Local SEO – What is it and how does it work?
Local SEO is a marketing strategy used to optimise your business website so that it’s found by local customers searching for your products or services, in search engines such as Google or Bing etc. Local SEO differs from the more traditional termed organic SEO as it is focused on a specific geographical location or locations. The optimisation process is not hugely dissimilar to organic SEO, but the approach is much more focussed on ensuring that the website is optimised for specific geographical locations.
Search Engines such as Google will calculate and rank local search results differently to organic such results, and as such a Local SEO strategy must take these varying ranking factors into consideration when commencing a campaign. As well as ensuring that the business website is optimised to include the target locations, it’s also necessary to ensure that the off page signals are more location specific as well.
What Businesses Should Consider Local SEO?
Local SEO is ideal for businesses that wish to attract local customers within a certain location. For example, a Car Servicing Garage based in Birmingham wouldn’t want to commence a full organic SEO strategy attracting calls from all around the country. They would ideally want to be found locally within the town or city that they are based in for terms such as ‘car servicing’.
Organic SEO is more for businesses that are not location centric and wish to find customers nationally or internationally. These could be businesses that may or may not have bricks and mortar premises. For example, a company that sells products online is most likely not to want their SEO focussed locally in one area restricting their reach. They would want to be found for product specific keywords generally across the country and further if they sell overseas.
Local SEO is great for businesses such as most trades including Builders, Plumbers, Electricians etc. It’s excellent for local Garages, Solicitors, Accountants, Estate Agents, Locksmiths, Skip Hire, Restaurants, Beauty Salons, plus many more. I could go on but I’m sure by now you get the general idea.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Ok so let’s show you a few examples of Local SEO in action. For these we’ll focus on Builders who would usually only want to attract local clientele.
Google search for ‘Builders Bolton’ from a location outside of Bolton.
Basically, the search intent here is that we are looking for builders in Bolton, even though the search is done from a location outside of Bolton. You can see from the screen print above that Google has returned what it deems to be the most relevant results for our search, and that these are all builders located in Bolton.
We’ll ignore the paid Ads at the top, but you can see in the map section that it’s showing three businesses all of which are in Bolton (one of these is a client of ours).
Then below the map are the organic results which are all relevant to Bolton and Builders. These are a mix of business directories containing lists of Builders, as well as websites for Builders in Bolton. You’ll notice that all of these contain the word Bolton in their title.
Google search for ‘Builders’ without location keyword
Running this search Google knows the current location of the searcher in this example, as the browser settings are location enabled, meaning that it knows the current precise location. This search was carried out from Standish in Wigan, and you can see that the results that Google return are what it deems to be the most relevant to my search.
In the maps section, you can see that it’s showing three builders in Standish, and these are displayed in distance order i.e. the nearest first.
You can also see that the organic results below that map, has also returned results specific to Standish. Again, these are a mixture of business directories and local business in this area.
In the event that Google is unable to determine the precise location of the searcher, it will usually default the location to that of the computers IP address. This computer would then default to Manchester and in the second example above the results returned would be specific to builders in Manchester, being the most relevant location, it can identify.
How would Local SEO Help my Business?
That’s a very good question! The days of reaching for the yellow pages when looking for a local business are long gone. These days most people will now simply grab their smart phone or tablet device when looking for local businesses. So, it’s now important to have a presence within those results, and essential that your business website is mobile optimised. For more info on that read our recent article Why You Need a Mobile Website.
Below are some stats about Local searches, which further highlight the importance of your business being found for local search terms:
46% of searches on Google are local
18% of local searches lead to a sale
50% of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices
87% of phone users now perform a search at least once a day
78% of mobile searches lead to physical purchases offline
76% of local searches lead to a phone call
Let’s stick with the Builders Bolton theme for a moment then explore some some potential monthly keyword volume for a few related keywords. Below are a few location specific results:
Bolton Builders – 90 monthly searches
Builders Bolton – 140 monthly searches
Builders in Bolton – 20 monthly searches
Building Contractors Bolton – 30 monthly searches
House Extensions Bolton – 30 monthly searches
You can see an indication of the number of people looking for these services in Google on a monthly basis. These soon add up when you start to include all the related services on offer as well.
The searches above were all specific to Bolton, however if you recall the search example number 2 above, you’ll remember that Google returned local based results even when the location wasn’t used. That also highlights the fact that there is even greater search volume out there. For example, in the Google keyword planner it estimates 14,800 monthly searches for ‘Builders’ across the UK. Many of these searches will result in local businesses being shown, as per the examples above. Also, these figures are just based on Google which accounts for around 77% of all searches done online.
Other Search Engines should also be considered when commencing a Local SEO campaign, as even with a lower percentage of share there are over 6.5 Billion daily searches done worldwide so it’s certainly not a good idea to exclude them.
Hopefully you’ve found this article useful and now have a better understanding of what Local SEO is and how it works, and the potential it offers for local businesses. However, please feel free to send send us any questions that you might have.
At 3W Consulting we have helped many small & medium sized businesses with services such a Local SEO. There are also other options available to help get your business more website visitors and sales such a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. This utilises systems such a Google Adwords, and places adverts at the top of the results pages for your chosen keywords. Every time someone clicks the Advert you’ll be charged an amount depending on the competitiveness of the keyword plus a few other factors. More details about PPC can be found in our article PPC – Why it should be part of your Marketing strategy.
If you would like any further information regarding our services please get in touch. We offer a free consultation whereby we’ll provide you with a recommended approach depending on your business goals.