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Local SEO: The Complete Guide

 If you’ve stumbled upon this page in a bid to learn more about local SEO and local search marketing, then congrats! You’re in the right place.

In this guide to local SEO, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of getting your business found in local search results, from online reviews to citations, local link building to content creation, and beyond.

Read on to discover how local SEO can benefit your business, who local SEO is for, and how to execute the key tactics and strategies required to succeed in local search.

Chapter 1: The Foundations of Local SEO

In the first chapter of this ultimate guide to local SEO you’ll find everything you need to know to get started, including who local SEO is for, who it attracts, and the benefits. Plus, we’ll break down some important key terms (like what the heck a ‘SERP’ is!)

Who is local SEO for?

Local SEO is for any business that has a physical location where it greets customers or any business that serves a set local geographic area. 

Local brick-and-mortar stores like restaurants, bars, laundromats, doctors’ surgeries, law offices, and grocery stores are all businesses that should be using local SEO. 

Do I need local SEO? Yes!

Additionally, service-area businesses (think plumbers, construction workers, locksmiths, and other similar professionals that travel to their customers) are eligible to practice local SEO, and will benefit more or less equally from the benefits it offers.

And the list definitely does not stop there!

Any business that is local and serves local customers can benefit from local SEO and the practices laid out in this guide. 

The benefits of local SEO Services

As we’ve just established, when you’re a local business, whether that’s an auto shop in Boise, Idaho, a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, or a furniture store in Houston, Texas, local SEO plays a crucial role in generating customers and conversions.

In this current climate of online shopping and retail giants, I imagine that local business owners can feel unmotivated to compete against the likes of Walmart and Amazon for positions in search results. 

Fortunately for you, local SEO is here to help. Local SEO favors smaller businesses over the likes of Amazon any day!

Investing in local SEO is your chance to get found by local consumers who are ready and willing to invest in your business instead.

Both Google itself and the shopping public recognize the value of local businesses. In fact, Google has a specific set of local ranking factors that it uses as a measure to determine whether or not your business is geographically relevant to a user performing a ‘near me’ search (we’ll cover this in more detail a little later on). 

That means you don’t have to worry about competing against large international corporations to get your local business in front of relevant nearby consumers.

Research conducted by Access concluded that proximity matters to local consumers a great deal, with more than 92% traveling just 20 minutes or less to purchase their day-to-day essentials. For any size business, that should be reason enough to invest in local SEO.

Why do I need local SEO?

For brick-and-mortar or service-area businesses, investing in local SEO can help drive more customers to your store, so you can begin generating more revenue.

Today, most businesses have two storefronts that they need to manage: their physical storefront and their digital storefront. Local SEO is what’s going to make your digital storefront more visible and get you more customers.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO (local search engine optimization) is a series of actions and strategies designed to improve your visibility on Google and other search engines when people close to your physical location perform a search or when a search includes a specific location.

For example, local SEO tactics are what help businesses surface in Maps or search results when someone out and about on their phone types in ‘best pizza New York’ or ‘Pizza near me’.

The same goes for people who are looking to visit your town or city and searching for businesses in your area in advance.

While it might sound complicated, at its core, SEO is just another name for the tactics that improve sales through building online visibility. 

To boost online visibility, there are a few tried-and-true tactics available to you. In general, we want to show Google that your business is worthy of appearing at the top of search results for certain terms and searches.

How do I get in the local pack?

In the case of local SEO, this may mean doing things like including your town or city name and zip code in content, building links from local websites, and getting more online reviews. We’ll be going through each of these tactics and more in this guide.

Who does local SEO attract?

As the name suggests, local SEO focuses on attracting customers in more focused areas (versus the global reach of online stores) such as those in a particular town or city. It’s usually practiced by local businesses that aim to reach this audience to drive footfall to their physical location or develop business within a service area.

For many brick-and-mortar and service-area businesses, local customers are the best customers. 


Well, firstly, they’re easier to reach, and secondly, they’re more loyal and will keep coming back if they like what they’re getting. 

Local SEO is the perfect way to get in front of these more valuable customers. 

Local SEO focuses on improving visibility everywhere online, but we’ll largely be focusing on Google and Google Maps throughout this guide.

And no, we’re not being sponsored by Google — there is a very real reason that Google mattrs most!

Google is by far the most-used search engine, not only in the US but in the world. Statcounter reported in 2020 that Google’s search engine market share worldwide is a whopping 92.18%. 

Google Marketshare

We’re not saying you should ignore other search engines entirely, as there’s still value to be found in the likes of Apple and Bing (which we’ll talk about later on), but the vast majority of customers who find you online will be coming from Google, so that’s where we’re going to focus our efforts.

