What Is Local SEO? Definition, Ranking Factors, and Top Tactics

If you own a business that caters to local customers, you need to consider optimizing your website for local SEO. But what is local SEO, and how do you get started?

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of local SEO, how it differs from organic SEO, helpful tips for optimizing your site for local searches, and ways to measure your local performance.

Key Takeaways

  • Local SEO is a practice that focuses on optimizing websites for increased visibility, traffic, and leads from local searches. It is especially relevant for local businesses with physical locations or those serving specific geographic areas.
  • Implementing local optimization strategies can improve rankings and help local businesses stand out from their competitors. These strategies include creating a Google Business Profile, managing reviews, and building local citations.
  • Key ranking factors in local optimization include Google Business Profile optimization, NAP consistency, backlinks, business directories and review sites, and website optimization. Mobile responsiveness is essential to ensure a good user experience on all devices.
  • To measure performance in local optimization, use KPIs such as traffic, optimization level, position in SERPs, and conversions. Use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Moz Local to track progress.
  • Consider partnering with an SEO agency or using specialized tools to simplify the process of optimizing for local search results.
what is local seo

Local SEO Definition

What is local SEO? Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for increased visibility, traffic, and leads from local searches.

Relevant to a local business owner with a physical location or serving specific geographic areas, it focuses on improving your online presence to attract local customers.

Importance for Business Growth

Local SEO is crucial to business growth, as consumers increasingly rely on search engines for finding products and services nearby.

By implementing local SEO strategies, businesses can:

  • Boost search engine rankings: Local searches strongly influence Google’s search algorithm, and effective local strategies help businesses appear in higher positions on search results pages.
  • Drive targeted traffic: Local optimization helps attract users specifically searching for nearby products or services, resulting in more qualified leads and conversions.
  • Enhance online reputation: Optimizing a business’s Google Business Profile, managing reviews, and engaging with customers online contributes to a positive reputation among local customers.
  • Outperform competitors: In competitive industries, a strong local SEO strategy can help a local business owner stand out from competitors, resulting in increased customer acquisition and retention.

To make the most of local optimization, it is essential for businesses to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices, use effective tools for optimizing their online presence, and consistently monitor and analyze their performance for continued improvement.

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

Local SEO is often confused with organic SEO, but some key differences exist.

Key Differences

Local SEO focuses on optimizing a website for a specific geographic area, mainly to attract customers within the vicinity of a physical business. It targets local keywords, includes strategies like creating Google Business listings, building local citations, and optimizing the website for location-specific content and inbound links.

Organic SEO, on the other hand, emphasizes improving a website’s overall visibility in search engine results without targeting a specific location. This involves optimizing content, refining site architecture, and acquiring high-quality backlinks.

To summarize:

  • Local SEO targets a specific geographic area and is more relevant for businesses with physical locations.
  • Organic SEO focuses on a website’s general visibility and applies to businesses of any size or industry.

Impact on Search Results

Both local SEO and organic SEO strategies can impact search results differently:

Local SEO:

  • Enhances the website’s visibility on Google Maps and local search results.
  • Increases the likelihood for businesses to appear in the “local pack” (top three results in a local search).
  • Targets a specific audience, primarily those close to the business’s physical location.

Organic SEO:

  • Improves the website’s local rankings on search engine results pages (SERP) without a geographical focus.
  • Drives traffic from a broader audience, useful for businesses targeting national or global markets.
  • Implemented through on-page and off-page optimization, targeting relevant keywords and creating quality content.

Both local SEO and organic SEO are essential components of a comprehensive SEO strategy. Businesses should combine their efforts in both areas to optimize their online presence and enhance search engine visibility.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Local SEO focuses on optimizing a business’s online presence for local search results to gain more customers from their target geographic location.

Google Business Profile

A well-optimized Google Business Profile is crucial for local SEO success. It serves as the primary source of information for Google about your local business and directly impacts your appearance in local organic search results alone.

To optimize your profile, ensure that:

  • Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate and up-to-date
  • Your local business category and attributes accurately represent your type of business
  • You include high-quality photos and posts to showcase your products and services
  • You respond to customer reviews and questions promptly

Citations and NAP Consistency

Citations refer to the mentions of your business on various online business directories, websites, and social media platforms. Build citations to improve your Google Maps listing.

