Local SEO for Beginners: Getting Started

One of the first questions many businesses ask about local SEO is: do I really need it?

And I understand. You are busy – your time, budget and energy are precious resources.

Do you really need anything else to follow?

If you want to drive in-store traffic, online or phone orders, appointment bookings, clinic visits or other business from local consumers, the answer is definitely YES!

Who benefits from local SEO and why?

All types of businesses that interact with and serve customers in a specific region can benefit from local SEO.

This includes retail stores, service companies, restaurants and hotels, hospitals, banks, construction companies, etc.

Here are some examples.

Lawyers and law firms

One of the biggest benefits of local SEO for these customers is that Google displays a call button directly in local search results on mobile phones.

So when a potential customer pulls out their phone and searches for [(type of) attorney]they will see targeted results for their particular location.

When done right, local SEO will push the lawyer to the top of search results for that location, and the dominating call to action will be the “call us” button.

The reason this is such a huge benefit is that anyone who has been in an accident or has any other problem will be on the phone trying to find lawyers who offer free consultations.

This one avenue provides a way to get in front of these consumers exactly when they need a lawyer.

Doctors and medical practices

When a person searches for a health care professional, they are often looking for a [doctor nearby] or one [doctor near me].

Most people don’t want to commute or travel several hours to see a doctor. They want a doctor nearby who can see them regularly.

If you refer to the screenshot below, using the search [doctors near me]there are several benefits to this great local pack result.

Screenshot of the search for [doctors near me]Google, August 2018

This local result provides the doctor’s name in advance, as well as an instant “route link” that displays a map app on the user’s phone.

When it comes to doctors, people are more comfortable calling to make appointments, and they’re probably looking for an easy way to look up directions to doctors’ offices.

plumbers

When someone has a plumbing emergency, do they go straight to a store?

No, they usually go to Google to search [plumber near me].

Google search results allow someone to call a plumber directly, read reviews, and get immediate access to local plumbers in an emergency.

Who will not benefit from local SEO?

While we would love to see everyone benefit from local SEO and sell these services to more clients as SEO professionals, the reality is that some businesses just don’t lend themselves well to local SEO efforts.

Businesses like online-only e-commerce stores, businesses that don’t want to share their local information, and private online sellers that want to keep their information private are probably not good candidates for local SEO services.

Local Search Still Needs Organic SEO

Local search rankings appear as the map pack on Google, but your site’s organic ranking is also an important factor. This helps Google understand your overall brand awareness, which is one of the three main categories of local ranking signals.

SEO tricks and tactics are long gone and search has evolved exponentially.

Nowadays, user experience signals, EAT, high quality content, high quality links and much better UX dominate the game.

But make no mistake: there are still locally enhanced SEO factors you need to master, including:

  • Find the right keywords and topics to target with your campaign.
  • Make sure your technical SEO is top notch.
  • Ensure the highest quality content possible.
  • Earn links to make your website stand out enough in the eyes of Google.
  • Double-checking and enforcing your NAP information (name, address, phone number) is accurate on many linking sites.
  • Optimization for local ranking signals.

With a local focus, many of your standard organic SEO methods may change slightly from the more traditional methods used for ranking.

Local search can also be voice search

Now that people have more access to devices like smartphones, Amazon Echo, and Google Home, voice search has become a preferred way for many to find local information.

Saying “find a doctor near me” or “find a plumber near me” is easier for most people than typing.

So, it’s no surprise to see an increase in local queries based on conversational voice search.

If your industry is service-oriented, try keyword variations that include questions.

Semrush’s Topic Finder, Keyword.io, and AnswerThePublic all provide ways to see the questions people are searching for, as well as their search volume.

It’s a great way to target keywords that have local intent.

If your industry is a local service-related business, like a restaurant, a lawyer, or an attorney, try keyword variations with a conversational tone and focus.

You might be surprised at how much search volume you can get when doing keyword research this way.

Local search is mobile search

We know that a significant portion of local searches happen on local devices and that mobile-friendliness is a Google ranking factor.

What do these facts and the mobile-first index mean for your local SEO strategy?

Google has done the job of optimizing Map Pack listings for mobile searchers. But it’s up to you to create that user-friendly and convenient experience on your website – and make sure Google understands it through good technical SEO.

Roger Montti of Search Engine Journal shares insight into what this entails in “7 Ways a Mobile-First Index Impacts SEO,” part of SEJ’s free Advanced Technical SEO Guide.

Local SEO needs a dedicated strategy

But that doesn’t mean it has to take much longer.

In the next chapter, you’ll find a nine-step checklist to guide your new or improved local SEO strategy.

Then we’ll dive deeper into the various aspects of it, and you’ll find expert advice and tools to bring it all together.

Download the full guide for free here.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Local SEO for Beginners: Getting Started

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