Search engine optimization (SEO) is a priority for those with an online presence, but it's particularly important for local businesses that rely on attracting a steady flow of customers who are ready to buy.
If you fall into this category, you could have a lot to gain from a local SEO strategy, which will help you target and attract buyers in your area with a specific need for the product or service you provide.
What is local SEO?
It's a specific branch of SEO that aims to optimize your website and online content so it's more likely to appear in local search results.
Searches are identified as having a local focus when they include terms like 'near me', or when the user specifically names a location in their query, for instance: 'Plumbers in San Francisco.'
Since Google's top priority is to provide the most relevant content for its users, it responds to local searches by displaying results that clearly shows the company's physical location, as well as useful information like customer reviews, opening times, and ways for people to get in touch.
The ultimate goal for most firms focusing on local SEO is to earn a place in Google's 'local 3-pack' - a high-level listing of three local results that closely match the search query.
Here's an example:
To increase your chances of featuring in the local 3-pack, be sure to:
- Register your firm with Google My Business and other online directories like Yell and Facebook
- Keep all your details consistent across your various online profiles, to show Google that the information is accurate and up to date
- Encourage reviews, which Google will take as an indicator of your status and credibility
Taking steps to boost local SEO can have a hugely positive impact on certain types of businesses.
Why local SEO is important
Local SEO is vital for companies who derive most of their revenue from physical premises that rely on footfall and demand from the surrounding area. It can be particularly beneficial for businesses like:
- Bars and restaurants
- Shops and supermarkets
- Doctors, dentists and health services
These sorts of organizations have a lot to gain from local SEO because people who conduct online searches for products and services in their vicinity often have an immediate need they want to satisfy with a quick purchase.
Nearly nine out of ten people (88%) who conduct a local search on a mobile device go on to either call or visit a business within 24 hours.
Research on the value and importance of local SEO also shows:
- 18% of local searches on mobile lead to a purchase within a day, compared to 7% of non-local searches
- 78% of location-based mobile searches lead to an offline sale
- 97% of people learn more about local companies online than in any other channel
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information
- 'Near me' or 'close by' searches grew by more than 900% between 2016 and 2018
With so much to gain from effective local SEO, it's certainly worth having a dedicated strategy for this aspect of your marketing. A key part of devising your strategy and preparing for success is keyword research.
How to conduct local SEO keyword research
Researching keywords ensures that you're not wasting time and resources targeting terms that won't help you capture online traffic and bring in leads.
One of the first and most important steps is to study how you're already performing on particular search terms. If you're already ranking well and appearing in Google's local 3-pack for some keywords, you might want to focus your efforts on optimizing your site for other queries. Achieving a consistently high level of performance across a range of keywords will give you a big competitive advantage.
The process of identifying keywords to prioritize in your blogs, product pages, and other online content will often involve putting yourself in your customer's shoes. Think about what your target buyers most often want to achieve and how this informs their search terms.
You can also use keyword research tools to gain an idea of what people are searching for and how much competition you'll face in attempting to rank for certain queries. Tracking what your competitors are doing and the results they're seeing can provide useful guidance for your own plans.
When doing your local keyword research and devising your strategy, you'll often find that common sense prevails. If you're targeting customers in your area, be sure to include location-specific keywords that name your city, county, district, or even a specific neighborhood in your URLs, meta tags and on-page content.
You can further increase your chances of success by using keyword modifiers, such as:
These are just a few of the many steps you can take to improve your local SEO and bring in more customers who are ready to make a quick purchase.