Getting your customers to notice you online can be a daunting task. Maybe you want to appear at the top of the page for location-based queries. For others, ranking in the top of the map pack is crucial. Local search engine optimization (SEO) can help you increase visibility.

No matter your business, local SEO is a best practice. However, many businesses don’t know where to start. Read on to learn what is happening in the industry, and get tips to optimize your presence. 

The State of Local Search

Many agencies focus on traditional SEO or creative and miss out on the valuable local SEO strategies provide. After all, 97% of consumers search online to find a local business. 50% of local business searches result in a visit within 24 hours. Local searches are increasing, with 500% growth in just two years. When businesses harness the power of local search, they see results online and in person.

Understanding factors that impact local search is key. However, people disagree about what’s important. While 32% believe proximity is the primary factor in rankings, others think it has to do with Google My Business categorization. 22% believe local rankings are too complex to pin down a predominant ranking factor. Many searchers call or visit businesses from Google directly, thus, 64% of marketers claim Google is the new business “homepage.” Your presence in the map pack and local listings is crucial as Google implements new algorithmic updates and increasingly encourages users to stay on the search engine instead of visiting individual company websites.

Local Search Ranking Factors

There is an ongoing debate between business and marketers on what’s truly valuable. Google, however, reports there are three factors that determine local search rankings.


Relevance is how local listings relate to queries people are using to find your business. Ensuring you have your complete detailed business information helps Google understand your business. They then match customers with relevant queries to your business.


Distance takes into account how far different businesses are from the searcher when calculating map pack order. Even if a user doesn’t specify their location their query, Google will calculate distance with available location data.


Think of prominence is your company’s reputation. In addition, prominence takes into account information Google has about a business from around the web. Reviews are one way to increase prominence. Backlinks from sites with high domain authority are another great way. Finally, directories support local SEO through prominence. Another important factor? Your overall SEO position. If you can move your average search position, you’re likely to see results in local search optimization as well.

Local SEO Tactics

Building a meaningful presence online won’t happen all at once, but using these tactics may help you begin to grow your brand’s presence in local search and improve overall brand sentiment and SEO.

Link Building

Link building is essential for local SEO. You can build domain authority by increasing rankings with content development. Leverage social platforms with contests or partnerships. Or, try adding yourself to relevant directories, You’ll be increasing your competitive advantage and help increase your prominence in Google’s eyes.

In addition to garnering high quality links back to your site, you’ll want to be sure to link internally to relevant sources with high domain authority in order to balance your link profile.

Review Management

Reputation and review management help drive prominence and relevance. Focusing first on review acquisition can help build up your reputation online. Once you have even a handful of reviews, make sure you’re paying attention to the sentiment. Respond to relevant reviews (either thanking them or helping to problem solve) and include reviews on your site to help encourage Google to show your star rating in search results.

Mobile-First, or at least Mobile-Friendly

location search factsWhen businesses neglect their mobile presence they hinder their ability to get results from local SEO. Take the time to identify how mobile users are interacting with your website. Then, focus on optimizing content for the high-value pages they frequent the most.


It doesn’t hurt your local results to be using AdWords. There’s no official statement on whether your search ads are helping your local SEO. However, local search ads will boost awareness in conjunction with organic efforts. It’s also likely that the traffic resulting from ads, if positively impacting on-page metrics, would help organic SEO.

Google My Business and Google Knowledge Panel

Google My Business helps you provide the information your customers are looking for. Enhancing local SEO with Google My Business and the Google Knowledge Panel is a best practice. Want to boost your business? Try posting to the Google My Business social feed. You can also ensure your are hours up-to-date. Enhance your customer’s experience by responding to reviews, or adding photos. Using the right keywords for your business and ensuring all your information is accurate is just the beginning. Sharing offer and learn about what may entice new customers are all ways to start using Google My Business.

Reporting and Analytics

Measuring the impact of your local SEO work will help you hone your strategy. Here’s how to use it to see what’s resonating with your potential customers.

Google My Business

Assessing your results in Google My Business can help you improve the content you’re sharing. You can then better engage with potential local search customers. Noticing what resonate with the audience can help you start to form a picture of your local search audience. You’ll also be able to observe trends in how users interact with your Google My Business profile. You can view who’s calling, getting directions, or visiting your website.

Make sure you’re receiving emails from Google My Business with your local search metrics each month. You should also regularly review your GMB account performance report. Comparing these reports to what you see in Google Analytics will help you understand user behavior of those interacting with your GMB profile.

Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console to start with optimizing your site for local search. Assess which queries are bringing people to your website, or which pages are ranking for those queries. You can also see which are gaining impressions but not resulting in web visits so you know what to work on first. 

With the ranking factors still a bit hazy due to Google’s proprietary algorithms (their “secret sauce”), experimenting is important. At the heart of it, it’s about your customers. Who are you trying to connect with and what are they looking for? How can you improve on services or products? Are you meeting them where they are and offering what they need? Using the tools we’ve discussed, you’ll learn more about your audience and can build relationships that result in transactions.

Local search is already a key way to reach your audience, but its importance is only growing.  As we become more mobile and voice search adoption increases, being the first search result is integral to success. Auditing your business using the above factors and making adjustments will help you be successful with local SEO. Check out our blog for additional SEO resources, or reach out for a free 20-minute consultation around your needs.