Local SEO Guide: The what, the why and how

A tremendous amount of people search for local places on Google or Bing Search Engines. (Mostly Google these days). This offers a great opportunity for all local businesses to list them down on Google Business Listing to gain more visibility.

 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. (Source: thinkwithgoogle.com)

 If you are focusing on Bing, you can do a local listing or claim your business listing there as well.

However, for this guide, we will focus on Google as Google has 92% Search Engine Market Share Worldwide.

Let’s start by understanding what is Local SEO?

What is Local SEO? And why local search is important for you?

Local SEO is a process of optimizing your online presence in local search results. These searches might be conducted on Google, Bing or any other search engine.

Local searches examples:

  • Restaurant near me
  • Hotels in Goa
  • Coffee shop in [your city]

All in all local SEO is a process of getting more customers to any kind of business and this is especially very good for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Local search results are very important because:

  • 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
  • 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles.
  • 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over the last two years.

Find more local SEO stats on this Hubspot Article.

Businesses that benefit from Local SEO

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Cake shops
  • Flower shops
  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Law firms
  • Consultancy
  • Plumbers
  • And more.

Step #1: Keyword Research for local SEO

Keyword research is the starting point of SEO.

Let’s start with an example: Consider that you have a coffee shop in your city called Joe’s Cafe.

Here are the keywords that you would like to rank for:

  • Coffee shop near me
  • Coffee shop in [city name]
  • Coffee shop nearby
  • Joe’s cafe timing
  • Joe’s cafe phone number

These are some of the keywords that you can think of based on your understanding of the Google search engine.

I will show you how to search for good keywords to rank for.

Google Suggest

Go to Google > Search for “Coffee Shop ” (Give space after shop) 

Google Search for Coffee Shop

Next Search for the same keyword “ Coffee shop” with space before the word Coffee..

Google Search for Coffee Shop with space before Coffee

There are some interesting suggestions here. Originally, I didn’t think of “nearest Coffee Shop” or “24 hours coffee shop” during my brainstorming.

You can note down all the related keywords and we will use them in your on-page SEO step.

Repeat this process by adding “Area Name” of your city. For Example: “Coffee Shop in [Area name]”

You can even conduct competitor research and see what keywords are they ranking for.

Use tools like SEMrush or Ubersuggest to get keywords that your competitors are ranking for.

Just add your competitor URL in the above tools and it will show you all the keywords. Make a note of these keywords in your list.

Read more about keyword research in this complete Keyword Research Guide.

Step #2: Google My Business Listing

Google My Business(GMB) listing is your business profile on Google. This is the most crucial part of Local SEO. You can claim your business profile if you have not done it already.

You can even go for Bing Places listing. I will show you GMB listing steps today. Bing has an almost similar process which you can follow from Bing Places website.

Let’s go through the process of listing.

1. Go to Create Listing Page of GMB.
2. You can create a new listing or claim your existing listing.
3. Type the name of your business and it will show suggestions.

Google My Business Listing Step 1

4. Next, add your business address. In case you are claiming an existing business, this field will be auto filled.

Google My Business Listing Step 2

If you are working from home or your business is not from one place, then I would suggest you register your home address or any physical address that is accessible to you.

5. Add your location on Google Map.

Google My Business Listing Step 3 - Add Location

Most of the time, Google will show you the exact location, but I would still suggest you confirm this by zooming in and pinpointing the correct position to avoid confusion.

6. Next, it will ask whether you serve outside of your location or not.

Google My Business Listing Step 4 -

If you select yes, you can add more locations in the next step and if you choose no, it will ask for business category next.

7. Choose your business category, as we are taking the example of a Coffee Shop, I will type down coffee shop.

Google My Business Listing Step 5 - Category

You can add more categories later so don’t worry about adding or deleting something.

8. Adding your website and phone number is an optional step so you can select an appropriate option. I would suggest adding both, as both are quite essential for your users.

Google My Business Listing Step 6 -

9. Finish and select the verification method. Google can send you a postcard, or you can opt for any other verification method. Sometimes it varies from country to country. 

Google My Business Listing Step 7 - Verification

Now you know how to list your business on Google My Business listing. Once verified, your listing will be live.

Great! Your listing is now live.

It’s now time to optimize your GMB Listing

Here are a few steps to optimize your listing to add an impact on your Local SEO efforts.

  • Add more relevant categories for your business.
  • List your services.
  • Add photos of your business.
  • Add additional phone numbers.
  • Add the opening and closing hours of your business.
  • Add any other relevant information you find in GMB listing.

Step #3: Citation (NAP)

Local Citations are online mentions of your business that contain the NAP(Name, Address, Phone) information.

Citation is necessary because it is one of the Google ranking factors for local SEO as per the Moz study.

And many people are searching for your business information from various platforms apart from Google as well. So you must be consistent about your NAP information across all the platforms.

There are two types of citation. They are structured and unstructured. 

Structured citations have your information with icon or labels as below.

Name: Joe Cafe
Address: 401, Nirvana Business Center
Phone: +91 9999999999

Unstructured citations are mention of your business without having labels or icons. For example, your business name mentioned somewhere in a blog or web page.

I would recommend doing a Citation audit if you already have a business. You can check all the local directory and check your NAP information. You must have the same NAP information everywhere.

I will talk more about where you can get more citations in Link Building step.

