What is Local Search?
Around 50% of all mobile consumers who search for a local business visit that day. 18% of those users end up making a purchase. 1 in 3 searches has local intent and if your company relies on local consumer traffic, then the importance of making your business visible in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) should be obvious.
But what exactly is Local Search? Opinion is divided on this subject, even among experts. There are three definitions that get used frequently:
- Local Search is any search that is aimed at finding something within a specific geographical area. E.g. "Digital Agency Leeds".
- Local Search is looking for information online with an intention of making a transaction offline. E.g. "ATM in Leeds".
- Anything that you would traditionally look for in a directory such as the Yellow Pages, becomes a local search when you do so online. E.g. "Butchers on Random Street".
For some brick-and-mortar businesses, all search is local. Most of these businesses only draw customers from within a specific area. Examples of these kinds of businesses would be barbers, laundromats, sandwich shops etc.
Others are very location-specific, but those who are searching for them are most likely not in the immediate area. However, they hope to be some time in the future. An example would be car rental agencies, campgrounds, ski resorts etc.
So, just about anyone who conducts any business offline has the potential to be affected by local search.
How Google Views Local Search
The aim of search engines is to return the most relevant results for every query. Google is continually attempting to interpret local intent and wants to deliver the best local results when it does.
In the search results, there are usually two sections dominating the top half of the SERP’s. Paid ads and the local results. With a good local SEO strategy, you should be at the top of the local results for the best Click-Through-Rate (CTR) since many users with local intent are more likely to use that map and reviews to choose a business.
Google caught on to the importance of local searches in early 2007 when local business information began to appear in SERPs as Google started to ramp up local SEO parameters in the search algorithm. This culminated in 2012 when google rolled out their first local SEO upgrade. That was also designed to show users results that were in their geographical vicinity.
An important part of this update that is still a factor today is the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations. If your NAP is consistent across all your citations, then the search engine will see that this is a trustworthy source. However; if they find conflicting information regarding your company, they lose confidence in your listing-so they are more likely to provide users with another listing they’re more confident in.
The Most Important Factors in Local SEO
The most important factors that search engines take into consideration are:
- Distance - How far each potential search result is from the location term specified in the search. If a user doesn't specify their location in their search, then Google will calculate distance based on what is known about the users location.
- Relevance - This refers to how well a local listing matches what the user is searching for. Ensuring that you have detailed business information across the internet will help Google better understand your business and make sure that it matches your listing to relevant searches.
- Prominence - Some places are prominent in the offline world and search results endeavor to reflect this in local ranking. This is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the internet. Reviews and score are also factored in to the prominence of a business local ranking.
Local SEO Strategy
Having a Local SEO strategy in place alongside your global SEO strategy is highly recommended. Firstly, your customers need to be able to find you. Secondly, you need to make sure that you own all your online real estate. This includes citations across online directories. Most of the local citations are free and serve to boost your visibility.
Your goal should be within the local and organic listings using the following tools:
- Ensure that the local NAP citations are consistent across the directories that are most relevant for your industry.
- Claim and verify your Google My Business listing.
- Optimise citations.
- Remove duplicate listings.
- Add local Business and Review Schema to your website.
- Optimise on-site content to be geo-targeted.
- Respond to directory reviews.
- Consistently build local links.
If you're not showing up within the local search results, you're missing a huge opportunity to grow your local business. Get in touch with Ascensor to see how we can help you rank higher in the Local SERPS.