Local SEO: The Basics

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By tom.baldridge

For businesses trying to reach customers in their geographic area, optimizing for local SEO is critical. Implementing local SEO best practices can help drive foot traffic, boost local awareness, and increase sales.

This comprehensive beginner’s guide will cover the fundamentals of local SEO and how to get started optimizing your website and online presence to attract more local customers.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to optimizing your online presence to rank higher in search engine and map results for location-based searches.

For example, when someone searches for “pizza places in Miami” or “plumbers near me,” local SEO helps your business appear prominently in:

  • The map pack results at the top of SERPs
  • The organic search results below the map pack
  • Voice search results on mobile devices

The goal is to be easily found and selected when people search for local goods and services that you offer.

Why Local SEO Matters

Here are some of the key benefits local SEO provides:

  • Increased foot traffic – Ranking in the map pack can drive phone calls, store visits, and requests for directions.
  • Improved visibility – Popping up prominently in local results increases local brand visibility.
  • Greater awareness – Establishes your brand as a key local provider that customers can trust.
  • ** Higher conversions** – People searching locally are primed to buy from nearby businesses.
  • New customer acquisition – Take away business from competitors also targeting your region.
  • Adapts to mobile – Over 70% of local searches now happen on smartphones.

For any business with a brick-and-mortar location, optimizing for local SEO is hugely impactful.

Local Ranking Factors

Google uses multiple signals to determine which businesses appear prominently in map packs and local search results.

Some of the key factors that influence local search ranking include:

  • Physical proximity – Businesses located closest to the searcher rank higher.
  • Relevance – How closely a business matches the searcher’s query and intent.
  • Prominence – The overall visibility and authority of the business.
  • Google My Business – A complete and optimized GMB listing.
  • Positive local signals – Reviews, links, mentions from local sites.
  • On-page optimization – Locale-targeted pages with region keywords.
  • Mobile optimization – A fast mobile site and local pages.
  • UI/UX – Easy contact forms, direction links, prominent calls-to-action.

Optimizing each of these critical elements can improve your local SEO authority.

Step 1: Set Up Google My Business

The first step to optimizing for local SEO is to set up and verify your Google My Business listing. This serves as the foundation.

Fully complete your GMB profile with:

  • Correct business name, address and phone number
  • Accurate map location pinpointed
  • List of products and services offered
  • Detailed business description

Upload photos, fill in all sections, and keep information current. Turn on automated review asking and respond to any reviews customers leave.

Step 2: Build Local Links

Start earning high-quality local links from websites and directories related to your business location and industry, such as:

  • Local newspaper sites
  • City guides and local blogs
  • Local chamber of commerce pages
  • Relevant local events and organizations
  • Local business partnership pages

Links from these trusted local sites help reinforce your authority.

Step 3: Get Online Reviews

Customer reviews are especially impactful for local SEO. Prompt satisfied clients to leave 5-star online reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.

Respond professionally to any negative reviews to showcase your customer service. Positive reviews build trust and social proof.

Step 4: Optimize Website for Local Intent

Update website copy and content to target local customers:

  • Add city and region names to relevant pages and content.
  • Create location-focused landing pages like “best-pizza-in-austin” optimized for local keywords.
  • Showcase involvement in local organizations and events.
  • Blog about topics involving your town and customers.

Step 5: List Your Business Info Locally

Register your updated business name, address and phone number across essential local directories where customers search for you:

  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • Foursquare
  • Local events calendars
  • Relevant apps and delivery services
  • Local business associations

This helps reinforce your NAP details for local SEO.

Next Steps

This covers the beginner basics for getting started with local SEO. To take things further:

  • Research more in-depth local ranking factors
  • Improve your GMB posts, photos and profile
  • Build more local links and directory citations
  • Optimize website for voice search
  • Analyze and improve local landing page conversion rates

Focus on consistently executing the fundamentals outlined here first. Then build on that solid foundation.

Have any questions on getting started with local SEO? Let me know in the comments!

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