Step #4 On-page SEO

All the basic on-page SEO tactics work for local SEO as well. You already did keyword research in step 1. So, I am sure you have decided your targeted keyword.

You can follow on-page SEO tactics like:

  • Keyword in the H1 tag
  • Keyword in Title Tag
  • Catchy meta description with keyword
  • Keyword in URL
  • Keyword in your content

As per the above points, add your hero keyword in your webpages. Also, try and add all other keywords organically in the web copy.

Read complete on-page SEO Guide in this SEO Tutorial.

There are a few more things that you can do for Local SEO.

Let’s go through them.

Start with adding schema markup to your NAP information and other relevant content on the page.

Schema is an additional code in your website that helps Google to understand the content type. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a web developer or an expert to do it.

Schema Markup

You can simply go to Google’s Structured Markup Helper.

Structure Data Markup Helper

Select the type of schema in the website section. Select ‘Local Businesses’

Add the URL of your website and hit ‘Start tagging’.

You can now select the words in your website like NAP information, right-click on it and select the type.

For Example:

  • Select Name from content and right-click on it
  • Select the Name option
  • Your schema markup is added on the right side.
Structure Data Markup Tagging

You will see all the information selected on the right side. Tag all the possible elements.

Once you are done, click on ‘Create HTML’ button and select “JSON-LD” format.

You will get a Code Snippet as below:

 <!-- JSON-LD markup generated by Google Structured Data Markup Helper. --> <script type="application/ld+json"> {   "@context" : "http://schema.org",   "@type" : "LocalBusiness",   "name" : "Viken Patel" } </script> 

Copy this code and add it on the  Google Structure Data Testing Tool in Code Snippet tab. Check for any errors and fix them. Ignore any warnings there.

Add this code into your website code or take help from your web designer or developer to get it done. If you are using Google Tag Manager, you can also add this code snippet there.

Show NAP information on the website

NAP(Name, Address, Phone) information is required on the home page and the contact us page. You can simply put NAP information in the footer so it will be there on all pages.

However, keep NAP separately on contact us page which is good to have as the purpose of this page is to have contact information.

Additionally, keep Google map on the contact page or the footer. This will help your visitors find your location easily.

Local Landing Pages

A local landing page means a page for your city or area. You can create a landing page with your city name and add more information about your city there. Optimize your landing page around some famous things in your city. This page will help you rank better with SEO.

Keep your page URL as below
yourwebsite.com/[Your City Name]

You can add the NAP information here as well along with related keywords that you explored in the earlier step.

Step #5: Link Building for Local SEO

Link building is a vast topic.

You need to build quality backlinks to get better rankings in the search engine. A backlink is one of the strongest ranking signals for Google.

However, today, we are going to talk more about link building for local sites, basically building local citation.

Such as:

  • Chamber of commerce.
  • Local community sites
  • Business directory

For example: In India, you will find

  • Justdial.com
  • Sulekha.com
  • Yellowpages.com

If you are in the US: Yelp.com is one of the good sites to get local citation.

These local communities are also based on your business.

For example,

  • If you are a hotel or restaurant, you can register on TripAdvisor
  • If you are a doctor, you can register on Practo.com

Likewise, you’ll find plenty of local business directory or portal based to register yourself.

Again, make sure you use same NAP information everywhere.

Here’s another way to find the business directory.

Go to Google.com > Search for “intitle:” business directory”” or search for “inurl:directory”

You will see the result of numerous relevant directories.

You can even make the search industry-wise such as “Restaurant directory.”

Another tactic is to find sites using your competitors, this is my favourite one.

Go to Ahref Backlink Checker tool 

Enter your competitor’s website URL

Click on “Check Backlinks”

You will see the list of websites from where your competitor is getting links from. You can also try getting links from all those websites by registering or approaching them.

Once you find out the websites to list your business, check whether they are helpful and genuine sites. Don’t register on websites without proper information.

Bonus Strategy: Google Reviews and Posts

You should focus on getting more reviews on your Google business listing. It’s an important part of your business.

Getting reviews will help your searchers learn about other people’s experience with your business, and positive reviews will help you get more business.

So be active and ask everyone who visits your business to write a review for you on google.

And don’t forget to reply to each and every review, regardless if it’s positive or negative.

Don’t worry about the negative reviews, try to justify your answer, so those who are reading will feel that you care about your customers.

Google introduced Google Posts sometime back.

It’s a mini-blogging platform which will help you engage with your customers. You can create Google Post from Google My business listing platform. Navigate to Posts section and give a lot of your business updates through this platform. All of this will help you rank better on Google, and you will get more conversion as a result of better engagement.


Enhance your local presence, and it will help you get better rankings, traffic, and conversions.

If you find it to be too much work, start with one point at a time. It’s not very hard to execute this.

I am sure if you follow all these tactics, you will get a better ranking than everyone else.

With Google changing its methods of displaying the search results, every business needs to work on their local SEO.

It is very easy, and you can easily do it yourself. Or you can even hire someone who can get this done for you. (You can even contact me, I will get it done for you)

I would also suggest you measure the results, try to look at what you are getting out of local SEO. Without measuring, you won’t be able to understand how it works. You must redirect all your efforts on the channels that work best for you.

That’s it.

If you have any suggestions or any points that are not covered here for Local SEO, leave a comment below.

Subscribe to my blogDon't miss the latest SEO, Digital Marketing and wordpress tips.

3 thoughts on “Local SEO Guide: The what, the why and how”

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.