More and more people each day are using search engines to find goods and services that are local to them. People are buying locally. Local SEO improves your website’s visibility and ranking in search engines for when people search in your locality or a locality you serve.
Nearly half of all searches are for local goods and services, so Google and other search engines do their best to match local business or suppliers with people searching locally.
We usually see local results when we search in Google or Bing, often when we are not even searching for a local service since search engines always prefer to match local businesses with people searching.
What is the Google Map Pack?
Usually, when you search “near me” or with a location, Google will display the Map Pack. This is the familiar section at the top of the search results with a map and 3 businesses underneath.
This information is taken from Google Maps and Google use your actual location (for “near me” type searches) or the location you enter as the centre of the search on the map.
Being one of the 3 results shown at the top of the page will secure you a good proportion of the clicks from the search. Estimates are that around one-third of people click on them when searching on a desktop. The percentage is a lot higher – some estimates nearly double it – for searches on mobile.
Are there local organic search results?
Google still shows the familiar organic search results below the local map pack.
Clicks on these links remain very high, with half of the people searching clicking on them. It’s still important to be at the top, as a quarter or more of people click on the top link.
What is the Google My Business panel?
Quite frequently Google will also display a panel on the right-hand side of search results, which gives details of a specific business.
The panel includes photos, reviews and other information not included in the maps pack. Clicks on the panels are high, especially if the Google My Business profile has been optimised with reviews and posts.
What happens in local SEO?
Local SEO is about persuading Google that your business and website are best suited to the person searching based on what they are searching for and where.
Local SEO specialists, like me, optimise the website for both the keywords (the words people will use to find you goods or services, e.g. “plumber”, “blocked drain”) and the locations you cover and want to attract customers from (e.g. Reading or Berkshire).
We also look to reinforce your presence in the real-world by securing citations. Citations are mentions on other websites of your NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number and Website). Think of business directories like Yell or Thomas Local.
Links also play an important role and these can be secured on similar national directory websites and also more localised sites, such as local town information sites. If the need arises, we can also get links within articles on specialised websites.
Optimising your Google My Business profile is key for getting you listed higher in the maps pack and on Google My Business and a lot of time can be spent on optimising the many different elements of it.
New content on the website makes Google think the site is regularly updated and that the business is engaged with it – and so will be engaged with people visiting it. Content can include new pages or new blog articles.
Local SEO includes other tasks that are not readily visible, such as technical updates on the site to improve the code that Google reads.
By using tools freely available from Google – Google Search Console and Google Analytics – it is possible to keep an eye on the effects the changes are having and identify areas which still need attention.
All of this work needs to be continuous to get the best results. Whilst all the changes have long-lasting effects, a website can slip down the rankings if the work isn’t maintained, especially if competitors notice and do their own local SEO.
Want to know more?
The impact that local SEO has on your website can easily be seen. You start to see your website appear higher up when you do your own searches and, perhaps, your Google My Business panel shows as well. Your business is also a lot more visible to other people searching for your goods or services.