What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Written by: Jason Bayless | February 10, 2015

Local SEO is a way to optimize the search results of a local business to yield higher rankings on search engines. An understanding of citations, positive customer reviews and keyword optimization can bolster search rankings for local businesses.

Benefits of Local SEO

SEO experts estimate that over 30 percent of online searches are local. This means that if your company’s marketing department is not currently employing local SEO techniques, then you might be losing ground to the competition. Local SEO is a great tool for local businesses to employ because it helps businesses reach out to nearby customers.

Who Should Use Local SEO?

Local SEO makes the most sense for companies with a brick-and-mortar storefront and plenty of local customers. If a potential customer searches for a local dentist or pizzeria using a search engine, many of the results that the search engine yields are local businesses that have taken the time to understand and implement local SEO. Companies try to improve their local rankings in order to attract new customers. One way that companies improve their local-SEO rankings is by creating a local listing on Google Plus. Another way for local businesses to attract more customers using local SEO is for businesses to leave a citation.

Importance of Citations

Citations help search engines to associate your business with the search criterion that potential customers are entering into search engines locally. Citations could include the name and address of the business. In addition to citations, though, local businesses can get more out of local SEO by ensuring that customers leave flattering reviews about their experience. Positive customer reviews from Yelp and other online rating sites can give local businesses an edge over the competition.

Value of Local SEO

Citations help the search engine glean a SERP, or search engine results page, from the specific keywords that customers use to locate a local business. Prospective customers will often type only partial information into search engines in hopes of getting into closer contact with a local business. One customer might know the approximate location of a local business while another might have an address or simply know that a restaurant is on a certain intersection. A search engine works with whatever information customers provide and links those keywords up with the citations that the local business owner has on his website.

Local SEO in Action

Local search engine optimization is an important step for local businesses to take in order to attract customers. Take the example of a local restaurant. If a customer in the restaurant’s area types in the keywords “open late” and “tacos,” then the search engine will try to find matching citations and local restaurants based on the entered keywords. Following this example, a restaurant owner who took the time to create a Google Plus page, create a proper citation for his restaurant, and optimize his website’s content for local searches would likely get linked up with the customer mentioned above. When potential customers can efficiently find what they’re looking for, then local businesses prosper.

Social Media and SEO

Local SEO techniques are important for local business owners to take into account. That said, customers are increasingly bypassing the business’ website and finding out about the local business through social media outlets and review sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. This makes more sense when you consider the reality of most local searches. Typically, customers get the name, telephone number and address of a local business along with its map location and handful of customer reviews. All of this information can be quickly scanned from a SERP page without the need for customers to visit a local business’ website.As long as local businesses understand the important of creating proper citations and setting up a Google Plus account, then a website might not even be completely necessary for attracting local customers. Understanding local SEO and the changing ways in which customers are engaging with local businesses, though, is crucial for businesses to take into account.