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Understanding Local SEO: A Simple but comprehensive guide for 2021

by Triune Digitals


If you’re a business owner, then you understand how important it is to have a vibrant online presence in this digital era. You may have heard about the importance of social media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But have you invested in local SEO?

Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for brick-and-mortar businesses. 

Here are our key takeaways:

Watch out for the key Local SEO ranking factors, such as NAP citations, online reviews, Google My Business, keyword research, and winning inbound links.

Investing in voice search and getting social signals is still another crucial consideration for Local SEO

Before looking for a Local SEO agency, you should always define your goals and outline your expectations.

Consider the areas of specialization, industry expertise, and reputation when scouting for the best Local SEO companies.

 

Think about it this way: whenever you want to inquire about the best coffee restaurant within 10 minutes of your area or looking for a plumbing expert to come and fix your kitchen, what do you do? 

Most likely, your response would be Google,” right?

If that’s the case, then you’re not alone! In fact, 46% of all searches on Google are local ‒ people trying to find out more about the businesses in their local area. This is where Local SEO comes in if you’re a business with a physical address and whose target audience is the locals. 

And it is not just Google. Every other search engine, such as Bing and Yahoo, always strives to provide customers with search results for local businesses before showing from other geographic locations. 

For instance, Google knows that no user would want to travel across the country to look for coffee. This is why they’ll recommend coffee joints closer to you.

The problem comes in when you wish to provide certain services, targeting a specific geographical location, but you have to face off many other competitors. Although you may have an online presence, your business may not show up among the top search engine results. 

So, how do you place your business on top of the local Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?

Short answer, through local SEO. In this definitive guide for Local SEO, you’ll learn the following:

In this definitive guide for Local SEO, you’ll learn the following:

The importance of Local SEO;

Local SEO ranking factors;

How Local SEO is done;

How Local SEO drives lead generation;

And how to choose the best Local SEO company.

But first…

What’s the difference between SEO and Local SEO?

the difference between seo and local seo

You may or may not have heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before. 

If not, SEO is the action of optimizing websites to have global visibility and rank higher on the SERPs. Doing so increases the traffic to the site and ultimately boosts the chances of conversion.

On the other hand, Local SEO is a component of the blanket term, SEO. It mainly focuses on promoting local businesses, those that serve clients from a specific location. 

To put this into perspective, all websites must undergo Search Engine Optimization for visibility. But must all business websites undergo Local SEO?

Businesses with a physical address stand to reap lots of benefits from Local Search Engine Optimization. Some of the biggest benefactors from Local SEO are: 

  • The hospitality industry – restaurants, hotels, bars, etc.
  • Local services – plumbers, electricians, fitness centers, etc.
  • Medical practices – dentists, doctors, clinics, etc.
  • Law firms

However, some businesses aren’t just cut out for Local SEO.

For instance, if you run any of the following businesses, then you may not have to get involved with Local SEO:

  • Companies that only offer services online
  • Ecommerce businesses
  • Private sellers that don’t wish to disclose their physical address.

The benefits of Local SEO

Besides increased online visibility, investing in Local SEO has other added advantages, especially for small businesses.

Here are a few statistics from Google that show how crucial Local SEO is to local businesses:

  • 50% of those that conduct a local search on their phones visit the physical store within a day.
  • 34% of those who did their search on a computer or tablet did the same.
  • 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within a day.
  • 50% of searchers on their mobile phones who conduct local searches look for things like a local business address.
  • 1 in 3 searches on a smartphone was conducted just before arriving at a store.

The main advantage that Local SEO has over other key marketing strategies is that it mainly targets users that are readily willing to purchase.

Besides that, it is quite cost-effective compared to other methods that boost online visibility.

Local SEO ranking factorslocal seo ranking factors

Now that you understand how crucial Local SEO is to business, it is now time to delve deeper and look at how exactly it works.

As a rule of thumb, to rank locally with Google and other major search engines, remember PPR. This stands for “Proximity, Prominence, and Relevance.”

Proximity – this stands for the physical distance between the user and the business or services they’re looking for. Google gives precedence to businesses that are closer to the user than those farther away.

Prominence –  this means that Google will rank a well-known business on the SERPs with proven records of good reputation. Wondering how you can achieve this? Keep reading to get all the answers you seek.

