Why does local search optimisation matter?
Currently, over 20% of desktop search queries (24% for Google specific searches) are local. This figure rises to 50% for tablets and mobile searches, and is set to increase: to take advantage of these local search queries, prominence in local search listings is crucial. Considering this statistic, should local search be a focus for your business?
In a Google search there are three types of result shown.
- Paid results (formed from Adwords, PPC)
- Organic results (or ‘natural’ listings, reliant on site SEO)
- Local results (a mix of organic SEO, locational and social/citation information)
With this in mind, why should you consider local search important to your business?
Local search listings, unlike paid results, are formed through a blend of website information and locational or place signals. Because of this, local search ranking is crucial for:
- Businesses offering services / products suited to a local market, area or geographic region. For e.g. multinationals delivering services to overseas locations might want to appear for their keyword plus a location. A training company providing business English courses in the Paris area might want to be found for "Anglais des affaires a Paris" on a Google.fr search.
- Smaller businesses. Appearing well within a local market can eliminate large amounts of competition.
Optimising your local results in Google: It’s not just your website you need to consider.
Considerations other than basic SEO
When providing local search listings, Google creates a mix or blend of results based on relevancy to your location (or where it thinks you are located*). This blended and personalised approach has been in use since early 2012, and is set to increase in the future.
So in order to be successfully listed and found locally, considerations other than basic site SEO to take into account are:
- Your Google+ Local page/Google Places for business page
- Any business linked social accounts or profiles/plus citations across the web which can help with your Google maps ranking and search listing as Google trusts your wider authority
*This location opinion is formed through a number of signals such as relevance of the query, the prominence and listed location of the business/ service in question, and the location of the searcher.
Organic SEO + Social Influence = Your Local Results
How local results form: the factors influencing your local result appearance
In order to improve your local search result optimisation, it's important to understand and recognise the differences in how Google forms and displays local search results in comparison to organic or 'natural' SEO listings and paid results.
From Pay Per Click and Adwords campaigns, these display at the top, and down the right hand side of SERPs.
Organic search results
Organic results are a product of 'natural' site SEO, and normally appear in Google SERPs underneath paid or advertised results.
Local search results
When optimising for local search, diversity is key. Local search results are formed through a combination of organic search factors, geographical location and social influences (such as a having a successful Google Places campaign).
In addition to including organic results and geographic location, local search results take into account other influences across the web relating to your business, such as citations from blogs or review sites (Yelp, Citysearch, Tripadvisor etc) and social media presence. Having a strong social presence (with fully completed and active profiles; especially Google + if you are targeting Google search results) can help your business.
The local search piece of the online marketing jigsaw
So how does this obviously important local search piece fit into the online marketing jigsaw as a whole? For localised businesses looking to improve their SEO, displaying well in local results (without the expense of a PPC campaign) can be hugely beneficial. And as local search results do not just rely on on page SEO, but on a mix of organic search optimisation and social optimisation, by improving this, in collaboration with providing correct location information (info from Google Places for Business for eg) you can improve your relevancy in local searches and rank with better authority.