What Is Local SEO: A Guide For Businesses In 2024

Written by Matthew Ludden / February 18, 2024 / 12 Minute Read
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For a local business, search engines, Google Maps, and online business directories can rapidly raise your online visibility. In 2024, launching a website is just the first step. Local SEO enhances your business online in the area you serve. This article provides an in-depth guide to improving your organic search results.


Introduction To Local Search Engine Optimization Services

Before the internet and Google transformed the way people search for products and services, nearly every local business used some form of marketing from simple yellow page listings to billboards, newspaper ads, and television spots. These forms of advertising targeted local audiences.

When modern consumers search for a business, they most often reach for their phone, laptop, or tablet. There are many forms of paid digital advertising to help your local business stand out in Google, Bing, and social media, but sponsored ads are just one element on search results pages and social media. Organic digital marketing can significantly impact the success of local businesses.

Local SEO is a comprehensive approach to enhancing a business’s online presence. Valve+Meter Performance Marketing works with hundreds of businesses to improve local search visibility. Our local SEO agency‘s guide aims to help local business owners, entrepreneurs, and operators understand the elements of local search engine optimization (SEO) and gain insights into how to build a local SEO strategy for your business.

In this article:

  • Understand the importance of local SEO for reaching customers in your geographic area.
  • Learn how to optimize your Google Business Profile for better local visibility.
  • Discover the role of social media in enhancing your local online presence.
  • Explore the significance of online directories and reputation management.
  • Gain insights into building a successful local SEO strategy.
  • Find out how to measure local SEO results and continuously improve your efforts.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to an array of activities that enhance the online visibility of local businesses in the areas they serve. Basic local SEO as the name implies focuses on search engine optimization specifically, all non-paid results in Google.

Beyond gaining visibility in local search results, local SEO makes it easier for nearby customers to find and engage with the business through online directories, maps, citations, social media, and local business directories.

Local SEO is particularly significant for small and medium-sized businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores, and local service providers, as it helps them compete with larger companies by showcasing credibility and relevance in their immediate vicinity.

Local Search 97%
97% of users search online to discover local businesses.
Search Intent 46%
46% of all internet searches are for local businesses and events.

What Is The Difference Between Local SEO and Traditional SEO?

The primary difference between local SEO and traditional SEO lies in the local SEO ranking factors of Google and other search engines.

While traditional SEO aims to improve a business’s visibility on a national or global scale, local SEO hones in on capturing the attention of users who are searching for products or services in a specific location.

Marketers separate local SEO from traditional SEO because 97% of all internet users use search engines to discover local businesses and nearly half of all searches have local intent.

While a consumer may include “near me” or “in (CITY)” in a search, Google and other search engine algorithms understand the proximity of a search is relevant for certain keyword phrases like plumber, barber, and restaurant.

For a local business owner, this geographical focus is achieved through various techniques, including optimizing your business website for local keywords and other local ranking signals, claiming and managing Google Business Profiles, and building local citations.

Ultimately, local SEO strategies are implemented, managed, measured, and improved using local SEO tools and local rankings.

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Understanding Local Search

In local search, Google prioritizes and displays search results based on the user’s location and the relevance of local businesses to their query.

For certain queries, such as “local SEO,” organic search results are likely to display results from across the internet. This is a broad term that many experts across the United States and globally can provide insights.

A screen shot of the google search page showcasing "What Is Local SEO: A Guide For Businesses In 2024.

When a user performs a local search, such as “dog groomer near me” or “plumbers in [city name],” search engines use algorithms to determine the most relevant results that match the user’s intent and geographic proximity.

A screenshot of a computer displaying "What Is Local SEO: A Guide For Businesses In 2024".

The importance of local intent cannot be overstated in local search queries. Local intent indicates that the searcher is looking for products, services, or information within a specific area, making it essential for businesses to optimize their online presence for these location-based searches.

In the example above, organic search results appear below sponsored ads. Let’s examine each of these elements:

Local Services Ads

For more than 70 industries and types of businesses, Google offers local services ads (LSA). This specialized form of pay-per-click advertising appears at the top of search results and in Google Maps.

Eligible businesses must first pass a screening process with Google. These ads display “Google Screened” in brilliant green above the name of the business. LSA is a powerful tool to buy visibility and capture high-intent leads for your business.

Google Local Pack

Google’s Local Pack, or the Map Pack, displays local businesses as clusters on a map. A user can select a business and the name, address, phone, and other details are displayed.

A screen shot of the google business page for a company in 2024.

Local Services ads appear above organic Google Business Profile (GBP) results in the local pack. Local SEO experts optimize GBPs as part of comprehensive local SEO services.

