Have you ever heard about Local SEO or local search engine optimization?
As the name suggests, it is an area of search engine optimization primarily aimed at local businesses.
For example, how should a local grocery store appear on Google when people nearby Google “grocery store”? Or a salon owner when people type the keyword “hairdresser”?
Well, this is precisely what search engine optimization is all about. Therefore, it is essential for different types of traditional businesses that want to be found on search engines and nationwide e-commerce stores in some cases.
How does local SEO work?
Local SEO strategies differ quite a bit from “traditional search engine optimization,” which strongly focuses on optimizing the website itself. It’s one of Google’s advances to show search results that match what we want to see when we google.
Already two years ago, about 46% of all searches had local search intent ( Twitter )
But what does local intention mean?
If we think of the 18,000 people who search for “grocery store” in Google’s search field (according to Ubersuggest) – what are the search results they want to see?
Of course, the search intention varies, but probably most people may want to find the nearest store, or perhaps compare grocery stores nearby. The majority of these googling also take place via mobile phones.
Data and screenshots were taken via Ubersuggest.
Mobile phone searches, in turn, are often done to find something nearby – typical ‘near me’ pursuits.
The image below illustrates what Google sees as the most relevant search results when you type the keyword grocery store in the search field:
At the top of the query results is Google Places (map + listing), where nearby grocery stores are displayed. In the example above, it is Hemköp and ICA Maxi that top the list. This is where all local players want to be seen for relevant keywords because many clicks on these particular results.
This is a typical example of local ‘in action’ local search engine optimization.
By utilizing users’ location data (default on mobile), Google can display more relevant search results, especially in combination with Google Maps.
PS! Do keyword analysis to investigate the traffic potential with relevant keywords.
Search engines optimize your local business.
Even if you run a “physical” business, you must be found online. More and more people are researching on the web before they go out and visit the stores.
About 40% of consumers in the Nordic region have searched for a nearby store with their mobile phone (Source: Ehandeln I Norden, PostNord )
To win the competition, you must therefore be where your potential customers are, which to a large extent means platforms such as:
- Google and other search engines
- Reputation platforms
- Social Media
Below I delve into how to get started with local search engine optimization.
Create a Google My Business profile
To kick-start search engine optimization for your local business, create a Google My Business (GMB) company profile.
In practice, this means that you fill in a form where you answer some questions about your organization or company. Once you have registered with GMB, you will have to wait for about two weeks until you get a letter from Google with a verification code, which you can then verify your profile and address.
You can create a GMB profile via this link (it’s 100% free).
Free top ranking on the search engine
A few days after the company profile is completed, you will, in all probability, always be viable at the top of the search results when your organization is searched on Google. You do not even have to have a website to be visible – but it is, of course, good if you have it too.
On mobile phones, the GMB profile is also often displayed at the top of the page, above all other results, if you are searching for a specific company.
On the desktop, GMB profiles are also visible at the top of the page but to the right of the ads and / or organic results.
The question of whether you should create a GMB profile is thus quite obvious – do it!
One advantage of GMB is that you can get visibility on Google Maps.
Globally, over one billion people use Google Maps every month (Source: Google )
Considering how many people use the map to find, e.g., a café or shop nearby makes it very valuable for local businesses to be seen there.
Rank for relevant keywords locally.
Once you’ve created your local business profile, Google knows who you are, your industry, company name, and so on. This means that you probably will not only appear in the search results with your company name. You also have a chance to be seen for relevant keywords, especially when they are searched near your address, which can drive in new customers who have never heard of you before.
If you run a hair salon and a person nearby googles the keyword salon, you now have a chance to be seen in the search results via Google Places, but also on the Google Maps app that many people use.
But getting your company profiles visible for popular keywords like “salon,” with about 2,900 searches, becomes more difficult. It shows SEMrush data below.
This is because you have competitors who are also working on their online visibility, so it makes sense. The question then becomes, why should the search engine choose you over them? To make it a little more obvious, you should know that there are over 150 million registered companies on Google Maps. So you are not alone.
