Mastering the Art of Local SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | October 06, 2016
Local SEO is one of the most important concepts for any small business. Devising a strategy for local searches will help you bring in far more traffic and stand out from the competition. However, if you are used to traditional SEO, then there will be some critical steps that you won’t be familiar with. In this post, we will discuss what separates doing local SEO from regular SEO work and what kind of benefits there are to making the extra effort.
To start with, local SEO matters because local searches have different rules. A local search is any search that contains the name of a city or region, or phrases like “near me” in the search query. Google uses a different algorithm for local search that is designed to promote small, local businesses instead of big chains that have a location in the given area. For example, “fried chicken near me” is more likely to show a local restaurant on top than the closest KFC location. If this wasn’t the case, then small businesses would have trouble keeping up with the big corporations.
The key is that it takes some extra legwork to convince Google that you really are a small local business. That’s where local SEO comes into play. One major example is the importance of local directories. These might be websites like Yelp or Angie’s List, or they could be bulletin boards of local churches or a list on your local Chamber of Commerce website.
The key is that by appearing on a local directory, you show Google evidence of your connection to the local area. Once Google starts to believe that you really are present there, you’ll get a significant SEO boost. One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is that they get themselves put on local directories, but then they fail to actually check the accuracy of their information. If your business has a name spelled differently across different directories, Google won’t give you credit for them. That means your time was wasted. The three most important kinds of information that absolutely must be consistent are the name, address, and phone number, which are collectively called NAP data. You’ll need to check your NAP on every single listing.
Sometimes errors creep in if you do not send in the information yourself or if a site updates and makes a transcription mistake, so recheck sometimes. There are marketing and local SEO firms that can do the legwork for you by connecting you with all the important and relevant directories for your area and setting up listings with a consistent NAP for them all.
Local SEO has a lot of benefits. The biggest is that the top three results in a local search, known as the Local Pack, get to have extra information shown on the results page. Try it and you’ll see that things like hours, reviews, and a description appear for the top three businesses. They also appear on a map. On top of that, people using a smartphone or tablet to search will only see the top three results as their entire first page. That means getting into the Local Pack is a big deal and a major goal.
The Local Pack is a great target to aim for, and now you know the biggest tools to help you out: directories and a consistent NAP across listings. The potential bump in traffic for reaching one of those coveted three spots is well worth the time and money you’ll have to put into local SEO. Of course, you might find it easiest to just have a consulting firm do it for you. It will cost more, but they will get it done far faster and they often guarantee results, so do a cost/benefit analysis and see what makes sense.