What is Local Search and How Do I Rank At The Top?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO involves ranking in the local search algorithm for businesses who serve a local area. Long before 2021,Google decided to implement local search as part of its new algorithm,and now utilizes GPS and IP Address to pull a user’s location to provide local search results based on the search query. For example,if a person is located in Denver,Colorado and searches up a query with local intent ie “book store near me” or “book store,” Google’s search engine will show relevant web pages and websites in the area of Denver.

The main components of a local search is the Local PPC,Local Map Pack (Google Maps),and localized organic search results.

Local PPC – Google ADs allows advertisers to advertise within a geo-location. This allows advertisers on Google AD’s platform to show results only when a person is either in the location or when they’re searching for keywords in that location. You will commonly see ADs running for most local niches and are usually at the top of the page.

Local Map Pack – Although Google has played around with the number of placements in local search,as of 2021,there are up to 3 (sometimes 4) placements on the map pack with a button for “View all” to see other search results. It is imperative to get on the top 3 spots as these business listings get the most visibility by far.

Localized Organic – This is the section right below the “map pack” or the map section of the search results. This is where local websites will show up for a keyword for the location.

*Bonus* Rich Results – These are featured snippets that include things like images,image carousels,answer cards,and more.

So how do we rank on local search?

Let’s break this down to each of the components:

Local PPC – In order to rank on the top of Google for local PPC,it comes down to competitors and bidding as well as the quality score of the AD. If there are a lot of competitors that are also looking to advertise for the local search,you will find yourself having to bid higher in order to claim the top of the page for the keywords you’d like to rank for. CPC (Cost-per-click) costs can range from as little as 5 cents per click to well over $100 per click. One way to reduce costs is by setting a max CPC on your bidding strategy,geo-targetting keywords,adding negative keywords you’d like to avoid showing up for,and placing time constraints (ie: from 9:00am to 5:00pm Mon-Fri) so the ad doesn’t run on weekends or when you’re out of the office. The other aspect of an AD that google takes into account is the QS (Quality Score) of the ad as it needs to be deemed relevant and quality enough in google’s algorithm eyes to be considered at the top of the page. Your quality score is based on the headline,and description,as well as sitelinks and other things to make sure that the AD is relevant and not seen as harmful,misleading,or spammy.

Local Map Pack – There are many variables that go into the ranking of Maps,but things to note are to optimize the Google My Business page with as much relevant information as possible and completely fill out the page. Add 10+ photos,add correct categories,business hours,description,and even offers and events will help. Then the other part of the algorithm is the site’s number of correct citations and NAP (Name,Address,Phone Number) directories google can find. If you change numbers or address over the years in business,odds are,you have incorrect citations that are being tracked by Google that need to be updated to give you the best chance of ranking at the top of Google Maps. Then it is also a numbers game,the more directory submissions you have,the higher the chance Google will pick up on those directories and credit you for that directory.Things like geo-tagging photos,reviews,and keywords in reviews can build relevancy and help rankings as well. The last part of the algorithm is a site’s own relevance and authority. Oftentimes,you will see a site on the top 3 map pack also on the first page or top spots for the localized organic results. While it can be said that a good SEO Company will have optimized a local client’s website for both organic and maps,Google does take into factor the domain URL’s own relevance and authority to help determine rankings as well.

Localized Organic – Relevance and authority of the domain website,but more importantly the page authority,in determining the ranking of the page for the local keyword. This means you need to have relevant quality content,good user metrics,and high authority based on the quality of backlinks to the site/page. Both On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO can make the difference between a site that hovers on the middle of the second page and the top of the first page for Local search. Generally,local search is easier to show up than national sites,and the competition isn’t so bad that you need 100’s of authority,relevant,links to rank on the first page. A healthy mix of foundational on page SEO,quality content,and a decent number of backlinks usually do the job for Localized Organic Results.

Hope this helps

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