In the first chapter, we’ll tackle the most popular question and one that probably led you this resource — “what is local SEO?”
This section will acquaint you with key SEO terms like SERPs and give you a little breakdown of what goes behind the scene when it comes to local search. Plus, we’ll clear your doubts regarding the differences between local SEO and regular SEO
Crushing the SEO Myth
Let’s begin by busting a little myth or a misconception around SEO. Many people, when they hear the term SEO, usually start thinking about large companies trying to reach out to the global market. This cannot be further from the truth.
Businesses, both large and small, can benefit from search engine optimization to make themselves more visible to their target customers. In fact, what SEO does is levels the playing field for small business and puts them at a position of advantage to compete with bigger competitors. This is where the concept of local SEO comes in.
So, What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization, or more commonly known as local SEO, is a strategy to improve the visibility of a business around its physical location on various search engines. In other words, if you have a physical location for your business and you want people living around it to know about it, you will need local SEO.
Say a customer searches for “grocery stores near me” or “best car repair in Houston” on their browser or Google Maps. All the stores that show up in the results would be within a close radius of the location specified. And, they show up because they are implementing local SEO tactics.
A company can implement local SEO by optimizing its website to a set of local keywords (we’ll cover local keywords in a different chapter). Google leads the local SEO market, so most efforts should go there. At the same time, a company needs to consider other search engines too, such as Apple Maps, Bing or Yahoo.
What is Local Search?
Local search refers to search enquiries that are related to either the searcher’s physical location or a position specified in the enquiry. For example, ‘grocery near me’ and ‘grocery in Seattle’ are all part of local search.
Let’s have a look at how the top section of a search result might look like with the local search, such as ‘grocery in Houston’.
You can see above, Google has provided information about different grocery businesses in Houston, along with their availability, ratings, contact info and location. This is called a map rack, local pack or snack pack. It is usually followed by organic results, as seen below.
A business can get featured on this page by following the principles of local SEO.
Similarly, if you go to Google Maps, you will see a local finder of relevant businesses on the left side of the interactive map.
Now imagine how much visibility your business can get if it appears on a local search!
What are Local SERPs?
SERP is just an abbreviation of ‘search engine results pages’. All the pages we see on a search engine are technically a SERP. Thus, local SERPs are search results presented for local or location based enquiries.
We have already seen what a basic local SERP on Google looks like. It begins with a pack of local ranking of relevant businesses, and then the organic results. Sometimes, the local SERP will include rich results features like thumbnail and carousel, but that is not that common in local search. Getting featured in either the local pack or the organic results of SERP is an absolute win for your business. And, to get there, you need to have your site optimized for local SEO.
What is the Difference Between SEO and Local SEO?
The only major difference between normal SEO and local SEO is that the latter is more locally optimized. Local SEO is heavily impacted by what the users are searching in a particular geographical area. However, general SEO is all about increasing a website’s visibility to anyone around the world. Both are important for marketing. However, local SEO is far more important for small businesses and startups that target local customers.
How Does the Google Local Algorithm Work?
Before that, let’s talk briefly about what a search engine algorithm is. Search engines use a set of rules to determine a web page’s significance in response to a search query. This set of rules is referred to as search engine algorithm.
Google has its own algorithm to personalize search result for each user. However, in the case of local search, a different algorithm is used. The current local search algorithm used in Google is called Google Pigeon, and was rolled out in 2014. This algorithm is responsible for the local pack on Google Search and local finder on Google Maps.
The current algorithm tries to consider three specific factors before considering a local business enterprise.
First, the algorithm determines if the business has any relevance to a local search. You can create an account in Google My Business and begin to inform Google about the category, related keywords, and meta descriptions of your business. This will help Google to identify how relevant your business is for a local search.
The second factor is the brand’s prominence. You need to be trustworthy in terms of your service or product to keep yourself visible in a local SERP. Your business will have greater prominence if it has generated good online contents across the web. Google and other search engines will gather this information and give you as much prominence as you deserve.
The third factor is obviously, geographical proximity. The user can perform a local search in various ways. The user can mention a place (geo-modified) or just ask for a business near them. The ultimate result is Google will provide different information for different locations. Changing some as little as a street name can make your website appear in local SERP differently.
Take A Look At The Below – Local SEO: Guide to Improve Your Local Search, Related Other Chapters
Chapter 2: Who Needs Local SEO?
Chapter 3: Local SEO Keywords Research
Chapter 4: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Chapter 5: What is a Local SEO citation
Chapter 6: Online Reviews for Local Businesses
Chapter 7: On-Site SEO for Local Businesses
Chapter 8: Basics of Local Link Building
Chapter 9: Local SEO Reporting