A Complete Guide to Local SEO

A Complete Guide to Local SEO

August 2, 2023

SEO for local service-based businesses allows businesses to get greater visibility in local website search results on popular search engines, including Google.Businesses that have a physical setup or one that caters to an audience in a specific geographic location can make use of local SEO for greater benefits.

Local SEO is suitable for your brand, given that you search on Google with keywords relevant to your company, and a map with three listings appears below it. This is called a map pack, and means that local SEO will likely benefit and aid brand exposure. To truly understand what local SEO is and how it works, it is necessary to know how Google operates as a search engine. Keep reading to learn more below.

How Does Google Operate?

When you enter a phrase or keyword into Google, it goes through the various website signals and their patterns, including ranking factors and site relevancy, to offer you the best website list that matches the search term. Google is not performing live searches of the whole Internet each time someone types a term into the search engine bar. Instead, the search engine stores a copy of all the websites that Google has discovered in a copy called the Google Index.

To create the index, Google uses programs known as spiders to crawl the entire web. Spiders begin from a single page, follow its links, and work deep into the Internet. Crawled content is stored on Google’s servers to build the index. Spiders can crawl trillions of websites quickly, which ensures the Google Index is updated, relevant and trustworthy. It therefore includes all new websites and link connections as well.

How Have Search Engines Evolved?

Previously, there were fewer websites on the Internet which made navigation simple. However, as expansion continued, search engines were modified to enable users to find all the sites they were looking for with much ease.

When users type a phrase or term into the search engine bar, the engine automatically displays websites with the relevant keywords. Google also used this approach initially, but as it continued gaining popularity, it modified its engines to use links between sites to display those that are reputable, credible, and trustworthy. 

Currently, Google uses several factors to determine whether a site is relevant and worth displaying as a search result. Each factor forms a digital footprint with a different value and weight. A website's complete digital footprint determines whether it is worth ranking on Google.

How Does Google Rank Websites?

Google uses several processes to rank millions of sites in a few seconds. Google algorithms check the index and return a list of sites that match the organic search term or phrase. Next, these results are sorted and ranked based on popularity, prominence, and relevance based on inbound linking.

Google’s algorithms also consider off-site and on-site factories to ensure relevant results are further sorted by popularity. Lastly, the sites that best answer the search term or phrase are listed as the top results.Improving site SEO depends on the following:

  • Link popularity
  • Backlinks
  • Prominence 
  • Relevancy
  • A solid digital footprint

How Does Local SEO Work?

Google realized that people looking for businesses in their locality exhibited certain behaviors. Therefore, they introduced a proximity factor to the local search algorithm, which considers location and queries input into the search bar. This occurs even when the user does not include their city or 'near me' in their search phrase.

For example, when you search for burgers for lunch, Googling 'burger delivery' will automatically show a list of restaurants near your office according to the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Alternatively,  if you search for the same thing from your home, a different set of results will pop up. Even though the local search has been around forever, it was only limited to PC users. With the growth of mobile technology,  local SEO has become essential for local business success.

Similarly, professionals such as attorneys who are looking to increase their local visibility can greatly benefit from specialized SEO strategies. For instance, by partnering with a marketing agency for attorneys, they can optimize their online presence to appear prominently in local searches when potential clients are in need of legal services.

Factors Essential for Local SEO

The local map is displayed with regular organic Google results. Separate algorithms ensure the main search results rank local sites and channel the local map pack results for local searches. Therefore, your business gets the opportunity to rank and appear as organic results for both main results and local map packs.

If you are a new business, it may get tricky to define what you need to focus on exactly to get results and guarantee success. Moz produced a survey report with the top factors to ensure local search visibility. These include:

  • Local link popularity and content localization
  • Creation of local landing pages for all business locations
  • Including information like business name, phone, and address
  • Optimization of meta descriptions,  titles, and tags with best SEO practices, solid content, and link-building strategy
  • Creating a business listing in Google My Business
  • Review signals published by local customers
  • Local citations from data aggregators 
  • Keyword research based on target local audience 
  • Local pack inclusion monitoring


Working on your entire digital footprint will ensure a solid ecosystem that attracts the Google Index and local Google algorithms. This is key to ranking in the SERPs and boosting local sales.

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