Sponsored Ads

The map pack results are followed by traditional Pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Paid ads, marked as sponsored, are displayed above organic search results. Paid search (PPC) ads can effectively balance your local SEO efforts within a digital marketing strategy.

Organic Search Results

The results that are not sponsored or within the Local Pack are native search results or more commonly known as organic search results. For small businesses partnering with a local SEO agency, ranking in the top 3 organic results can be transformational for website visits and click-through-rates.

Variations In Local Search

Local searches are distinct for certain terms and may appear different on a mobile device versus a desktop. For local businesses, including brick-and-mortar storefronts, professional services like law firms, and home services such as HVAC and plumbers, appearing in local searches is vital to sustainable digital marketing.

By understanding and catering to local intent, businesses can improve their visibility in local search results, attract more targeted traffic, and ultimately increase their chances of converting online searches into real-world customers. HubSpot found that 72% of people who perform a local search visit a business within 5 miles of their location.

There is no simple trick to appearing at the top of local search results. With hundreds of ranking factors and continuous search engine updates, understanding local search requires a well-balanced local SEO and paid search strategy. The most successful local marketing campaigns prioritize quality, relevance, and credibility in both paid and inbound marketing activities.

Local Search 5 miles
72% of people who perform a local search visit a business within 5 miles of their location.

How To Assess Your Own Website For Local SEO

As a small business owner, understanding the basics of local SEO is crucial for increasing your local visibility online. Before investing in any marketing efforts, it’s important to assess your current situation to ensure that your business can grow sustainably.

An exhaustive SEO audit is key to professional local SEO services.

Here’s a simple guide to help you evaluate your website’s local SEO:

Google Business Profile (GBP) Optimization

Check if your business is listed on Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Ensure that your profile is complete, accurate, and up-to-date with your business name, address, phone number, and operating hours.

To earn greater visibility in local listings, add all of the products and services you offer. This is often overlooked in local SEO packages. If you are a service business, you want to verify that all of the areas you serve are identified in your GBP as well.

Utilizing Social Media

Assess how actively you’re using social media platforms to engage with your local audience. A local SEO campaign typically evaluates your complete online presence including local listings and social profiles.

Are you posting regularly? Are you interacting with customers and responding to their inquiries? Do other local businesses follow you? Social media presence can significantly impact your local visibility.

Online Directory and Reputation Management

Look at your presence in online directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or local business directories. Ensure your listings are consistent and accurate across all platforms. Monitor and manage your online reputation by responding to reviews and addressing any negative feedback professionally.

Building Your Local SEO Strategy

Consider the overall strategy you’re employing for building your website content. From your home page to service pages and blogs, the best local SEO performs keyword research for every web page.

Are you targeting the right local keywords?

Do you have a plan for regularly updating your content and online presence to stay relevant in local search results?

Local search continues to evolve and change. Small businesses that do not have an SEO strategy in place are missing out on local searchers.

Search Visibility and Local SEO Tools

Without going into specific tools, be aware that there are tools available that can help you track your search visibility in local search results.

If you currently work with a marketing agency or web design company, you should ask for reporting on your search visibility, keyword rankings, and inbound local links.

Creating a snapshot of your current situation helps evaluate all of your efforts. A report should monitor your progress and identify areas for improvement for the following:

SEO Content Marketing

Your website content should focus on keywords that local consumers use when searching for your products or services.

Are you providing valuable, locally relevant information that addresses the needs of your local audience?

Website Architecture and Internal Link-building

The structure and performance of your website impact local SEO.

Professional technical SEO services test and improve elements including site speed, navigation menus, and broken page links that impact user experience and search engine results.

Is it easy for users and search engines to navigate?

Do you have internal links that help visitors find related content and services within your site?

Creating Local-Focused Content

Look at the content you’re producing. Do you have a page for every product and service that you offer? Are you creating articles, blog posts, or guides that focus on local events, news, or topics relevant to your community?

Local SEO services give you a competitive edge for every relevant keyword local consumers search to find your business. Many small businesses build a website and rarely perform updates.

Up-to-date information and fresh content signals search engines that your content is relevant and credible. The best local SEO is an active campaign.

Inbound Link-building

Evaluate your efforts in acquiring inbound links from reputable local websites, directories, or community pages.

Local links from businesses, organizations, and local directories provide a beacon to your website. These links boost your local authority and prominence.

Measuring Local SEO Results and Continuous Improvement

Finally, assess how you’re tracking the results of your local SEO efforts. Are you monitoring key metrics like local search rankings, website traffic from local searches, and conversion rates from local visitors?

