What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Written by: Jason Bayless | January 30, 2018

Owners of brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants and other local businesses know the importance of achieving a top search ranking for local-driven keywords. The owner of a pizza parlor business, for instance, probably wants to rank his or her website for keywords like “”pizza near me”” when those searches are performed near their business. This is where local search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

Overview of Local SEO

Local SEO is a digital marketing strategy that involves optimizing a business’s website and online presence with the goal of achieving a high ranking for searches with local intent. Google often displays different results based on the user’s geographic region. Searching for “”hotels,”” for instance, will typically reveal hotels near you instead of nation-wide hotels.

According to Think With Google, 80 percent of consumers use search engines to find local information such as store hours, business addresses, product availability and directions. Additionally, roughly half of consumers who conduct a local search on a smartphone visited the local businesses within one day.

Beyond Google’s Organic Search Results

There are two primary objectives of local SEO: to achieve a top website ranking for local searches, and to achieve a top Google My Business (GMB) ranking for the same local searches. When you search for a local business on Google, you’ll see GMB listings as well as organic listings. The GMB listings are found directly below AdWords ads. When clicked, you’ll see additional information about the respective business, including its address, hours of operation, phone number, website, customer reviews, directions and more.

Below the GMB listings are Google’s organic search results. These are the traditional website listings that Google indexes and displays. An effective local SEO strategy should target both GMB and organic search listings.

GMB Optimization

If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and create a GMB listing for your local business. It’s completely free and should only take a few minutes to complete. However, you’ll also need to verify your business by clicking the “”Verify now”” button for it to appear in Google Search and Google Maps.

Once your listing is active, add as much information about your local business as possible. The more information you include, the better. Google typically ranks GMB listings with complete, detailed profiles higher than listings with little-to-no information.

Website Optimization

Optimizing your business’s website for local searches begins with identifying your target keywords. Normally, local businesses choose target keywords consisting of their city, county, state and zip code. Assuming you want to rank for similar keywords, you should include them in your site’s content.

You should also include your business’s keywords in page titles. Google typically only displays the first 60 characters of page titles, so you’ll have limited space to work with. Nonetheless, you can still include relevant local information like your business’s city or zip code.

This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding local SEO. Like all search optimization strategies, it requires constant work and maintenance to succeed. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, though, you’ll reap the benefits of high-quality traffic for your local business.