What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is, in a nutshell, SEO that is targetting local keywords. Local keywords refer to any keywords and/or search queries that are tied with geographical locations, and commonly come in three different forms:
“Service in Location” or SiL keywords, such as “bookstore in New York” (“bookstore”= service and “New York”=location)
“Near me” keywords, like “bookstores near me” or “restaurants near me”.
“Where to buy” keywords and similar ones, like “where to buy Pizza”, “where to get gas”, etc.
Businesses that are primarily targeting local audiences and/or relied on a physical location will benefit from targeting these local keywords to capture their target audience.
Local SEO Services
If you are not optimizing your business’s online presence via SEO, you are going to miss out on a massive potential market. More than 60% of marketers voted for traffic generation and lead generation as their top challenges, and SEO might just be the solution.
Difference Between Local SEO and Traditional SEO
Both traditional SEO and local SEO have the same focus on improving your ranking on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and especially Google SERP.
However, there are two key differences between local SEO and traditional SEO:
We have briefly discussed this above, but local SEO is targeting local keywords. Local keywords are essentially any search queries that involve one or more geographical locations in the search phrase.
SERPs shown for these local queries typically involve one core difference over traditional SERPs: the inclusion of Google Maps results.
In local SERP, results from Google Maps are placed above the top organic spot and just above the sponsored ads. Meaning, these Google Maps results are going to get more clicks than any organic results.
So, in local SEO, our main priority is to rank on these Google Maps results.
Also, it’s important to note that Google only features the top-3 results from Google Maps before users need to click “more places”.
This top-3 spot is called “Google Maps 3-pack”, and according to Google, Position 1 of Google Maps ranking gets 24.46% of clicks, the second position gets 13.38%, and position 3 gets 10.12%. So, these three alone get almost half of the total traffic.
This is why the 3-pack is our main objective in local SEO.
Get More Exposure With Local SEO
Another unique feature of local SERP is that results from Google Maps are clickable and interactive. Users can call your business with just a single click, and even ask for direction to your business right away from the search results.
Crucial Local SEO factors
Google My Business Listing Optimization
As we’ve established, the main objective of local SEO is to rank on Google Maps results.
However, Google Maps are not ranking websites bust business listings, and to be more accurate, Google My Business listings.
Google My Business is Google’s free listing so businesses can manage how their information is listed by Google. Optimizing all the various elements of Google My Business listing will be crucial in determining your business’s ranking on Google Maps.
The main principle here is to provide complete, accurate, and attractive information for human users. Include keywords when we can, but keyword density isn’t really a factor in optimizing GMB listing.
Choose a relevant, specific business category. Many searchers search based on categories instead of business names.
Consistency is very important. Make sure the information listed on your GMB listing, especially your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information, matches everywhere else.
Make sure all kinds of information listed are accurate, including business hours, service area, and so on.
Use Attributes to specify unique values your business might have (i.e. have an outdoor terrace)
Foundational Citation Building
Citation is a very important ranking factor in Google Maps SEO, akin to backlinks in traditional SEO.
A local citation is any mention of a business’s NAP information on the internet in a complete form, and there are several ways we can get citation:
- Earned citation, when a media or blog reviewed our business and mention our NAP
- Citations from business partners, influencers we’ve worked with, etc.
- Listing our business on various online directories
- While we don’t have much control over the first two, we can put our effort into the latter: citation building on online directories.
Platforms like Facebook Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others are considered major online directories, and these will be our main foundations before we build our citation on smaller directories, which we will discuss later on.
It’s important to treat SEO as a competition: we are here to beat and rank higher than our competitors.
So, analyzing our competition is very important to ensure our local SEO campaign’s success.
We will find our client’s closest competitors based on target keywords and location and analyze the following areas (not all-inclusive):
- The competitors’ Google My Business listing and their approach in optimizing their listing.
- Their content and their optimization approach
- Their website performance including various technical factors
- Link profile, especially backlinks profile
- Local citations profile
- Niche Citation Building
Above, we have discussed how we’ll build citations on major platforms based on your industry/niche/category. Here, we will build upon that foundation by listing our business in niche directories.
The only rule here is the more, the merrier. We can list our business in as many online directories available based on our industry/niche and location.
However, maintaining consistency of NAP information throughout all these listings are very important. If, for example, you just moved to a new address, then you’d need to update all of these listings and citations.
This is where Boost Up Digital can help you in this time-consuming and rigorous task so you can focus your attention on growing your business.
The number of (positive) reviews on your Google Maps listing is a very important ranking factor, and Google does take account of third-party reviews. Also, having positive reviews is very important in maintaining positive brand information, maximizing conversion rates.