Plus, given Google’s ubiquity and vast market share, other search engines tend to follow suit in terms of what they want to see in order to rank your business higher. So whatever you do for Google can easily transfer to other platforms, too. 

What is a local search?

A local search occurs when a person enters a query into Google with local intent. For example, ‘pizza takeout near me’, ‘pizza takeout New York, NY’, or, if their geolocation is available to Google, just ‘pizza takeout’.

This is a local search, complete with local search results below: 

Local Search Pizza Examplee

Don’t worry, we’ll get onto the details of this screenshot later!

Did You Know? According to Google, 46% of searches have a ‘local intent’.

It sounds obvious enough, right?

But there’s more to the story.

While anyone in the world with good enough SEO and authority can rank for a search query like ‘how to fix a blocked drain’, only local businesses can rank for more high-intent searches, such as ‘plumbers near me’ or ‘best plumber in Brooklyn’. 

In fact, nowadays you don’t even need to enter ‘near me’ or your location in order to generate a local search.

Local search plumber example

If I’m wandering the streets of New York and do a simple search for ‘pizza’, I’ll be presented with local search results in the form of the local pack (as seen above), or if I’m searching on maps, the local finder. 

After all, it’s a lot more likely that I’m looking for pizza to eat, than wanting to just do a bit of pizza research while out.

Now, we’ve seen an example of the local pack above, but here’s how the local finder looks:

Best Plumber local Pack

But how is it possible that Google knows where I am and what to show me?

It’s because Google uses GPS to keep tabs on your location, and to provide you with more relevant search results. Just scroll to the bottom of your search results on mobile and it’ll say where it thinks you are.

Related searches screenshot

In short, Google is more clever now than it was, say, 10 years ago.

For these types of local search query, search engines understand that what the user wants is business suggestions or lists based on location, and so that’s precisely what they offer up in the local search engine results pages (also known as SERPs). 

This difference in behavior and result is precisely why local SEO is important and worth investing in alongside standard SEO for your website.

The results that surface based on these local queries are based on a few key local ranking factors, all of which we’ll be covering in this guide.

What are local SERPs?

We know what a local search is. But what are local SERPs?

‘SERP’ or ‘SERPs’ stand for ‘search engine results pages’. Local SERPs are the results that are presented when somebody performs a search with local intent.

Local SERPs will generate different results based on the query, but generally, they’ll look something like this:

Local SERPs example

They can include the local map pack, localized organic results, and even rich results features (though these will be less common in local searches).

What are rich results? Rich results are features that show up in Google search results pages that aren’t just traditional blue links. Rich results can be: images, image carousels, videos, answer cards, app packs, ‘People Also Ask’, or top stories. 

Here’s an example of localized organic results: 

Annotated Local SERP

Local map pack vs organic results

In order to improve traffic to their websites and through their doors, local businesses need visibility on what’s known as the ‘local pack’, ‘3-pack’, or even sometimes the ‘snack pack’. 

This is the block of three business listings that appear below the map in the results displayed after a Google search with local intent.

Below is the local pack that results from the search ‘plumbers San Francisco’.

Local pack example

You’ll notice plenty here that’s different from standard organic results, such as features like opening times, contact information, and review ratings.

If you click on a listing, you might even see other features such as posts and photos, like in the screenshot below.

Google Posts

So now you might even be wondering where all this rich information comes from. 

Well, although Google is getting clever enough to pull this information directly from your website, that’s not where these elements are generated from.

Pretty much everything that’s displayed in the local pack comes from the business’s Google My Business profile, which is a critical part of local SEO marketing that’s becoming more important as Google tries to satisfy more search queries directly in the SERPs.

We’ll talk much more about Google My Business later, but for now, let’s stick to the basics.

How does the Google local algorithm work?

The complex program that decides what to surface in search results for a given query is called an algorithm. The organic Google algorithm dictates most search results, but when it comes to local results, the algorithm is a little different, and takes into consideration more factors than the standard search algorithm. 

Let’s take a look at what Google considers important when you make a local search.

The Google local algorithm relies on three key things:

Relevance – is the business being surfaced appropriately relevant to the search query at hand?

Prominence – is the business being surfaced trusted?

Proximity – is the business nearby to the searcher?

Google Local Algorithm

Let’s delve into these ideas in a bit more detail.


Relevance is a key component of Google’s local algorithm. In fact, relevance is a factor in the standard SEO algorithm, so it’s not just local-specific. 

Naturally, Google wants to do its job right, and it wouldn’t be doing its job right if it surfaced irrelevant results.

