A comprehensive guide to local SEO in 2021

by | Jul 20, 2021 | Marketing, Public Relations

A big part of promoting a business is about marketing to the right people. So when you’re deciding on a strategy, it’s crucial that you define your target audience well and find ways to target them specifically. This is especially important if you’re working with a small business; when the odds are against you, focusing on the most effective strategies is the safest route to success.

Given that most new and small businesses have a limited geographical reach, marketing to locals is usually the best bet. This includes using local media, getting involved with local organizations, and throwing events locally. But the internet is used by people from all over the world. How will you attract those living in the area? The answer lies in utilizing local SEO. In 2021, this is the key to attracting quality traffic, improving conversion rates, and increasing profits.

Alt-tag: Person looking up a business on Google Maps.

What is local SEO?

Search engine optimization is the practice of designing, managing, and improving a website in ways that increase its visibility on search engines. Local SEO is a type of SEO that focuses on optimization that specifically targets rankings in a chosen geographical area. The goal is to attract the right target demographic—people who live, work or travel in the area where the business is operating. Although this can reduce the quantity of traffic a website gets, it improves the quality of traffic, which is often more important.

Person looking up a business on a map app.

People who perform local searches are often ready to make a purchase, which makes them excellent prospects.

Who benefits from this type of optimization?

Virtually every website in the world uses SEO today. But not everyone uses the same type of optimization. Local optimization efforts benefit those businesses that are tied to a specific location—either by having a physical store or by only servicing a specific area. For such businesses, it makes sense to focus on the surrounding locale. If you used traditional marketing tactics, you’d do the same – handing out flyers and setting up billboards locally. Think of local SEO as something similar, just done online.

Why should you focus on local SEO in 2021?

Local businesses typically rely on locals for most if not all of their profits. Attracting more locals will, therefore, benefit the business. But that’s not all. Local search optimization can literally put a business on the map. Anyone in the area who Googles the specific services or products the business is offering will then be able to find it much more quickly. This is another crucial benefit of targeting local searches; people looking for a business on a map are typically ready to buy and are simply looking for the best place to make their purchase. So converting them is not going to be a problem.

Person shopping in a store.

Local SEO can help you increase sales and grow a business in 2021.

Essential local SEO tips

Improving your visibility in local searches isn’t just about adjusting your content writing practices to include location-specific keywords. But that is a good start. Here are some other things you should do:

Start with a GMB page

Google My Business is vital for local visibility. As the most used search engine by far, Google is what you want to focus on with your optimization. And Google favors things it can trust, like its own business platform—GMB. Therefore, a profile on GMB will improve the website’s ranking on Google, put the business’ information on Google Maps, and maybe even land the store in the sidebar of local searches.

Before the business can reap these benefits, however, you need to learn how to use GMB properly. Start by creating or claiming your profile and getting it verified—the lengthy process is worth it. Next, make sure all the information on your profile, especially your address, is correct and up to date. Finally, be active; encourage customers to leave reviews on your GMB page and reply to the reviews you get, preferably mentioning the location in your response. This is a signal for Google to include your business in local searches.

Localize the website

A website makes up most of a business’s online presence. It is, therefore, vital to make the location very clear. To achieve this, you should:

  • Include the address on the website—at the very least, the address should be on the homepage and contact pages but including it in a sidebar, header, or footer is also a good idea
  • Create location pages—if there are have multiple stores or service locations, this ensures you rank for all of them
  • Use location-specific keywords—the website will rank higher for searches that include locations (which are very common)
  • Post relevant content that targets locals—this has the added bonus of encouraging reviews because your customers will have plenty to contribute about topics that matter to them
A business address on an envelope.

Make your address known.

Localize your PR

If a business only operates locally, then there’s little point in improving its brand image globally. It’s better to focus your efforts – reach out to local news media, partner with other local businesses, use neighborhood websites, run campaigns in the area, and start including location-specific content. Not only will this make your PR work more effective, but it’ll also improve visibility in search engine results locally.

Don’t forget about local directories and citations

Once your website is optimized for local searches, you should expand your local online presence. Getting listed in local business directories and increasing the number of citations you have will significantly improve your local visibility too. If you’re unsure which websites to pursue or how, help from AZ Citation Services and similar professionals will make this step much more manageable.

Be active on social media

Social media are an excellent marketing tool. Businesses use it to interact with customers, promote quality content, build their brand, and even provide customer service. But social media posts can also be used to improve local rankings. Simply make sure to include a location in your post and use hashtags that are trending locally. It also helps if you post about local news and events, especially pertaining to the business you’re promoting.

Optimize for mobile

Roughly half of all traffic a website receives comes from mobile devices today. But when it comes to local searches, that number is even higher. This is likely because many local searches happen on the go, when people are already in the neighborhood and looking for something specific. For this reason, mobile optimization is a big part of local SEO. So make sure to test the website on mobile browsers, increase loading speeds, and make the interface mobile-friendly because potential customers who perform local searches will likely see the mobile version.

Combining SEO and PR for better local results

Practicing local SEO will ensure that your internet-based PR efforts go out to the right people. Increased visibility in local searches ensures that more locals find the business; this will make the statements, news, events, and other branding efforts posted online more visible as well. In return, PR efforts in local media outlets will contribute to better local SEO rankings. The relationship between local PR and local SEO is thus a symbiotic one—local SEO will help with local PR, and local PR will help local SEO.

Elizabeth Wilkens


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