Local Search Engine Optimisation 2022 – Here’s How to Improve Your Local Google Ranking Today

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Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are for local information? That’s one in every two searches on the planet. Even more impressive, that number is growing exponentially.

The market is there for the taking. But only if you take proper steps.

What’s Local SEO?

In a nutshell, local SEO is a branch of SEO that deals specifically with ranking your business higher in local search results. It’s SEO but with a local twist to it and an entirely different optimisation process.

Here’s an example of a local Google search results:

This is an example of a local SEO 3 pack.

For the uninitiated, a local SEO 3 pack refers to the three search results on Google for a local search query. For instance, if you search for “plumbers in Singapore,” then the three plumbers that appear in the organic search results would be considered a local SEO 3 pack.

These three spots are prime real estate on Google, and companies active within this space are raking it in, all thanks to local SEO.

Why Local SEO?

The highest ROI: If you own a local business and do not utilise local SEO, I’m sorry to inform you that your business is leaving money on the table.

Think about it. The biggest search engine in the world is giving you a golden opportunity to make more money by ranking your business higher in Google’s local SERP searches.

It’s a no-brainer that not pursuing local SEO means you are missing out on the most relevant traffic source today.

3 Reasons to Every Local Business Should Invest in Local SEO

Google is the new Yellow Pages: Before Google, local businesses had to rely on the yellow pages to get new customers.   After all these years, yellow pages still exist, but it’s no longer a popular option for finding local businesses.

Nowadays, Google local listings are what 97% of customers rely on when they need any service or product in their area.

Free Traffic: According to statistics, 54% of all web traffic is local, and it’s only expected to grow.

Even though Google doesn’t give an exact percentage, we know for a fact that most users search via their smartphone, with the location feature enabled.

Leveled Playing Field: Local SEO is a leveled playing field. Big brands might have the budget and authority to pay for ads, but local businesses have the advantage of being able to target very specific markets.

If you’re one of the best businesses in an area, it doesn’t matter if you have 100 competitors or 1000 — your chances of ranking high are much higher than you think.

What Type of Businesses Need Local SEO?

Any business that sells products or services locally can benefit from local SEO.

Your business needs local SEO if it happens to fall under any of the following categories:

  • Hospitality: Hotels, restaurants, bars, spas, etc.
  • Professional Services: Plumbing, electricians, lawyers, veterinarians, etc.
  • Medical Practices: Hospitals, clinics, dentists, etc.
  • Retail Stores: Grocery stores, boutiques, etc
  • Home Services: Cleaning services, air-con servicing, pest control services, etc.
  • Transportation & Logistics: Taxi cab companies, logistics operators, trucking companies, etc.
  • Industrial: Manufacturing and building companies, etc

Any business that falls in these categories can benefit from local SEO.

You also want to note that not all businesses need local SEO. For example, Amazon and affiliate marketing websites do not require any local SEO visibility.

Your business doesn’t need any form of local visibility if it belongs in any of the following categories:

  • Product-based marketplaces, such as Amazon and Alibaba.com
  • Ecommerce Stores with a large volume of searches coming from international keywords

The good news is that you can rank for these keywords even if you don’t have a physical address.

  • Affiliate Marketing: Although affiliate marketing doesn’t necessarily need a local presence, a lack of local SEO visibility can be detrimental to an affiliate program’s success.
  • Online Only Services: Services that are accessible online and do not require physical presence.
  • Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc
  • Private Sellers: People who trade goods and services on Craigslist, for example.

5 Essential Elements of Local SEO  

Now that you know the basics of local SEO, here are five essential elements of a successful local SEO campaign:

  1. Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool from Google that allows business owners to manage their online presence in the Search Engines. The GMB dashboard gives you access to tools that help you list and optimise your local listings, get reviews from customers and track critical metrics such as traffic, leads, and conversions.

Setting up a GMB account isn’t difficult at all. All you need is your business name and verifiable Address and phone number to get started.

  1. NAP Consistency

NAP consistency refers to the consistent use of your business Name, Address, and Phone Number on all of your website pages and any other marketing channel you’re signed up with (Google My Business, Facebook, Foursquare, Bing Business Portal, etc.).

It is recommended that you use the same NAP data across all your online and offline marketing channels.

  1. Reviews & Citations

Reviews & Citations make up a significant part of local SEO and help influence rankings and click-through rates (CTR). The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you will rank higher and get found by local customers.

