Local search is important for every business, but it’s even more important for small businesses. Here’s why.

Local SEO is the optimization for local search. It’s like a search engine standing side-by-side with Google’s main one: users get relevant results, based on their physical location.

Once they launch a query, users get references to physical places. They can complete there the operation that prompted them to google, such as buying a product or using a service.
Optimizing for local ranking means bringing more interested users to physically come to your business, as it will appear to a local and more relevant customer base.

But how can you have more customers with local SEO?

In Google’s local search, results are determined by the interaction of three factors:

  1. Relevance;
  2. Distance;
  3. Prominence.

The results appear both in the “classic” Search Engine Results Page (SERP, as in SERPfactory) and as pins on Maps, so you can go to the points of interest shown.

In addition to the type of place, store, or service, a local search query usually includes information such as city name, neighborhood, or address. By enabling device localization, Google only needs to find a transactional search intent to provide local results among the answers.

The introduction of Google Pigeon

Thanks to the ability to surf the internet on the go, Google quickly realized that users would perform searches to find places physically close to them.

Once discovered this new need, the answer was Google Pigeon. Launched first in the USA in 2014 and, subsequently, in other countries, it’s the Local Search algorithm and considers a hundred ranking factors.
Pigeon works by geolocating, for example, a store and mobile devices in the vicinity. It reduces the search radius and favors the activities closest to those who have searched for that kind of place.

Local Search returns consistent answers for the user’s customer journey, related to the physical distance between them and the places they look for.

It is a powerful ranking opportunity available to small businesses, which can easily attract new customers interested in their offer.

At the end of 2022, Google rolled out a significant update (the most important, it seems, in Local Search after years). Big G published a Tweet with a link to the same general guidance about how to improve local SEO.

The tweet described the update as “a rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results”.

What does it means?

Over time, many businesses managed to achieve good local rankings in places that were geographically distant from their actual location. This was because relevance had a greater role in local search: you could obtain a SERP where search results were not so close to your physical location.

This update gives more weight to proximity, so businesses that are closer to the searcher will see an improving of their presence in the SERP.

Along with the algorithm, Google has greatly improved the Local Pack. This is the feature that shows relevant results nearby and integrates them with Maps.

Local SEO brings SMEs on Local Pack
Example of a Google Local pack, generated from a local search

Having your business listed in the Local Pack adds a significant boost to increase customers. For this reason, its essential to optimize your online presence, to stand out when users’ search intent is local.

Optimize for Local SEO

The optimization of your website to improve local ranking is a logical consequence. Your closest competitors are perhaps already visible among the local and geolocated results. In this case, you have to engage yourself quickly in the SEO process, so as not to lose market share.

If they don’t appear yet, you can be the first to rank on the Local Pack. Go profit from this competitive advantage, and grow your business!
A Local SEO strategy has a crucial importance for small and medium enterprises that offer services to the public or receive customers where they are.
Shops, professionals, doctors’ offices, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs… They all need Local SEO strategies to climb positions, outrank their competitors, build their trust, authority and credibility.

The goal of Local SEO is to bring the potential customer to the physical location of your business. Optimizing for local search means you’ll have a much better chance of bringing potential customers to you. Local search brings people to your location, people who are already very interested in completing the purchase.

Many large companies mainly focus on online customers and/or on more generic search queries. They cannot offer tailored products, and may not be present in your area with an actual point of sale.

Other than this, remember that local marketing is mobile-oriented: mobile search has started to get better and better over the years. Users searching on mobile devices are pretty close to buy your product: they’re often looking for an answer to their needs, right in that moment. Therefore, mobile searches have a huge conversion potential for local businesses (and this means huge gains for Google).

An SEO perspective on local searches

If you want to implement an SEO local strategy, you need to focus on mobile search: that means, generally speaking, prioritizing essential queries over long tail ones. When you’re going around running errands, or are on holiday looking for a restaurant, you don’t want to use a hyper-detailed query when you need to find someting on Google… You just pick up your smartphone and ask a brief question. Think about it when optimizing for local!
You’ll have to give precise informations to your potential customers: setup your Google Business Profile with everything that might be helpful for them:

  • your business hours,
  • exact location,
  • phone number,
  • detailed descriptions,
  • some nice pictures…

Then, be sure to chose the proper Google category for your listing, it’s important!

Remember: Google asks for verification.

Your business will appear on Maps and users could request direction to come and visit, so remember to verify your business as soon as you can. You can verify by phone, text, video, email or postcard, just follow Google’s instructions and you’ll be soon ready to welcome customers.

After that, you had done one of the first steps to make your business stand out for local searches.
You can now start to optimize your website (or some of its pages) for the same purpose. To start building your Local SEO strategy yourself, find the essential best essential local keywords for you and use them in the pages of your website. Local keywords are, for example, “web design freelance in Hollywood” or “Dublin home appliances”.

Integration of queries in page titles, headings, slugs and img attributes must be seamless and organic, but including addresses, cities and business location should be easy.
Remember: write for users, Google will “like” you and reward you with an improvement in ranking.

Do you run a small or medium-sized business? A local SEO strategy can make you overtake bigger competitors on the SERP, when users look for an immediate answer to their needs. Feel free to email me a note: I’ll be happy to help!