We have already talked about SEO optimization and why it is so important for your business. The appearance of your site in the SERPs (search results) means that your business becomes visible to users around the world. This is a great opportunity if you sell your products or services solely online and the location of your customers is irrelevant to you.
However, what happens to businesses that rely mainly on their physical sites or are unable (due to the nature of their work) to sell their products and services online? Imagine your business is an auto repair shop, a hair salon, or a dentist’s office… we could go on and on, but we’re sure you get the point.
For businesses with products or services that depend directly on the customer visiting a physical location, the options are generally two:
They focus on marketing outside the digital world – sticking posters, handing out leaflets, attracting customers with “word of mouth” advertising and referrals from satisfied customers.
They focus on Local SEO and return to the online space, attracting customers near their location.
Local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization with a focus on local results, is a website and online presence optimization strategy to improve business visibility in regional search results. This includes several actions aimed at more accurately indexing and ranking business information in search engines, providing users with relevant results for their location.
Or in simpler terms – optimizing your business site to appear in search engine results when someone needs services (like yours) near your location.
Why is this important? For many consumers, choosing a product or service starts with a Google or Bing search. If your business doesn’t appear in the results for their location, they won’t reach out to you. In business circles, this can also be seen as “losing customers to the competition”. In the following lines, we’ll take a closer look at how Local SEO works, how to improve it, and why it’s important to optimize your site for local positioning.
How Local SEO works
Local SEO works like a virtual business card for your business on the internet. When users search for something on Google, two types of results can appear.
The first type is card results which are usually at the top of the page. They show the best local businesses for a specific search in your area and a map for easy finding. When choosing one of these businesses, the user will find reviews about them, opening hours, photos, menu and other useful information. To be there, you must have an up-to-date Google Business Profile with completed data and good reviews.
The second type is the top ten search engine results that appear below the cards. This is where the general optimization of your website comes into play. This includes using the right keywords, creating interesting content for your local market and having local backlinks.
In other words, when someone enters a search for something in your region, local SEO makes your business easier to find and more attractive to that user. This way, you not only appear in the search engines but also distinguish you from other businesses and are therefore more accessible and attractive to people in your region.
Factors Affecting Local SEO
According to Google, three main factors affect local ranking: relevance, distance and prominence. Relevance refers to how well a business’s website matches a user’s query. Distance means how close the business is to the user’s location or to the area they have set. Notability means how popular a business is in the eyes of Google and its users.
However, Local SEO is also based on other factors that affect the ranking of the business. Let’s look at these factors in more detail:
Geographic relevance of keywords: Using keywords related to specific geographic areas is essential. For example, if you are a restaurant in Sofia, optimizing with keywords like “restaurant Sofia” is important for attracting local customers. If you are the owner of a sports goods store in Stara Zagora, optimization can include keywords such as “sports store Stara Zagora”, “sports goods in Stara Zagora” and “sport shoes in Stara Zagora”.
Local content relevance: Search engines analyze what content the website offers for the local audience. Including information about local events, news and topics relevant to the region can improve search engine response.
Exact Location: Embedding the exact location of the business on the website, as well as using Schema markup for location data, helps search engines recognize and index the exact location of the business.
Relevant keywords: To improve your website’s relevance to local queries, you should use keywords that describe your business, products or services, as well as your location. For example, if you have a restaurant in Sofia, you can use keywords like “restaurant in Sofia”, “Sofia restaurant” or “nice restaurant in Sofia”. These keywords should appear in the titles, text and meta descriptions of your web pages.
Google Business Profile (GBP): The GBP profile plays a crucial role in Local SEO. It not only provides important information about the business, such as address, hours and phone number but also allows users to leave reviews. Updating and optimizing your GBP profile is key to a good local ranking.
Local Backlinks: The local backlinks ie. links from other local websites and directories provide additional validation of the local relevance of the business. They increase a website’s authority in local searches and help it rank higher in results.
Example: If a local Varna business blog includes a link to your website, this will be a strong local link that can increase your website’s authority in the Varna business community. Likewise, links from local web directories are also important.
