Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google.
Any business that has a physical location or serves a geographic area can benefit from local SEO. If you search Google for any important keywords related to your business and a map with 3 listings appears underneath it (also known as a map pack), then local SEO can help you grow your business.
But to understand Localized SEO, you need to know how Google works first.
How did search engines evolve?
In the early days of the internet, there were relatively few websites, so navigating the web was easy. Once the internet started to expand, however, search engines were created to allow users to find the sites they were looking for more easily.
If you typed a phrase into a search engine, that phrase was matched to websites that included the keywords in your search phrase. Google used this same approach, but it quickly dominated the other search engines when it became the first search engine to use links between sites as an indication of which websites were trusted and had authority.
Today Google looks at hundreds of factors both on and off your website to determine if it’s relevant to display as a search result. Factors form your “digital footprint,” and each factor has a different weight or value, which the search engine combines to return results. Your digital footprint determines whether or not you’re a top result to an inquiry that a user types into Google.
So how does Google work?
When you type a search phrase into Google, it checks the pattern of various website signals, or ranking factors, such as how relevant your site is, to return a list of sites that match your search.
Most people don’t realize that Google isn’t doing a live search of the entire internet every time someone types something into the search bar. It’s actually searching a stored copy of all of the sites that Google has discovered. This copy is called the Google Index.
To form the index, Google uses small programs called “spiders” to crawl the web. Each spider works the same way: It starts on a single page, then follows the links on that page, looks at the content on the next pages, and so on.
As web content gets crawled, it’s stored in Google’s servers, and the index is built. The spiders work at a mind-blowing scale, constantly crawling trillions of pages at an incredibly fast pace. This ensures that the index is as up-to-date as possible and new sites and connections are discovered quickly.
Local SEO is a different pattern
What about local organic search results? After analyzing the behavior of users during trillions of searches, Google figured out that people seeking certain types of businesses need results from their immediate area. That’s why Google’s local search algorithm includes a proximity factor, which is a fancy way of saying that Google takes your location into account when you search for a local keyword (a query with local intent). This happens even when the searcher doesn’t include a city name or “near me” in their search.
If you’re at work and want to get a pizza delivered for lunch, for example, Googling “pizza delivery” shows a list of locations near your office in its local SERPS (search engine result pages).
But if you try that same search at home, you’ll get an entirely different set of results. This makes sense, considering you need a pizza delivered from somewhere nearby.
Local search has been around for years, but it was limited due to people only using their desktop computers. With the recent growth in mobile internet access, however, mobile search has exploded, so local SEO has become hugely important for the success of any business offering local products or services and local marketers.
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