A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Winning Local SEO Strategy

Remember the last time you found yourself craving a good meal and turned to Google to find nearby restaurants? Chances are, Google presented a Map Pack (also known as Local Pack), showcasing three options, complete with their contact details, ratings, and sometimes even their hours of operation. 

Like this:

Read more: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Winning Local SEO Strategy

Then, the regular organic results followed below: 

But have you ever wondered how Google decides which restaurants to feature in this Map Pack? Well, it boils down to three main factors:

  • Relevance: Google assesses how relevant the listed businesses are to the terms you’ve searched for. The closer the match between the search query and the business’s profile, the higher its chances of appearing in the Map Pack.
  • Distance: Google considers how close the restaurant is to your current location or the location you mentioned in your search. The closer, the better the chances of making it into the Map Pack.
  • Prominence: This is where online and offline presence comes into play. Online factors include the restaurant’s website, reviews, backlinks, and the completeness of their Google Business Profile matter. On the other hand, offline prominence entails the business’ reputation and popularity in the local community. 

Source: Google Help Center

Mastering these elements is where local SEO comes in. By optimising your online presence and reputation, you can boost your chances of snagging a spot in the Map Pack and even the organic search results for location-specific queries.

Ready to master local SEO? This post has got you covered with everything you need to know to build and execute a winning strategy. 

Why is Local SEO Important?

Local SEO involves techniques and tactics designed to help businesses rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) when users search for products or services within a specific geographical area. Below are three reasons why it is essential. 

1. Targeted Traffic

Nearly half of all Google searches reportedly have local intent, meaning users are actively seeking nearby businesses or services. Additionally, the Map Pack, which prominently displays local businesses, appears in a staggering 93% of these searches. Local SEO offers a direct pathway to capitalise on these search trends, driving targeted traffic and guiding potential customers straight to your doorstep. 

2. Increased Visibility

Local SEO helps businesses appear in local search results when users search for products or services within a specific geographic area. For example, when someone searches for “coffee shops near me,” local SEO helps coffee shops optimise their online presence to show up in those search results.

3. Revenue Generation 

Local SEO isn’t just about visibility; it enables conversions and purchases, too. According to Google’s 2022 Retail Marketing Guide, there has been a notable surge in searches such as “shops near me” and “where to buy,” indicating heightened consumer interest in local businesses. These trends reveal the tangible revenue opportunities businesses can tap into with a well-crafted local SEO strategy. For instance, businesses that optimise their local SEO effectively can experience a surge in foot traffic to physical stores and an uptick in online purchases. 

But before you jump headfirst into local SEO, it’s essential to pause and ask yourself: Is this the right move for my business?

Is Local SEO right for your business?

Just because a marketing tactic works wonders for some doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the perfect fit for you. So, before you roll up your sleeves and start crafting a Local SEO strategy, consider these key questions:

  1. What is Your Business Type? 

Consider whether your business has a physical presence or relies heavily on local customers. Local SEO could be a game-changer if you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, a service-based business, a healthcare facility, or a restaurant. But if your business doesn’t fit into these categories, Local SEO might not be your best bet.

  1. Who is Your Target Market?

Take a deep dive into your target audience’s behaviours, preferences, and how they conduct location-specific searches. If you notice a trend of active local searches and a preference for proximity and convenience, then Local SEO should be on your radar.

  1. Where are Your Customers Located?

Analyse where your customers stay, assessing whether they are primarily local or dispersed across different regions across the world or country. Doing this helps you target them effectively when executing Local SEO. 

  1. Are Your Competitors Leveraging Local SEO?

Keep an eye on what your competitors are up to. Are they successfully attracting local customers through Local SEO strategies? Analysing their approach can reveal insights and opportunities for improving your own strategy.

  1. What are Your Current Local Search Rankings? 

Assess your online presence and local search rankings for relevant keywords and phrases. This assessment will serve as your starting point and guide your Local SEO efforts moving forward.

  1. Do you have a Google Business Profile listing? 

Before you kickstart your Local SEO endeavours, ensure your business has claimed and optimised its Google Business Profile. An optimised profile streamlines your presence in local search results and provides valuable information to potential customers.

  1. Are You Ready to Invest in Local SEO Efforts?

Are you prepared to invest time, effort, and resources into Local SEO? It’s not a quick fix, but the payoff can be massive. So, no worries if now isn’t a suitable time due to resource and time constraints—you can always revisit it later.

Answering these questions thoughtfully will help you determine if local SEO aligns with your business goals and if it’s the right path for you to pursue. 

Ready to master Local SEO? Let’s dive in!

10 Strategies for Executing a Winning Local SEO Strategy

Once you’ve determined that local SEO is the right fit for your business, it’s time to get to work. 

Here are nine strategies to help you execute a winning local SEO strategy:

1. Audit Your Website 

Before you start digging into keyword research and optimisation, it’s crucial to ensure that your website is in tip-top shape. 