Local SEO can also include other important factors. Because Google does not disclose its algorithms, there are many influencing factors derived from the expertise of experts in the field. A helpful resource on the topic is MOZ’s guide to local SEO rankings, which covers eight types of factors, which it then breaks down into further subtypes. When doing local SEO, context and a good understanding of the business being optimized are very important. This will help to properly customize the Local SEO service to the overall picture of industries and markets, and the platforms and devices used.
Benefits of Local SEO for Business
The benefits of Local SEO for businesses are numerous. This type of search engine optimization plays a key role in improving visibility in local searches by directing potential customers to your store with a product or service in a specific region.
Local SEO allows businesses to appear in search results when users use keywords related to their geographic region. This improves the chances of attracting attention from local consumers who are actively searching for products or services nearby. Additionally, Local SEO helps you connect with your target audience in a specific region. This means that you can attract users who are physically close to you and are likely to be interested in the products or services you offer.
The first page of a search engine often determines the success of a business in today’s digital landscape, and Local SEO is a key tool in achieving this. It provides access to the local market and helps businesses establish a strong local presence, which is critical to their competitiveness and growth.
Search engines provide relevant results that are specific to the user’s location. Thus, if you search for “sneakers” in Burgas and “sneakers” in Varna without entering the names of the cities in your searches, you will get radically different results.
By providing information from Google Maps, the search engine will offer you the closest options matching your location. Local SEO allows you to dominate these results, greatly increasing the likelihood that users will choose your business. No one wants to travel halfway across town if there’s a store that has what they’re looking for closer to them.
Innovations and trends in the field of Local SEO
Local search is vital for small and medium-sized businesses, as most of them rely on local customers for their revenue. According to a Google study, 46% of all searches on the search engine have local intent, and 76% of people who search for something on their mobile device visit a related business nearby within a day. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your website is visible and attractive to users near you.
Local SEO is in constant evolution, with technological innovation and changes in consumer behavior having a significant impact on how businesses are presented and displayed in search results.
With the ever more sophisticated development of the search engine algorithm, today they are increasingly successful in providing specific, relevant and optimized personalized results related to the location and preferences of the users. If until some time ago it was enough for the results to include businesses responding to the search in general, today algorithms strive to offer you those that are suitable specifically for you, taking into account your behavior on the Internet.
For example, if a user searches for “restaurant” through their mobile device, the search engine can automatically display results in a nearby location, with an emphasis on the cuisine that the user prefers based on their previous searches.
The role of mobile devices in local searches is another important trend that is increasingly important for Local SEO (and beyond). More than half of internet users use smartphones or tablets to search for information about products, services or places near them. This means that businesses must adapt their websites and marketing strategies to the needs and preferences of mobile users if they want to be competitive and attract more customers.
One of the main differences between mobile and desktop searches is that mobile is more specific and more localized. Mobile users typically search for something specific in a particular area or city, such as a restaurant, hotel, store, or landmark. They also use different features of their devices, such as GPS or voice search, to get more accurate and up-to-date results.
Therefore, businesses need to optimize their websites for mobile devices by using appropriate design, fast loading, clear navigation and contact information. They are also required to join Google Business Profile, Bing Places or Yelp where they can present their profile, address, hours of operation, ratings and customer reviews.
Mobile devices are not only changing the way consumers search for information but also the way they interact with businesses. Mobile users are more likely to act quickly and impulsively after finding something they’re interested in, making them more likely to buy from you if you’re nearby.
Another very interesting trend is visual search. Search engines recognize the content of photos, which opens up new opportunities for local searches. A basic example is a user taking a picture of a product or object and getting local results related to that image.
Your SEO strategy, including Local SEO, must constantly adapt to new technologies and changing human behavior if you want it to be effective. Businesses that keep up with the latest trends have a better chance of appearing in local searches and attracting customers near them.
Remember that SEO is not something you do once. It is a process that requires constant attention and updating. By taking care of this aspect of your digital marketing, you will not only stay competitive in local search results but also attract and retain local customers. They are the key to the success of your business and its development.
If you need professional help and a team with experience in SEO optimization, we at CreateX are here to help you.