What Is Local SEO and How Does It Work?

Local SEO is a term you may or may not have heard about, but if you run a business, especially if you serve people in your geographic area, you’ll definitely want to know what local SEO is and how to make it work for your business.

What is local SEO?

To put it simply, local SEO helps businesses promote themselves online to local customers within a geographic area. It means making sure people can find your business for the local searches most relevant to your business.

But what is meant by “local search?”  It’s a search query someone is typing into Google with local intent such as “plumber” or “plumber near me” or “plumber London”. Google knows that the person isn’t looking for information on how to be a plumber. They are looking for a plumber.

Using another example, let’s say you run a zero-waste shop. You want to attract more people to your shop and not the other zero waste shops in the area.

So, how do you do that? How do you let the people who are searching for “zero waste shop” know that you are there?

Local SEO strategies help you do that.

Type in “zero waste shop”. I live in London, so if you do this, you’ll get different results. That’s because Google knows where you are and knows where the person searching for “zero waste shop” is.

Cool, right?

Seventy-two percent of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within five miles of their current location.  This means that you really want your business to appear in the area of the search engine results page called the map pack.

Related: 5 Local SEO tips to boost visibility

How does local SEO work?

Local SEO is cool and Google is smart. Google is so smart that the person doesn’t even need to put in the town or “near me” after the search term. That’s because Google knows where the searcher is and where your business is.

You see, Google likes to give the person searching for whatever they are searching for the best results.

But if you haven’t told Google where you’re located in a whole bunch of different ways, it’s going to choose a company that’s giving it more signals that it is actually in the place it says it is.

So, let’s say you’re a dentist in Harrow and you’ve got a website. The website might be very nice. But maybe you’ve only mentioned where you are located in your address in the footer and maybe a couple of times in the web copy here and there.

But which company is Google going to present to the searcher?

Google will show the person who is searching for a dentist in Harrow your competitors’ websites because they’ve gone to the trouble of doing local SEO.  Their location is mentioned on their website a bunch of times and in the SEO titles and meta descriptions (that’s the writing that you see on a Google search results page). What’s more, these businesses are building their local listings and local citations. Their Google My Business listing is optimised and updated on a regular basis with new pictures and posts. People are also leaving reviews about how happy their experience was.

Related: 7 Google My Business review tips

And finally…

That’s what Google likes. Lots of signals that you are where you are and that people are pleased with your product or service.   Why wouldn’t you avail of this free listing? Your Google My Business listing is like your new home page so it makes complete sense to optimise that as much as you can along with other well-known local SEO strategies.

So, there’s no doubt that local search drives traffic to your website and if you aren’t working on your local SEO strategy, you could very well be losing business.

Not sure what local SEO is or if it's important for your business? Here are the basics so you can make sure you boost your visibility in local searches.

What Is Local SEO and How Does It Work?