What Is Local SEO & How Does It Work?

  • Last update: 01/11/2023

Benjamin Poirrier

Digital Marketing Expert

What is local SEO text next to a magnifier icon

Local SEO allows brick-and-mortar businesses to increase their footfall in their physical stores. It is also an excellent way for delivering companies to attract surrounding customers.

We will go through the ins and outs of everything you need to know about local SEO. Whether you are a startup looking for local expansion, a business willing to boost its franchises’ visibility, or just a curious person, read this article to become an expert on this subject.

What Is Local SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process that helps brands get more visible on the internet. It improves website traffic and keyword rankings. Read our complete SEO guide to understand the logic.

Local SEO does the same… at a local scale. It means that, when your business implements a local SEO strategy, it optimizes its visibility, traffic, and rankings within a specific area. The purpose is to make sure that potential clients find your brand online, and then offline when applicable.

In short, local SEO is nothing more than classic SEO with a focus on proximity. The local search engine algorithm includes a “zone” factor that answers better the online users’ queries having a local intent.

For example, the key phrase “repair brand ABC laptop near me” perfectly illustrates local SEO.

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Why Is Local SEO Important?

Obviously, with the rise of smartphones, local SEO experienced huge growth during the previous years. Today, it is more important than ever to beat competitors locally.

Brands should develop a local SEO strategy for the following reasons:

  • Half of Google searches concern local businesses.
  • Attracting local clients is easier and cheaper than global ones.
  • People make more decisions online as it is more convenient to compare.
  • Customers are more likely to purchase something “near me”.
  • Customers are more likely to recommend a nearby business.
  • Customers are more loyal when they live around the company.

Given the importance of local SEO on brands, we will explain how to optimize in the coming sections.

Local SEO Audit & Optimization

To get started with local SEO, the first task to perform is an audit.

Check how your business currently looks on Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Type your brand name. If you only see organic results without any map at the top of the knowledge panel on the right side, it means you must optimize.

NAPW Information

Before we detail all the items to polish, let’s focus on the most important “identifier” of your business. We call it “NAPW” which stands for:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Website

Those three pieces of information define your company and help web crawlers identify you. The name, address, phone number, and website URL must be the same everywhere across the internet. You should not change them, even with minor formatting edits.

Once you make sure you have the exact NAPW information, go ahead on your Google Business Profile account (create one if you do not have any yet). Verify your NAPW on the “info” tab.

When your Google Business Profile account (GBP) is updated, you want to make sure that every other online platform that you own matches your NAPW. Check the following in priority:

  • Your website.
  • Your social media channels.
  • Your PR articles and guest posts information.
  • Your partners’ channels mention your business.

This step is crucial and you must complete it before doing any further local SEO optimization.

Google Local Pack

The Google Local Pack, also called Local 3-Pack, is an information panel that appears above the classic organic results in the SERP (and under the paid ads of course).

It includes two main sections:

  • Local Google Map (at top).
  • Best 3-pack business results (just under the map).

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The map shows the location of the most relevant companies that answer the online user’s key phrase. It comes with three company boxes on which we can preview some information. There is a “view more” button that opens the Google Local Finder with more listings.

As this information is closely tied to your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), you should review and update your account to look more appealing on the Google Local Finder.

Check how you can improve the Google Business Profile knowledge panel and your visibility on Google Maps (both global and local). Don’t forget to upload engaging pictures to attract your online customers.

To help the search engines better scan your local information, use the Google Structured Data Markup Helper and implement the “Local Business” schema markup.

Google Business Profile Optimization

Google Business Profile is the core platform for optimizing the online visibility of local brands. The first thing to do when creating a new account is to claim the business listing. It means you must input the correct NAPW information, and then officially submit it to Google.

The platform will send a unique code to the mail address to physically verify it. Once you receive this code, you must input it into the account to finish the procedure.

Besides the NAPW and address verification, the brand should focus on editing the following top information on Google Business Profile:

  • Business category.
  • Business description.
  • Working hours.
  • Products and services.
  • Pictures.
  • Posts.

We also strongly encourage the company to update the account every time needed. For example, if the working hours change temporarily due to a seasonal event, mention it on your Google Business Profile.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Once businesses complete the local optimizations detailed above, they must grant some time to the search engines to index their content.

As Google returns its answers based on the user’s location, the results will be different if he/she requests from home or the office.

How do brands rank higher in the Google Local Finder? Besides the GBP account information and the physical company location, there is a combination of multiple factors to consider. We dressed a local SEO guide checklist here:

  • Online reviews.
  • Online directories.
  • Citations.
  • Local social media.
  • Localized content.
  • Local backlinks.
  • Website mobile friendliness.

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Anyone having a Gmail account can publish an online review about the business. Those 5-star ratings are strong local signals for Google. Of course, the purpose is to receive as many positive comments as possible.

We encourage brands to ask their clients for those reviews. People experiencing great customer service are more likely to share good comments.

Unfortunately, nothing can prevent badly intentioned people or jealous competitors from writing 1-star reviews about your business. If it happens to you, check how to get those fake comments removed from Google.

Overall, any “local” citation about your business is good to take. The point is to customize them for the local audience. Make sure to publish those shoutouts in the right language and local culture. Keep the content specific to people in this zone.

Another essential local SEO tip is to have a mobile-friendly website. As more and more online users do local searches from their smartphones, you want to optimize your web pages for those devices.

Local SEO Services

The key to local SEO is to make search engines understand the business. You must work on the signals we listed previously in this article.

If your business cannot manage this work in-house, make sure to check if you need to outsource. To the question: “Who needs local SEO?”, there are three answers:

  • Businesses having a physical location.
  • Businesses serving a specific geographic area.
  • Businesses having multiple branches.

If your company matches at least one of those options and wants people in the same location to find your products and services, then do not hesitate to contact local SEO experts to help you out.