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Local SEO: The best tips for local businesses

Local SEO (local search engine optimization) is playing an increasingly important role as a marketing measure. Independent studies confirm this by SEO agencies. The modern marketing measure for small local shops is particularly profitable. So much in advance: So that your site ranks in the local area, you should also optimize its mobile.

Table of Contents

  • What is Local SEO?
  • For which companies does local SEO make sense?
  • What are the most important ranking factors in local SEO?
  • Which on-page factors play a role in local SEO?
  • Relevance, distance, and awareness.
  • 10 tips for a better ranking in local search results
    • 1. Optimization of the NAP
    • 2. One local SEO landing page per branch
    • 3. Portals and social networks
    • 4. Google My Business
    • 5. Local Citations
    • 6. Backlinks and local links
    • 7. Apple Maps and Bing Places for Business
    • 8. Schema.org and structured data
    • 9. Reviews
    • 10. Optimize website for mobile devices
  • Conclusion
  • Common questions
    • What does local SEO mean?
    • Why is local SEO so important?
    • For whom does local SEO make sense?
    • What are the most important ranking factors in local SEO?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a vital part of general SEO. It has only been systematically implemented for a few years, as Google was initially overwhelmed with local search queries. Only through the search algorithms’ improvement and more data could search queries such as “pizzerias near me” be interpreted. Small shop owners have the opportunity to lure additional walk-in customers into the business through Local SEO. As far back as 2014, Google emphasized the relevance of local search queries in a study:

Source: Google study “Understanding consumers’ local search behavior” (May 2014)

In mobile search queries, Google now classifies local SEO as disproportionately necessary. According to a current Google study, the demands on responsive design in the B2B area have increased significantly and are based on private user experiences.

Each search engine has different indexes for websites, such as news, images, videos and local businesses. Within the respective indexes, there are different factors that influence the rank of a website. Local SEO includes all measures with which a website’s placement in the local search results can be improved.

Every website can be optimized for local search requests (queries) of potential customers or local visitors. 

Google and other search engines recognize that there is a local search intention hidden behind these terms. For example, if a user only searches for the term “pizzeria” and does not enter a suitable city, Google still understands this as a local search query. The search engine recognizes the respective location based on the user’s IP address or via their Google account and outputs corresponding local search results.

For which companies does local search engine optimization make sense?

In general, every company that operates one or more local branches or shops benefits from local SEO. A local search engine optimization of the website makes sense for

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Retail stores

To put it simply: Companies that are visited by clients should rely on local SEO.

What are the most important ranking factors in local SEO?

On the one hand, the page should rank in the generic search index and, on the other hand, in the local search results. How well a website is placed in these areas depends on various factors. The US-American SEO tool provider MOZ asked many specialists in the industry for this purpose.

  • Google My Business website of the company (My Business Signals).
  • Mentions on external websites (External Loc. Signals).
  • Signals on your own page (on-page signals).
  • Reviews of the company on the Internet (Review Signals).
  • External links or backlinks from other sites (link signals).
  • Signals via social networks and portals (social signs).
  • The use itself including mobile use (behavioral and mobile signals).
  • The personalized search in search engines (personalization).

An important factor in local SEO is the proximity to the desired location. The closer a shop is to the center of a city, the better its position in Local SEO. A disadvantage in this context is the existing local competition.

Which on-page factors play a role in local SEO?

Each branch should have its own landing page with the company name and city name in the title. The company should definitely enrich its website with local content – photos, employee pictures and local blog articles reinforce the local reference for Google. The route description is particularly relevant; it should be clearly visible.

As with classic search engine optimization, the content on the website plays a role in local SEO. It is best to have unique and well-structured content on the website that brings an advantage or added value for every visitor. With this content, the company should stand out from the local competitors and make itself interesting for the customer.

It is particularly helpful if a branch operates a blog and updates it regularly. Also, local events and reports on self-organized events are pushing the local ranking. Interested visitors can use the blog to access the company’s website and online shop directly.

Relevance, distance, and awareness

The better the company data is prepared, the better Google can assess whether a company is relevant for the local search results. This data should be up-to-date at all times (e.g., shop opening times, hotlines, or directions).

Google distinguishes whether the person searching is on-site (“Pizzeria nearby”) or intends to visit this location (“Fish and Chips in London” and the user is in Cologne). One is looking for a specific route description, and the other is more about the informative aspect of the search.

Using the usual SEO measures, the small shops can improve their position against the world-famous brands. Google gets relevant information about every company through the articles, directories and links on the Internet. The more information is found, the better it will work. With the local information or reviews from customers and positive ratings, the small shops can significantly improve their position compared to global companies.

10 tips for a better ranking in local search results

Optimization of the NAP

 Definition of NAP

The abbreviation NAP stands for

  • Surname
  • Address
  • Phone number

The full company name should be used as the name. With regard to local SEO, a combination of the company name and the service offered is recommended.

The company’s address should definitely look the same on every website and appear in the same format. The company should use the official spelling for the telephone number and adhere to the applicable standards. It goes without saying that all NAP information should be identical on all pages on the Internet. If a company uses different information on its own website, it confuses potential customers and visitors on its Facebook page. It is best to hire an employee in the company to check the platforms, networks and portals to see whether all the information is correct. Furthermore, it is advantageous if an employee actively takes care of the company’s Facebook page with regard to local SEO.

2. One local SEO landing page per branch

If it is a shop that operates several locations, a single website is not sufficient. In order to get a good position in the local search results, the company should create a separate landing page for each location. This means a local website for visitors is linked to a suitable location on site. The location should be mentioned in important elements on the landing page.

