Local SEO, a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on helping businesses build more visibility in the local search results on Google, is becoming more prominent in recent times.
Any offline business will benefit from implementing local SEO practices in its marketing policies. For instance, if any important keyword that is directly related to your business appears in google search results with a map followed by the listing of the three nearest business places related to that keyword, then it means that you can benefit from local SEO. In fact, it means that you are missing out on a huge chunk of the local business if you aren’t implementing local SEO norms on your online webpage.
However, unfortunately, local SEO is generally not covered in any Digital Marketing Course. In this article, let us look at what local SEO is and how it can be used to improve your business. But before that, let us first try to understand how a search engine, specifically how the Google search engine works.
What is a Search Engine?
In the beginning days of the internet, when there were only a few pages to search on the web, navigating the web was relatively easy. As the internet started expanding and getting filled with hundreds of thousands of web pages, search engines were developed to find the website people were looking for by matching the content on the website with phrases in your search query.
The first ever search engines—JumpStation, the World Wide Web Worm, and the Repository-Based Software Engineering (RBSE) spider—made use of automatic programs called robots or spiders, to request webpages and subsequently report what they found to a database. Later, Yahoo emerged as the dominant search engine tool. However, within a few short years, Google became the undisputed king among search engines. Let us look at what exactly the Google search engine does.
Working principle of the Google search engine
Google considers a plethora of ranking factors or websites including the site’s relevancy every time a search query is made by a user. However, contrary to popular belief, Google doesn’t scan the entire internet every time you make a search. Instead, it finds relevant websites for you from among a stored copy of the websites – called Google indexes – it has already discovered.
The process of forming these indexes is actually interesting. Google uses small programs called spiders that start on a single page, read its content, and follow the links on that page to move through other pages. This process called ‘crawling’ is used to create indexes of pages on the internet, and it works at breathtaking speeds – often crawling trillions of pages rapidly. This process is repeated regularly to ensure that all the indexes created are as up-to-date as possible and that any new sites and connections are discovered as quickly as possible.
How do Google search engine rank results?
Google uses multiple sets of processes or algorithms to rank hundreds of thousands of pages at breathtaking speeds. For every search query made on the search engine, Google runs multiple algorithms to scan the index pages to return a list of websites that match your search query in the organic results. The results are sorted and ranked on the basis of various factors such as their relevance, prominence, and popularity.
Various on-site and off-site factors are considered to determine which site best answers your search query and list it at the top of the search page. Usually, all the relevant sites are identified, and then they are listed on the basis of their prominence and popularity. Hence, working on these SEO factors, namely relevance, prominence, and popularity, will increase the chances of your website ranking at the top of the SERP.
Local SEO principles
Later on, after analyzing trillions of searches by users, Google learned that for certain businesses and services, people need results from their immediate area. So, they changed their local search algorithm to include a proximity factor to take your location into account when you make a search. Google uses the help of its own Google map application to figure out your location. And what is fascinating is that it does this even if your search doesn’t include any city names or phrases like ‘near me’ in the search.
For instance, if you search Google for great ‘Burger joints’ from your office, Google will churn out a set of burger joints near your office’s location. However, if you make the same search from your home, which, let’s assume, is far away from the office, it will show an entirely different set of results based on the location of your home. This functionality of local search was earlier limited to just desktop computers. However, with the explosion of mobile search in the past decade, local SEO has become one of the most prominent SEO features for business marketing.
Important factors affecting local SEO
For regional results, Google relies on a separate algorithm that powers the local map pack and the local ranking. So, local businesses have the double opportunity to appear within the main organic search result and the local map pack simultaneously.
To get insights into how to capitalize on the local SEO algorithm, let’s look at the various factors affecting the local SEO search results.
1. Building localized content with popular local keywords
Similar to Google’s traditional search algorithm. The local search algorithm also makes use of relevant information that is location specific. So, if you are a business with operations in multiple locations, it is important to build local landing pages with the local address, phone numbers, and other location-specific information to attract a higher online response and offline footfall of customers.
Ideally, the meta title and meta description of these local landing pages should also contain relevant location-specific information.
2. Building prominence for your local page
Having a business listing in Google My Business, citations from local data aggregators, and positive reviews from local users are important factors in improving your SEO ranking.
3. Using local SEO tools
There are local SEO-specific tools to improve your ranking in the local SEO search results by developing locally oriented SEO audits, keyword research focussed on your target local audience, building citations, managing Google My Business listings, business profile, Google posts, and your inclusion in local packs.
So, start making use of the information given on this page today to make the best use of the local SEO algorithm and rank your page higher in the local search results.
In a nutshell, local SEO is not something you want to avoid if you are an organization with businesses in multiple physical locations. It increases your chances of getting noticed by local users in multiple locations and thereby increasing your conversion and footfall.
If you wish to learn in-depth about local SEo norms and practices, enroll in the digital marketing program listed in the introduction paragraph.