The best way to get reviews is to ask your happy customers for written or video testimonials and encourage them to share them on Google My Business and other review sites.

You also don’t want to discourage unhappy customers from posting negative reviews too.

Everyone needs a little constructive criticism from time to time, and negative reviews – if handled correctly – can help improve your product or service offering over time.

  1. Google Plus Business Page

Another significant part of local SEO is the Google Plus Business Page. The G+ page allows you to create content that appears on Search Engines, establish your presence on the world’s largest social network, and engage with your customers.

Gaining a high authority and ranking for your Google Plus business page also helps influence rankings and CTR along with Reviews & Citations.

  1. On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimising individual web pages so that they rank higher in Search Engines. Several factors determine on-page SEO, but all of these factors interlink and influence one another.

Some of the most important elements include Title Tag, Meta Description, URL structure & keyword placement.

On-page doesn’t only work with organic SEO, but with local SEO as well. You can start by optimising your website content and sales copy to make them relevant to your local audience.

Here are a few ways to go about it:

    • Create location-specific sales pages & blog posts that rank for local keywords.
    • Include location names on pages with customer testimonials.
    • Optimise images by adding geotags to them.
    • Add a Google Map to your Contact Us page & link it to your Google My Business Page.
    • Use tools like Moz Local & Yext to fully optimise your business’s local presence.

What Do Local Search Results Contain?

There are three types of local search results:

The Pack – This is the 3-spots listing in the organic results.

The One Box – The One Box is the one-sided local result listing that appears at the top of Google. The more awareness you build around your local brand, the more you’re likely to gain a one-box placement.

It’s simple, the more people hear about your brand, the more they’ll remember it and query it.

The name Ichiro Films is specific and geographically identifiable based on its IP address. The company, therefore, gets the coveted one-box wide placement.

Many factors determine whether or not your business will be awarded a one-box placement. But suffice to say, for the one pack. Google gives preference to businesses that have raised enough awareness around their brand.

The pack is the most common and consists of three local businesses.

When you search for something more specific, Google will often show the one box on the top of the search results page. This is an exclusive spot reserved for listings with phone numbers and address details.

Location Specific Organic Search Results

Local search results aren’t just limited to the 3-pack local and one-box local listings. They can also show up in organic rankings too.

When searching for informational keywords, your local business may appear within the organic results. You can improve your odds of ranking higher in local searches by focusing on long-tail keywords and optimising them for both local and generic search queries.

Note that Google usually serves location-specific organic results alongside the local pack or one box.

As you can see, local SEO is very different from regular SEO.

Factors Influencing Local SEO Rankings

Just like there are factors that influence universal SEO rankings (backlinks, content quality, etc.), there are factors that influence local SEO rankings, too.

As you might guess, some of these factors overlap in both areas. But for the sake of clarity and focus, we’ll list them according to their influence on local SEO vs. universal SEO.

  1. Geographic location: This is perhaps the most important factor to influence local SEO rankings. The closer you are to your target audience, the more you’re likely to rank higher in local searches.
  2. Quality of listing information (accurate & eye-catching): The quality of your listing information determines how much value it holds for the searcher. Accordingly, the more relevant and well-presented your business appears to a given audience, the more you’re likely to rank higher.
  • Citations/Reviews/Footprints: A citation refers to the mentions that your business name/address/brand receives online. The more of them you have, the better your chances of ranking higher in local search results.

On the other hand, reviews are the assessments made by customers based on their experience with your business.

They have an immense impact on your local rankings.

Positive reviews from happy customers can be powerful signals to search engines, especially with the mention of specific keywords.

  1. Social signals (number of followers, likes, shares, etc.): Social signals influence local SEO rankings, just not directly.

They make your business more visible to the right audience. This means you’re more likely to generate awareness around your brand, which increases your chances of ranking.

  1. Local Backlinks: Local links from newspapers, directories, and other authority sites also influence local rankings.
  2. Geographic Keywords in Title Tags & URL Structures: Another factor under the ‘Influencing local SEO rankings’ umbrella.

It doesn’t matter how many people are aware of your brand or how many citations you have. If you don’t use geographic keywords, Google can’t quickly determine where your business is located.

  • Geographic Keywords in URLs: As with keywords used in title tags, the geographic keywords you include in your URLs significantly impact local rankings.
  • Review Velocity & Delivery Method (email versus text): The speed at which you receive reviews is also an important ranking signal.

Google has to understand that your business is trustworthy and reliable enough to warrant high ratings.

