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Local SEO: What, Why, And How

If you’re looking to increase foot traffic and website leads from a local audience, then understanding local search engine optimization (SEO) is a must. Without it, generating online and offline sales can be a difficult task, especially if you’re a new business. How important is local SEO? Well, 46% of all Google searches are made with local intent.

Unsurprisingly, approximately 8.5 billion Google searches are made every single day, and nearly half of those searches have local intent. If your business isn’t making an effort to use local SEO, you’re missing out on a piece of the pie, and you can bet that your competition is taking advantage of local SEO.

Okay, what is local intent? Local intent is when a user searches to find a product, service, or information in their local area. The most common way these searches are made are by the addition of “near me” or a specific geographical location, such as a city or a town. As an example, if I were to search for “organic toothpaste”, the results would either display online shops or informational articles. On the flip side, if I searched for “organic toothpaste near me” or “organic toothpaste Los Angeles”, the results would display local businesses that sell organic toothpaste.

What is Local SEO?

For just a moment, pretend you’re a consumer that’s looking for a product or service. You jump on Google, enter your search query, and get hit with literally millions of results. You’re not going to sit and go through every single page, are you? Probably not. More often than not, you’re going to stick to the first page and click on the first few links you see.

This is where the trust and credibility factor comes into play. Having your website rank first, second, or third gives users the idea that your business is one of the top dogs in the industry. Google owns over 90% of the search engine market, while the average person performs 3-4 Google searches per day. In addition to those insane statistics, over 65% of people see online search as the most trusted source of information. Need I say more?

Now that I’ve convinced you that you absolutely need local SEO; what the hell is it? It’s a marketing technique that involves optimizing your online presence to improve visibility within local search results. This improved visibility is achieved through various tasks, such as:

  • Proper optimization and management of your Google My Business (GMB) profile
  • Optimizing your website
  • Building citations and local link building
  • Off-Google reviews and reputation management (Yelp, etc)
  • Monitoring  your competition and Google’s algorithm changes

We’ll dive deeper into the details later. This type of SEO means you want to rank high in the Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and the organic search results.

Local Pack

The Local Pack pops up at the top of the search engine results page, or SERP, for a local search. Typically, this section is populated by the most relevant organic results alongside a map with location pins.

Local Pack Local SEO

Note that the results shown here are a business’ Google My Business profile, not its website. This means without a properly optimized GMB profile, it’s impossible to feature in the Local Pack results. As mentioned above, the order of the results is based on the users proximity to the businesses, the relevance of the search query, and the prominence of the GMB profile.

Being featured in Google’s Local Pack is one of the most important search goals for any local business. These three businesses enjoy the most clicks and generate the most website traffic, which leads to higher sales and profits.

Local Finder

The Local Finder is basically just an extension of the Local Pack. Here you’ll find businesses similar to the top three in the Local Pack. To get there, click the “view all” button under the top three results in the Local Pack.

Local Finder Local SEO

Organic Search Results

Organic search results are what we’re more familiar with when it comes to Google. Here you’ll find the infamous blue links that lead to websites right under the Local Pack. This is where you’ll see websites ranked based on Google’s algorithm, which considers ranking factors such as on-page optimization, backlinks, and behavioral signals.

Search Engine Results Page Local SEO

Google Maps

Like the Local Pack and the Local Finder, Google Maps implements the same data found in the GMB profile. The biggest difference here is that it displays a much larger list of results spanning over a much broader area. Just like the other two packs, listings are shown on the left with a large mage on the right. Again, having a GMB profile is required in order to be shown in these lists.

Google Maps Local SEO

The Benefits of Local SEO

The benefits of SEO and local SEO are practically endless. From reaching a wider audience, driving more conversions, and building your reputation, a properly implemented SEO strategy can help tremendously.

  • Wider Audience: Increased visibility in local SERPs will lead to more GMB profile visits, website clicks, CTA clicks, and in-person visits.
  • More Conversions: With a properly optimized GMB profile you can drive conversions through various GMB CTA’s, website sales, newsletter signups, phone calls, etc.
  • Reputation Management: With reviews being one of the most important aspects of online reputation, responding reviews shows you’re not only actively monitoring your online presence, but taking the time to respond to customers or clients. Whether the reviews are good or bad, a professional response is always beneficial.
  • Outrank Competitors: In addition to a well-optimized GMB profile, following similar practices on your website can land you a top spot on the SERPs, blowing the competition out of the water.

How To Implement A Local SEO Strategy

I won’t sugarcoat it, planning and implementing a local SEO strategy is intimidating. That said, it doesn’t have to be scary! With consistency and research, setting up a solid foundation can have your business reaping the benefits. As a little bonus, here’s a little cheat sheet checklist.

  • GMB Profile Management & Optimization
  • Reputation Management
  • Website Optimization
  • Citation & Link Building
  • Quality Content
  • Internal Linking
  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Image Optimization
  • Keyword Research
  • Site Speed
  • User Experience & User Interface Optimization
  • Technical Website SEO

Keep it clean and simple. Keep your website and GMB profile up-to-date with the correct business name, address, phone number, etc. Having NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) accuracy not only on Google, but on other local directories is key. Throw in a well-structured, lightning-fast website that offers a phenomenal UX into the mix and the outcome is invaluable.

In The End

Although a business may seem successful, there’s always room for improvement and enhancement in regards to online presence. Addressing the above issues and implementing a proper strategy helps drive organic business growth.

If you’ve gotten to this point, you’re either excited to get started, still confused, or willing to implement a strategy but are intimidated. I don’t blame you, it’s a lot to take in. The good news is that we here at MK Group are well-equipped to tackle projects like this and would be more than happy to help get you and your business to where it should be. There’s no better time than now to take advantage of local SEO and get ahead of the competition. The world is moving to a digital-first era, and the last thing you want is to get left in the dust. Give us a call at 323-380-8693 or shoot us an email at info@mkgdirect.com and let’s get started today!

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