Local SEO services focus on ranking within the top 3 positions of Google’s local pack (the area in Google search results with a map and 3 local businesses). Ranking well within the local pack is especially beneficial to companies who rely on customers located close to the business.
Local search engine optimization is not the same as organic SEO. Localized SEO optimization helps businesses rank within the top 3 positions of Google’s Local Pack. The local pack is not always present within Google’s results because some queries do not lend themselves to a local business focus, such as managed database services. Here is an example of local pack results in Google:
Google’s local results are intended to help users find businesses close to the user’s geographic location. Those businesses who rely on local customers, for example restaurants, stand to gain by being found within the local pack.
Top 3 local pack rankings stand apart from organic results for several reasons. The most obvious reason being found in local results is important is the prominence of local-pack results above the organic results. Search engine users typically start at the top of results to research their query, therefore, the local-pack (when present) will typically get more clicks than the organic results.
Additionally, the local results area catches user’s eyes more than the organic results because of it’s different format and additional information, including company name, review stars with access to actual consumer reviews, address, business hours, link to website as well as directions to reach the business from the user’s current location. Google search users are more likely to find the information they desire faster and easier within the local pack area versus below in the organic results.
For more information about SEO and what it is, see our What is SEO Questions page.
The primary benefit of successful local SEO services is ranking within the top 3 results of the local pack. Being found in the local pack significantly increases the visibility of a business and, therefore, the likelihood of a user choosing to click on one of those top 3 local businesses. More clicks to one’s website means more visitors. With more website visitors comes the opportunity to make more sales.
So, now that we understand the difference between local SEO vs. organic SEO and the benefits of ranking within the local pack, why is this area of search results gaining prominence and importance?
As people changed their internet search habits, moving from desktop searches to mobile devices like tablets and smart phones, more internet users are mobile and are performing Google searches while out and about. The significance of this is that what was, for example, a desktop search for “Italian Restaurant” has evolved into “Italian food near me”.
Google has adapted its delivery of search results to address this change in how users are using Google’s search engine. The delivery of a better customer experience for Google means adding a separate area in search results for these types of mobile, local searches. In fact, more searches are now conducted via mobile devices.
Another significant change in how people are using search engines is the move from typing queries to voice search. Organic and local search optimization is always evolving, the move from text to voice search has changed the words used within a query. While the use of mobile devices changed searches to include “near me”, the evolution of speaking one’s search into a device changes the number of words or length of the search.
Continuing with our example above of a mobile text search for “Italian food near me”, with voice search this might become “where can I find a good Italian restaurant close to me?”. The nature of how and why people use search engines has evolved to a much greater focus on personalized, localized searches.
Many lengthy articles are available online about how to optimize for local search. Basic local search optimization is simple and straight forward (though experienced local SEO experts like Webolutions can perform the work faster and more efficiently, resulting in potentially faster local pack rankings).
The first and most critical element for top 3 local rankings is to create a Google My Business page. If one is to be found within Google’s local pack, you need to have a GMB and claim it in order to optimize the GMB page. “Claiming” a GMB is simply the process of verifying that you are the business owner and, therefore, authorized to make changes or assign another individual to make changes, such as local optimization, for you.
A My Business page on Google provides an opportunity for regionalized businesses to share information about their products and services, hours of operation, a description of one’s business, methods of payment accepted, images of the business and other information that is not included in organic search results. Google adds additional elements when your local GMB is found in results, including reviews, review stars, address and phone number. These elements provide additional incentive for users to click on a local-pack result.
Once a GMB is created and optimized to include necessary information and elements to improve the likelihood of ranking well, local citations linking to the company website need to be created. There are hundreds of websites that provide categorization of products and services using a company’s name, description of services, business address, phone number and other information.
When one’s business is included within these websites, a link to the website is typically included. The backlinks from a website listing your business, address and phone number is known as a “local citation”. Local citations are important to ranking well within Google’s local pack results. Just as backlinks to one’s website are important for organic rankings; local citations are a particular type of backlinks that help ranking well within local search results.
Hundreds of local citations are available. Let Webolutions, Denver SEO experts, help you with prioritizing the most important citations for your industry and business.
An essential part of local search optimization is the consistency of the name, address and phone number listed within citations. Any deviations from NAP consistency may send a mixed signal to Google and negatively impact optimization efforts.
A few common inconsistencies found within local citation NAPs are different versions of the company name or address. Business names frequently are different because one listing may include, for example, “Inc.” or “LLC”, while other citation listings do not. Inconsistencies in addresses might include things like abbreviations for street names such as “St” or “Ave” versus the street suffix being spelled out (ie. Street or Avenue).
Business reviews also impact local rankings. Some SEO experts feel, like with backlinks, the more the better. Others believe a focused effort on quality reviews from respected websites are important. Either way, reviews of one’s products or service have an impact on local pack rankings. One should be encouraging reviews of their business, particularly if they are delivering superior service.
Because reviews can help or hurt a business’ success, actively managing reviews is important. The management of reviews, including responding and addressing issues, is an important part of a brand’s image. Neglect responding to customer reviews and you miss an opportunity to thank your customer for a positive review and support of your business. Ignore responding to a negative review and the impression that the customer is right may be conveyed to others who read the review. A professional, courteous response addressing problem areas conveys credibility and caring.
Local-pack rankings are impacted by several different factors. As mentioned above, the proper optimization of one’s Google My Business page is important. There is an art to achieving the optimal GMB listing that includes what and how content within the GMB is written.
Other important elements considered for local rankings are the quantity and quality of local citations, the consistency of NAP and the number of (favorable) reviews.
There exists a strong correlation between how well a website is optimized for search engines, which is part of organic SEO. Websites that are better optimized for organic search results are better optimized for local search. The two types of SEO services, while different, are inter-connected and overlap. Just as backlinks help organic rankings, so too do local citations.
Local search engine optimization is most effective when performed by a professional SEO company because their experience helps to prioritize what optimization techniques are most important and impactful to rankings.
For those do-it-yourselfers, here are 3 of the top local search optimization tools:
Local SEO is different than organic SEO. In some respects, local search optimization is more important than traditional organic search engine optimization. For businesses who rely on local customers, being found within Google’s local-pack results is critically important for businesses growth and success. A professional local SEO optimization company can help prioritize local optimization efforts and achieve results faster. Effective local search optimization requires having a Google My Business (GMB) page, consistent local citations and favorable business reviews.
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