What is Local SEO?

If you have a business that relies on customers within your area, local SEO is the most cost and time-effective way to bring visitors to your website.

You may have given up thinking about SEO because the Google results are dominated by the national companies and you can’t compete. You can if you understand Local SEO.

When you own a website for a local business, you have bought a ticket for the Google Lottery. If you pay a small amount for a website that is not optimised for search, it is just an online leaflet that will only be found if you point people to it.

Instead of numbers, the Google lottery calls out keywords and if you have those keywords on your website, you have a chance of winning.

Your unoptimised website counts as one entry and you only have a chance of winning when Google calls out your exact name.

Every time you do something to optimise your site, you are giving yourself an extra chance to win.

Lottery balls

Table of Contents.


1. What is SEO?


2. How Does Search Work?


3. Different Types of Search Results.


4. Google Maps.


5. How Do You Do Local SEO?


6. Ranking Factors for Google My Business.


7. How is Local SEO Different from Organic SEO?


8. Organic Rankings That Are Important.


9. Start With a Free Local SEO Audit.


10. Note From the Author.

1. What is SEO?

SEO -Search engine optimisation essentially means competing with your business peers for website visitors. In local SEO, you are competing for visitors that live in the area that serve.

This means that when a potential buyer searches for something on the internet, you want your website to be shown to them for as many keywords as possible relating to your products.

While Google is the largest search engine, it is not the only one. Website visitors can come from Bing, Duck Duck Go or one of many others. Get good content on your site with Google guidelines in mind and you will also rank with the others.

Google Search Box

2. How Does Search Work?

The searcher inputs their search term into the search box or browser and the search engines set out to find the best answer in the database for that query. Think of it as a giant library. Google uses over 200 factors to determine what the best result is so it’s not just looking for an answer to the query but also wants to see that the site is user friendly and has the authority to answer the question.

Search engines are very good at deciding search intent. Is the browser looking for information or looking to buy. This may determine whether Google or other search engines serve local results or not. Visit this page to understand more about search intent.

Understanding this is particularly important for local SEO because you want to target keywords that produce the Google local map pack. It’s possible that your website has not been built around keywords but that can be solved. To show you how your website ranks at the moment we are happy to conduct a Free Website Analysis Report for you.

3. Different Types of Search Results.

Depending on the query, Google and the other search engines will show different types of results. For local SEO our main concern is the map pack. This is also known as the snack pack. These are the three results that are shown underneath the ads on the first page of Google.

These do not appear for every search query so your local keyword planning must be based on searches that generate the map pack.

Various studies show that between 30 and 40% of clicks go to the local listing map pack. A similar number click on organic search results. More people are bypassing the ads to go to local search results. Buyers want to use a local business but when they search they are finding big companies in the search before the local ones. They rarely look past the first page on Google.

Google Map Pack

The best click-through rate goes to the company that has a place in the map pack and is top in the organic rankings which is shown just below the map pack. This first position is usually awarded sitelinks which are the links for different departments below the normal listing.

4. Google Maps.

Searchers can call the number that is shown, click through to the website or click on the name. If they click on the name, they are taken through to Google Maps where the knowledge panel is shown. This also happens when they click on ‘View all’.

Your rank may be different in the map pack to the Google maps listing and different again when shown on mobile.

To bring up your own listing, type your name in search in the normal way with spaces between the words and you should be the first listing. If you’re not, there is something wrong. At the very least you should rank first for your own name.

Google maps and the knowledge panel

5. How Do You Do Local SEO?

Successful search engine optimisation is the result of a combination of factors. If you can get all of them right, you will dominate your local rankings because not many of your competitors will have an efficient website or the resources to work on it. Everything you do will have a positive effect on your rankings. In effect, giving you another ticket in the Google lottery.

Optimisation for local SEO is similar to national or international SEO but the target market is different. Read this if you are thinking of DIY SEO.

You may not have access to your website but you can get started with your off page SEO such as your Google My Business listing, adding your site to business directories, making sure your listings are consistent, review management and social signals.. The best results come from your website and GMB working together but if nothing else, fully optimise your Google My Business profile. You will start to see positive results immediately.

You could also start increasing your links in local directories and maybe arrange with other local companies for local link building. Local links show relevance to Google so if there are local events that are relevant, link out to them on your pages. If you only added one a week, you’d have 50 in a year which would go a long way towards improving your website authority.

Factors that affect local SEO

Minimum Essential DIY SEO.

The tables below give a broad overview of what’s included in the various aspects of search engine optimisation. The bare essentials are bolded. These do not take much time. The on-page tasks of Meta titles and page descriptions must be done because these are the business card that shows up on the Google search page.

See the SERPs entry for my page. The target keyword is ‘increase profit’ and you can see that in the URL, the title and in the paragraph.

Sian Wood serps in Google

At the least, check the meta title and description. You can do this by going to a browser and typing ‘site:mydomain.com’ without the quote marks. For this site that would look like site:staging.growlocaluk.com

You’ll need a bit of time to have a look at how the top results appear. Remember you are competing and want to do it better than them. Allow 20 minutes per page.

