What is local SEO?

Local sign

Local SEO is a branch of search engine optimisation that focuses on optimizing a website to be found to answer relevant local search queries.

A focus on local SEO in 2021 spells immediate potential for small businesses that serve a local customer-base. It affords them the opportunity to cash in for free essentially, with Google organic SERP returns. For digital marketing agencies, it spells potential for new revenue streams, with healthy profit-margins.

New to local SEO? Here’s a helpful guide, highlighting the opportunity in 2021 and beyond. Including expert resources to inform best practice for SMBs and your digital agency’s wider strategy.

Local SEO – What spells the opportunity in 2021?

The time for #supportlocal is Now. Thanks a lot, Covid-19.

No, seriously this time. Covid has, in effect, thrown local small businesses and digital agencies a lifeline. People are shopping more ‘local’ than ever before.

Fuelled by Covid-19, ‘Available near me’ searches increased 100% globally year-over-year, 2019-2020. New convenient and safe direct-to-consumer trading methods have come into play like click & collect, curbside pickup and free local delivery. Searches for ‘curbside pickup’ (alone) grew >3000% globally in one year 2019-2020. It’s highly likely these new trading methods are here to stay, because they suit the consumer and what suits the consumer, is good for business.

Local queries accounted for almost half of Google’s two trillion searches in 2020. With a 92.03% search engine market share, of course we need to focus our local SEO efforts on Google first and foremost.

Search Engine Market Share Worldwide graph Aug 20-Aug21 demonstrating why we need to focus our Local SEO efforts on Google

What defines a ‘local query’ from other types of search queries?

24-hour emergency plumbers near me? Top-rated Indian restaurants in Manchester? Best affordable solicitors, Croydon? Women’s vintage clothing stores near me? Are there any toilet rolls available to buy near me? (Who can forget?)

These are all prime examples of local search queries. It’s a query someone types into Google when they’re looking for a service, store or product in a specific location.

Other types of queries areInformational’ and demonstrate no local intent, for example:

What’s the name of the actor that plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones? Easy-to-make pumpkin soup recipe? Best online gift ideas for men, Christmas 2021?

What drives Local SEO on Google, exactly? Who needs it?

Google’s Local SEO algorithm is driven by 3 primary factors: relevance, proximity and prominence. In this 3 minute video, Local SEO expert Greg Gifford explains What is Local SEO and how to tell if your business needs it.

What does local SEO entail? What do we need to do?

It’s complicated.

What were you expecting?

Some people are still of the impression that SEO is just about websites; on-page optimisation, but in fact SEO has far-reaching implications, encompassing a business overall online presence, spanning multiple digital platforms.

SEO extends to Social Media pages, Reviews platforms, Online business directory listings and other online citations too – not least GMB profiles. All these things, over and above a website, ultimately add up to a business domain authority and site ranking power.

Lucky for you, Moz – the global champion of #supportlocal – has very generously laid out every digital marketing agency’s local SEO strategy – on a plate for you.

This super-helpful 4 x page PDF local SEO cheat sheet is free to download and provides you with the ultimate checklist and to-do list to inform Local SEO best practice. There’s even a cheat sheet to serve Web Developers. And this comprehensive Moz Local SEO guide is a superb resource that all digital marketing specialists should tune into – serving digital Sales, Production and Post-live optimisation agents to excellent effect.

Plus, creating optimised local landing pages is a winning formula for engaging and converting new customers on a ‘local level’. Be sure to check out this helpful high-converting local landing page infographic and checklist, updated for 2022. Especially useful for small businesses with multiple local bricks and mortar branches and ‘trades’ that want to serve locations further afield ie: nearby towns/districts.

But first – get the right local SEO testing and reporting tool in place

To justify service fees, with a view to retaining SMB clients and keeping things manageable for your agency, you should first look to adopt a single Local SEO testing and reporting tool.

The tool needs to feature a wide mix of digital industry-standard tests and weightings, reporting on key metrics spanning multiple digital platforms. It should enable you to benchmark, track and report back on the value you’ve driven for any given business in any given time-period on a holistic online presence level, with relative ease.

Ideally you need a tool that enables competitor benchmarking too, informing your clients’ immediate ‘To-do list’, i.e. what they need to do, to get ahead of the local competition.

If you need a reporting tool that helps you win more local SEO clients, find the right problems to fix, and prove your worth to your existing clients, check out the 7 day free trial of Insites.

Don’t be afraid of SEO

On-page... Off-page… You want me to optimise What, now?
On-page… Off-page… You want me to optimise What, now?

SEO can seem over-whelming at first. But take it from me (little more than a Gen-X digital migrant), SEO adds up to common sense at the end of the day – so if you’re blessed with that, then you are already half-way there.

Local SEO promises huge pay-offs and it is manageable at scale for agencies looking after multiple clients, spanning multiple business-verticals. The magic formula is:

  1. Make sure you have the right Local SEO testing/reporting tool in place at the start
  2. Take one step at a time
  3. Prioritise tasks/client services based on ‘effort’ and ‘opportunity’

And you can’t go far wrong.

(Famous last words)