Local SEO to Win the Race

Written by: Jason Bayless | July 30, 2016

Over that last couple of years, search engine optimization (SEO) experts have been stressing the importance of implementing a localized SEO strategy. This trend started in 2014 with the Google Pigeon update, which has now fully matured into how the search engine giant produces each search engine results page (SERP).

The bottom line of local SEO is that it presents major advantages to all online brands and businesses, and this is something that it is not limited to neighborhood companies that with a brick-and-mortar presence. In early 2016, local SEO began making its first strong appearance on the Google SERP, and this is a trend that can be expected to continue developing at least until the end of the decade.

Why Google Likes Local SEO

Prior to the Pigeon update, the Google search algorithm seemed to favor major, established brands with substantial history. This bias for ranking websites based on longevity and reputation; this came to be known as brand authority.

Over time, Google began to include smaller businesses into its ranking bias; judging by the SERP, it seems as if the search engine giant wants to deliver results that include companies that see their local presence as one of their major strengths.

Another aspect to consider is the global rise of the Android operating system and the myriad mobile devices power by it. Google strongly believes that mobile searchers who enter queries related to business would like to see results that are close to them first, particularly if they are logged into their Google accounts and have already searched for other information such as traffic reports and weather forecasts.

The Local SEO Edge

Brands and companies that invest time and effort into local SEO are bound to win the business race against those that skip this important step. Google already provides various tools in this regard, it is up to business owners to take advantage of this opportunity.

To establish local SEO authority, business owners and brand managers must begin with getting local citations that are accurate. These local citations must come from websites that Google deemed them to be high authority in the days before the Pigeon update.

An example of the above can be a French restaurant listed on trusted sites such as Zagat, TripAdvisor and Yelp. It is important that the information on all local citation sites is uniform and updated; if the French restaurant has different phone numbers, websites, addresses, or menu items on various sites, Google may assign a poor local SEO score.

The next step is to feature content that can be considered to be relevant to the business location; for example, the French restaurant should optimize its website content to include mentions about the city and neighborhood of its location. To this end, a blog that comments on local events can boost local SEO significantly.

An even more powerful means to improve local SEO consists of inbound links coming from sources that are not only trusted but also proven to be local. For some businesses, obtaining these links may require a little more work than expected. For the French restaurant example, good inbound links could come from the Chamber of Commerce, a regional newspaper, local blogs, etc.

The Local SEO Advantage

Business owners and brand managers must keep in mind that the competition for local SEO supremacy will become tighter in years to come. Making sites more visible to local searchers is going to require constant diligence.

Optimizing a few pages is no longer good enough for local SEO purposes; business owners must also look into other good practices such as establishing a strong social media presence that will attract local followers or an email marketing campaign that directs respondents to a landing page hosted on local servers.