you have a Google+ profile for your company and that it is filled out completely. You will also want to add several high-quality photos to your Google+ page as that is where Carousel photos are drawn from. Getting a few good reviews on your Google+ page, as well as on review sites like Yelp will help you show up closer to the beginning of the list.

The Local Search Pack

For some local search terms, Google returns what is called the Local Pack, or sometimes the “Snack Pack,” or a rich list of the top three businesses that match the search. (The Snack Pack got its name because the list used to contain 7 listings—the Local Pack—for desktop users and only 3 listings—or a snack pack—for mobile users. However, Google has gone to a 3-listing result for all users now.)

Getting on this list means making sure that all your website SEO ducks are in a row, and that your website clearly contains a local address and phone number. You will still need plenty of backlinks to your page as well. You should aso be sure to have a separate page for each of your products and services that describes them in detail and make sure to apply for listings in all your local directories.

Social Matters

Keeping active social media streams, especially on Facebook, is a big part of Local SEO as Google uses likes, shares, check-ins, and reviews as social proof that your business is good enough to make it to the top. Make sure you are giving your guests plenty of opportunities to prove that they love you!

For more on Search Engine Optimization, check out these articles:
SEO: The Very Basics for Beginners
Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices Part 1
Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices Part 2
What is Link Building and Why Do I Need It

Categories: Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization
Tags: SEO, Search Engine Optimization
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