Review generation is simply our method of getting more customer reviews especially on Google Maps, but also on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor among others. While there are various tactics we can implement here based on various factors, here are the common ones:
- Sending email outreach to happy customers
- Including accessible feedback forms on your website
- Offering incentives, for example, to offer discounts in exchange for a positive review
- Sending SMS messages to customers
- Having on-site devices where customers can leave their online review and feedback
Backlinks to your website are still very important ranking factors that will affect both your Google Maps ranking and your site’s organic ranking. Your website’s URL should be properly included in your GMB listing, and this is how Google will take account of your backlinks in local SEO.
We are a firm believer that there’s no shortcut in getting backlinks besides actually having high-quality, relevant, and linkable content. So, our backlinks building strategy will center on content creation, including outreach for guest posting opportunities to generate links from earned media.
We understood that the quality of generated backlinks is more important than quantity, and we will pay extra attention to ensuring all incoming links are high-quality and relevant.
Other Important Local SEO Ranking Factors
On-page SEO refers to the optimizations done on your site, which typically involves technical optimizations such as:
Header tags are one of the most important factors in SEO ranking. In general, the primary target keyword must be included in the header and also in the META description. Including them naturally, however, is very important.
For body content, it’s more important to prioritize for readability and overall quality. Include target keywords and semantically related keywords naturally and sparingly, but focus on providing value for your human audience.
Specific for local SEO, we might create similar content to target different locations (i.e. “how to find X in LA” and “how to find X in NJ”. However, we will stay to our principle that the quality and relevance of the content is the most important emphasis.
Internal links are any hyperlinks from your site to another page of your site (hence the name “internal”).
Maintaining a proper internal ranking structure is very important to ensure Google can crawl, find, index, and properly parse all information in various elements of your site. So there are two purposes in adding internal links:
- So that users can easily find related information and jump between pages to pages for a more seamless experience
- Ensuring Google (and other search engines) can properly understand:
- Relevance of pages
- Context of information within pages
- The relationship between pages
- Our internal linking approach will vary between site to site depending on the structure of the website and other factors.
Include NAP on Location Pages
The best practice to follow is to add full NAP information on all pages of your website. This is typically done in the site’s footer section. Although Google is getting better at parsing information on image forms, we might include your NAP in text format, depending on your website’s design, just to be sure.
If your business has more than one location, we will create different pages for each of these locations and ensure accurate NAP information on each of these location pages.
Other optimizations we might implement include:
- Embedding Google Maps on your site is not a direct ranking factor (it used to be), but it is still a great practice to follow so Google can accurately recognize your
- business’s physical location and improve the site’s overall experience.
- Include operating hours whenever possible. It’s very important to keep operating hours on your website always up to date. You can also add additional information on these location pages such as when specific services are not available or when it’s lunch break and no one would be around to answer the phone.
- Include directions even if we’ve embedded Google Maps on the location page, we might add directions and address to provide more value for your site visitors.
Different sites might or might not have service pages (pages describing a specific service sold by the company behind the website). For example, if the client is a dentist, then there might be a page for “root canal procedure” on the website. This is an example of a service page or often called landing pages.
The service page must be optimized according to the target keywords and must be designed to encourage conversions.
Specific to Local SEO, we might optimize the service pages according to the target keyword, or create different service pages for different locations (i.e. Dentist NY, Dentist NJ) for local SEO purposes.
We value the importance of these service pages in generating conversions and producing revenue for your business. So, our job here is to find the right balance between optimal SEO optimizations and user experience to encourage conversions.
Schema markup, or structured data markup, is in a nutshell adding attributes and properties to all the different elements of your site so Google can understand them properly. A key benefit of implementing structured data markup is that your site is now eligible to be featured as rich results or rich snippets.
Also, schema markup is increasingly becoming an important ranking factor, especially post-RankBrain. Schema markup allows Google to properly interpret the context of your website and can match it better to an incoming search query with the same intent or context.
How to Measure Your ROI with Local SEO
Track Phone Calls
A great thing about local SEO is that we can easily track phone calls coming from Google Maps results via Google My Business Insights. We can easily track whether more calls are coming or whether the local SEO campaign didn’t produce any results at all.
So, we can effectively prove the campaign’s ROI by tracking phone calls from Google Maps results/
Track Conversions, Leads, and Forms Submissions
Knowing the local SEO’s contribution to revenue is very important, and for this purpose, we can differentiate between three revenue models:
- Businesses that are not selling any product/service directly on the website.