It can do this by observing the number of reviews you receive over a given time frame.

  1. The number of backlinks (both editorial & earned): Google looks at the number of people who link to your website as a trust signal.

The more backlinks you have (especially from high-authority sites), the more likely you will rank higher in local searches.

  1. Google+ profile page link-juice: According to what we know about the factors influencing local SEO rankings, it might seem logical for Google+ profile pages to affect local search results.
  2. URL length and keyword focus: This is another factor that’s not as important as others.

Still, it would help to choose URLs that include location-specific keywords and limit their length to 70 characters.

  • Page load speed (Google’s new algorithm update): Page load speed is not a local ranking factor itself.

But like social signals, it’s one of the indirect signals that Google uses to understand ranking relevance.

  • Quality content & website conversion rate: Creating useful, high-quality content is important for local organic search rankings. It helps Google answer the searcher’s question and understands their intent better.

4 Things You Need to Know About Local SEO

  1. Domain Names with Location Names Have a Higher a Likelihood of Ranking in their Respective Areas

You can take advantage of the fact that domain names with location names attached to them have higher probabilities of ranking in their respective areas. The example shown below shows how a search query for “plumber Singapore” returns two different types of results: 1) A map that lists the plumbers in Singapore and 2) The results for someone interested in getting information about local plumbers.

The local three-pack aside, six out of the ten organic results shown have the name Singapore in their domain names.

We could have dismissed it as a coincidence. But, given how it’s been reoccurring with most of the searches we experimented with, we can only assume that it is a strong signal for local SEO ranking.

  1. If a SERP result contains a local pack, then the local pack will receive the majority of the clicks

Neil Patel performed this experiment on his site, so we don’t have to.

He used heatmaps to determine where users click on SERPs.

He tested a few queries and discovered that the local pack results receive most of the clicks.

The local 3 pack received 44% of all the clicks from the experiment, with paid listings receiving 19% and organic results receiving 29% of the clicks.

  Number of clicks % Number of clicks
Paid Clicks 30 19%
local 3 pack clicks 69 44%
For more local results click 12 8%
organic clicks 45 29%
total number of clicks 156  

Courtesy of neilpatel.com

  1. It’s Easy for Small Businesses to Outrank Giant Brands in the Local Pack

Large corporations tend to have a lot of authority in the results they produce.

As a result, it can be challenging for small businesses to outrank them for a search query. They also tend to have sturdy link profiles, which makes them unbeatable in a way.

However, with local SEO, tables can turn in favour of smaller businesses.

When Google performs a “local intent” search, it prefers to show local results with links pointing back to physical locations.

So, if you’ve got the right location pages and you’ve worked on your NAP profiles, your chances of beating big brands are much higher.

Small business can easily set up their Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Facebook profiles and get their names in front of people near them. On the other hand, big brands with hundreds or thousands of locations will struggle to maintain their consistency across all of their locations.

For example, try searching for ‘stock restaurant” in Singapore, and Google will primarily bring local establishments in the local pack rather than the big chains you know.

Here are other advantages local businesses have over big brands:

    • It’s easier for them to connect with local customers and ask them for reviews
    • They’re more likely to post pictorial check-ins and other location-specific content
    • Large chains have multiple listings, which often creates confusion
    • Chains don’t have the time to get involved in hyperlocal online marketing
    • Large chains also don’t have the time to respond to customer feedback, not in a timely fashion

Local SEO Stats You Should Know in 2022

Local SEO has come a long way.

Here are some of the most important stats that have shaped the industry in recent years:

  1. Nearly half of all Google searches (46%) have a local intent

Nearly half of people who search online are looking for something locally.

With Google receiving 3.5 billion searches every day, that translates to 1.6 billion local searches every day.

When people perform a local search, there’s always a higher chance of their intent being commercial. Add mobile to the mix, and that chance increases even more (to 35%).

  1. Users Visit at Least 1.5 billion Locations Related to their Google Searches Every Month

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

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Google’s research shows us one thing: Consumers aren’t just searching locally — but a 1- 2-mile radius from home. Sometimes folks need to explore options outside their state lines depending on availability — which means any company operating nationwide needs an SEO campaign aimed specifically towards optimizing local sites.

  1. 97% of Users Have Searched Online for a Local Business

Customers use search engines to find information about specific brands and businesses.

Because of the commercial nature of local searches, Google has become an invaluable tool for customers who want to find a business nearby or within their area.

