It is called local SEO and is the optimization for local Search. Basically, a sort of search engine alongside the main search engine of Google, which offers accurate and localized results based on the queries entered by users, who get references to physical places in which to complete the operation they need, how to buy a product or service. Working on local positioning means bringing more targeted traffic, leads and conversions to the website, as we will attract a local and more relevant customer base: here are some optimization tips, also using our SEOZoom tools.

What is local Search

The local search of Google is therefore an integrated search engine in the main one that offers local results, that is, localized based on the position of the user launching the query. In summary, the results are determined by the interaction of three factors – the classic relevance, distance and evidence, as we will see in more detail – and appear both in the classic Research SERP and as points in Maps, so that users can easily go to the location of the activity or place of interest near the location where they are.

In addition to the type of activity/service, a basic local search query usually includes information such as city name, neighborhood or address, but activating device localization is enough that Google interprets a transactional intent to provide as a response to local results.

Google Pigeon’s introduction

Driven by the growing spread of mobile browsing, Google understood that it was shaping a new need for users, namely to find answers “closer” in the physical sense to their location to conclude their search journey. And so, local search has established itself as a smart search tool for people looking for information about businesses or services in the area, and as a powerful opportunity available especially for small businesses, which may attract new customers interested in their offer.

The system that started this revolution was the Google Pigeon algorithm, an update launched by Google in 2014 to improve and enhance the ranking of local organic results, provided according to the user’s location and the list available in the local directory.

Location and distance are key parts of this new research system, which favors activities closer to the physical location of the researcher. Another important feature is the evolution of the so-called local pack, or the SERP feature, linked to Maps, which lists and groups the main local activities positioned on Google, shown precisely when a query has a local intent.

What is local SEO

In this scenario, the local SEO has almost naturally spread, that is, the optimization of the site to reach positions of greater visibility between local and geolocalized results on Google.

Unlike the traditional SEO, which aims to improve the organic performances of the pages of a site at a global level (national or international), in this case the context of competition is that of a well-defined geographical area. Local search queries often follow a search intent totally different from the others and, for this reason, we can not usually adopt the typical national/global approach.

Intercepting closer and more interested users

For these characteristics, the local SEO is crucial especially for those companies that offer services in direct contact with the public, such as accommodation (restaurants, hotels, B&B…), commercial activities, professional practices, medical services and so on, that therefore must implement solutions and interventions on the site to scale positions compared to competitors and appear more reliable in the eyes of people.

This work allows us to reach the users closest to us and our business, and therefore potentially more interested in clicking on the results and buying what we propose. And it is not just the click on the site the result to achieve: in most cases, the goal is to bring the customer into the physical venue to complete the action or conversion. According to Google, 50% of users who perform a local search from mobile devices actually visit the store within a day.

The importance of local optimization

The reason for the attention dedicated to this theme is easy to understand: optimizing the local SEO means increasing the chances of getting targeted organic traffic on the website, and especially to increase leads and conversions, as we will attract on our pages (and then on site) a more relevant and already well-developed audience of users in the funnel.

In addition to that, having a precise strategy also allows smaller companies to emerge, even surpassing the comparison with large national companies with unlimited capital, that to get traffic generally focus on more generic and far-reaching keywords and rely on the power of the brand and corporate branding.

How to work on local ranking

As an official Google guide explains, there are three criteria that guide the algorithm of local search results:

  1. Relevance, which measures the level of correspondence between the offer of the activity compared to the search intent.
  2. Distance, which precisely calculates the physical and geographical distance of a search result compared to the location used as a keyword by the user in the query (for example, when we search for “shoes in Rome”) or obtained by Google through the localization of his device (via IP address or smartphone geolocation system)
  3. Evidence, which concerns the level of notoriety of an activity. This factor is based both on the authoritativeness of a brand in the real world (as the guide explains, “Famous museums, prestigious hotels or well-known retail brands that are known to many people will probably also be highlighted in local search results”), both on signals that Google derives from the Web, such as links, articles and directories. Moreover, positive reviews and ratings also affect the local ranking of an activity, and having a good online reputation and many positive feedback will improve your ranking.

