Local SEO: optimise your online visibility

17 April 2023

Local SEO is local search engine optimisation, a marketing technique that ensures that your company is found easily when potential customers search with local search intention. Local SEO is becoming more important and is therefore a huge opportunity for retailers with multiple physical locations.

Person with the light of a screen in the face

Who is local SEO for?

Local SEO is interesting for organisations with a local focus or with one or more physical locations. In fact, almost every organisation can benefit from local SEO in one way or another. Organisations with a national focus can benefit from a strategy to improve visibility in local results. The success of local SEO depends entirely on your market and the search behaviour of potential customers.

Local SEO is especially interesting for organisations:

  • with several large or smaller branches

  • where regional marketing is important

  • with a specific local strategy

  • that focus on keywords that return many geographical results

Of course, local SEO is also extremely interesting for small entrepreneurs, SMEs, and freelancers. Usually only with a single location, we advise them to follow a local SEO training course so that they can get the most out of their business listing.

What is local search?

Local SEO – or local search optimisation – focuses on improving findability in local search results. Google's search results page (SERP) is highly personalised and localised. That is, the results differ based on your search history and your location. For example, if you search for a 'hairdresser nearby' in Amsterdam, you will get different results than if you search from Brussels.

There are several definitions of local SEO. You can mean the 'local pack' (Google Search & Google Maps), but also localised organic results (blue links).

Local SEO is a marketing technique that focuses on improving visibility for local keywords in search results, both in Google Search and in Google Maps.

However, local SEO usually refers to improving visibility in the 'local 3-pack'. These results are similar to those in Google Maps and show only local business listings. The local pack is usually ABOVE the organic search results, and thus delivers enormous opportunities to improve visibility for local keywords.

Local SEO Benchmark - Mockup

2023 Local SEO Benchmark Report

For the 2023 Local SEO Benchmark, we analysed nearly 100,000 business locations in 36 cities in the Netherlands and Belgium, across 14 different industries. Curious about how the retail sector in the Netherlands and Belgium is doing in terms of Local SEO? Find out in our 2023 Local SEO Benchmark Report .

What are local keywords?

Local SEO focuses on local keywords, that are in fact all keywords that return a local pack. These are keywords with a local search intention, someone may be looking for a location, product, or service nearby.

Examples of searches with a local intent:

  • optician

  • Optician + Amsterdam

  • glasses + nearby

  • buy lenses

  • eye test

As you can see, local keywords can contain a location, where someone is searching for something in a certain city or region. However, this doesn't always have to be the case because Google can determine when someone is looking for something nearby. In fact, according to figures from Google, 46% of all searches have a 'local intent'.

Different types of local keywords:

  • Outside the service area, search for a 'keyword + [location]', for example, someone searches for an optician in Amsterdam. Example: 'optician amsterdam'

  • Within a specific service area, search for a location near where they are at that moment, for example, someone searches for an optician from Amsterdam. Example terms: 'optician', 'optician nearby'

The number of keywords that display a local pack is growing, making local SEO increasingly important. Local keywords are usually high-converting keywords, and in almost all cases generate new customers.

Why is local SEO important?

The number of searches that display local search results is increasing. And there are multiple explanations for this, the most important being that people are increasingly looking locally. Everyone has a smartphone these days, and the use of navigation apps, including Google Maps, is only increasing. Google Maps has now become a search engine itself. In the past 10 years, the number of searches for places 'nearby' has increased by about 350 times.

How does local SEO work?

The Google algorithm uses various factors to determine positions of your locations in Google Search and Google Maps. Google itself indicates that it uses the following factors:

  • Relevance: Relevance indicates how well your business profile matches what someone is looking for

  • Distance: The distance takes into account how far each possible search result is from the location term used in a search, or the search user’s location.

  • Prominence: Prominence refers to how well-known a company is, it is partly determined by the number of online listings.

We have developed the LOCAL Success Model that details how to become more visible on the keywords that are important to you, and thus realise more leads, store visits and sales.

How do you implement a local SEO strategy?

With an effective local SEO strategy, you can ensure that your locations become more visible in local search results. A smart rollout strategy is essential for organisations with large numbers of locations.

4 essential steps for effective local SEO:

1. Keyword research and strategy – Determine your objectives (e.g., more store visits, lead generation or growth in sales of specific assortment) and conduct a local keyword survey. Based on this, you can develop a strategy and plan of action.

2. Optimisation of Google Business profiles – Optimise Google Business profiles according to SEO best practices and the findings from the keyword research.

3. Improve ranking in Google Search & Maps – Improve your positions in Google and make sure your locations are shown in the local 3-pack for relevant local keywords through a well thought-out citation building strategy

4. Analyse and optimise – Analyse your strategy and monitor results. You can then roll out effective strategies to other locations – this is an ongoing process.

Want to know more about your organisation’s Local SEO performance?

Our specialists will perform  a (free) Local SEO Opportunity Scan for any organisation with more than 10 physical locations. This scan will give you insights into how your organisation is performing based on the assessment points from the Local SEO benchmark report. Or would you like to know how Local SEO can help your organisation to grow?

Local SEO Benchmark

Get more visitors in your physical locations with local SEO

There are opportunities in almost every market and industry. The sooner you invest in local SEO, the faster you can get a head start on your competition. Organisations with multiple locations can no longer ignore this. Schedule your Local Search Scan now and discover the opportunities for your organisation.

Clarissa_Filius - iO
About the expert
Clarissa Filius
Teamlead SEO

With over a decade of experience, Clarissa Filius, a Senior SEO specialist, is known for her expertise in Local SEO. Currently serving as a Team Lead for SEO, CRO, and Marketing Automation at iO, Clarissa has delivered results for global brands, establishing herself as a respected authority in the field.

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