It turns out, at least 54% of users are making such search queries every month (12% every day).

  1. A Purchase Follows 28% of all Local Purchase

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

Users running local searches are very likely to convert.

The intent of these customers is clear: They want to buy something, and they’re looking for the right business fast.

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This means local SEO campaigns must be built with conversions in mind at all times.

  1. 76% of Mobile Local Searches Result in an Offline Purchase

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

Mobile devices make it possible for users on the go to find what they need.

And with 76% of local mobile searches resulting in an offline purchase, it should be clear to you why so many businesses invest in running their SEO campaigns on mobile-friendly websites. 

  1. 59% of Surveyed Customers Say Being Able to Shop on Mobile Influences Which Business They Choose to Shop with

The explosive growth of mobile search has even influenced consumer behavior.

Customers are ready to buy, and they’re using their mobiles to find the best deals.

That’s why local businesses must have a mobile-friendly website if they want to keep up with this trend.

  1. 84% of All Near Me Searches Are Mobile

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

Customers are less and less likely to bother looking for businesses on a desktop computer.

It’s no secret that mobile searches have been growing in the past few years. In fact, 84% of all near me searches are from mobiles, with a growing number of users using voice search instead of typing queries.

  1. 36% of Travelers Don’t Mind Paying More Provided the Travel Brand Tailors Its Information to their Travel Experience and Preferences

Source: ThinkwithGoogle

The travel industry is a perfect example of how local SEO campaigns can affect users.

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Travelers use search engines to find information about specific places to visit, hotels to stay in, and the best sights to see.

Once they’ve made their choice — it’s very likely that these customers will stick with one hotel/one destination for the entire duration of their stay.

  1. 88% of Users Who Conduct Local Searches on their Smartphone Visit a Related Store within a Week

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

Once users have found what they were looking for, they’re likely to visit the location in no more than a week.

This is why businesses need to optimize their online presence so that customers can find them whenever they run a local Google search query.

  1. “Near Me” Searches Grew by 136% in the Last Year

Source: Thinkwithgoogle

The number of “near me” searches has grown significantly in the last year.

This means that more and more customers are using their mobiles to find businesses within a few mile radii of their current location.  

  1. Google Pack Shows Up in Like 93% of all Local Searches

This is one of the main reasons many businesses want to rank high for localized search terms. 

Google Pack appeared in 93% of all local searches (“near me” or “nearby” included), proving how popular this type of search is.

The Future of Local SEO: 2022 and Beyond

Zero Click Results:

This trend is depressing, we understand. But the future of local SEO is zero-click search results.

Every time you’re looking for something, it will be right there, no click is needed anymore, and this trend has already begun with Google My Business and Google Maps.

If you want this feature to appear on your business listings, you must ensure they are 100% complete and accurate.

In addition, the content of these pages has to be engaging enough for Google’s algorithm to rank them higher than other local businesses.

Your Website Still Matters:

Even though you might think that nobody will ever click on your website again, this is not true. People still need to trust your business, and a growing number of them will first have to visit your website before deciding on whether or not they should come to your shop or call for your services.

Plus, you can only provide limited information with zero-click results.

That’s why your site should be optimized to provide as much information as possible.

Voice Search:

Voice search is currently leading the way in terms of local search trends. Google’s voice-activated assistant will help you find anything with just a few words, even when you’re on the go.

If you want to ensure that your business gets noticed by this new trend, you need to optimize every page for one or two specific keyword phrases. Learn to maintain a casual tone and frame your questions as if you were speaking to a close friend.

An excellent example of voice search in action would be: ‘Hey Google, where is the best Italian restaurant near me?’

Your natural language content should include your most specific keyword phrases and vary them to make it seem like a casual conversation between two people.

Video Content:

As we said above, voice search leads the way, as video results trail right behind it.

This means that you need to take advantage of every opportunity that allows you to communicate with your customers through videos.

You can share short clips on social media or create a series on YouTube. You can also offer a free consultation or a how-to video on your website.

Search Intent Optimization:

The main factors that Google uses to determine whether or not your business deserves the top spot in local search results are:

  • Subject matter relevancy
  • Relevance of metadata
  • Quality and nature of backlinks pointing to the website

You need to be aware that all these things can change depending on several variables. Still, the one constant is that the relevance of your website to a specific keyword phrase will always play a significant role in how well it ranks in local search results.

