What is local SEO? | Local SEO

Hey! In the previous lesson, we’ve explained how search engine optimization works and how we at Yoast think it should be approached. What we haven’t touched on yet, though, is how you can optimize your site for the local search results. If you have a local business, optimizing your website is also about making sure people can find you in real life. And even when you’re not actively getting visitors in your building, you’re still targeting an audience that is located in the same geographic area as you are.

So you need to optimize for that area! That’s what we call ‘local SEO’. So, let’s dive into this a bit deeper. As we’ve seen in the previous lessons, Google always tries to provide searchers with the best results for a query. But, the ‘best result’ depends on the context of the query.

The type of search and the location of the person searching give Google vital pieces of context. Let’s consider an example. Say I’m searching for [how do bees make honey?]. No matter where I am performing that search – mobile, desktop, home, or on the go – I’m looking for an answer to that question.

However, with a query like [bakery], Google can have pretty high confidence that I’m looking for a place to buy some fresh baked goods right at that moment. I probably want a place close to me, no matter where I’m performing the search or on what device.

As you can see, Google provides me with a map and list showing all the bakeries near me. Further down the results, it shows websites of local bakeries and sites listing bakeries in my city. And note that I didn’t even specify the city, Google just inferred it.

We call the results when searching for something like [how do bees make honey?] webpage-related results, and results for a query like [bakery] place-related results. As a local business, you’ll face fierce competition on the webpage-related results. You’ll have to compete with every other website on the internet to get your website ranked. But when Google detects a search that has local intent, you’re mostly competing with similar shops near you.

These local results are also featured in Google Maps, in-car navigation devices, Google Assistant searches, and many other media. So, if you own a local business, you’d want to show up in these results! But how do you optimize your website for these local results? Well, Google determines the ranking of local search results primarily on three factors: relevance, distance, and prominence.

What is local SEO? | Local SEO

The first factor, relevance, refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for.

If someone is searching for [microbrewery] in Amsterdam, Google would rank a small local brewery higher than the big Heineken brewery. The second factor, distance, is pretty straightforward: how far is the search result from the location used in a search? This could be the location someone uses in their search query, but if that’s not specified, Google will calculate the distance based on what they know about someone’s location. When someone does specify the location of the search, Google usually picks the geographical center of that location.

For example, when searching for [bakery in Nijmegen], a Dutch city close to the Yoast offices, Google would rank bakeries close to the geographical center of Nijmegen higher in the search results.

So, the proximity to the center is actually important here, too. The third factor is prominence. Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and Google tries to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmarks, or stores that are familiar to many people are likely to be prominent in local search results.

But prominence is also based on your site’s online reputation: if your site has a lot of positive reviews and ratings, that will improve your local ranking. Now we know the factors that play a role in determining a site’s place in the local search results, let’s dive into the aspects we think should be part of a local SEO strategy. First and foremost, it’s important to optimize on-page aspects of your site for the local search results.

Structure your website, have a clear contact page, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, and target the right keyphrases. But off-page aspects of website optimization are important as well.

Make sure other websites link to your website, build citations for your website, implement a consistent and impactful customer review program, and work on your social media presence. Finally, it’s important to optimize your Google My Business listing. Google My Business is an online platform where you can tell Google about your business – the kind of business you are, where you’re located, the hours you’re open, and more. We’ll go into all of the building blocks of a local SEO strategy in more detail in the upcoming modules. By the end of this course, you’ll know exactly how to optimize your website for the local search results!

And what’s more, the Yoast Local SEO plugin can help you with a lot of these aspects. It will even automatically take care of some of them.

That’s why we’ve included an optional module about the Yoast Local SEO plugin in this course. In this module, you can find out what our Local SEO plugin can help you with, and we’ll show you how it works! That’s it for now, good luck!


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