To ensure that search engines such as Google view your business as relevant enough to surface, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting keywords or topics that potential customers would be searching for. 

For example, if you run a pizza place in New York, you want to make sure that Google relates your business to keywords such as ‘pizza New York’,  ‘best pizza’, or maybe even ‘cheap pizza New York’ if that’s your USP. 

You can inform Google of your business’s relevance through tactics like:

  1. Selecting the correct category for your business on directories

  2. Including your business’s keywords in descriptions and in content

  3. Creating relevant content to your business’s expertise 

  4. Using title tags and meta descriptions

  5. Schema markup

Getting links from local and industry-relevant websites 

Don’t worry if some of these ideas look daunting right now — we’re going to cover most of them in this guide. And if you follow the steps laid out here today you’ll be providing Google with plenty of signals to trust your business as relevant.


Think of prominence as how well your brand stands out from the rest, especially your competition. 

ere, you’re trying to prove that Google can trust your business – trust that its information is accurate, trust that it exists, and trust that it’s worth considering. The more Google and other search engines can find and validate you online, the better.

Brands that have a stronger online prominence seem more credible and trustworthy to the Google local algorithm. 

We know that search engines (especially Google) pull data from all across the web. So essentially, if your brand is out there on the web, search engines will try to find this data and rank you based on prominence. If it can’t find you or there aren’t enough prominence signals, you’re far less likely to rank.

Let’s take a look at some important ways you can build up and maintain your business’s prominence.

Prominence can be demonstrated in a few ways:

  1. Building (local) links

  2. Creating and sharing relevant content and articles

  3. Getting listed in directories

  4. Building up more mentions of your business online

  5. Developing a strong reviews profile

  6. Having active social media platforms (verified, if possible!)

  7. Being mentioned by local media or government sites

We’ll be delving deeper into just how to achieve prominence in the eyes of Google later on, providing you with some concrete tips to build a strong presence online.


Now that we know your business is relevant to the user’s search query and has a strong prominence, let’s look at our last ranking factor: proximity. 

Of course, when a person is performing a local search, how near they are to relevant businesses is important. What’s the point in Google throwing up results from three towns over? 

As such, proximity is arguably the most important local ranking factor. It’s also the ranking factor that is uniquely local. While prominence and relevance count for quite a lot in traditional SEO, you don’t need online eCommerce stores and the like to be nearby in order to purchase from them.

There are three ways a user can perform a local search; non-geo-modified, geo-modified, and ‘near me.’ To showcase your proximity to Google, you should always consider optimizing for the different ways users are searching. 

What are geo-modified searches? These include the city, neighborhood, or area you want to search in the search term itself. For example, ‘plumbers in Brooklyn’ is a geo-modified search.

Geo-modified search

What are non-geo-modified searches? Non-geo-modified searches do not include the location name in the search. For example, ‘plumbers’ or ‘best plumbers’.

Non-geomodified local search

What are ‘near me’ searches? As the name suggests, these are searches where the user specifies it wants nearby results, e.g. ‘plumbers near me’ or ‘plumbers nearby’.

Near me local search

Unfortunately, while it’s the most integral to local search, proximity is also the factor most out of your control. Your business is where your business is.

What’s important here, then, is to show Google where your business is so that it surfaces you for nearby search queries.

You can track your current status of local rankings using a tool like Local Search Results Checker. Enter the zip code from one road over, two roads over, three roads over and see how your rankings change based on the searcher’s location.

Just take a look at how much the local results for ‘Pizza’ change when you search from a different zip code:

Local Search Results Checker

Once you’ve worked out where you stand, you need to set about telling Google that. 

To do this you can make use of tactics like building citations, creating local content, getting local links, localizing review content (e.g. ‘Best pizza in Manhattan!’), and more.

Everything we discuss in this guide will contribute to demonstrating either your relevance, prominence, or proximity. So if you follow the tried and tested steps outlined in this guide, then you don’t have to worry about trying to “trick” Google.

Of course, the work doesn’t stop there! Throughout this guide we’ll be sharing further reading to provide you with even more resources to succeed.

Chapter 2: Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important foundational things you can do for your local SEO.

Think of this as your bread and butter. You need to know what search terms you want to rank for before you can begin optimizing your business or undertaking these ranking tactics.

Keyword research is also important for a few other reasons:

To create landing pages that focus on searchable words and phrases.

To understand searching behaviors better and, overall, understand your target audience better.

To find related markets to expand into, and/or refocus your products or services to.

To discover more ways to attract target customers (through providing answers to their questions).

You need to know what phrases are being searched for that relate to your business. 