The tools: Google My Business and not only

The work on the local SEO is therefore very specific, and in addition to the classic tips to optimize the site in all its aspects – including content that also emphasize the value of the local offer, with “geographical” keywords – you have to take care of the management of social and, above all, the Google My Business tab.

As we said in other insights, GMB is one of the main tools for local SEO, so recognized by digital marketers as well as by users, which find these cards in prominent locations on both Search and Maps when performing localized searches.

Social media is also an important channel to get in touch with users and understand their needs in advance, because they create a point of contact with the target and allow us to work on strengthening visibility and reliability.

Another useful contribution in terms of visibility comes from the inclusion of the company on local directory websites of value, such as Yellow Pages, Yelp and many others, or niche sector portals: this allows us to be more accurately recognized by Google in our belonging area, but also to make us find more easily by users. The minimum information to be added are the so-called NAPW (acronym of Name – Address – Phone – Web, that is Business Name, Address, Telephone Number and Home of the Web site) and a detailed summary of the activity.

How to localize the site

No less important is then to improve our company website, through which to offer a valid user experience, even for those who use smartphones (now the majority of people who browse online): therefore, it is essential to have a mobile friendly site, ensure good page loading speed, implement a simple navigation system between menus and categories, and then again immediately show the information needed by users (contacts, address, opening times and so on), properly use structured data to activate any rich results in Search and to improve Google’s understanding of pages.

Ultimately, it means working according to the basic rules of SEO and “common sense”, and this also applies to practical aspects such as the insertion of localized keywords in contents (from title tags to meta description, from headings to images up to text on page and URL), always without exaggerating and forcing with undesirable practices such as keyword stuffing – what matters is always to offer added value to the player, we must never forget it!

This simple practice allows us to “localize” our website for the geographical area in which we operate (city, province, region etc.); for companies with multiple locations, it may become useful to create separate pages or Content Hubs for individual locations. In addition, you should not be “static” but try to activate an involvement with events of the local community and submit articles and related information on the site.

Distinguishing localized keywords

There is, however, a clarification to do with the use of keywords: the local search, as we have mentioned, includes two different types of queries. That is, both those expressly localized – those that contain a search string formed by a keyword plus the addition of a location (restaurants in Milan, dentists in Rome and so on) – and implicit queries, which Google interprets as localized.

All it takes is to make a test to understand this second aspect: simply type “restaurant” on Google – via smartphone or desktop, no difference – to get the same localized results based on the geolocation perceived by the algorithm of Big G.

These are the so-called “near to me” /nearby searches – again, the expression proximity can be explicitly or implicitly understood by Google – that create SERP based in a very subjective way on the location and history of the individual user. For this reason, SEO tools cannot give objective answers for this type of keywords, but only general indications and “national”, so to speak.

How to use SEOZoom for local SEO

With Seozoom we have various tools to keep an eye on interesting keywords and, as well as in classic strategy, study the moves of direct competitors.

On the basis of the premise just made, for the specifically localized queries we have all the necessary strategic information: research volume, level of competition, possibility of ranking, tools to optimize the search intent required by Google and so on.

Different the speech of the other type of keywords, those near to me ones: in this case (and as far as explained), it is not possible to make a full local analysis of a keyword or a set of keyword with volumes and other data, but we can still use Seozoom as a rank tracker and then keep track of changes in ranking.

To do this, just add the keywords to a project and select the SERP, keeping in mind that local volumes are not currently available.

Analyzing and narrowing down the target

If target analysis is a fundamental step for any SEO strategy, to get results in local search this becomes even more true: a site should never turn to an infinite and indefinite audience, and even more so, those who seek to emerge in a “confined” space by definition cannot do so.

This means that we must use every means to study and define our target, that is, the users to whom we address our message using the words, the tone and the proposals that are closest to them: so that we can identify in advance the potential customers to attract to the site and the store, develop offers that may be more interesting for their needs, adapt the language and tone of communication.

Why optimizing the site for local search

Ultimately, the local SEO is crucial if we have a site that refers to an activity that offers products and services in a specific geographical area, because optimizing the online strategy with these tactics can bring on your pages a more qualified and precise traffic, made of people who live (or are) in the exact area where we sell our goods and services.

The attention and the strengths of this extra work can be repaid by increased economic returns thanks to greater visibility on Google and more direct and effective content, able to convince people to prefer us instead of other competitors.


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