So how can you work on your GMB profile to enhance the potential to be seen for relevant search terms? We will look at that more now.
Five tips on how to spur your GMB rankings in business listings:
- Complete and updated information
- This includes contact information, opening hours, description of company, industry, etc.
- Include relevant keywords
- You should try to naturally include industry-related keywords that you would like to be seen in your business description.
- Publish images for credibility
- Upload and update images to the GMB profile to give a good impression of your company and attract new customers. Pictures can also increase credibility.
- Reviews (reviews)
- Encourage existing customers to rate via Google Reviews (and other review platforms). This can make you look better than your competitors, both for Google’s algorithms and potential visitors.
- Link to website
- Drive more traffic to the website by linking directly from the profile to your website.
Optimize your site for local searches
Local search engine optimization also involves optimizing your website if you have one. Now we’ve only talked about how you can use GMB company profiles to drive relevant traffic to your traditional business.
But preferably, you also want the website to have good rankings in organic search to get as much traffic as possible.
It is essential to point out that it is not always the company itself that is the most relevant search result. It could very well be a specific page on a website.
If you search for “Nike Free running shoes” on Google search, you will probably want to find info, price, and/or retailer (possibly a local store) for Nike Free running shoes. Which of the following landing pages is better suited to your search intent?
- Dealer’s website
- Retailer’s category page for Nike Free running shoes?
Option 2 is the best.
In the first scenario, the person must find and navigate to the category page on the website. This means several measures before the product is found, while the person in alternative two lands directly on the landing page.
But how can you guarantee that your category and product pages rank well for relevant searches like “Nike running shoes Halmstad”?
Unfortunately, I do not think there is a concrete answer to this, but here are 7 points I would include in the checklist to improve the website’s search performance locally:
Address easily accessible
Ensure your address is evident on the website, preferably in the footer, if you only have one physical store. In this way, it becomes clear to search engines where others can find you and your products/services. If you have several stores, it is essential that this is clearly stated on your website. For example, there may be a section on the website where you can find addresses for all your stores (eg exempelsida.se/våra-butiker).
If you are only in one city, it will be pretty natural for you to mention the town on your pages, e.g., in an “About Us” section of your site. It may also be worth mentioning the city in the SEO title and meta description where relevant. In this way, you can provide more indications that your business is linked to your business area.
2. Local landing pages
If you run a nationwide service without local offices, it may, in some cases, be worthwhile to have separate landing pages for your largest markets. A website for cleaning services can, for example, have a page for cleaning services in Stockholm and one for cleaning services in Gothenburg. But if this works, it depends a lot on the industry and keywords, so check the situation with the keywords you want to see before you start working with it. Namely, there may also be more sophisticated solutions to this
3. Link from GMB to your website
By linking from your Google My Business profile to your website, you create several signals that confirm the website’s area of activity. The GMB profile connects your business to a specific address and industry, i.e., another confirmation of where the site is relevant. Therefore, if you work in different cities, create a company profile for each site and make sure they link to your site.
Social media is an essential part of today’s marketing for many companies, even when it comes to search. As in the GMB profile, you can see your Facebook profile information about your opening hours, products/services, and address. You can also collect reviews via the platform. It is also customary for the Facebook profile to appear among organic search results on Google when searching for a company name. Due to this, it is a good idea to link to your site from your Facebook page to “link them.” If you have Instagram, Youtube, and other social media, the same applies there.
If you have the opportunity to get links from other websites that indicate that you are a local player, it may be a good idea to work for it. The best thing is to get a link from a local news site or even from a directory site with local businesses to prove your location.
You can read more about link building here if it’s new to you.
6. The basics in place
Of course, you also need to have the SEO basics in place. Here I mainly think that the website has:
- SEO-friendly structure considering URL and category structures.
- A straightforward navigation menu that makes it easy to find the most important pages.
- A design that is user-friendly and free from technical problems.
- Mobile-optimized pages are essential because many searches with local intent come via mobile phones.
These are to name a few points that may be important in local search engine optimization.