So, if you own a restaurant in Jurong and somebody searches for a good Italian place in the city, you’ll have a better chance of ranking higher than another business whose site is all about Italian food but doesn’t serve it in Jurong.

A Super Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Local SEO Optimization

SEO is complicated, and it keeps changing all the time.

On the other hand, local SEO is far easier to understand, even if it’s not always easy to do.

Peter Da Vanzo said in an interview for Search Engine Land that the only way to optimize your website for local search results is by following one simple rule: “Think locally; act locally; rank globally.”

So how can you apply that to your business?

Step 1: Make Sure Your Google My Business Listing is 100% Complete

The first step should be to create your Google My Business if you haven’t done so already. Once done, the next thing you want to do is check and verify your listing.

That means you’ll need to:

  • Fill in all the requested information, including images, opening hours, and an accurate address.
  • Claim or verify your website link if it’s not already set up.
  • Add as many location extensions as possible (e.g., Address, phone, website) to your listing.

Your website should have all the basic information:

About Who You Are:

  • Your business name
  • Website
  • Business description
  • Attributes
  • Categories
  • Photos
  • Opening/Founding/Incorporation Date

Where You’re Located

  • Address
  • Service Area

Time to Visit

  • Opening and closing hours
  • Holiday hours

Consistency is Key

Your NAP (Business Name, Address, and Phone Number) must remain consistent all across the web so customers and web crawlers can quickly identify your business.

One of the leading causes of poor local search engine ranking is inconsistent NAP information.

For instance, if your address has the word street, avenue, or road in it, you want to make sure you’re using that exact word because if you don’t, Google won’t understand which one is your actual Address.

Example:

Mike’s HVAC

123 Southview Road

Troy, OH

45373

Mike’s HVAC

123 Southview Rd

Troy, OH

45373

Choose which one you’re going to use between the two and stick with it all through.

Step 2: Verify Your Locations

You can start by verifying your physical location(s).

To do so, you must have a Listing with complete NAP information listed on Google My Business.

The verification process is rather simple:

On your desktop computer:

  • Go to ://https://www.google.com/business and sign in with your Gmail account. Google also allows you to create one right there. Click next once done.
  • Enter your business address and process to create or claim your listing
  • Fill out all the requested information and submit it for verification

On Your Smartphone/Tablet

  • Start by downloading the My Business app from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.
  • Once done, sign in with your Gmail account.
  • Enter your business address and process to create or claim your listing.
  • Fill out all the requested information and submit it for verification.

You’re also allowed to use Google Maps to add or claim your business.

  • Keep Your Hours Accurate and Up to Date
  • Be sure to include your hours of operation. What time do you open?
  • When do you close?

Remember also to include holiday hours, including the days when you’re closed.

Step 3: Manage and Respond to Reviews

One of the best ways to build credibility in your service/product is through Google reviews.

You need to maintain the positive ones and reply to any negative ones with promptness, professionalism, and courtesy.

Encourage as many customers as possible to review your product or service. And don’t be afraid of negative reviews because, if managed well, they can also provide you with an opportunity to build rapport with your customers.

According to Moz, Google reviews and Google My Business listing account for about 40% of the local pack listing.

How to Rapidly Grow Your Google Reviews and Ratings

To get more reviews, you can:

  • Send an email invite to former and current customers.
  • Use specific phrases like ‘I hope you had a great experience with our company’ and ‘Please share your thoughts and tell us how we did.’
  • Invite them on Yelp, Facebook, and Google+ business pages.
  • Know the Right Timing: the right time to send the invitation is when the customer is still on your site, or immediately they leave your store or business premise
  • Eliminate any barrier by sending the customer a platform or app they’re already using

Asking customers to leave a review when they receive their product or service is the best time.

Add High-Quality Photos

Once the verification process has been completed, Google wants you to upload at least ten high-quality photos that show off your business.

Some of the pictures should be of the building itself, your products or services, and your business’s interior, if possible, with some customers inside.

The point is to try and tell a visual story and create a sense of interest and intrigue about your services and products.

Photos tell stories, and Google is all about stories. Photos also help local businesses stand out from the competition.

According to Google, listings with images tend to receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more website clicks.

There’re several ways you can create a compelling photo story for your Google listing, but at the bare minimum, make sure you have uploaded the following images:

  • Profile photo
  • Logo
  • Cover photo

Final Thoughts

Google My Business is a valuable tool in the battle to rank higher in local search results.

Make it a priority and claim your Google My Business account today.

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