Local SEO: A Complete Guide (For Beginners)

Proper search engine optimization (SEO) is of vital importance for any successful online business. Whether you’re offering products, services, information, opinions, or any other valuable content, you need to be on top of current SEO trends.

Having some simple business sense is a good step in the right direction: you’ll need to know who your target audience is and what they want from you, and then produce valuable content accordingly. Link building is still a great way to become an authority in your area, and it’s great to optimize your site for search engine crawlers.

But if you’re neglecting local SEO efforts, then you’re really missing out.

The following are some essential local SEO tips that will help you engage with customers like never before. 

Optimize for all users

First of all, you need to have your site optimized for all users, especially mobile ones. Your site needs to look pleasant and be convenient to use on mobile devices, especially considering that well over half of web searches come from mobile users.

Mobile searches tend to prioritize local results, and users are much more likely to contact a local business if their site is mobile friendly. Google has test tools available online to check your mobile friendliness. 

Google and beyond

There’s no doubt that Google is the dominant search engine, and roughly 46 percent of searches are local. This means that you’ll definitely want to set up a Google My Business account.

This gives you the chance to impress customers with your business profile when they search for local businesses, and you can easily connect with them via Google Search and Maps. It also makes it easy for customers to reach you through a variety of methods, so you’ll be able to do more business.

Of course, local SEO isn’t just about Google, but it’s a great place to start since the vast majority of potential customers will be using it. Still, you’ll also want to optimize for popular alternatives like Bing, Yelp, and Apple Maps. 

Local keywords

Keyword research is important for any SEO effort, but choosing local keywords is a bit different than in other contexts. The “service in location” format is very common for local SEO, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Let’s say you’re running a dance studio in New Jersey: some great keywords for you would be “dance lessons in New Jersey,” because that’s what potential customers will be searching for online.

You can generate many combinations of keywords by simply listing all the services you offer and the locations served. If you’re in a smaller, lesser known area, you could even swap out your town for a larger city nearby to increase your chances of ranking.

If you need more ideas for keywords, you could consider using Google’s autocomplete feature to generate some more specific ideas based on keywords you already use. Otherwise, you can look up the highest ranking keywords for your competitors and adapt your own accordingly. 

NAP citations

In the context of SEO, “citations” are mentions of your business which typically display your business name, address, and phone number (or NAP for short). NAP citations are among the most important local ranking factors and will significantly impact all search results.

Because of this, you’ll want to ensure consistent and accurate NAP citations. Otherwise, both search engines and potential customers may be confused. The best way to do this is by performing a citation audit. There are online tools which offer this, but you’ll likely need to perform manual audits in search engines using advanced operators as well.

These are just some of the basics for an effective local SEO campaign. If you need help with any of these concepts, or with local link building, it’s a good idea to seek the help of local SEO services. They’ll be able to help with all your listings, so you can stay at the top of your local search results.