Google estimates that four out of five people use the search engine for local searches, often for local businesses or service providers. More importantly, Google finds that as many as one-third to one-half of those people will actually visit a business or store after doing a local search.

If your business is a local one, or generates any kind of local revenue, local SEO is a must.

Success with local SEO (which has also been known as Google My Business) requires an optimized website and adherence to SEO best practices. But there are several other factors that make local SEO a discipline unto itself.

Do I Need Local SEO?

Optimizing for local organic search is essential if:

  • Your business relies on foot traffic (retailers, restaurants, service providers)
  • You have a physical location, or several locations, that needs to appear in local searches for your category
  • Your base of operations is confined to one city or region
  • You want to generate positive reviews of your business on Google, Yelp and other review sites

Google is the New Yellow Pages

People no longer turn to the White Pages and Yellow Pages. They go to Google, and often enough it’s usually on their smartphone or mobile device. And there’s a whole set of rules that govern whether your business is going to show up or not. Not just your website, but your entire online profile — which consists of your social media profiles, local directory listings, reviews and more — play a role in determining if your business will be visible to prospective customers when they search for a product or service that you offer.

Local SEO Factors: What You Need to Know

There are a number of factors that impact local search that go beyond the website. While there is no one accepted authority to tell you what those factors are (David Mihm’s excellent Local Search Ranking Factors comes close!), we make it our job to stay up to date on them. It takes work, which is where a reputable SEO firm can help advise you.

Among the factors that are critical for local search rankings:

Citations. Simply, your business must have its core information (name, address, phone, etc.) in reputable web directories and business listings. This is what SEOs refer to as a structured citations. These directories have changed significantly thanks to Google’s Penguin updates. The Traffic team has researched those still considered valid and credible, and we submit your site to them. While we maintain a core list of authoritative directories, keep in mind that every service area or industry (law, retail, various stripes of health practitioners) has its own subset of directories that are target rich. We keep tabs on those, too.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. This is a simple requirement that can turn into a stumbling block when creating dozens or even hundreds of online business citations/listings. The way you enter your company, name, address, phone and all of your other pertinent contact information must be the exact same across the web.

Domain Authority. Domain Authority, or DA, is more or less the “power ranking” assigned to your root domain. It’s an aspect of linkbuilding and a measure of the quality of the overall links to your site. Developing a strong DA is an important part of SEO best practices in general. Research shows it definitely counts when scoring visibility for local search. Keep an eye on this number.

Google+ Page. Still having debates in your company about whether to have a Google+ page? Let us solve it for you: At a minimum, you need it for local SEO. Your Google+ page is where you claim and control much of what you tell Google about the nature of your local business. It’s critical. Get ‘er done.

Why Businesses Need Help with Local SEO

The powers that be have not made it easy for small and medium-sized business owners to keep a consistent local profile for SEO. First of all, your business needs to create an official profile on all three of the major search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo. That’s a basic “checkbox” item so many businesses don’t even know, and it’s no fault of their own. And Google itself has changed a lot over the years in governing how and where businesses can go to create their local profile in the first place. What started out as Google Maps has recently morphed into Google My Business, which is a bid to tie together all of the different ways a prospective customer might search for you, no matter what type of search or device they’re using.

Is your business claiming its proper place in front of local customers? Talk to the Traffic team today to make sure you have the visibility you need.