Defining Local SEO: What is it and why do you need it?
Think about a time when you needed a local solution to some sort of problem. Maybe you had to book a doctor’s appointment or wanted to find a new restaurant or were looking for dog toys for your newly purchased pup.
What do you do in that situation?
If you’re like most people, you probably type something into Google, scroll through the top results, and make a selection. Where it gets strange is when you search for that same thing in a different city. You’ll find different, localized results.
Listings change based on where the user is. Google rarely provides national options to local needs. When you search for eCommerce goods or B2B solutions, you might get some out-of-town results, but for brick-and-mortar, service-based businesses, you’ll typically find local solutions.
The trick is having your business amongst the first to appear when people search for problems you can solve. Ranking near the top doesn’t happen randomly. It requires a strong local SEO strategy.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps local businesses rank on google. It’s perfect for those companies that want to attract local customers: restaurants, medical professionals, creative services, and other small businesses.
Local SEO differs from generic SEO strategies because it focuses on ranking within a certain area. Google’s search algorithms work in such a way that they know whether or not someone is looking for a local solution or something more global. People don’t usually search for things like medical appointments or food options anywhere but locally, so Google doesn’t bother displaying any results outside of the searcher’s general area.
That’s good news for local businesses because it narrows the competition. Your business doesn’t have to outrank similar companies miles away to be found online. It just has to outrank local competitors, and there’s good news there, too.
Many local businesses put little to no focus on local SEO, so by getting started now, you’re setting yourself apart already.
Setting Your Business Apart: Getting in the Three Pack
The biggest goal for a local SEO strategy is to make it easier for customers to find you, and it’s easiest to do this by getting into the “Three Pack.”
The Three Pack is what digital marketers call the three top-ranking results when someone searches for a local need. For these businesses, Google displays things like location information, ratings, and a few brief details about the company near the top of the page so users don’t have to scroll far to get top results.
Getting into the Three Pack means that your business shows up as one of these first three, reducing the choices potential customers see before your business.
3 Key Starting Points for Your Local SEO Strategy
Every competitor with a digital presence vies for the elusive Three Pack, but getting there won’t happen overnight. It takes a thoughtful strategy where you instill trust from Google over time.
Google stays successful because they are pros at recommending trusted results to their users quickly. It’s essentially a super-powerful, algorithm-based referral network, and the best way to get Google to recommend your business is to prove your trustworthiness. Doing this comprehensively involves producing regular content, creating backlinks, having a secure website, knowing what keywords your audience searches for, and so much more.
But even if you can’t dedicate the resources to manage all these channels, you can make drastic improvements to your local SEO strategy with three simple steps:
- Optimize for Google My Business
- Utilize Google Post
- Track Everything
Optimize for Google My Business
Businesses can gain some of Google’s trust by creating a Google My Business profile. This is such a crucial step that getting into the Three Pack is next to impossible without it.
Google My Business makes it possible for you to list and showcase your local business directly on Google. It includes registering with Google Maps, enabling people to find you in search results, and posting information like hours, addresses, and phone numbers.
Most of our clients are shocked to hear that their GMB account receives more traffic than their website. So much of the necessary information is listed right on the search page that an additional click onto the business’s website can feel redundant for some customers.
You can optimize your Google My Business account by providing google with high-quality information about your company. The more quality information you're willing to give, the more Google will trust your business and push people towards it.
Businesses that don’t list their address, for example, could get dinged in their search ranking. The same is true for businesses without a good website. Low quality or infrequently updated websites can negatively affect your results almost as much as not having one at all.
Utilize Google Post
Local businesses can quickly step in front of their competition by posting content directly on their Google My Business page. These posts show up under “Updates” when someone finds your business on Google, and the act of frequent posting shows Google that you’re a trustworthy business.
Your posts might include things like special promotions, package deals, brief testimonials, or other quick pieces of content. The posts don’t need to be long, and you can even reuse or borrow content posted on your other social channels. The key is to produce frequent, high-quality, and informational posts. Content like that shows Google you take your business seriously, which in turn helps build trust with the search engine.
The same thing can be said for responding to Google reviews. Not only does that extra step go far for the customers, it indicates to Google that you’re keeping up with your profile and engaging with people on their platform.
You never know how well something works unless you have clear measurables, and local SEO is no exception.
Many of the metrics used for local SEO will look similar to metrics used for a generic SEO strategy. Businesses will continue monitoring things like organic traffic to their websites and social platforms (including the Google My Business page), keyword ranking, and engagement.
Local SEO doesn’t stop with these common metrics, though. To measure the specific effectiveness of your strategy, you’ll also want to look a little deeper. With the right tools in place, you can gain insights from places like...
- Geo-segmented searches
- Geo-targeted keywords
- Call tracking
Each of these datasets gives you a look into the search habits of people in your area and can help you make more informed decisions when developing your local SEO strategy. You’ll be able to easily identify what works and what doesn’t, so you can focus your time, energy, and resources on moves that enable success.
Discover the Advantages of Local SEO
The effort it takes to utilize local SEO and get into the Three Pack can feel daunting, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering how it can help your business draw in more customers.
We at Think Donson love providing local businesses with the tools they need to discover the advantages digital marketing has to offer. We have a complete, done-for-you local SEO management package that includes everything from initial setup to ongoing maintenance. We take care of it all.
For businesses that are looking for a more hands-on option, we put together a fully customizable reporting dashboard that integrates with various marketing channels so you can access all your data in one place. Users can build and schedule automated reports that provide insights into their strategy’s effectiveness. From there, they can create action items to improve results and reduce issues.
Local customers have needs and look to Google for help. Developing a local SEO strategy can put your business amongst the first solutions they encounter. To learn more about how our reporting dashboard or complete local SEO package can help you discover the advantage of local SEO, book a call with us today.