What Is Local SEO? (Beginner Definition & The Basics Explained)

What is local SEO?

Table of Contents

Does your local business have room for more customers?

Have you tried EVERYTHING when it comes to ranking your site, only to get the same poor results?

Maybe you just built a website and would love to rank it if you could just wrap your head around SEO?

If you can relate to any of that, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that you need to rank your website higher.

This is where local SEO comes in.

Local SEO is a process similar to SEO that helps your business rank in local search results on Google and other search engines. If your target market is looking for your product or service on Google, then you can benefit from local SEO.
this guide, you’ll find complete answers to the following questions:

  • What is “local SEO?”
  • Why is it important to my business?
  • How can I benefit from it?

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website to be more visible to local searchers.

If you have a local business like a restaurant, law firm, or painting business, optimizing your website for local SEO makes it easier for people in your area to find your website instead of a competitors.

Local SEO as a marketing strategy works for brick and mortar businesses and mobile businesses that serve a geographical location, but don’t have a physical presence that customers visit.

By the way, while we’re dishing out definitions.

If you didn’t know already, SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization”.

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank for searches.

Local Search Vs. Organic Search

Did you know that according to Google, over 30% of searches have a “local intent”?

This means that almost 1/3 of all searchers are looking for a product, service, or information in their geographical area.

Google understands this and spent a lot of time and money building a product that can distinguish between a local search and organic search.

For example:

If a customer needs an AC repair company in Edmond, Oklahoma, there’s no point in Google showing them AC companies in New York City. Google also won’t show them a blog post on how to start an AC repair company.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but this is called search intent.

Generally, SEO revolves around driving traffic to a website from all over the world. When someone searches “best shoes” or “how to salsa”, Google understands that there is no location intent behind those search.

As a result, you’ll find the websites that best satisfy those queries worldwide.

In “regular” search, Google is looking for relevant and trusted content. In local search, Google is looking for relevant, trusted, and local content.

Local SERPs

Local SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are the results that show up for local searches, based on the customer’s location.

In the video below, you can see that I searched for, “Carpet Cleaners + Kalamazoo”, following the “[Service] + [Location]” formula of your typical local search.

If you crawl inside the mind of a local consumer, you’ll find there are a few different variations of basically the same search. For example, instead of searching, “[Service] + [City]”, someone may search “[Service]”, or “I need [Service]” More or less, Google knows that these searches are all looking for carpet cleaning in Kalamazoo. Smart, right?

Let's Look At Another Example

In the screenshots below of the standard local SERPs, you can see three things:

  1. Google Ads: Google ads are the only paid portion of the local SERPs. Although the ads put your business on the top of the search results, consumers are trained to trust the free, organic results over ads. 
  2. Google Maps: Directly below Google Ads comes the Google Maps section. Only three businesses are shown on the first page, who received the majority of the calls. 
  3. Google Search: Although it comes last, Google search is where the majority of searchers eyeballs gravitate towards.

Google Business

If organic search results are 1/2 of local SEO, then Google Business is the other 1/2. Google Business is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their presence on Google Search. Customers can find businesses on Google Search after Google verifies the business. Verifying your business on Google Business makes it easier for your customers to find information about your business.
Customers can see:
  • Your business name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Hours
  • Services
  • Reviews
  • Photos and Video
  • And more…
Google business profile example: hillis brothers painting

In Image #2 above, you saw an example of the Google 3-Pack. Google only shows three businesses in this section. These businesses get the majority of the Google Maps search traffic. Customers can click “More Businesses” to see the rest of the businesses in their local area.

In our Google Maps SEO chapter, we’ll discuss how to rank in the 3-pack.

Importance Of Local SEO

In our biased opinion, Local SEO is the best growth channel for local businesses.

Here’s why.

Your business may only be open five days a week from 9-5. However, Google search is open 24/7, 365. Stats prove that for the majority of customers, the buying process starts online

Local SEO Stats: (Courtesy of Web FX)

  • 46% of searches are for local businesses.
  • 50% of searchers visit a store the same day as a local search
  • 28% of local searches result in a purchase.
  • 86% of people rely on the internet to find a local business. 
  • 29% of people search for local businesses at least once a week.

Our next chapter will examine your local website’s most important ranking factors.