Regularly reviewing these metrics will help you make informed decisions and continuously improve your local SEO strategy. For a small business owner, SEO companies provide clear reporting that is easy to understand.

These reports give you a better understanding of your website’s local SEO performance and identify areas for improvement. This proactive approach will help you optimize your online presence and attract more local customers to your business.

Is Hiring A Local SEO Company Worth It?

Local search engine optimization is not like traditional advertising or marketing. A customized strategy creates a Flywheel Effect in your business.

When you invest in local SEO services with the right partner, you can enhance your online visibility and attract more local customers. An initial SEO audit can be frustrating. Like a flywheel at rest, you need to add a push to gain momentum.

Local SEO services provide the right push and the right amount of force to meet your needs. The first rotation of a flywheel is tough, but each push gains momentum. Website content, new business listings, local links, and positive reviews accumulate until the inertia within your flywheel takes over.

Hiring a local SEO company lets you focus on running your business and works as an investment for many businesses.

Benefits of Investing in Local SEO

  1. Increased Visibility: A local SEO company can optimize your online presence to ensure your business appears prominently in local search results, increasing your visibility to potential customers in your area.
  2. Targeted Traffic: By focusing on local keywords and search queries, a local SEO company can help attract more targeted traffic to your website, leading to higher conversion rates.
  3. Competitive Advantage: A well-executed local SEO strategy can give you an edge over competitors who may not be optimizing for local search, helping you capture a larger share of the local market.
  4. Reputation Management: Local SEO companies often offer reputation management services, helping you maintain a positive online image and respond effectively to customer reviews.
  5. Cost-Effective Marketing: Compared to traditional advertising methods, local SEO is often more cost-effective, providing a higher return on investment by reaching customers who are actively searching for your products or services.

The top organic search result has a click-through rate of 39.6% and successful SEO services earn 1000% more traffic than social media. Most importantly, the return on investment for local SEO is measurable. This means you can build repeatable and scalable local SEO campaigns to keep your flywheel activated and stay atop Google search.

CTR 39.6%
The top organic search result has a click-through-rate of 39.6%.
SEO 1000%
SEO earns 1000% more organic traffic than social media.

How To Hire A Local SEO Agency

Local search engine optimization services may specialize in specific tactics and industries. Asking the right questions makes sure you find a partner that is both a great fit professionally and culturally.

When consulting with an SEO agency make sure they consider the following:

  • Defining Your Goals: Success is measured by where you are and where you want to go. Clearly outline what you want to achieve with local SEO, such as increasing visibility in local search results, improving Google My Business rankings, or enhancing your online reputation. Some small businesses need to create brand awareness while others need measurable revenue.
  • Evaluate Their Expertise: Ensure the agency has expertise in key local SEO services in your industry and similar markets. Ask for case studies and comparable campaigns.
  • Discuss Their Approach: Ask about their approach to local SEO, including how they plan to improve your online presence and adapt to changes in search engine algorithms and consumer behavior. The right local SEO company is a key partner in your success. Make sure they share the same vision as you.
  • Consider Their Communication and Reporting: Some SEO companies offer packages without transparent, data-driven results. Choose an agency that communicates clearly and provides regular, detailed reports on their progress and the impact of their efforts. Local SEO services must be accountable and adaptable to keep your flywheel moving.
  • Assess Their Commitment to Long-Term Success: A couple of local citations and keyword research are not going to drive sustainable momentum in your flywheel. Ensure your local SEO agency views digital marketing as an ongoing effort and is committed to continuously monitoring and adapting its strategies for long-term success.

For long-term success, businesses should prioritize local SEO as an ongoing effort, continuously monitoring and adapting strategies to stay ahead of competitors and respond to changes in search engine algorithms and consumer behavior.

Investing in local SEO is not only about improving search rankings but also about building a strong online reputation and establishing a meaningful connection with the local community.

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Yes, local SEO is worth it for businesses that want to improve their visibility in local search results, attract more local consumers, and compete effectively in their geographic area.

A well-executed local SEO strategy can lead to increased website traffic, higher conversion rates, and a better return on investment compared to traditional advertising methods.

Local SEO services optimize your website, garner positive reviews, and optimize your business listings in local directories including Google Business Profile, and citation building.

For small businesses, local SEO services allow you to focus on operating your business without mastering all of these SEO tactics or hiring an internal team.

The main difference between local SEO and regular SEO is the focus on geographic location. Local SEO targets customers in a specific area and optimizes for local search queries, while regular SEO aims to improve a website’s visibility on a national or global scale.

Local SEO involves additional tactics beyond traditional SEO, such as local market research, optimizing Google Business Profile, and managing local citations, that are not typically part of broader SEO strategies.