Ensure your business information is consistent across all these listings to improve your search engine rankings. You can also reach out to these websites to request a link to your Google Business Profile, which can improve your local SEO.

NAP consistency is essential to maintain across these citations, as inconsistencies can harm your local SEO rankings.

To improve your NAP consistency:

  • Regularly audit your citations to identify and correct inconsistencies
  • Update your business information on all platforms when changes occur
  • Ensure that your NAP information follows a consistent format across all citations

Backlinks are incoming hyperlinks from other websites that point to your local business listings or website. They are an important ranking factor for both general and local SEO. In the context of local optimization, the focus should be on acquiring high-quality, relevant backlinks from other local businesses, websites, and directories.

This can be achieved through:

  • Creating valuable, shareable content that appeals to your target audience
  • Establishing partnerships with relevant local organizations
  • Participating in local events and sharing the news on your website


Reviews from customers play a crucial role in your local SEO rankings. High-quality, positive reviews can significantly improve your online reputation, and in turn, your own local ranking and search visibility.

To optimize for reviews, consider the following strategies:

  • Actively encourage customers to leave reviews
  • Respond to both positive and negative reviews professionally
  • Monitor and analyze reviews to identify trends and areas for improvement

Website Optimization

Last but not least, your business’s website should be optimized for local search.

This involves both on-page and technical aspects, such as:

  • Adding relevant keywords, including location-specific terms, to your content, title tags, and meta descriptions
  • Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and follows responsive design principles
  • Implementing a clear, easy-to-navigate site structure
  • Optimizing page load speed and overall website performance

By focusing on these critical local SEO ranking factors, businesses can improve their visibility in local search results and attract more customers from their target geographic area.

Optimizing Your Website for Local Searches

local seo definition

If you’re looking to optimize your website for local searches and organic results, there are a few tips and techniques that you should keep in mind.

Keyword Research and Strategy

To optimize your website for local searches, begin with keyword research. Identify relevant local keywords your target audience is using to search for products or services in your area. Use keyword research tools and analyze competitors’ websites to create a list of potential keywords. Once you have your list, choose the most appropriate keywords to target in your content and optimization efforts.

Content Creation and Optimization

Create informative and engaging content, focusing on your chosen local keywords. Balance the use of these keywords with valuable information to ensure the content is useful for your readers. Remember, both relevance and quality are critical for optimization.

Optimize your content for local searches by incorporating your targeted keywords, creating locally-focused blog posts and articles, and including information about your physical location and service areas.

On-Page SEO Techniques

Several on-page SEO techniques can help improve local visibility. First and foremost, ensure your website features well-structured URLs, proper use of header tags, and SEO-friendly title tags and meta descriptions. Include your physical location and phone number on your website, preferably on multiple pages.

Use schema markup to provide search engines with more information about your business and offerings, such as location, operating hours, and reviews.

Mobile Responsiveness

Lastly, prioritize mobile responsiveness when optimizing your website for local searches. A significant number of local searches are made on mobile devices, so having a website that displays correctly and quickly on all screen sizes is essential. Implement responsive design, optimize images, and follow best practices for mobile-friendliness to ensure your website is accessible and functional for users on various devices.

Local SEO Tips and Techniques

Ready to optimize your local business for search? Here’s how you can do that:

Claiming and Optimizing Google Business Profile

One of the essential steps in local SEO is claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile. To do this, go to Google Business Profile and create a new business listing or claim an existing one. Fill out all the necessary information, including business name, address, phone number, and category.

Include accurate business hours and a high-quality cover photo. Regularly adding photos and updated information can improve your visibility in local search results.

Local link building plays a critical role in local SEO. To improve your site’s authority and boost its rankings in local search, focus on acquiring backlinks from top local business listings, websites, directories, and relevant industry sites.

Some strategies for local link building include:

  • Partnering with local businesses and community organizations
  • Guest blogging on local websites
  • Sponsoring local events or charities
  • Listing your business on local directories

Auditing and Monitoring Your Online Presence

Monitoring your online presence is crucial to identify areas for improvement and ensure your local optimization efforts are effective. Conduct a regular audit of your website and online profiles to assess their performance in local search.

