This guide to local SEO will teach you how Google interacts with local websites so you can begin optimising your website for local search results and expanding your business.
Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) method that increases your company’s visibility in Google’s local search results.
Local SEO can assist any firm that has a physical location or serves a geographic area. Local SEO can help your business expand if a map with three listings displays beneath a map when you conduct a Google search for keywords connected to your business and if this is known as a “map pack.”
But to comprehend local SEO, you must first understand how Google operates.
How have search engines progressed?
In the early days of the Internet, there were few websites, thus it was simple to navigate. When the Internet began to grow, however, search engines were developed to make it easier for users to locate the sites they want.
When you typed a phrase into a search engine, that phrase was matched with web pages containing the keywords in your search phrase. Google employed the same strategy as the other search engines, but it swiftly surpassed them when it became the first search engine to use links between websites as an indicator of which websites were trustworthy and authoritative.
Today, Google considers hundreds of on-site and off-site indicators to evaluate if a website is relevant enough to be displayed in search results. Your “digital footprint” is composed of factors, each of which has a different weight or value that the search engine combines to return results. Your digital footprint determines whether or not you are a top Google search result for a certain query.
So how does Google work?
Google returns a list of websites that match your search query by analysing the pattern of numerous website signals, or ranking variables, such as the relevance of your site.
The majority of people are unaware that Google does not conduct a live search of the entire internet whenever a query is entered into the search bar. Google is actually searching a cached duplicate of all the sites it has discovered. This document is known as the Google Index.
Google uses little programmes known as “spiders” to crawl the web in order to compile its index. Each spider operates in the same manner: It begins on a single page, then follows the links on that page to examine the information on the following pages, and so on.
As web content is crawled, it is saved on Google’s servers and an index is constructed. The spiders operate on a mind-boggling scale, continuously crawling trillions of pages at an astounding rate. This ensures the index is as current as possible and that new sites and links are immediately detected.
How Google ranks search engine result pages
Google ranks hundreds or thousands of websites in the blink of an eye using a variety of processes. These procedures are referred to as algorithms. When you search for something on Google, an algorithm scans the index and produces a list of web pages that match your query. These results are selected and ordered according to their relevancy, significance, and popularity as determined by incoming links.
The system considers multiple on-site and off-site parameters to identify which websites provide content relevant to your query. All relevant websites are added to the list, which is then ordered by importance. Referring once more to the different on-site and off-site parameters, the algorithm calculates which sites provide the best response to your search query, and these sites appear at the top of the search results.
Improving your SEO improves your website’s relevance, popularity, and link population. If the appropriate aspects of your site’s digital footprint are optimised, your site will rank higher in a greater number of search results.
Local SEO follows a distinct format.
What about organic results for local searches? After examining the behaviour of users throughout trillions of searches, Google determined that customers searching for specific sorts of companies require local results. Google’s local search algorithm contains a proximity component, which is a fancy way of saying that when you search for a local phrase, Google considers your location (a query with local intent). This occurs even if the searcher does not mention a city name or the phrase “near me.”
If you’re at work and want a pizza delivered for lunch, for example, Googling “pizza delivery” will return a list of nearby establishments in its local SERPS (search engine result pages).
If you conduct the same search at home, though, you will obtain entirely different results. This makes sense, given that you require pizza delivered from a local location.
Local search has existed for many years, but it was limited due to the fact that individuals exclusively used desktop computers. With the recent increase in mobile internet connectivity, however, mobile search has increased, making local SEO crucial for the success of any business selling local products or services as well as local marketers.
What is important for local SEO
What does this imply for search engine marketers? While the local map pack is featured within the usual Google organic search results, the primary Google search results for local rankings and the local map pack results are powered by independent algorithms. As a local business, you have the opportunity to simultaneously appear in the primary organic search results and the local map pack.
If you’re new to online marketing for your business, one of the greatest problems is determining what you should prioritise to maximise the effectiveness of your efforts.
Moz, a provider of marketing analytics tools, publishes its annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey, which covers the top 35 to 40 local SEO specialists worldwide. Its results provide the most comprehensive understanding of the elements that determine local search visibility.
Localised content and local link popularity are factors, just as they are in Google’s traditional search algorithm, so it’s important to build local landing pages for each of your locations – especially if you have multiple locations – where you should include not only your business name but also its details such as address and phone number as well as optimise their titles tags, meta descriptions, and adhere to SEO best practices. This should also be factored into your content marketing and link development strategies.
In addition, location-based factors such as having a business listing in Google My Business, local citations from data aggregators, and review signals – which should be published by your local customers – are also factored into your local SEO rankings, and as a result, you should also take them into account in your local SEO efforts.
It’s also important to note that there are local search-focused SEO tools that can help you develop local oriented SEO audits, including local keyword research, building citations, managing your Google My Business listings, business profile, and Google posts, and monitoring your inclusion in local packs.
As in Google’s traditional search algorithm, website content is a significant consideration, but location-based variables such as Google My Business, citations, and review signals are also incorporated.
Start harnessing SEO
Now that you have a better knowledge of SEO fundamentals and how Google ranks local search results, you can begin to focus on signals that will maximise your site’s digital footprint in the ecosystem of local-focused search. This allows your business to rank higher on the results page, which might result in more potential customers discovering it.
There are numerous elements that affect your visibility in these searches, but keep in mind that local search is constantly evolving. To stay abreast of which signals are gaining and losing prominence, you may use Moz’s annual survey to inform your strategy playbook. Once you begin to strengthen each crucial signal area, you will be able to serve more people in your location and grow more quickly.