- Businesses that sell “one-time-sale” products and/or services on the website.
- Business selling products and/or services with recurring revenue (subscription-based) model.
Most local businesses belong to the first category, and so we will mainly track:
- Phone calls coming from Google Maps
- Directions inquiry coming from Google Maps (a strong indicator that they visited your store)
- Website traffic coming from local SERPs (more on this below)
- Generated leads from Google Maps
- Form submissions
In short, we will custom-tailor our reports to suit your revenue model and SEO objective so we can, together, monitor the ROI of the local SEO campaign, evaluate, and make the necessary adjustments throughout the campaign’s length.
Track Website Traffic
The actual number of site visitors will determine the success of our SEO strategies, and will also affect other key metrics like lead generation and revenue. There are many reliable ways to track website visitors coming from specific keywords, so we can track this factor fairly accurately and report the results to you.
Measuring traffic, however, is just the beginning, and we can measure more granular data for more accurate evaluations, such as:
- Unique visitors: this number refers to the number of visitors who have come to your site in any date range. We should aim for an upward trend, indicating the SEO strategy is bringing results.
- Landing page conversion rate: we can track the number of site visitors and visitors of specific pages and measure the percentage of visitors who “converts’. That is, takes the desired action. The higher the conversion rate, the higher the ROI of the local SEO campaign.
- Returning visitors: You’d want a higher number of repeat visitors (at least 15%) to indicate that your content is attractive enough to keep them coming back.
- However, if the number is too high, it’s a sign that your conversion game is weak, and we might adjust our strategy accordingly.
Measure the Effectiveness of SEO Campaign
The basic formula in calculating local SEO ROI is:
ROI of Local SEO= (Revenue generated from Local SEO- Cost of Local SEO)/Cost of Local SEO x 100%
In most local businesses that sell their products in-store, website traffic often won’t contribute directly to revenue, so measuring the SEO campaign’s contribution can be tricky. However, we can typically calculate the number of generated leads and determine the potential revenue, such as:
- If we can generate 100 leads every month via local organic search, and 20 of them end up purchasing the product/service, then we get a 20% conversion rate.
- Let’s say the customer lifetime value (CLV) for these 20 purchasing customers is $1,000, then we ger $20,000 of total revenue from them.
- Lastly, divide $20,000 with the total number of generated leads (100),
- This way, we can determine that each lead generated from local SEO can contribute $200 to revenue.
We will create a system to measure the effectiveness of an SEO campaign based on your business’s specific revenue model.
Local SEO Frequently Asked Questions
How much does local SEO cost?
Local SEO pricing can vary widely from below $500/month to above $5,000/month. According to a recent study, the average cost of outsourcing to a local SEO agency ranges between $1,000 to $3,000 per month.
As you can see, the variations are huge, and there can be various different factors that will affect the cost from your location (more congested locations= more competition), your niche/industry, your target keywords, timeline, and other factors.
How Do Local SEO work?
Local SEO focuses on optimizing your local business’s presence in two major platforms in order to effectively attract the local target audience: Google Maps and organic SERP.
By optimizing your Google My Business listing and get on the top-3 spot of Google Maps ranking, you can effectively put yourself in front of the ideal customer in your area. On top of that, local SEO would ensure you have enough content prominence for the relevant target keywords in your location.
In practice, local SEO is about optimizing your website and your Google My Business listing to:
- Provide the most accurate, relevant, and attractive information for your target audience
- Ensure Google can correctly recognize all the different elements in your website or GMB listing
- In Google Maps results, searchers can directly call your business or ask for directions to your store with just a single click. This is why, if you are a local business, ensuring you have a healthy presence on Google Maps and search engines, in general, is extremely important.
Why is Local SEO important?
More and more people are now effectively using their mobile devices to browse the internet, and now, the primary way to find local businesses is to search on Google (gone are the days of the Yellow Pages). According to Google, 46 % of all searches on the platform have local intent.
Also, traffic coming from local SEO has higher conversion rates since the traffic is highly targeted. Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time, which is very high.
This trend is expected to continue in the future and mobile devices are projected to influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales.
In short, if you are not investing in local SEO today, you are going to miss the train and miss out on a massive potential market.
How Can I Improve Local SEO?
You can improve Google Maps ranking by following these steps:
- Claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing
- Get more reviews on Google Maps and also on third-party platforms
- Get more local citations by listing your business on various online directories
For ranking on organic SERP for local keywords, the process is similar to traditional SEO:
Publish relevant, high-quality content targeting the local keywords
Implementing on-site SEO to ensure the site can be properly indexed by Google and meet the current best practices (fast enough load speed, mobile responsiveness, Heading&META optimizations, etc.).