Key areas to check during these audits include:

  • NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) consistency
  • Local keyword targeting and site content
  • Website responsiveness and mobile-friendliness
  • Structured data markup and other on-page SEO elements

Using Social Media and Online Reviews

Leveraging social media platforms and managing online reviews can significantly impact your local SEO results. Engage with customers on social media, answer their questions, and share relevant content to help establish your local brand identity. Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings on platforms like Google Business Profile and Yelp. Respond to both positive and negative reviews professionally and constructively, showing potential customers that you value their feedback.

Implementing these local SEO tips and techniques will help your business improve its online visibility and attract more local customers. Remember to consistently monitor and adjust your strategies based on performance to optimize your local SEO efforts.

Measuring Local SEO Performance

When it comes to measuring your local SEO performance, there are several tools and metrics that you can use to track your progress.

Key Performance Indicators

When it comes to measuring local performance, the following key performance indicators (KPIs) are significant:

  • Traffic: Observe the number of visitors coming to your website from organic, local search results. It is important to focus specifically on the growth of organic traffic from local searches.
  • Optimization: Review how well your site is optimized for local search rankings, including technical and on-page factors.
  • Position: Track the rankings of your website for relevant local search terms. This could include the average position in search engines and the number of keywords driving traffic to your website.
  • Conversions: Monitor the number of visitors from local search results converted into leads or sales. This helps evaluate the effectiveness of your local SEO efforts in driving new business.

Analytics and Reporting Tools

You will need to use various analytics and reporting tools to measure local SEO performance.

Here are some popular local SEO tools:

  • Google Analytics: This free tool offers insights into the traffic, users, and their behavior on your website. You can also track conversions and set up goal tracking for specific local optimization objectives.
  • Google Search Console: This tool provides detailed information on website performance, such as keyword rankings and website indexing. It is essential for monitoring the search presence of your site on a local level.
  • Moz Local: This is a powerful tool for managing your local citations and monitoring the performance of your local SEO efforts. It also offers insights into competitor rankings and local SEO best practices.

Competitor Analysis

To measure local performance, you should also monitor the competition in your local area. This can help identify new opportunities to improve and outrank your competitors.

To conduct competitor analysis, you can follow these steps:

  • Identify competitors: Create a list of businesses in your area that offer similar products or services to your own.
  • Analyze their websites: Examine their optimization, content, and overall website design. This will give you an understanding of the areas in which they excel and where they might have weaknesses.
  • Compare rankings: Using analytics tools, compare your keyword rankings and search engine visibility with those of your competitors. Identify any gaps in your own local SEO strategy.
  • Review backlinks: Evaluate the quality of backlinks your competitors have obtained. This can give you insights on potential sources of backlinks for your own site.

Outsourcing Local SEO Services

local business with red and white awning using local seo

If local search engine optimization isn’t your thing, you can outsource to an expert or use SEO tools that simplify the process.

Working With an SEO Agency

Outsourcing local search marketing and SEO services can be an effective way to improve the online presence of a business, particularly for those with limited resources or knowledge about the process. One approach is collaborating with an SEO agency specializing in local optimization.

These agencies have the expertise and experience required to devise and implement targeted strategies for businesses looking to improve their rankings in local search results.

Working with an agency can offer a range of services, such as website optimization, reputation management, and Google Business Profile optimization. They can assist in selecting appropriate keywords, managing directory listings, and building high-quality backlinks.

Selecting the Right SEO Tools

Using the right tools is crucial for the success of any local SEO campaign. Several software solutions, such as Moz and Ahrefs, can help businesses monitor their progress and optimize their SEO strategies more effectively.

Some essential features to look for in an SEO tool include:

  • Keyword research and tracking
  • Link analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Local citation management
  • Search engine rankings tracking

By carefully selecting the right SEO tools, businesses can simplify the process of optimizing their website and online presence for local search. This can lead to increased online visibility, leads, and conversion rates.

Final Thoughts

Local SEO is vital to any local business owner’s digital marketing strategy. Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is local SEO?” you know it can help you capture the attention of your local audience.

By optimizing your website for geography and targeted, localized keywords, you can increase your online visibility and reach customers who are more likely to visit your physical location.

Balancing technical factors like a digital marketing strategy with real-world elements like reviews is key to achieving success in local SEO.