Relevance – relevance is pretty straightforward and answers the simple question, ‘does the business provide the services that match the exact search intent of the user?’ ‘Will, the user get satisfied with the results shown to them?’

These three factors drive Google’s algorithm for local search.

The next question would be: how do you develop a Local SEO strategy that meets all these three fundamental requirements?

What do you need to appear at the top of local searches?

There are a slew of things that you need to consider if you wish to optimize your business for local SEO.

Some of the most common tactics include:

  • Creating location-specific content on your website
  • Optimizing title tags
  • Optimizing website for mobile
  • Increasing site speed, and so forth.

While these, among other factors, are crucial for SEO, they are not equally valued by Google when it comes to Local SEO. This is why it is important to focus on search ranking signals that make the biggest impact.

The most important Local SEO ranking factors to consider in 2021 are:

     1. Google My Business (GMB)

Google My Business is arguably one of the most important ranking factors in Local SEO. In fact, it has been proven to be the top-ranking factor for ‘Snack Pack’ and organic results.

Google My Business (GMB) is a free-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence on Google. This includes showing up and optimizing results for search and maps.

It is a no-brainer that Google is one of the top search engines today. Setting up your GMB account allows your business to get more online visibility. Besides that, you also get to show users that your business is legitimate.

Although GMB is one of the most important factors to look at, you should also consider other listings such as Bing Places and Apple Maps.

So, how do you get started with GMB?

How to optimize Google My Business

Getting started with Google My Business is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is claim your listing on the platform and add your business details (including photos of the place, open hours, services offered, exact location, and so much more).

You can also optimize your GMB profile by getting customer reviews. Google can recognize a listing with more reviews and rank it higher than a listing without any reviews. As a business owner, it would be prudent to ask your customers to leave a review on your listing to give your profile better online visibility.

     2. NAPs citations

NAP (Name, address, and phone number) citations are another key local SEO ranking signal.

NAP citations are the places online where your phone number, business name, and address are listed. But how is this important?

Well, Google uses NAP signals to determine whether your business information is correct. Consistent data simply shows that a business is legitimate and will show among the first results of a search query.

Always ensure that your NAP citations are correct and get similar mentions from as many other reputable websites as you can.

     3. Online reviews

We’ve already mentioned getting reviews on your GMB profile, but did you know there are other platforms that you should strive to get reviews from?

Reviews on GMB have a huge impact on your rankings, and negative reviews will have a negative toll on your placement. The same applies to other third-party platforms that offer users an opportunity to jot down unsolicited honest reviews. These platforms then send signals to Google, which ranks your business based on these reviews.

      4. Keywords

Search engines use crawlers to determine what your website is all about and for what topic they should rank you.

To rank on the SERPs for a particular topic or industry, you need to incorporate the relevant keywords within your content that indicate to the crawlers what your website is all about.

Although keywords are vital for global SEO, they are also an essential ranking factor for Local SEO. However, you need to focus more on using long-tail keywords as opposed to short-tail keywords. For instance, a long-tail keyword would be something like “plumbers in Yerevan.” This will have a higher chance of ranking higher than content that only focuses on the short-tail keyword “plumbers.”

keyword research

      5. Links

Links play an important role in boosting a website’s organic ranking, making them an essential factor to consider for Local SEO.

When other sites link to yours, they drive traffic signals to search engines that the particular site trusts you.

The quality of the links received has a huge impact on your rankings, as they portray your website as trustworthy and reputable. This boosts your credibility in front of the search engines and will end up ranking your business higher than other sites.

While getting links to your site, ensure that the anchor words are directly related to your purpose. Furthermore, to boost your credibility, the links must come from authoritative websites from your niche.

For instance, if you’re a food (hospitality) service provider, you shouldn’t strive to get links from other industries like law, medical practice, repair services, etc. Instead, look for links from related setups, such as food review websites, healthy living (lifestyle) sites, and others that offer related content.

These five are the key indicators for the success of Local SEO. Failure to work on them all may result in poor Local SEO search results. Even though these remain the key Local SEO ranking factors, there are still other noteworthy factors to consider to receive optimum results in your Local SEO campaigns.

They include:

  • “Normal” SEO is still crucial

As discussed earlier, SEO is the act of optimizing a website to make it search engine-friendly. As it stands, it becomes a lot harder to achieve desired results with Local SEO if you haven’t optimized your website for SEO.

