That your business appears in the first positions when a user performs a local search, whose intention is to move to a place or physical company in which a service is performed is the result of doing local SEO.
If you have a physical business and want to increase your online visibility, it is essential that you start working on local SEO positioning today.
In this complete local SEO guide, I will tell you how to optimize your website and your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing to achieve this; and I also show you tricks and tools that will be very useful to you along the way.
What Is Local SEO: Definition
We call local SEO the process of optimizing a web page so that it appears in local search results (local pack) and results in increased traffic and leads for a physical business.
Discussed in a more understandable way:
Local SEO is the set of actions and strategies that improve your visibility on Google (and other search engines) when people close to the physical location of your business carry out a search related to the product or service you offer.
It is, therefore, about attracting customers in smaller areas such as towns, cities and even districts or neighborhoods.
It is common practice for local businesses that want to reach this audience to direct them to their physical location. For example: restaurants, entertainment venues, bars, laundries, tobacconists and any physical business you can think of.
To get an idea of its importance, with data in hand, I can tell you that:
- 46 % of all searches on Google were directed to searching for local information.
- 88 % of consumers search for local businesses from their mobile device and end up taking an action: call or visit the physical business in the next 24 hours.
- 72 % of users who did a local search visited an establishment within a radius of 5 kilometers from their location.
- And 18% of those searches result in a sale that same day.
Understanding Local Searches
And to better understand the subject of local searches, we are going to classify the online user’s search intentions into four types:
- To know (informational search): the user searches for information. It may require a short answer or a longer article like this one. Example: what is local SEO.
- Commercial: this would be the one that interests us for local SEO because the user intends to visit something (“to go” searches) or knows what product or service they want, but is not clear about the best solution. You are looking for a service or place where you can find what you are looking for or also reviews, analysis and comparisons. Example: best SEO agency.
- Navigation: the user searches for a specific brand, product or service name. Example: Facebook.
- To buy (transactional search): The user probably already knows what to buy and wants to find where to buy it. Example: buy iPad pro, 2020
We are going to see how to do local SEO step by step, but I already tell you that the most important thing is:
- Be clear about local keyword searches that affect your business.
- Have an optimized profile on Google Business Profile.
- Have a consistent NAP (I’ll explain what it is later, don’t worry).
Benefits Of Local Positioning For Your Business
- With what we have seen so far, you should already be clear about the advantages of investing in local SEO, but in case you have any doubts, here are some more advantages:
- Citations that positively influence local SEO will also help you to have more visibility online in general and that only means one thing: more visibility for your business.
- Local SEO work will help you get more qualified (and nearby) traffic through local keywords relevant to your business.
- Optimizing the Google Business Profile listing will also give you visibility on Google Maps.
- Optimizing for local SEO will help you manage and control the online reputation of your company and that generates trust in the user. The result? More conversions.
Do you now understand why it is so important to work on local SEO if you have a physical store or business?
What Is Local SERP?
Before starting to talk about local SEO strategies and positioning factors, it is important to be clear about where we are going to appear and how the famous Google local pack works.
To do local SEO it is essential to install an extension in which you can change the location of the search.
You can use GS location changer or Google Location Guard extension if you use Google Chrome as your browser, to name a few.
That said, let’s get down to business: what is local SERP and what aspects are important to know about it?
It is the section of Google that appears in the first instance, as long as there are no ads for that search, which is usually 93% of the time and in which we find a map and 3 local businesses that could answer the query.
Until a few years ago, 7 businesses were displayed in the local business listings, but currently only three companies appear in the “local 3 pack” for any local business search.
For some specific searches, what we call the ABC pack also appears, which is exactly the same, but Google places the letters A, B, C in front of the name of the companies. Look at an example in this image:
It is very similar to the standard local pack, but with the variation that it includes an image in each result, but it does not include the directions or the link to the website that we did see in the previous images.
