What is local SEO (search engine optimization), and how is it different from regular SEO? Well, in truth, it’s not really that different. Local SEO is merely a subset of SEO, but for local businesses that want to show up in the local search results. It’s an important aspect that should be handled differently. When we’re talking about ranking a site locally, we’re not talking about the regular search engine page results – we’re actually talking about your listing on Google Maps. When someone searches for a local service (e.g., a restaurant or store in the area), Google generally places what is called the “Local Pack” at the top of the page. When you click through one of the results in that local pack, you’re looking at Google Maps. These same results are an indication of how you would rank if people were using the actual Google Maps app to look for your service in their immediate vicinity. Ranking in the Local Pack and on Google Maps is an essential part of any local business’ online strategy, and we specialize in helping clients achieve a better ranking.
What is the Local Pack?
The Local Pack consists of the first 3 suggested results on a Google Search Results Page for local businesses — you can see an example of that in the accompanying image. These were the results that appeared when we looked for a Web Design Company in Berks County (and yep, we’re the first result). As you can see, it starts with a map that shows location pins for most of the relevant businesses in the area (relevant to that search), but then it proceeds to highlight three of them. The majority of local search traffic for any particular search word or phrase goes to those three listings. If your business doesn’t appear in the Local Pack, the consumer doing the searching would need to hit the “More Places” button to browse more options. That certainly happens, but not very often. And if the three businesses included in the Local Pack are quality businesses that meet the needs of those doing the searching, potential customers will be less inspired to hit that button.
If you run a business that primarily serves a local customer base, your main priority in terms of your digital marketing strategy should be to rank in the Local Pack. Keep in mind that results are personalized to every individual that searches, so you may not show up in the same position for everyone in your service area that performs a search; however, you can show up for the majority of those people looking for your business.
How Do We Optimize Your Website?
Much like regular SEO, there is a lot that goes into local SEO but it’s not nearly as overwhelming. We break down our local SEO services into two buckets: on-page optimization includes the things we can do directly on your site to help it rank better, and off-page optimization which includes the things we do on other websites to help your website rank better. Both are equally important.
Google looks at over 200 different signals to figure out how to rank your website, so this is by no means a complete list, but it does cover the most important parts of the process.
Meta Tag Optimization
Google My Business Optimization
Social Media Mentions
All SEO services, including Local SEO, take time. The algorithm that is the heart of Google search is extremely powerful, but it’s looking at an incredible amount of data every day while trying to tie it all together, so it takes time for it to process it all. There is no getting around it. Changes you make today can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to show up in Google search results. How quickly the changes on your site will be noticed and updated by Google depends mostly on your authority. The more important Google already thinks your site is, the quicker it notices changes and updates your rankings accordingly. If you aren’t currently ranking well, it likely means that Google does not view your website as a high authority site so it’s going to take a little while for any optimization to have an effect.
We say all of this up front because we do not want anyone to have the idea that things can change overnight. In fact, we ask any client that is going to work with us on their local search ranking to commit to us for 3 months. We have a tried and true methodology to optimizing a site, but it takes time, and if we aren’t given that time, any optimization we would be ineffective.
If you’re interested in having us help you improve your rankings, contact us today. The first step is for us to do a full (and Free!) website evaluation. With this evaluation, we will give you our honest opinion of your website; we will look for issues that may be holding your website back; and we will give you a quote for services that will fix these issues. The evaluation is free, and you are under no obligation. Just contact us today and let us know you’re interested in a free and incredibly thorough website evaluation.