Local SEO Fundamentals

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  • 3/19/2019
    Local SEO is the strategic process that focuses tactics and strategy around optimizing a website for local search. Local SEO strategies traditionally focus on two parts, on-site and off-site optimization.
    What is local search? 
    Local search is when users search for something in a specific place. It can be best described as Local Search = What + Where. This is known as searching with local intent. Local intent can be broken down into two categories, explicit local intent and implicit local intent. Explicit local intent generally means that users are including a geographic term in the search query. 

    Implicit local intent refers to when a search engine interprets the search query as having local intent even though a geographic term is not included in the search query.  Queries surrounding services, transportation, food, etc. are interpreted by search engines as having a local intent behind them. 

    Why is local search important?
    For businesses looking to drive customers to a brick and mortar location local search is what will get those searchers there. Looking to reach returning customers? Those searchers are likely to conduct a local search.  Trying to reach new customers? Those users will likely conduct a local search to find who/what they are looking for in their area. 
    Still not sold on the importance of local search? Here are some impressive statistics regarding how local search is important and why it is here to stay.
    • 1 in 3 searches on a mobile device was conducted right before the user was arriving to a store
    • 46% of all Google searches include a search query looking for local information
    • 50% of people who conducted a local search on a mobile device visited a physical store within a day
    What is NAP?
    NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number and is a key component for ranking in local search and Local SEO optimization. First and foremost, it is important that a business’s NAP is correct. Second, it is very important that the NAP is consistent across all listings and directories. The NAP gives users all of the information that they would be looking for and would be the first point of contact on a listing with the brand. When a business’ listings all say the same things, search engines can confidently display the business information when relevant search queries are made. If there are inconsistencies with the listings, the search engines lose trust in the listings and can lead to lower rankings. 

    The “Local Pack”
    When a local search is made there are two distinct sets of results. The first result, above the typical organic results, is known as the local pack. The local pack displays the top three listings for businesses that are most relevant to the search query made. It is key for businesses to not only rank organically for local searches but also in the local pack as the local pack receives a significant number of clicks. 

    Local Ranking Factors
    While Google does not announce to the public the exact factors that are included in their ranking algorithms, Moz released a survey detailing the most likely local search ranking factors. Here are the top 10 overall ranking factors for local search:
    1. Proximity to the searcher - This is how close the business is to where the searcher is located. If the business is within a quarter of a mile to the searcher it will outrank a business two miles away. 
    2. Inbound link quality - Sites that have high quality links are more likely to rank over sites that have links with low authority. 
    3. Physical address in the city that the searcher is in - This ranking signal is a blessing and a curse. This factor is great for a dentist located in Cleveland proper looking to rank for search terms like “cleveland dentist,” but a curse for a dentist located in Lakewood, OH that wants to capture that traffic as well because of the city’s close proximity to the city of Cleveland. 
    4. Website authority - Website authority is a ranking factor in both regular organic search as well as local search. This goes to show how important website authority is in general. 
    5. Business category - It is important that the category that is selected for the Google My Business (GMB) listing is accurate to what the business does/who they serve.
    6. Diversity of links - Search engines look highly upon sites that have a diverse backlink profile. A site that has hundreds of inbound backlinks from various sites within their industry will be seen in higher standing than a site that has thousands of links from only two or three sites. 
    7. Topical relevance - What the business does should be clear when looking at both the website and the GMB listing. The keywords that the business is looking to rank for in local search should be on both the website and the GMB listing. 
    8. Geographical relevance - Looking at both the website and the GMB listing, geographical relevance is key to ranking in local search. The location of the business should be prominent on the website and matching with the GMB listing.
    9. Mobile Friendliness - Mobile responsiveness and mobile page speeds have been officially announced by Google that they are a ranking factor for search. Considering many local searches are conducted on mobile devices it makes sense that it is a top ranking factor. 
    10. Anchor Text - Search engines look positively upon sites that have inbound links with anchor text that is varied and relevant. For local search having anchor text that is not only topically relevant but geographically relevant is important for rankings. 
    How to Optimize for Local Search
    • Google My Business and local listing optimization and management
    • Local content optimization
    • Mobile friendliness
    • Ongoing review management 
    • Local link cultivation
    • Standard backlink building
    Are you ready to start optimizing for local search? Get in touch with us today

    About the author::Lydia is an Optimization Specialist at thunder::tech. She runs client’s PPC and SEO campaigns for clients in addition to assisting with SEO set ups for website projects.  She enjoys skiing, Mexican food and binge watching tv shows on Netflix.
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