If you click on one of the images, the local finder will open with the GBP company file displayed and the map enlarged. Look at an example for “Dallas restaurants”:
Local Finder With Map And Results
Just below the 3 results of the local pack there is a “more sites” button.
If we click, we will go directly to the map with results. This is what we call local finder:
The data for each business shown here is what Google pulls from the business’s Google Business Profile (GBP) listing.
I am telling you this so that you understand the importance of having a perfectly completed and optimized GBP profile for SEO.
If you click on any of the companies shown, the business file will open:
In it, as you can see in the image above, all GBP data, reviews and user questions and answers are displayed.
In addition, a “website” button is included, with a link to the business website; a “how to get there” button that shows the route on Maps, from your current location to the location of the business and a “save” button.
From this same screen you can read the Google reviews of users with their scores and even write your question or review right there.
Photos of the company are also included, which are extracted from your GBP file as well.
They appear just below the local pack and for local searches they usually show directories, but this varies a lot depending on the keyword.
A snippet appears with compilations of “the best vegan restaurants” from TripAdvisor (for example). Obviously, appearing up there requires a lot of authority and a lot of user reviews and ratings.
Then the local pack would come and just below the posts with a list format that would include the names of the different vegan establishments.
For searches of the type “restaurant type + city” or “best [business] + city”, directories and listings normally appear because Google does not really know which is the best
Also known as the knowledge graph, it is the box that appears on the right in the SERPS for a local exact brand search.
By the way, have you noticed the companies that pay Google Ads to appear for the brand search with the name of my agency?
Local SEO Factors That Influence The Local Pack
It is important to say at this point that the higher you rank in the organic results, the higher you will rank in the local pack. This was confirmed by Google in its Help Center.
That said, we are going to see the local SEO factors that you must work on if you want to gain visibility in the Google local pack. Thus, we can talk about three concepts: proximity, popularity and relevance.
The user’s location is essential when Google shows one or another result.
You can check it yourself by searching from different locations with an extension such as Location Guard.
And that is precisely why it is so important to have a consistent NAP (name, address and phone number of your business) and a 100% completed Google Business Profile listing, because then Google will have no doubts about your location(s).
This is very easy for Google to measure because it hardly has to leave its own “network”.
Here the reviews on Google itself are essential; third-party reviews (Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp…), which even appear in the knowledge panel if they have the “same as” schema marked; mentions and other factors such as social signals or brand searches, among others.
Obviously, popularity factors are influenced by quantity, speed (how often people talk about you) or quality.
In relation to the latter, and to give an example, it must be said that a long and detailed review, with a score and photos, will be much more relevant to your local positioning than a 2-sentence review.
The relevance of your business for certain local searches can be measured through different mechanisms:
- The data of your GBP file: categories or that the keyword appears in the name, reviews and publications. The engagement of your GBP profile is also measured, either with clicks on photos, reading reviews or posts, followers or scrolling.
- The on-page SEO factors of your website, such as the schema and geolocation of your content, a consistent NAP, keyword in H-Tag subtitles, LSI terms and even organic CTR.
- The interaction and behavior of the user: it is measured through the CTR of the local pack, clicks on the call button, of your business, clicks on the “how to get there” button or visits to the business.
With these three concepts understood and, according to a MOZ study from 2 years ago, the factors that most influence positioning in the local pack and the finder are the following:
- Google Business Profile: proximity, categories, keyword in the title.
- Links: anchor text, linker domain authority, number of linking domains…
- Reviews: quantity, speed and diversity.
- On page signals: NAP, keyword in titles, domain authority…
- Citations or mentions: IYP/NAP consistency, volume…
- Behavioral signals: Click-through rate or CTR, clicks on the call button from the mobile, check-ins, etc.
- Social signals: engagement on the various social networks, including GBP.
And we can even add some more, although they have less influence than the previous ones, such as brand searches or the age of the GBP profile.