For example, you might be an artisan plant-based pizza restaurant, but that’s not necessarily what your customers are searching for. They might be more likely to search for ‘veggie pizza’, ‘healthy pizza’, ‘best vegan pizza’, or something else. So you need to be aware of the search trends and adapt to them.

For example, here I’ve performed a pretty basic search for ‘pizza New York’. Underlined are all the phrases that might be considered keywords.

Keywords in local search

In this section, I’ll provide you with some tips to get started with local keyword research and identify your own keywords.

Identify key terms

Your own judgment as a business owner is your first resource here.

What are you selling? How would you search for it if you were the consumer?

For example, if you’re selling ‘takeout pizza’, that’s one key term already identified.

To build upon your own list of core keywords, head over to Google, search for your query, and take note of what your competitors (or businesses in similar industries) put in their title tags. 

For example, here’s what comes up when I search “pizza New York” in Google Maps:

Local keywords in Google Maps

You’ll notice there are a lot of diverse phrases used, both by the businesses themselves and by customers in reviews. For example, because this search is from the USA, people aren’t just using the word ‘pizza’ but ‘pies’, too. ‘Vegan pizza’ is mentioned but so are ‘unusual toppings’ and ‘nut-based cheeses’. 

Searches like these can help you gain an understanding of what kinds of phrases competitors and searchers are using.

Extend your core terms with keyword modifiers

Next, you need to make your keywords longer. Content optimized for long-tail keywords receives a click-through rate up to 19% higher than content optimized for short-tail keywords.

Keyword modifiers (the things you’re adding to your core keyword) also make your overall keyword strategy more diverse, as you can benefit from less competitive organic search opportunities and reach more relevant customers.

If you’re feeling a bit lost as to what your modifiers may be, there are a few ways to find them. 

Firstly, perform your own Google search – look at what phrases your competitors are using, what customers are saying in reviews (see below) and Q&A, and what People Also Asks are saying.

Local keywords in reviews

What is Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ feature? People Also Ask is a rich results feature that appears in search results. It offers alternative search queries that might relate to your search, based on what people have searched for. It looks like this: 

Keywords in People Also Ask

Secondly, for more in-depth keyword research you can use a tool like Ahrefs to identify opportunities. 

To summarize…

How to do local keyword research: 

Local keyword research revolves around identifying three parts of your target search queries: your core term, your keyword modifiers, and your location.

Identify your core terms using your own knowledge of your niche and Google search results.

Create long-tail keywords by identifying your keyword modifiers either through a search tool like Ahrefs or Google SERP features. 

Organize your keyword list by search intent and importance.

Extra keyword research resources: 

 Long-tail Keywords: 3 Key Ways to Find Super-focused Keywords

How to Do Local Keyword Research Like a Pro

Local Search Clinic: Localized Content with Carrie Hill – Recap

Chapter 3: Google My Business

Previously known as Google Local, and for a time, even Google+ Local, Google My Business (GMB) is your business profile on Google. 

Information from your business’s GMB feeds information to a variety of places, including the local pack and Google Maps search results, but the most familiar appearance will likely be when it’s in the top right (or top on mobile) of a branded search for your business, as below.

When the GMB profile is pulled through to SERPs, the position it occupies in SERPs is what’s known as the Knowledge Panel. 

Your GMB profile can include a host of information submitted by yourself, such as services you offer, contact details, business description, category, and opening times, but it’s important to note that features such as GMB subjective attributes, GMB Q&As, and Google Reviews are almost entirely generated by consumers – ideally ones with experience of your business!

A big part of local SEO is keeping your GMB profile as up-to-date and accurate as possible, so that it has a higher chance of appearing in the local pack, and is trustworthy, attractive, and appealing enough to warrant a clickthrough.


 Although it’s incredibly powerful, Google My Business is just one example of what’s known as a ‘citation’, which we’ll talk more about later.

Why do you need Google My Business?

Google My Business is pretty much your new homepage.

Experts voted it the number one ranking factor for local searches and, sure, it makes sense: Google’s going to favor Google.

Our own research also showed that most local SEO experts viewed GMB optimization as very effective to improve local SEO rankings.

GMB Effectiveness

Google is the most used search engine, and GMB powers results for both Google and Googl Maps.

Without a GMB profile, your business is not going to be able to compete in search. And what’s more, once it’s claimed and optimized, you need to make sure it’s maintained well.

When it comes to improving appearance in Google Maps, image is everything. Literally, a business’s photos can make or break a potential user action.

Steve Wiideman – President, Wiideman Consulting (How Do You Make a Google My Business Listing More ‘Clickable’?)

 Google My Business features overview

In this section, we’ll take a look at Google My Business’s key features. Many of these will play a part in making your business more visible in SERPs, as well as helping to convert searchers who do find you.

