What is Local SEO and Why it is Important?

by | Feb 9, 2024 | SEO Basics

Learn what local SEO is, why it’s vital for local businesses, and get 5 tips to improve your local SEO to get found by your customers.

local shops and businesses

You’ve probably heard about the importance of SEO – Search Engine Optimization – for businesses trying to get found online.

But there’s a specific flavor of SEO that’s often overlooked yet critically important for local businesses: local SEO.

In this post, we’ll explore what exactly local SEO is, why it’s so vital for local businesses, and most importantly, how you can improve your local SEO to attract more customers.

So What Exactly is Local SEO? 

At its core, local SEO is optimizing your online presence so customers can find your business on search engines and other sites when they’re looking for products or services in your geographic area.

For example, if Sally opens up Google Maps on her phone and searches for “Italian restaurants near me,” your pizzeria needs to show up in the results if you want Sally’s business.

That’s local SEO in a nutshell.

It’s all about helping nearby searchers connect with your business digitally so they can visit your brick-and-mortar location.

Why Local SEO is Important

Here are shocking stats: 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, and over half of those searches lead to store visits within 24 hours. 

If your business isn’t easily findable locally online, you’re missing out on tons of potential customers and revenue. 

And with more people using smartphones than ever before, optimizing for local searches on mobile is no longer optional – it’s imperative.

In other words, failing at local SEO today is like opening up a new restaurant but refusing to put up signage or print menus for your patrons. You might get a trickle of customers who randomly wander in, but you’ll miss out on serving the vast majority.

5 Ways to Boost Your Local SEO

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that focusing on local SEO is mission-critical. But how exactly can you improve it?

Here are 5 high-impact tips:

1. Complete and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

This is SEO 101. Make sure you’ve properly set up and optimized your Google My Business profile with accurate info and photos that will make people want to visit your location.

 2. Encourage Customer Reviews

Reviews boost local SEO rankings big time. So ask happy customers to leave you positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and other sites. Respond professionally to any negative feedback too.

3. Update Site Content for Local Keywords

Refresh your website copy and metadata to target locally focused keywords related to your products, services, and location. This helps search engines understand your local relevance.

4. Get Listed on Additional Sites

Get found on industry-specific directories, review sites like TripAdvisor, and any other reputable sites that make sense for surfacing your business to nearby searchers.

5. Publish Local Blog Content

Consider regularly publishing locally-focused blog content on your site. This can cover things like local events, partnerships, community stories, and other content showcasing your local connections.

Is Local SEO Important for Every Business?

I’ve focused this post specifically on local businesses that serve customers in a particular geographic region – for example, restaurants, retail stores, dentists, hair salons, etc.

But what if you’re a business that serves customers primarily online, without a physical location for them to visit? Is local SEO still relevant in that case? 

The answer is: that it depends.

For truly online-only businesses like certain SaaS companies, e-commerce stores, and service providers like web designers, local SEO is usually less of a priority. Their customers come from all over, so optimizing for local searches brings little benefit.

However, even for those types of businesses, targeting searches from your closest major metro area can still drive sales. And if you have a distributed workforce that serves customers in person, local SEO again becomes extremely relevant for getting discovered locally across all your market territories.

While local SEO may not make sense for every business, it pays to evaluate if it could be worthwhile for yours before dismissing it outright. There may be an untapped local opportunity even if local customers aren’t your primary audience today.

And if you do have a physical location that customers can visit? Then optimizing your digital presence to attract locals browsing online should be near the top of your to-do list.

The Takeaway

Optimizing for local SEO lets you digitally raise your hand when potential new customers in your area are searching for businesses to patronize.

And the tactics above are just a starting point. There’s always more you can do to finesse your local SEO strategy and outrank your competitors in map and search listings. 

So take the time to assess how findable your business is for local searches, identify any gaps in your approach, and keep enhancing your presence. It’s well worth the effort to reel in more foot traffic and delight more hometown customers.

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