How To Do Local Seo Right Now
Now that you know the importance of doing local SEO if you have a physical business and what are the important factors that Google values to position companies in its local pack, how about we see how to optimize everything to achieve maximum visibility through your local SEO positioning?
Optimized Google Business Profile Listing
I’ll start with the most important: create and complete your Google Business Profile listing from scratch. But let me make this easier for you if you know nothing about GBP by telling you what exactly it is and how it works.
What Is Google Business Profile?
According to Google’s own definition:
Google Business Profile is a free, easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence through Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers find your business and tell them your story.
Having a company profile in Google Business Profile opens up a world of possibilities at the local positioning level. That’s why I’ll tell you how to create it from scratch step by step.
Create And Optimize Google Business Profile Account For SEO
I am going to create a file as an example and so we are seeing it visually as well.
To create your company file in GBP, go here and click on the “manage now” button to log in with your Gmail email.
Local SEO Step 1:
On the first screen, type the name of your company to check if at some point in your life you decided to fill in the data on the GBP file. If you are sure or have already checked, click on “create a company with this name”.
For example, if you have a women’s shoe store called Elisa and your main keyword is “women’s shoes”, then you could put the name: Women’s Shoes Elisa.
Local SEO Step 2:
On the next screen confirm the company name and click “next”.
Local SEO Step 3:
Now it is the turn of the categories and here you will not be able to advance in the creation of your profile without having in front of you the keyword research with the most important keywords for your business and the analysis of keywords and categories used by your competitors.
If you want, to make it easier, you can use the search engine and enter the keywords of your business (the ones you will have in your keyword research).
You can include a main keyword and up to 9 additional keywords, but the latter can be completed later.
Local SEO Step 4:
On the next screen you are asked if you want to analyze a location to appear on Google Maps and Search.
Of course! Click “yes” and next.
Local SEO Step 5:
Now yes, enter the address of your business. If you have different delegations, enter here the address of the main one.
Local SEO Step 6:
On the next screen, Google will show you some businesses with addresses and phone numbers so you can confirm if one is yours. If neither is, check the “none of these options” box and click the “next” button.
Local SEO Step 7:
The next screen is a map in which you must locate your company and click on «next».
Local SEO Step 8:
In the next one they will ask you if you offer service outside of this location. If you deliver at home or provide services outside the office, check “yes” and click next. Otherwise, check “no”.
For example, if you are a bar that accepts delivery orders, you must mark “yes”.
Local SEO Step 9:
Next you must enter the contact information of your business: telephone number and URL of the website, which we assume you have. If not, check “I don’t need a website”, but know that you DO need it if you want to harness the power of online visibility for your business.
And here ends the Google Business Profile creation assistant!
But your profile is not yet “public” because Mr. Google will need to verify that your business is real. If not, imagine the chaos this could be. Still, you can publish it, but until you verify it, it won’t do much good.
Local SEO Step 10:
Well, to verify it by postal mail by entering a contact person and within a period of up to 13 days you will receive it at the postal address that you have indicated in your file.
You can also click check later. In this case, the next screen will allow you to add your company’s services and you will be directly inside your GBP file, not yet verified.
Be careful, until you verify it, there are certain options that you will not be able to fill in.
As you will see in the image, there are multiple options within your Google Business Profile: publications, information, statistics, reviews, messages, photos, products, services, websites, manage locations…
Everything must be perfectly filled out to have your file 100% optimized for SEO. You can start with the “information” section and then continue with photos, products and services, for example. Whatever the order, fill everything!
Photos And Videos In GBP
Clicking on the “photos” section in the left menu of your GBP listing will open up a whole world of visual possibilities for your business.
Here you can place your logo, a cover photo, add videos and even include photos of the team, of the interior of the premises (you can contract Google’s 360 payment service and have it, appear on your profile as a street view of the interior of your premises), of the exterior facade or the terrace, if you had it.