The following information belongs on a local SEO landing page:

  • Mention of the location in the metadata, important headings, in the URL and in the body text.
  • Pictures of the location. The location should appear in the alt and title tags of the images.
  • Location map, e.g., via Google Maps integration.
  • Address of the location, taking into account the NAP information.
  • Contact options such as telephone number or a contact form.
  • Description of the location.
  • Services or products offered at this location.
  • Presentation of the site team.
  • Call-to-Action.
  • Social media buttons.

A landing page for a company that offers services could look like this:

3. Portals and social networks

Social networks play a big role in terms of search engine ranking. With local SEO, companies should make sure that they are active on social networks and respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. In general, it is an advantage if the companies are active on several platforms and networks. Current and credible online reviews also play an important role in the evaluation of a website. TripAdvisor, in particular, should not be underestimated. There should be positive reviews and opinions about the companies or branches on site.

4. Google My Business

A separate account in “Google My Business” is essential for local SEO. This page includes many well-known services such as Google Street View, Google+ and Google Maps. Google draws reviews, photos or opening times from it.

Every shop that relies on local customers should definitely have its own Google My Business page. Such a page can be created without much effort. The prerequisite for this is a Google account. To confirm the address and account, Google may, in an old-fashioned way, send a card with a confirmation code in the mail.

You can also create free posts on Google My Business. For example, you can advertise current promotions, offers and events.

5. Local Citations

Entries in local directories are called local citations and play an important role in local SEO. No company should do without suitable entries in the yellow pages and all other important directories. The entries in thematically relevant, known and trustworthy directories are particularly relevant. Directories that are relevant to the company’s respective industries are particularly important.

If the directories match the respective industry, there is a thematic reference to the company’s offer. The search engine Google uses this direct reference as an important signal for the awareness of the website. Companies must ensure that the data entered are correct and match the data on the company’s official website for all entries.

Tip:

We have compiled a list of the best business directories for local SEO here.

6. Backlinks and local links

Aside from local SEO, backlinks are important influencing factors when evaluating a website. As a ranking factor with a local reference, the backlink should – who would have thought it – be locally relevant. The links can come from local bloggers and influencers or, even better, from the local news, as these are classified as particularly credible by Google.

Effective options for local links include chambers of crafts, dealers, suppliers, websites of local institutions as well as regional magazines and newspapers. The more mentions and local searches in a given time period, the stronger the link growth. You should absolutely avoid unnatural link growth via link farms, otherwise you could earn yourself a Google penalty.

7. Apple Maps and Bing Places for Business

Since many potential customers have an iPhone or iPad, the Apple Maps map service is very popular. For this reason, companies should register with the map service and enter their company and all important data. You should also register your company with Microsoft’s “Bing places for business”.

8. Schema.org and structured data

As a joint project between Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google was launched Schema.org. You can semantically structure your HTML data using the freely available code snippets. This means that you can mark your address as such on the HTML level.

These awards are only found in the website’s source code and are not visible to normal users. However, the search engine can understand your data better and faster this way. For the award of “Local Business” Google shows here a few examples.

The following data should at least be marked:

  • Type (local business type e.g., restaurant).
  • Name (name of the company according to the NAP information).
  • URL (including HTTP or HTTPS protocol).
  • Image.
  • Logo.
  • Image.
  • Address
    • address.street address
    • address.address locality
    • address.address region
    • address.postcode
    • address.address country address
  • Opening hours specification (specify opening hours in detail).

The following information should also be maintained:

  • Geo ( enter the address on https://www.latlong.net/ and accept the data)
    • geo.latitude
    • geo.longitude
  • Telephone.
  • Same as (here you can refer to the company’s social media profiles).
  • Aggregate Rating (ratings).
  • Menu (e.g., in a restaurant, the URL to the menu is expected).
  • Price Range (price range of products/services).
  • Potential Action (For example: it indicates whether you can order something or reserve a table).
    • Reserve Action
    • Order Action

In addition, there are other specifications for each industry that can be used for local SEO. As much information as possible should be marked. Google also offers markup help that can be used to create structured data easily.

The markup is easy to create using the Google Markup Help for Structured Data.

9. Reviews

Nowadays, personal and authentic reviews play an important role in the purchase decision. This is especially true for larger purchases. More and more people choose a certain holiday destination because there are correspondingly good reviews for the location on the Internet. The same goes for buying real estate, cars, and many other things. In local SEO, ratings in the form of reviews (company reviews) are particularly important.

Regarding the search engines’ position, it is not primarily important that the reviews are positive, but that a relevant number of reviews is available. If a company has only positive reviews, this is sometimes a sign that they have been manipulated. If there are also some negative or only average ratings, this definitely looks more authentic.

The testimonials from existing customers are of great importance for Local SEO and represent an important factor of trust for potential customers. Companies receive direct feedback on their products and services through reviews and improve them based on the reviews. Google needs at least six ratings in order to include them with an average number of stars in the search results.

10. Optimize the website for mobile devices

Smartphones and tablets are particularly important for local SEO. Therefore, the website should score with very fast loading times, little data consumption, and responsive web design. Responsive web design is the case when the presentation of a website adapts to the display size.

The page should also be clearly laid out for users. An additional factor in mobile web design is voice search. Your data structure is particularly important for the voice assistants, as they can immediately access the information they are looking for.

Test the display on mobile devices free of charge with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Conclusion

Every company that offers local services should rely on local SEO. The advantages are obvious. In 2017, 79% of all smartphone owners were already using their mobile phones for search queries via search engines. Good local creates a high added value compared to your competitors and increases the potential for better rankings and, thus, new customers. Since search engines take into account the user’s location in search results with Local SEO, even small companies with a low budget have the chance of a top ranking on Google & Co.

Ravi Chauhan
Ravi Chauhan
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