The other items in the off-page list that are highlighted are ongoing tasks that you would complete every month. At the minimum, I suggest this would be 2 hours per month for a small company. The more you do the faster your website will rank.

Technical SEO

Access to Back-end of Website Required.

  • Mobile Optimisation
  • Site Speed
  • Duplicate Content
  • XML Sitemaps
  • Canonical Tags
  • Redirects
  • Broken Links
  • Hreflang
  • Site Structure

On-Page SEO

Access to Front-end of website required.

  • Meta Title Tags
  • Meta Title Descriptions
  • Content alignment
  • Optimise keywords
  • Rewrite or add copy
  • Internal links
  • Outbound Links
  • Image Alt Tags & Optimisation
  • User Experience

Off-Page SEO

No access to website required.

  • Google My Business
  • Link Consistency
  • Review Management
  • Social Signals
  • Audience Targeting
  • Backlinks
  • Local Relationships
  • Directories
  • Authority

6. Ranking Factors for Google My Business.

It is said by most people including so-called SEO gurus that the biggest ranking factor for Google local listings is proximity to the searcher. This isn’t true. It’s one of the reasons that most local businesses don’t realise that they have control over how often they appear. Having your address and phone number in the listing is definitely important.

However, while the location is a factor, it’s combined with other factors. The searches below were made from the same computer in Titchfield, Hants within 5 minutes by me. I know that Ideal Windows is my nearest double glazing supplier. Remember that the searcher may describe what they want in many ways and ideally, you want to cater to as many as you can.

I searched the following four terms:

Double Glazing Supplier.

Double Glazing Supplier Near Me.

Double Glazing.

Windows and Doors.

As you can see, I was served up different results for all four queries.

Google my business search results for double glazing supplier
Google my business search results for double glazing supplier near me
Google my business search results for double glazing
Google my business search results fo

The most important factor is having relevant information related to the search query. If the searcher is looking for products and services that you sell, you want to appear in the search results. This means that every product and service that you sell should be listed on your site with a good description. That is the simplest form of content. This doesn’t have to be on your site. It can be in your local listing in products, services, reviews or posts.

7. How is Local SEO Different from Organic SEO?

The biggest difference between local and organic SEO is Google My Business. A small business struggles to compete for the most competitive keywords but Google My Business is for local businesses. A national company like Everest, Anglian, Hammonds, Hillarys and other national companies should not appear in the local rankings unless they have a local office. If they do, you should report them to Google and have them removed.

A local business does not want thousands of website visitors from all over the country because it can’t serve them and will waste time answering queries from people who cannot become customers.

Relevance is also important. If you rank nationally but the visitors click off your website as soon as they realise you are not in the right area, your bounce rate will increase and this sends a signal to Google that your site is not relevant for the search term.


8. Organic rankings that are important.

Claiming the top spot in the organic rankings for your keyword plus the town name can be incredibly powerful. Searchers who see the same company in the map pack in addition to first in the organic rankings are likely to be drawn to click on that link.

This relies on your website being optimised for the town as well as the main keyword. Searchers don’t need to put the town name in. These results will show for near me searches also.


The other benefit of claiming one of the top spots in organic rankings is that Google may reward you with sitelinks. These are the additional links shown underneath the meta description. You cannot control these. Google decides whether to show them but they depend on a well-organised site that may also be enhanced by a good sitemap and schema. In this case the searched term is ‘double glazing’. Google knows that this is a first layer of your search and that other factors will come into play so it shows related results in the sitelinks.

Searchers who type the product plus the town name are motivated to buy. While in the research phase they are more likely to type only the product name and are less concerned about where the information comes from.

These searchers are more likely to click through to your website and make an appointment with you.

Once you have optimised for search engines to find you in this way, you will continue to reap the benefits month after month.

Appear in Google My Business Map pack and organic rankings for best results

9. Start With a Free Local SEO Audit.

Every client is different so before we work with anyone, we conduct an audit to see how well the website performs in local search and Google My Business. We also look at listings consistency, page performance including page speed and how it fares in organic ranking. We can see quite a lot without having access to your site. This enables us to be very clear about what work is involved depending on what you want to achieve.

Before you decide whether you want to DIY SEO or hire a professional, let us conduct a free audit for you. It really is free and without any obligation. It will give you a very clear picture of your site. Most business owners have no idea what is happening on their website and it’s no more than a static brochure online.

It will also show you what your meta titles and descriptions are. Let us know that you are working on it yourself and we’ll keep you in the system and run a new report a month after you’ve made the changes. No charge. We’ll even tell you what you need to do. Our customers are those who don’t have time to optimise their websites themselves but we’re passionate about helping local business, so are happy to help.

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Note from the Author – Sian Wood

I am passionate about the power of local SEO. It can transform your business. It used to be the case that you could throw money at marketing and you had no idea of what was or wasn’t working. With local SEO, you can plan your business growth. What is your target turnover? Work out how many web visitors you need for that.

What our clients say they like most about us is that they can hand it over and leave it to us. We don’t ask you for copy or photos. We just get on with the job because we know the business and we know your customers.

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