Local business means local SEO!

Whilst many online businesses cater to a global or nationwide market, others rely upon a physical location, and seek primarily to attract a regional audience. Google and other search engines use various methods to provide searchers with the results most relevant to them, and these results are based, in part, upon their location.

Google local search result

Since most people ultimately arrive at a website for the first time after carrying out a search, it is important that you optimise your web content. This will allow your business to appear high in the search results of the people most likely to be interested in the products or services you have to offer.

The process of optimising your website so that your business appears in the search engine results of your desired audience is known as search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO revolves primarily around keywords. Google and other search engines work by sending out their web crawlers (also known as spiders or Googlebots) to scan new content, index it, and categorise it appropriately.

Google local search map

Although the process is actually much more complicated, this is largely done by finding key words and phrases in your website's written content (and coding) in order to determine its subject. This is why there is such a great focus on the importance of keywords and phrases in SEO.

What factors influence local SEO?

The same factors that influence national or global SEO also affect local SEO. These include on-page optimisation (such as tactical keyword placement), backlinks, internal linking, and site mapping. However, important additional considerations exist for those seeking to market their website (and thus their business) to a specific geographical area.

Firstly, you will need to create a local profile on Google. Other major search engines, such as Bing, also provide a similar range of features to assist with local SEO. Another important factor is citation, in which your company's name, address and phone number appear on other websites and online resources in the same format they do on your own. This helps to boost your ranking by proving to search engines that you are a real and consistent business. Finally, having plenty of genuine and quality reviews (even if some of them aren't perfect) is essential for increasing your website's rank in Google.

Google local knowledge graph example

Google search engine results are personalised and may vary based on your location.

How does Google know your location?

The major search engines have long been improving the way in which they deliver relevant search results to their users. On the most basic level, Google, for example, will automatically detect which country you are in from your IP address. If you are in the U.K., Google will provide you with search results from the U.K. However, search engines use other methods to find a more exact location. This has become particularly common with the rapid rise of mobile browsing.

Google local map pin

Today's smartphones have a range of location features, such as GPS, that are used to determine a more exact location. Search engines and mobile search apps use this information to provide you with increasingly relevant results. For example, people seeking to find shops, restaurants or other businesses with physical locations are most likely to be interested in results from their local area.

Mobile browsing in particular is very much location-orientated, since people use their smartphones all the time to find a business or amenity in their area. Mobile operating systems such as Google Android or Windows Phone 8 come with features which display local businesses on their mapping apps. If your business is a local one, then you're going to want it to appear in such listings. To make this happen, you'll need to pay attention to local SEO, since this is where it all starts.

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