How Does Local SEO Work?

Samir Sampat

Today, local SEO is an integral part of your overall search engine optimization strategy. If you’re a local business with a local presence, you need to make sure that your online presence is optimized to relay that to your audience, both in the information that you provide and by helping your business rank higher in the search results because of your local SEO work. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to understand and implement the best practices of this process, thanks to the wealth of resources out there today. 

Plus, for as many tips and guides on what to do, there are just as many cautionary tales about how you shouldn’t approach local SEO (or your other optimization efforts) to ensure that you don’t get penalized or worse, banned. 

To make sure that everyone is ready to dig into their local SEO strategy, let’s take a basic look at just what this entails, how it works, and why it’s a critical element of your online marketing and branding strategy. 

What is local SEO?

We all know the basics of search engine optimization, but how does location factor in? In the past, it was as simple as using “location+keyword” to get rankings and get noticed by potential clients and customers. That’s still a useful strategy, but there’s also a lot more to the process these days. Modern efforts in local optimization include:

  • Onsite optimization
  • Google Business Profile 
  • Other search engine business pages 
  • Business directories
  • Online review sites 
  • Forums 
  • Social media optimization 
  • Keyword research
  • Analytics and reporting (to ensure campaigns are successful)

It can be a lot to handle, but if you take the time to break it down, it becomes much easier to work with. First, know that you don’t have to do everything at once—your local SEO strategy should focus on the priorities, such as making sure that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is consistent across the board in every single place your business is listed online. That alone can make a big impact on your rankings when it comes to local SEO. 

Why do you need local optimization? A look at the numbers

  • 78% of local searches performed on a mobile device result in an in-person purchase
  • 30% of all mobile Google searches are location-based
  • 62% of consumers say they’ll disregard a business if it’s not easy to find online
  • 97% of users search online to find local businesses
  • 81.1 billion mobile local searches are performed annually, on average
  • 80% of local searches will convert 
  • 18% of those conversions will happen within a day

The numbers don’t lie. You need to get local SEO in place, and you need to get it right if you want to have a chance at keeping up with the competition. 

Tips for success with local SEO

To further help you understand how local SEO works, here are some tips and best practices for setting up your own strategy to ensure that you get the results that you desire. 

  • Check your NAP. As mentioned above, you need to make sure that your basic profile, your name, address, and phone number, is consistent in every single online listing. That includes misplaced commas, the difference between “St.” and “Street,” and even abbreviating versus spelling out the state. Choose one and stick with it. 
  • Do your keyword research. You can’t just slap a location and a keyword together and call it local SEO. There’s a lot more to this process today and part of that comes in keyword research. You should take the time to explore all the options that you have and utilize the best and most likely to succeed keywords and phrases. 
  • Use cities, states, regions, and other location markers as part of your SEO. Your customers might search for your business online in several ways, so make sure that you incorporate many options to get better potential search rankings. 
  • Authority means everything. Make sure that you’re creating and sharing content that is relevant, timely, and helpful to your audience. Otherwise, you’ll get penalized for keyword stuffing or creating poor content. Google isn’t going to offer you up as an option if they don’t buy into what you’re selling (AKA your business image). 
  • You need reviews. Get regular reviews from customers who were satisfied with their experience, as well as reviews from anyone that can vouch for your business. If you have negative reviews, respond to them and handle them accordingly to keep your rankings high. 
  • Make sure you register and complete your Google Business Profile. This is an integral part of your Google ranking for local search and for all search results, ultimately. Utilize the tags, headlines, and other components to maximize keyword and location tagging to boost your visibility, too. 
  • Conduct competitor research. See what your biggest competition is doing when it comes to local SEO and how you can go above and beyond them with your strategy to make sure that you outrank them in the search results and in brand authority overall. This research will be your golden ticket to success. 

These tips will not only help you improve your local SEO, but they give you an understanding of how it works and why you need it in the first place. Make sure that you dedicate the right resources to your local optimization to set your business up for success. 

Who’s fielding all the new local leads?

While you’re optimizing your website and your local SEO in general, do you have people in place to field the incoming leads? You need to start with a 24/7 answering service that will make sure that you never miss an opportunity and build from there. When you partner with Smith.ai, you get a team of dedicated virtual receptionists to answer calls, as well as handle appointment scheduling, lead intake, and so much more. We can even help you with your outreach campaigns and outbound sales, giving you a comprehensive solution for communications, admin, marketing, and whatever else you need. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to help your local business efforts. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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