An All-Inclusive Local SEO Guide for Driving Local Leads

Master the art of local SEO with our comprehensive guide, designed to help businesses optimize their online presence for local searches, attract new customers, and outshine local competition.
  • Smiling woman with long hair on a green background.
    Macy Storm Senior Content Creator
    Author block right corner shape
  • October 30, 2023
  • 10 min. read

Even if you’re the best at what you do, there are plenty of people living in and visiting your area that haven’t discovered you yet. That’s why it’s important to use local search engine optimization (SEO) in your marketing strategy.

In this local SEO guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

Keep reading to learn more!

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is a strategy that involves optimizing your website for local searches. These are searches people conduct when they want to find a business near them. Local SEO helps you optimize your business’s presence so you appear in more of these searches.

What is the difference between local SEO and traditional SEO?

The difference between local SEO and traditional SEO is the type of search engine results targeted.

Local SEO targets localized search results (like “bakery near me” or “landscaping company in los angeles”) while traditional SEO targets non-localized search results (like “how to change flat tire” or “best project management software”).

How does local SEO work?

Local SEO works by using SEO ranking factors, plus localized ones, which include:

  • Relevance, or how well your Google Business Profile aligns with the user’s search.
  • Distance, or how far your business is located from the searcher and/or their specified location, like “campgrounds near conway, nh
  • Prominence, or how reputable and well-known your business is on the web, based on online reviews, directories, articles, and backlinks.

Search engines like Google use these ranking signals to generate search results similar to non-localized results (ten blue links) or unique to local searches. Localized search results differ from non-localized ones by featuring what’s called a local pack — which is a carousel of Google Business Profile listings.

Why is local SEO important?

Local SEO is important for a few reasons, including the following:

  1. Reach potential clients in your area that need you now
  2. Connect with potential clients early in their buying journey, like when researching vacation stops
  3. Earn buyer trust through online reviews, visuals of your work and location, and resources
  4. Ease conversion pain points by allowing users to call, book, and more from search results

With so many users turning to search to find what they need, it’s critical for businesses to have a local presence — especially for businesses that are a part of a franchise. Even if you aren’t limited to a specific area, your Google Business Profile can help potential buyers learn more about your organization’s work, reputation, and offerings.

Should I use local SEO?

Next in this local SEO guide, let’s talk about who should use this strategy.

If any of the following apply to your B2B or B2C company, you’ll want to invest in local SEO:

Do you serve local customers?

If you serve customers in your local community, you’ll want to invest in SEO for local services. Now, I know what you’re thinking — I already have local customers frequenting my business…why bother?

Even though you have local customers already, you don’t have every local in your business. Not everyone knows your business. Not to mention, people continually move to new locations, which means new potential leads are always arriving.

Having a local presence is a good way to keep your brand top-of-mind for local customers.

Do you want to earn new customers?

If you want to earn new leads that turn into customers, local SEO is a way to do it. Local SEO helps you rank for searches where people want to find a business in their area.

People move to new areas or visit them for the first time. They may be looking for a business like yours, and having a local presence helps them find you.

Imagine that you’re traveling out of state and your car has trouble. You need to find a reliable mechanic in the area. You’re going to turn to Google to help you find one, and you’ll likely pick the top-ranking (and top-rated) result.

So, optimizing for local SEO is a key component to helping you earn new customers.

Do you have competition in your area?

If you have a lot of competitors in your area, you’ll want to invest in local SEO. This strategy can give you a leg-up on your competition if they aren’t optimizing for it.

Think of it like this: Imagine you run a burger joint. Someone visiting your area decides they want to grab a burger to eat. They search for a local burger place near them, and your business appears in the local 3-pack.

The searcher sees your glowing reviews and mouth-watering photos, so they decide to visit and try your food.

Now imagine if you didn’t optimize for local search. That searcher would have found a competitor’s place and visited them instead.

So, if you want to remain competitive in your market, optimize for local SEO.

How to do local SEO

Let’s dive into the local SEO basics so you can learn how to do local SEO:

1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile

A key component of this local SEO guide is your Google Business Profile. Since this profile only appears when people conduct local-related searches, it’s crucial that you spend time optimizing this feature.

First, start by claiming your Google Business Profile and add the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

The above, which stands for NAP, are critical to local search. Your NAP should align across your local listings. Besides Google Business Profile, for example, you should claim or create a Bing Places profile, which is Bing’s version of Google Business Profile.

Once you claim your profile, you’ll want to start optimizing it to rank in search results.

