The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO in 2018

If you’re looking for the best banana bread nearby, need to replace a broken laptop charger, or want to buy a bike to start cycling to work – how do you go about it? If you are like the vast majority of people, the likelihood is that you use a search engine to do online research first.

89% of people admit to searching for a local business on their smartphone once a week or more, with 58% searching at least daily. The bottom line is that if you are running a business that targets clients in your locality or nearby areas in your city, optimizing your business for search engines such as Google is absolutely crucial to driving more sales.

Local SEO in 2018 is a changing landscape, thanks to increasingly competitive and complex search algorithms. MarketTap is here to guide you through the most important elements of local SEO in 2018 so that you can optimize your website and achieve your business goals.

What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Local SEO helps your business stand out in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) by helping you optimize for people that are searching from a nearby location. The ultimate goal is that your business appears on Page 1 of Google’s SERPs, both in the “Map Pack” and the “Organic Listings”.

![mappackgoogle](//images.ctfassets.net/bdhjrrtw7cf6/6N6YW2m3ewW4YqAsqiCaCw/6c7336cd926ec4c5d3dc352ac1b08516/mappackgoogle.png)
  *  The map pack for a “local dentist” search*

If you have a local business, spend a moment looking into where exactly Google displays your business in its search results. If you are not ranking on the first page, chances are you might be losing those customers who are nearby and looking for exactly what you sell within their proximity.

What Influences Local SEO?

We’ve already covered SEO in a previous blog post, but to understand which factors influence local SEO specifically, it is useful to break up the question into two parts:

What influences the map/3 pack rankings, and other map results? What influences organic listing rankings?

This case study by Moz helps us answer both of these questions:

![mozcasestudy](//images.ctfassets.net/bdhjrrtw7cf6/jRM8N4RyogeOwqA8Y0yig/4100e8512121bfeff61e4144e45ca551/mozcasestudy.png)
*  *  The most important Local Search ranking factors**

There’s a lot to unpack here for someone who is unfamiliar with SEO. Not to worry, we’ll use the rest of this guide to translate the above into actionable focus areas. Ultimately, you can see that the ranking signals for both are largely intertwined.

If you’re not ranking in maps, it may be because you need stronger signals to your website. Let’s dive in and show you how, by focusing on the four most important ranking factors for local SEO: Google My Business Listing, Review Signals, Link Signals, and On-Page Signals.

Google My Business

My Business Signals are the number 1 ranking factor for local map pack results. This means that properly optimizing your Google My Business listing will go a long way to helping you get found. Ensuring the right keywords are in your business’ title and that your address is accurate is a good start. Click here for an excellent article on all of the elements of an optimized listing.

Google My Business is an absolutely necessary element of your business showing for local searches. However, the good news is that once it has been set-up, you don’t need to worry about updating it again (unless your address changes, of course!).

Google Reviews

A separate study from Local SEO Guide found that Google reviews had the highest correlation with rankings. These review signals are also weighted quite heavily in the pie chart above.

The bottom line is that reviews are one of the most important factors in Google’s local search algorithm. You should be doing all you can to increase the number of reviews you receive and to ensure that the reviews you receive are glowing.

This guide from Google will help you understand how to get started.

Local Link Signals

Links are a vital part of ranking organically for local search results. A backlink is a hyperlink back to your site from another website. The one constant and reliable strategy in search engine optimization is that sites with a variety of high quality backlinks (from reputable businesses) rank higher in the search engine results pages. It has been proven countless times that Google favours sites with high quality backlinks. When it comes to SEO, the stronger the links to your website, the greater chance you have at ranking highly in a search.

To get local links, you should reach out to local, relevant business directories; network with other local businesses to see if there are opportunities for mutual promotion; or connect with local bloggers who might be persuaded to blog about your business.

Local SEO On-page Optimization

Another important ranking factor for local search is the on-page elements that you need to optimize.

These elements include:

  • Optimizing your title tags, meta description, headers and content. We discuss all of these elements here. To do this, you’ll want to include your city as well as your keywords in the title tag and on the page.
  • Putting your business’s NAP -name, address, phone – on your website. It must match what’s on your Google Places page and citations – more or less. ]
  • It has become more and more crucial that your website is now mobile-friendly, as Google determines which websites to show in a user’s mobile search. To test whether your site is mobile friendly, check out this free tool from Google. If your website doesn’t pass the test, you should consider a website re-design or update your WordPress theme.

Attempting to climb to the top of SERPs can be tough for small, local businesses with limited resources. Still, local SEO is crucial to your business success as people rely more on search engines and reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. In this blog, we have focused on Google My Business page, reviews, backlinks and website optimization.

We can’t stress enough that local SEO should be seen as a natural extension of your overall marketing efforts. Build relationships with other relevant, local business, participate in community events, and join local organizations. As Google’s algorithm becomes increasingly sophisticated, your online profile is increasingly a reflection of offline realities.

Keep building an outstanding business that your customers love and couple it with the local SEO techniques described here. This approach will help you achieve your business goals of getting a higher search engine ranking and generating more sales.

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