Build backlinks (off-site SEO).
That’s it. The process is actually very simple, but consistency and hard work are the important factors This is where Boost Up Digital’s local SEO service can help you.
Ultimately, the secret in improving local SEO (or any SEO in general) relies on three things:
Ensuring your content and listing information are valuable, relevant , and attractive for your target audience
Making sure Google can properly understand all the different elements on your website or Google My Business listing
Ensuring the performance of your website (mobile-friendliness, load speed, etc.)
What Is Local Search?
Local search is, simply put, any search queries with the intent of finding something or someone within a specific geographic location. Any search efforts that involve the use of “local keywords or “local queries” are considered a local search. Local keywords can come in several forms:
“Service in Location” or SiL keywords, such as “bookstore in New York” (“bookstore”= service and “New York”=location)
“Near me” keywords, like “bookstores near me” or “restaurants near me”.
Where to buy” keywords and similar ones, like “where to buy Pizza”, “where to get gas”, etc.
What Is Local SERP?
Local SERP refers to the results page that shows up when we implement a local search or enter any local queries. Local SERP nowadays always include the top 3 results from Google Maps (the 3-pack) above the organic results and just below the paid search ads.
The Local SERP is also unique when compared to your usual organic SERP due to the interactivity and implementations of various featured snippets.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business—or GMB— is Google’s official business listing and directory where companies can list their information so Google can use this listing’s information in a variety of different results.
Google My Business was properly known as Google Places or Google Local, and Google My Business is now an integral element of local SEO: you won’t rank on Google Maps if you don’t own a Google My Business listing, period.
What Are Citations?
A citation, or to be exact, a local citation, is any online mention of a business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information in its complete form.
Citations can come from a website (when an influencer with a blog reviewed your business, for example), apps and social media posts, and also from local business directories. In local SEO and especially Google Maps SEO, local citations are a very important ranking factor: the more citations you have, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps.
Another important thing to understand about citations is that it is very important to maintain consistency throughout all the different listings. This is where a local SEO service can help you to maintain hundreds if not thousands of citation listings.
Local SEO Services That Drive More Revenue
Local SEO can help local businesses generate more leads and acquire more customers because local search is now the primary way users find local businesses. The glory days of the Yellow Pages are long gone, and now the search engines—besides social media— are how people find local businesses, period.
Should You Invest in Local SEO
With how saturated the online world is in 2020, SEO is now even more important than ever. Here are some of the fast you might not know about:
- More than 82,000 searches are performed every second on Google (April 2020)
- 56% of the world’s population are active search engine users, especially Google
- 95% of these users will not go to the second page of Google when they are searching for something.
- Organic search traffic coming from SEO converts almost 6 times better than paid search ads.
- The average people now performed 3.4 searches every day
- Business listings with a website get 25 to 35% more clicks, according to Google in 2018
- According to Google themselves, 46% of all searches are with local intent
- 29% of all SERPs today are local SERPS featuring Google Maps results
- 82% of mobile shoppers use “near me” search queries.
- 96% of desktop users have performed local searches
Measure Your ROI with Local SEO
Will your local SEO investments be worth it? We understood that in the end, the objective of every business is to drive growth in revenue, and in that bigger picture, SEO is just an investment with the same objective. So, it is understandable that business owners who are going to invest in our local SEO services want to track their return on investment (ROI). This is why we’ve set up a system to measure and report the ROI of the local SEO campaign, that includes:
Conversions might mean different things for different businesses, but nevertheless tracking conversions and lead generation are very important in determining the ROI of local SEO or any digital marketing campaign.
Track Phone Calls
Incoming phone calls are an important lead generation device, and even today, it is suggested that phone leads are still much more valuable than web-based leads by up to 15 times. Yes, most of us now conduct our research online before making any purchase, but many consumers still choose to make their final inquiry and conversion over a phone call.
Track Website Traffic
Potential visits to the website coming from the SERPs of the targeted local keywords are an important source of information to determine the ROI of the local SEO campaign.
Local Search Marketing is Targeted and Has High Conversion Rates
By implementing local SEO and especially securing your position on the top-3 spots of Google Maps, you can significantly improve the number of calls, website traffic, store visits, and ultimately, revenue.
- 18% of local searches resulted in a purchase and only 7% of non-local searches convert
- “Where to buy” queries and “near me” queries have more than doubled during 2017-2019
- Local searches on any devices result in purchases 28% of the time.