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Local SEO: The Basics

Local SEO: The Basics

04 August 2021

Our last blog entry looked at search engine optimization (SEO) and its role in modern marketing. Today, we’re going to take a look at a specific subtype of the practice known as local SEO. As the name sort-of implies, it’s SEO that’s focused on building a website’s visibility in searches with local intent—those where the user is not only seeking a specific thing, they’re looking for it within specific geographic confines. Every business with a physical location stands to benefit from solid local SEO.

In fact, searches with local intent are incredibly commonplace; about 46% of all Google queries are location-based and, of those, nearly 88% result in users calling or visiting a brick-and-mortar location within 24 hours. Companies that appear closer to the top of the results will capture more of that converted traffic, as with organic SEO—but getting there requires a different set of strategies that address some very different concerns. Some are spurred by the ways local search results are packaged and delivered by Google and its competitors, while others have more to do with the habits of users who are looking for local goods or services.

Won’t My Business Automatically Show Up in Localized Search Results?

Many business owners/managers assume that their website will show up in relevant, localized search results based on nothing more than an address and a short description of what the business does, but that isn’t the case. Much as you must “advertise” your organization to search crawlers through the use of keywords and phrases to earn organic ranking, so too do you have to “advertise” your location and relevant services. This is partially accomplished via keywords and phrases (though they tend to take on a slightly different format for local purposes), but also through keen management of other search engine-related assets.

In terms of keywords and phrases, local SEO leans heavily on the “service in location” (SIL) formatting favored by end-users (especially those using mobile devices). These are, as the name heavily implies, searches that use either a “[good or service] in [specified location]” or “[good or service] near me” syntax. Your website needs to incorporate the most widely searched, relevant SILs in your area to rank highly in the organic results. Some of these will be obvious; an automotive repair business in Albuquerque will probably want to capture key phrases like “mechanic in Albuquerque” and “oil changes in Albuquerque”. Others are less obvious but no less important; a pizza parlor in Poughkeepsie will probably want to be seen in searches for “casual dining” and “family restaurants”.

On the other hand, there are increasingly influential “other assets” in local SEO. The most notable of these (at least at the time of this writing) is Google’s Snack Pack, the boxed area that appears at the top of search results and displays the three most relevant local matches on an inlaid Google Maps image. This appears anytime Google’s algorithms, which include proximity factors, indicate that a search has local intent or would benefit from the inclusion of local results. Those inclusions are predicated on several factors, including Google My Business listings—Alphabet Inc.’s much-copied iteration of local listings—and customer review signals.

That’s why claiming your local listings and encouraging customers interaction are both vital; they aren’t just word-of-mouth marketing tactics, they’re relevant to local SEO. More engagement also translates to a better customer experience—which generates better reviews and increased traffic, culminating a higher ranking that leads to more traffic and more engagement, so on and so forth. The feedback loop of local SEO success grows like wildfire once the initial spark takes hold.

Ultimately, your organization needs to rank highly in both types of localized search results. Research shows that organic rankings on local SERPs (search engine results pages) account for about 40% of clicks, while “pack” style results account for about 33% of clicks. Because they’re driven by separate algorithms and underlying factors, your organization can rank highly in one and not appear in the other at all, which means you won’t be getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

IDMI.Net’s Local SEO Services

For those interested in professional setup and maintenance plans, we offer ongoing services that require monthly or yearly commitments. We separate these into an Essentials Plan, which is paid yearly, and a Professional Plan that can be paid monthly or yearly (with a discount available to those who opt for the latter). Both are sound options for those who want the benefits of strong local SEO without the headaches that so often accompany DIY solutions.

Our Essentials Plan covers all the basics of local listing maintenance. You’ll get real-time profile management, ensuring that your local listing data is kept up to date across numerous search engines (including Google and Bing, of course). We also include data cleansing services so that you can have confidence that your location data is properly formatted and reviewed prior to being submitted to partner sites. You’ll never have to worry about incorrect information costing you your spot in either type of local search result.

To make sure that your website is ranked in “pack”-style listings and is easy for customers to find, we submit your address information to the most-used directory services, including Google Search, Google Maps, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, Apple Maps, Waze, TomTom, Uber, and ShowMeLocal. We also include automated duplicate deletion services so that you’ll never have to worry about old or incorrect duplicates of your listing misdirecting customers or hurting your ranking ever again.

Our Professional Plan includes everything in the Essentials, plus access to powerful tools that help your organization’s reach and good image spread even further. This includes submission to powerful data aggregators that, among other things, provide “verified” or “trusted” listings to search engines, apps, and directories. Having your company’s information confirmed through these tools can massively boost your ranking in local searches and drive traffic to your physical location and website.

Our Professional Plan also includes review monitoring that will alert you when a search engine-based review has been left for your company so that you can engage in a timely and appropriate manner. Finally, the plan includes four yearly updates/changes to your company information—which should be more than enough, even for companies that update their phone number or website frequently.

Not Sure Where to Start?

If managing local listings and social media leaves you feeling lost or unsure where to begin, you might want to enlist the services of qualified professionals. Mismanaging these assets can cause just as much headache—or perhaps more—as ignoring them entirely. IDMI.Net’s team can help you claim and manage those listing for optimal results.

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