So how do you get started with this?

Pretty simple. The easiest way out is to hire SEO experts to help you out, but if doing it by yourself, here are a few key things to check on:

  • Ensure that your website is optimized for mobile
  • Optimize the meta tags and descriptions for each of your pages
  • Pay more attention to Google’s Core Web Vitals: Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. You ought to check on the load speeds on your website, how interactive it is when used, and how stable its visuals are.
  • Conducting a technical SEO audit
  • User experience

Under user experience, it would be helpful to watch out for the other ‘secondary’ Local SEO ranking factors. They include:

  • Click-through rate (CTR) – this is one of the behaviors that Google analyzes before ranking a website for a particular keyword or topic.

In layman’s terms, this is the number of people that clicked on your link in the search results compared to those that had the opportunity to do so but didn’t.

In most cases, the first three results on the SERPs usually receive a higher CTR as they are perceived to be more relatable to a user’s search inquiry. To have a higher CTR, your meta title and descriptions must be spot-on to convince people that you have the solutions to their issues.

  • Pages per session – another secondary ranking factor to watch out for is the number of pages each user visits per session. Longer retention times boost your rankings.
  • Bounce rate – the opposite of retention is bounce rates. This indicates the percentage of people that visit your website and leave the landing page, heading back to the search results almost immediately.

While this is mostly triggered by many reasons, it is seldom a positive one. It may be because they did not find the information they were looking for, or the page took too long to load, prompting them to leave.

The higher the bounce rate, the higher the likelihood that Google perceives this as a negative ranking and will ultimately demote your position on the search results.

Along with the other SEO best practices, do not forget to submit a schema markup. This is a piece of code that makes it possible for search engine algorithms to find relevant details regarding your business from your website. It is added to the HTML code of your website.

When done right, it becomes easier for search engines to rank the most important details on your website. Always ensure to add schema markup on pages that contain data that may help boost your Local SEO, such as your Contact Us page.

  • Invest in social signals

invest in social signals

Social media is yet another important way to boost online search visibility, playing a pivotal role in Local SEO.

As you optimize your business social media profiles, it would be prudent to add details such as your physical address, contact number, etc. This will aid significantly in Local search rankings.

Furthermore, search engines also rely on online mentions to rank businesses higher on the SERPs. The more social presence you have and the more you engage with your audience on social media, the higher the number of brand mentions you receive. This may simply cut out as a strategy to rank your local business higher in the SERPs.

  • Optimize for voice search

The one thing that defines a good Local SEO agency is that they stay ahead of the trends ‒ and that’s exactly what we do. Voice search is one of the growing trends that’s yet to pick up, but we can confidently predict it will shoot up in the coming years.

To remain ahead of your competition, you also need to stay ahead of the trends and optimize for voice search. You have to be ready for how people will ask questions when they speak into their devices, as opposed to how they type out their searches.

One way to fit into this new direction is by adjusting your content to fit into a more conversational tone. This is because your customers will use more long-tail keywords when performing a voice search compared with regular searches. For instance, you may want to optimize your content to accommodate the traditional question starters, such as who, when, why, etc.

How to choose the best Local SEO agency

It is no brainer that there are tons of marketing agencies that offer Local SEO services. Unfortunately, some of them will over-promise what they may not deliver, and you’re left all there wondering what to do next.

If you’re looking for the best Local SEO company, we’ve highlighted a few tips to help you find your ideal ranking partner.

But before that…

“Define your goals.”

Before you embark on your journey, searching for the best agency, it would be prudent for you to know what you wish to achieve beforehand. This may include things such as:

  • Improving search rankings
  • Obtain new leads & customers
  • Have more organic traffic
  • Increase review ratings

With that in mind, let’s now take a look at the key factors to consider when looking for a Local SEO agency:

 

    1. Agency focus

There are many digital marketing agencies that you can reach out to, but will they all help you realize your Local SEO goals?

As you embark on searching for the best agency, you need to ensure that they offer Local SEO as one of their key focus areas. After that, you’ll have two ways to move forward: either choose a specialist or a generalist.

Specialist agencies pinpoint their scope of work to particular services alone. For instance, you can go for a company whose services are almost entirely SEO-focused.

Generalist agencies offer Local SEO packages as part of their marketing services, including SEO, content marketing, digital PR, and so forth.