Of course, upload quality photos, sharp, with good focus and angle. If you can entrust them to a professional, the better.
Geolocate Images For Local SEO
Always geolocate the images you upload to your GBP file or to your website.
Simply select the coordinates of your business from the URL of your Google Maps business and upload them along with the image you want to geolocate to any online tool that has this objective. For example, you can use GeoImgr, but there are many more.
Ok, so now that you have located them, you can now upload them to your Google Business Profile file. Do not forget to place keywords in the title of the image and respect the guidelines of formats, weight and size:
- They must be in JPG or PNG format.
- They must be the correct size: between 10 kB and 5 MB.
- The recommended resolution is 720px high x 720px wide.
- The minimum recommended resolution is 250 x 250 pixels.
- At the quality level, good lighting is recommended, without modifications or too many filters: the better it represents reality, the better.
- As for the videos, their maximum duration is 30 seconds, their size is up to 100 MB and the resolution is 720 pixels or higher.
Publications In GBP
From the left menu of GBP, click on “posts”.
From there they will offer you to publish your first offer, but you can also publish updates, news, events and even add products.
Likewise, until your profile is verified, the posts will not be shown on Google or Maps.
You can add a totally optional call-to-action button to these posts. You cannot add it or choose from one of the drop-down options: reserve, order online, buy, more information or register.
Click publish and your publication will already be visible to users who reach your profile, as long as it is verified, as we said.
Things to keep in mind in your posts on Google Business Profile:
- They disappear after 7 days except in the case of the event, in which it is visible until the date of the event passes.
- Place keywords in the title and description attacking the services you offer. You can make a publication for each service and even for each product if you have a reduced catalog.
- Use the call to action to drive traffic to your website.
- Type up to 90 characters if you don’t want the post to be cut off, but you can use up to 1,500.
- Geolocate the images.
Do you know why GBP is so important?
Well, because customer reviews are included here and, I’m sorry to say, but this is the most important factor to work on the local SEO of your store or business.
NOTE: Until your Google Business Profile is verified, you won’t be able to respond to reviews or questions from your potential customers, so request verification by mail as soon as possible.
Reviews are accessible from the local pack and can also appear in the Q&A section of your knowledge panel overview and even as “place topics” within your GBP listing.
At The Positioning Level, Several Factors Influence:
- How many reviews appear over time: it is useless to write 20 reviews in a month and then not do more because they must be constant over time. It’s like when we do link building.
- Date of the review: the oldest ones have more validity.
- Keywords included in reviews.
- Quality: reviews from users called Local Guide are worth more (I explain it below).
- Exclusive GBP Reviews – These are worth more than reviews on third-party services like Facebook or TripAdvisor, for example.
Ok Stealth SEO Solutions, how do I get reviews on Google Business Profile?
Well, there are several options:
One of them, the most natural, is to ask your customers to leave a review after trying your product or service. You can create a QR code to make it easier for them.
The other option is to buy GBP reviews.
This, as you may be imagining, goes against Google’s guidelines, but there are companies that offer it as a service. If you do, make sure you have the highest rated “Local Guide” user reviews that are geolocated. Also, please note, we don’t condone or recommend this.
Of course, the more keywords the reviews include, the better. Take advantage of your answers also to include them and give semantics to each review, but always in the most natural way possible.
SEO On Page: Priorities
At the level of SEO on page, there are some factors that you can, and should, optimize on your website to improve your local SEO. I mention them below:
Local Keyword Research
Here the main difference compared to a standard keyword study lies in the locations you want to rank for: neighborhood, town, province and autonomous community.
The normal thing is that you attack the main keyword with more searches in the home, but this is very relative because each business is a world.
Perhaps at this point you would need to hire a professional SEO to do good keyword research and help you with the web structure of your page.
In this phase of searching for local keywords, you will have to investigate the Google SERPS to determine which ones trigger the local pack in Google.
