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  • Abel Miranda

What is Local SEO and What Goes Into Ranking for Local Search?

Smart Phone with Google maps icon displayed over a map

We're at a point where people are searching locally more than ever. That means local SEO has become an integral part of local marketing strategies. Studies have shown that almost half of all Google searches include local intent. That means consumers want your services if you're a small business!

We're at a point where people are searching locally more than ever. That means local SEO has become an integral part of local marketing strategies.

Studies have shown that almost half of all Google searches include local intent. That means consumers want your services if you're a small business!

But what exactly is local SEO and what goes into it?

Local SEO

Local SEO is a subset of traditional SEO (search engine optimization) that focuses on improving a website's visibility in local search engine results, mainly for the area where your business is located.

For example, if a business owner is looking for digital marketing services near them, or their city, they'd probably hop into Google and type in something like "digital marketing near me" or "marketing agencies in [city_name]".

Google Map search results for "marketing agency in temecula"

Local SEO campaigns primarily aim to rank for locally searched terms.

This means learning about local search ranking factors and how to optimize for them.

What are Some Local SEO Ranking Factors?

There are quite a few local SEO ranking factors within their own subcategories, but I want to highlight the biggest players on the field (in my humble opinion).

On-Page SEO Factors

Google has to know what your website is about, so tell it!

Optimizing for local search within your website is a big contributor to climbing organic rankings and being put on map results in your local area.

Optimize for local keywords and include location-specific information

After doing your keyword research, you can optimize your website for local search results!

By including relevant keywords on your website for local search queries, you can tell search engines what your site is about and where your business is located. It's best to add these keywords throughout your webpage, such as the meta descriptions, headers, and body text.

For example, if you're a dentist in [city name], include keywords relevant to your business. Optimize for terms like "dentist in [city name]" or "dental office in [city name]".

You have to help Google understand what your website is about, so optimizing the right elements will go a long way when it comes to getting ranked.

Structured data markup

To help search engines understand your content even more, add structured data, or structured data markup, to present it more clearly to search crawlers. Local businesses can take advantage of 'LocalBusiness' schema for their website, which can include address, phone number, business hours, and more.

Keep in mind there is no direct correlation between adding structured data to a website page and better Google rankings. It is merely added to help search engines understand what your website is about, allowing them to rank it appropriately.

Mobile Optimization

We've said this before, and we'll say it again - if your site isn't accessible to everyone, you're losing out on business! A majority of local searches are done on mobile devices so it's crucial to optimize for mobile users. Not only that but make sure your website speed is up to par and navigation is seamless.

Google Business Profile Factors

Google Business Profile for Marketing Empire Group - Temecula
A look at M.E.G's Google Business Profile!

Google Business Profile, which used to be called Google My Business, is one of the key components for gaining online visibility regarding local search rankings. Setting up a business profile is the first step for any business, as it allows them to appear in Google Maps. Don't stop there, though.

Best practices include filling out as much information as you can on your Google Business Profile, like contact information, photos, opening hours, and other details about their services or products.

Collect Reviews

Another powerful tool when it comes to improving rankings is customer reviews; local business owners should constantly encourage customers to leave reviews on their Google Business Profile.

customer leaving a positive review for a local business

Not only that, but diversity across different review platforms will help you gain more credibility.

Believe it or not, reviews could sway a potential customer's decision to do business with you.

Make sure to thank customers for leaving positive reviews, and don't let negative reviews slip under the cracks! Address negative reviews as soon as possible, to see how you can improve upon a customer's negative experience and hopefully get them to give you another shot.

Ensuring your profile is of top-notch quality will help your Google Business Profile get noticed in local search results.

Backlink Factors

Local business listings

Building local citations with accurate information about your business is a key start, ensuring there's no confusion when it comes to your business information. These types of citations are often referred to as NAP (name, address, and phone number) citations and are usually free to publish.

Listing management tools are a great tool to mass-spread your business information across dozens of online listing sites, which will save you tons of time.

Local link building

Building backlinks from local websites can tremendously improve your website's domain authority, giving you an edge over competitors.

Backlinks are links from other websites to yours, usually earned organically. These links tell Google that another website has put its trust in yours as a reputable source for products, services, or information.

These are different from NAP citations as they are earned from other websites that link to yours.

Some things that factor into the value of a backlink:

  • Domain Authority: Domain authority is a score given to every website based on how likely a site is to rank in organic search results. If you get links from higher authority websites, it will give your website a more significant boost in search results as opposed to lower authority websites.

  • Inbound links and internal links: The more inbound links your website has, the easier it gets to rank in organic results. Internal links are pages that link to other pages within your website. Having a good internal linking structure is integral in being favored by search crawlers, and it tells Google what the most important pages on your website are.

  • Relevance: Backlinks will serve your website best if they come from sites most relevant to your business industry. For instance, a marketing agency wouldn't want to gain links from sites in the event planning industry. Instead, they'd collect links from other websites in the same niche.

  • Link distribution: Having a widespread link portfolio, meaning attaining links from websites with different domain authorities and several different websites in general is more beneficial than getting backlinks from just a limited number of websites.

Do I Need Local SEO?

Common business types that utilize local SEO in their marketing strategy include:


Small businesses with a physical address like restaurants, stores, salons, and health offices can and should utilize local SEO.

Service-area businesses

Businesses that provide in-home services need local SEO to be found when someone needs their services. Examples of these are plumbers, exterminators, landscapers, and cleaning services.

Professional Services

Lawyers, Accountants, and financial consultants all need to get clients from somewhere. Local search is a great place! Professional service providers can benefit greatly from local SEO to get new clients in their area.

Overall, small businesses that rely on local customers for revenue, have a physical location or serve a specific geographic area should utilize local SEO.

local business owner putting up a 'welcome' sign at her storefront door


Most local businesses could utilize local SEO to improve visibility online amongst existing customers and potential new ones alike.

Improving domain authority through quality local link building, optimizing keyword usage throughout page titles and content, implementing structured data markup (schema), and collecting customer reviews are just some of the techniques used to help businesses compete in local organic results and ultimately, increase their visibility.

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