The ball is entirely on your court, depending on the route you wish to take. However, it would be helpful to note that you can only go to a specialist agency if you do not need other agency services.

In most cases, customers that need help with Local SEO may require additional assistance in link building, content creation, and digital PR. This is why most digital marketing agencies offer several services as part of their packages to their clients, with Local SEO being one of them.

      2. Deep industry expertise

You don’t want to work with an agency with no idea of what Local SEO is all about.

Furthermore, a good Local SEO agency that matches your requirements is the one that has previously worked on a project like yours before.

The ideal company should be positive and confident enough to give you the results you seek while being able to respond to all your queries.

However, sometimes it would be best to overlook how young a company is and focus on the individuals. You can always go through the Local SEO team info and get snippets of their expertise and decide for yourself if they are the right fit.

Do the SEO specialists in that agency have vast individual experience on the matter? Are they up to date with all the required training and skills? Are they aware of the latest Local SEO best practices?

If your answer is yes, you’re safe to give it a shot.

       3. A strong reputation

The agency that you go for should have an already established list of clients and a solid portfolio. They should be ready to provide you with references and work samples or case studies when requested.

Besides that, the best Local SEO agency should have a good reputation online, with more positive reviews. Lots of negative reviews regarding the agency is one red sign to watch out for. The failure to provide case studies or showcase their portfolio should be the other.

       4. Clear communication and managed expectations

A reputable Local SEO agency isn’t the one that promises you top rankings within a short period. They should be experienced and honest enough to know that many other competitors are trying to rank for the exact keywords ‒ and with bigger budgets.

While they should understand your goals, they should be in a position to manage your expectations.

But why’s this the case?

Well, a good SEO agency knows that targeting the search ranks isn’t the priority, but getting all the ranking factors in order, should be their first priority. They also shouldn’t be focused on vanity metrics, giving you false hopes.

The bottom line, a good Local SEO agency should be able to make reasonable projections for your campaigns while offering a good explanation behind their numbers.

      5. They practice what they preach.

You cannot preach water but drink wine. An agency that promises to show you results in your Local SEO campaigns should be ranking for a decent amount of keywords already. If they don’t rank for any keywords and do not appear anywhere in organic search, how sure are you that they will deliver their promise to you?

Over to you

Half of all internet traffic is now from mobile. Local search is growing, and this presents an opportunity for businesses to take advantage. It is now easier for brands to rank higher in the SERPs for local search results ‒ as long as they have a solid Local SEO strategy in place.

Now that you understand how Local SEO can help your business, you can now better manage your online presence.

 

If your goal is to get the best results: from getting more organic traffic, securing more leads, getting listed on local directories, ranking higher on the SERPs for specific keywords, adding the most experienced Local SEO agency in Armenia to your marketing team will not only boost your Local SEO but also offer you an edge over your competition.

Using the tips in our post will give you a great head start, but working with the SEO experts will provide you with an extra advantage at developing the best Local SEO strategy.

Feel free to contact Triune Digital to schedule a free consultation that fits your calendar, and let our experts help your business grow through Local Search Engine Optimization.

Local SEO Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of businesses can use Local SEO?

Only businesses with a physical address that targets clients from a specific location should use Local SEO.

For you to benefit from local SEO, your business must target a specific geographical location. You should also avail your contact information online and be able to serve customers face-to-face.

Will my business suffer if I do not claim my Google My Business listing?

If you’re already getting loads of business, then it may not suffer as such if you don’t claim your GMB listing. However, you only prevent yourself from getting more and better leads and clients online.

Furthermore, if you do not claim your GMB listing, someone else (including your competitors) might claim it and have total control over your profile.

Is Google the only local search engine I need to focus on when conducting Local SEO?

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. This is where much of our focus as Local SEO experts is. However, you should also focus on Yelp listings, which powers Bing and Yahoo’s local search.

How do you determine that an SEO agency is good at Local SEO?

A good Local SEO agency will explain all the processes and actions needed to realize your goals. Should you feel like they don’t want to disclose how they’d help you do that, it should act as your first red sign and leave them.

Need help with Local SEO?

Small businesses can find it overwhelming to stay on top of Local SEO while keeping up with running the company.

If that’s you, we’d love to talk to you about what Triune Digital can do to boost your Local SEO rankings.

Contact us today and let us help take that load off your back as you focus on more important things, like running your business.