And, of course, spy on the competition to see what they are attacking and how to craft a winning strategy.
Web Architecture: The Importance Of Location Pages
With your keyword research in your hands, you will already have data to prepare the architecture of your website.
As I told you before, the normal thing in local SEO is to go after the main keyword in the home and create a page for each service.
In addition, we add a page for each service: content creation, SEO audit, consulting, link building, SEM positioning and web design.
Imagine the case of a kitchen remodeling company in Dallas. You can attack this keyword on the home page and make a localized service page for the location and for each type of reform. For example:
- Dallas kitchen remodeling.
- Dallas bathroom remodeling.
In the end, everything will depend on the services you offer and the locations where your business is located or where you offer your service.
Let’s take an example with a Dallas renovation company that provides services in Dallas and that has a single physical location in Dallas.
In this case, a page could be created for each locality and from there, daughter pages could be created with the services of kitchens, bathrooms and premises. The main keyword would be “Dallas Remodeling” and we would optimize it on the homepage.
To optimize each location page for SEO effectively, I recommend:
- Create a specific and totally original text for each page.
- Add content optimized for local SEO. That is: H-Tag headers with the keyword plus the locality, include longtails and good LSI semantics, optimize the title and alt tag of the images and work very well with the meta title and meta-description because the clicks from Google depend on them.
- Make a good interlinking with the exact anchor of the location to which you link.
- Includes geolocated photos and videos.
- Reviews and testimonials.
- Schema markup (explained below).
- Google Map.
Structured Data (Schema)
First of all, not all professions have their own schema markup and sometimes this part becomes especially complicated depending on the business we are talking about.
But schema and structured data are essential when it comes to local SEO, so let’s see how to get local schema for your business in the easiest way possible:
- Go into Schema Markup Generator or some similar tool.
- Select “local business” and search for the schema for your profession. Take a look at schema.org/localbusiness, which names the most important types within the local business schema.
- Fill in your business details.
- Copy the script and paste it in the head of your website.
you can also use plugins like Rank Math (only valid for homepage) or local Schema for location pages to insert the structured data. You also have the Schema Pro payment plugin, very easy to use.
Do it as you want but do it: add the local schema to your website.
There is little new to say here.
It is very important to geolocate the images as we saw before and upload them already geolocated to your website and, of course:
- Include an embedded map in the “contact” section and even on the homepage with the location of your company.
- Create a geolocated sitemap with the help of tools like the Geo Sitemap Generator and upload it to your Search Console account.
- Link to local authority pages for your business.
Finally, at the local SEO level on page, show reviews, consistent NAP and link to the GBP profile from your website.
Link Building For Local SEO
Links are the second most important factor for local SEO, behind only Google Business Profile, according to MOZ, works on the incoming links to your website and even to your GBP profile.
Citations – Consistent Nap
I am not going to dwell on this much because it is logical: the more citations of your business on the web, the better. Same as in the case of links.
Local citations are ALMOST as important as reviews, so you’ll need to work on them if you want to do good local SEO.
When we talk about citation, we refer to the NAP: name of your business, address and telephone number.
Your NAP must be consistent, that is, always the same because Google must be clear about the real address of your business.
And where can you place these citations outside of GBP?
- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social networks.
- Bin Places.
- Apple Maps.
- Yellow Pages.
- Citations in directories or aggregators on a specific topic.
- Local directories.
- Press, local preferably.
These are the basic ones, but there are many more sites. It is advisable to analyze the citations of the competition and thus you will discover places to leave your NAP as well. There are extensions and tools to help you with this mission, such as NAP Hunter.
The important thing about all this is that the NAP is always the same. This is why it is so important to do a full audit on the web and review all those citations to modify the NAP in case it appears different somewhere.
And, of course, we look for citations and links on authoritative, thematic and relevant sites for your business. In addition, those that include a link will bring you referral traffic to your page and this is definitely positive for local SEO (and also for organic).