Here are some ways to optimize your Google Business Profile:

  • Use your business’s proper name: Don’t use a nickname for your business profile. Even if everybody calls your place “Kirk’s,” your listing should say “Kirkland’s Pub.”
  • Verify your hours: Having the wrong operating hours leaves people annoyed with your business. Make sure your hours are accurate and that you update them if they change.
  • Add photos: Did you know that Google Business Profiles that have 100 or more images get 1065% more website clicks and 520% more phone calls? Adding photos of your products, team, and business will help boost engagement.

Gemelli ice cream shop's Google Business Profile has 184+ photos

2. Identify local keywords

Next in this guide to local SEO, let’s talk about local keywords. Local keywords are a crucial component for driving leads in your area. So, what are local keywords and how do you find them?

Local keywords are keywords attached to a location. If you have an ice cream store, for example, a local keyword would be “ice cream shop in Austin” or “ice cream near Austin.” Local keywords can also end in “near me,” so “ice cream near me.”

These keywords help local searchers find your business when they need your products or services. This is why keyword research is discussed by the best SEO courses.

The best way to optimize for local keywords is to conduct keyword research.

Use a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner, Keywords Everywhere, Google Search, and more to help you identify the right local keywords. Besides considering search volume and competitiveness, you should consider relevancy when choosing keywords.

For example, if someone’s looking for “free ice cream austin, tx,” and you don’t offer it, don’t target it. If you do (and rank well for it), you’ll likely get an influx of calls or foot traffic that results in unhappy visitors.

Once you discover the most relevant keywords, you can start targeting them in your local listings.

3. Maintain a consistent NAP

One of the local SEO basics you need to know is that you should check your name, address, and phone number (NAP) across the web. This core information is what people need to know about your business.

Your personal information appears numerous places on the web. It’s important that, no matter where people find you, they get accurate information.

That means you need to check every platform and directory where your NAP information is shared so you can verify it’s correct.

Or, you can opt to use a tool, like LocalFX, that will help you check across the web and fix any mistakes.

P.S. Own multiple locations? You’ll create separate local listings for each location, like one Google Business Profile for your location in Austin, TX and another Google Business Profile for your location in Houston, TX, to maintain a consistent NAP.

4. Earn reviews

Let’s talk about earning reviews next in this local SEO guide. Reviews play a critical role in convincing people to choose your business. They tell people whether you’re a good choice for what they need.

Reviews also impact your Google Business Profile. When you have more reviews and more positive feedback, you have a better shot at appearing in the local 3-pack.

Review summary for a restaurant's Google Business Profile

So, how do you earn reviews?

When customers buy from your business, you can invite them to leave a review about their experience on Google. If they follow you on social media, you can also direct them to share their experience. It’s a great way for you to build up your reviews.

As you work to earn reviews, keep in mind that Google prohibits incentivizing reviews.

5. Respond (and resolve) reviews

You won’t receive five-star reviews every time. People use reviews to leave feedback for businesses.

While you could leave these reviews as-is, it’s important to respond to them. Acknowledge the user’s experience and work them to resolve it, whether by making internal changes, offering a refund, or speaking to them through a private channel.

If you use a review management tool, you can often streamline monitoring and responding to reviews.

6. Create localized website content

Remember your local keyword research from earlier? Well, here is how you bring that research to your websites. While local listings like Google Business Profile are fantastic for attracting local traffic, so is your website.

On your website, you can create localized content like:

  • Blog posts that highlight local events, like a seasonal parade
  • Sales content that highlight local services for the area, like a city, county, or state

While generating this content, especially evergreen content, it’s important to make your localized content unique. Mention the area’s landmarks, for example, or include images specific to the area. If your localized content is too similar, you won’t see the benefits from this strategy.

7. Build a localized backlink profile

Just like traditional SEO, local SEO uses backlinks to generate search results.

Google, for example, references using prominence to generate its localized search results. According to Google, prominence is “based on information that Google has about a business, from acrss the web, like links, articles, and directories.”

Grow your localized backlink profile with local SEO strategies like the following:

  • Sponsor or support your community’s local events, charities, or sports teams
  • Join your area’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Partner with other local businesses, like to create a unique offer
  • Host community-specific events, like a fundraiser or cookout

Your traditional SEO efforts can also help you grow your backlink profile from sites across the globe. Together, the two will help build your reputation and trust with search engines like Google, which can lead to higher rankings.

Going beyond this local SEO guide

Local SEO is an important strategy to use to drive local customers to your business. If you want to learn more about local SEO and other related topics, check out our SEO blog!

And if you want professional help with your strategy, check out our local SEO services to see how our team can help you dominate the search results for your area!

Smiling woman with long hair on a green background.
Macy is a marketing writer with over five years of experience creating content for dozens of industries including food and beverage, home services, and education. She also specializes in creating SEO and PPC content. Her work has been featured by Search Engine Journal, HubSpot, Entrepreneur, Clutch, and more. In her free time, Macy enjoys trying new crafts and reading comic books.

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