Use web audit tools to conduct a thorough examination, identifying any technical or on-page SEO issues that could hinder your local SEO efforts. Look for common culprits like slow site speed, broken links, poor mobile optimisation, and missing XML sitemaps.

Read this content audit guide to learn more about auditing content for SEO.

2. Conduct Keyword Research

Once your website is primed for action, define your target keywords for local ranking. Focus on geo-specific keywords that align with your business’s location and target audience’s intent. For instance, if you operate a bakery in London, prioritise keywords like “Seattle bakery” or “bakery near Pioneer Square” to maximise local visibility.

Tools like InLinks can streamline your keyword research process, providing valuable insights into local search trends and user behaviour.

3. Perform Competitor Research

Take a deep dive into your local competitors’ SEO strategies, analysing their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Use this information to refine your own approach and gain a competitive edge in the local market.

4. Optimize Your Website

With your target keywords in hand, it’s time to put them to work by optimising your website. 

Here’s how:

  • Keyword Mapping: Assign each geo-specific keyword to relevant website pages, ensuring a seamless fit.
  • Page Titles and Meta Descriptions: Incorporate target keywords into compelling titles and descriptions to boost click-through rates.
  • Rich, Keyword-Optimized Content: Create engaging content that speaks to your audience’s local needs and pain points.
  • Internal Linking: Expand your internal linking structure to improve navigation and user experience.
  • Image Optimization: Enhance visuals with optimised alt text and compressed file sizes for faster load times.

This is simple to implement with InLinks. All you have to do is sign up for a free account on Inlinks.com and then select “Content Briefs” > “Create a Brief”.

5. Create Localized Pages 

Develop dedicated landing pages highlighting your local services to attract targeted traffic and drive conversions. For example, a law firm in Manchester might create separate pages for services like “Accident and Injury claims in Manchester” and “Civil dispute resolution in Manchester.” 

An excellent example of a localised page

Once you’ve created localised pages, amplify their reach through paid advertising channels, ensuring maximum exposure in your target market. This post by Search Engine Land provides a valuable guide on how to create well-optimized localised landing pages. 

6. Monitor and Manage Local Listings Across Platforms 

NAP citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number across the web, popping up on business directories and social media profiles. 

The more consistent and accurate your NAP citations are across different platforms, the more confident Google becomes in your business’s trustworthiness. That confidence often translates into higher rankings and increased visibility.

So, it’s important to maintain consistency in your local listings across platforms. Pay close attention to details like your business’s address, name, and phone number – even the slightest inconsistency could throw a wrench in your local SEO efforts.

This visual by Smart Insights clearly distinguishes the difference between a good and bad NAP citation.

7. Refine Your Google Business Profile Listing 

Your Google Business Profile showcases key information about your business, from its location to your services and products, along with captivating photos.

Example of a Google Business Profile

Optimising this profile is non-negotiable if you want to maximise your presence in local searches. This means filling out all the relevant fields, including business hours, categories, and high-quality photos that truly represent your business.

But it doesn’t stop there. Actively engage in Q&A sessions to address potential customers’ queries—it’s a great way to demonstrate your reliability and commitment to customer satisfaction.

A good way to answer questions on Google Business Profile

If you haven’t already claimed your Google Business Profile, simply create an account, claim your business, and start adding crucial details like your address, phone number, website URL, images, and business hours. 

8. Encourage Positive Online Reviews 

Online reviews influence potential customers and play a crucial role in improving your visibility and rankings on search engines.

That’s why it’s crucial to actively encourage and manage online reviews across all your directory platforms. However, it’s not just about racking up positive reviews. You must also address any negative feedback promptly and professionally, 

For expert tips on navigating positive and negative reviews effectively, check out this handy guide by Google for Small Business.

9. Implement Structured Data and Schema Markup 

Structured data and schema markup provide search engines with invaluable information about your business, from reviews and business hours to contact details. This extra layer of data helps search engines understand your content better, improving your visibility in search results.

Interestingly, implementing structured data and schema markup is easier than you might think. With tools like InLinks, you can automatically add schema to your website and give your website an instant SEO boost without knowing a line of code. 

To get started, check out this in-depth guide distilling how the InLinks schema markup tool works.

10. Invest in Local Link Building 

Once your local SEO efforts gain momentum, you can kick things up a notch with strategic link-building.

However, link-building for local SEO isn’t quite the same as the traditional approach. Instead, it entails forging relationships with local businesses and organisations to attract links within your target location.

So, how do you go about it? Here are some specific steps you can take:

  • Collaborate on local events and sponsorships
  • Write guest posts on local websites
  • Host local workshops
  • Create localised content
  • Regularly monitor and analyse your backlink profile

Dominate Local Search 

Local SEO isn’t a quick fix. It takes consistent effort and patience to clinch that top spot ahead of your local rivals.

But by putting the strategies highlighted in this post into action and sticking to what works, you’ll gradually rise to the top of the local search rankings. It’s all about staying the course, adapting as needed, and watching your dominance in local search grow over time. 

(Thank you to Juliet John for her assistance in drafting this content).