But, it’s important to remember that these aren’t just “set it and forget it” features. GMB profiles need updating regularly, plus Google is known to introduce, test, and change features regularly, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground for any changes that might affect your profile (signing up to our newsletter is a great place to start).

Business categories

In Google My Business, you’ll have the option to add a primary category and a handful of additional categories.

Google My Business Category Example

Having the most accurate primary category based on your business’s products, services and/or goals can make a big difference as you try to improve visibility for terms related to that category.

For example, a dine-in restaurant serving pizza and pasta should have the primary category ‘Italian restaurant’, rather than just ‘restaurant’. 

ree tools like PlePer’s GMB category finder are really helpful when it comes to finding your right category (there are more to choose from than you might think!)

Google reviews

Google has been allowing customers to leave reviews for local businesses for over a decade. The volume of Google My Business reviews you collect is a known SEO ranking factor, as it supports the prominence of your business in the community. 

Google Reviews

Online reviews also occupy an important place in the consumer psyche, with over seven in ten consumers admitting to trusting a business more if it has strong online reviews, and around half refusing to buy from a business with a rating lower than four stars. 


Google My Business Posts are a useful way to connect with customers, allowing local businesses to share their latest offers, events, products, and services.

Here’s an example of a service-area business using Offers within Google Posts

Chapter 4: Other Maps Platforms

Google is the most important Maps platform for the same reason it’s the most important search engine. It has by far the largest number of monthly users. 

But there is more to local search than just Google. Let’s take a look at some other important maps apps.

Apple Maps

While Google should definitely be your priority for local search, Apple still plays an important role in the form of its maps app. 

According to Statista, Apple Maps receives 23.3 million unique users per month – that’s not to be sniffed at.

 Apple Maps certainly has fewer features than Google Maps, but it has achieved feature parity in many ways.

Apple Maps reviews

Apple Maps pulls reviews from third-party sites. In the US, that’s mostly Yelp. While in the UK it generates reviews from Yelp, Foursquare, and Tripadvisor. 

Because of this, you need to ensure your business is present on each of those platforms (depending on industry).

Say you have 1,000 5-star reviews on Google. Someone finds your business through Google search on desktop. They like the look of you and decide to visit your store. Naturally, they hop in their car to drive to your location. To get directions, they pull up Apple Maps on their phone. What happens when they see no reviews — or worse, they see bad reviews — coming through from Yelp on Apple Maps? That’s right, they’re going to look for somewhere else!

The moral of the story: having good reviews on Google isn’t enough. 

To make sure you don’t alienate Apple Maps users, diversify your reviews and ensure your profiles on sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, and Tripadvisor (if relevant) are glowing too.

Apple Maps photos

Similarly to reviews, photos had historically been powered by third-party review sites. This means that you’ll also need to dedicate some time to filling out your profiles fully on sites like Yelp and Foursquare.

 Just like with Google My Business, try to include photos of the exterior, interior, and any products or services you offer.

Take a look at this business listing on Apple Maps:

Apple Maps Local Listing

This pizza place in New York has reviews and photos sourced from Yelp. 

Meanwhile, take a look at a business that has no information for Apple to pull from:

Apple Maps Unfilled Listing

Not only does this profile lack the information most searchers would need to make a decision, but it even makes similar businesses nearby appear more prominently. 

Which business do you think a searcher is most likely to visit based on these two listings? 

Voice search

It’s also worth remembering that Apple Maps and Safari power Siri results, so if someone is relying on voice searches using Siri, they’ll be experiencing your business through Apple. 

Did You Know? By 2021, the number of US voice assistant users will reach 122.7 million, representing 42.2% of US internet users and 36.6% of the US population. 

As smart devices become even more popular, optimizing content for voice assistants is going to become more important than ever. 

Extra Apple Maps resources

Google Maps vs Apple Maps: Who Will Reign Supreme?

Apple Maps Ratings: What’s New and What’s Next?


While it may not get quite as much airtime as Google My Business, Bing Places is very much a relevant, worthwhile addition to your local search engine optimization campaign, especially as Bing searches power Alexa and Cortana – two huge voice search engines. 

Bing Places Local Search

Looking at this screenshot, you can see that Microsoft Bing and Bing Places are not dissimilar to Google Maps and GMB. In fact, you can even sync up your listing so Bing pulls its data from GMB. 

Unlike Google local search, however, Bing shows reviews from a couple of different sources in its Explore panel. In addition to the information pulled from your Bing Places listing, your local panel may display a recent review from Tripadvisor right next to your latest Facebook review, for example. In both cases, the reviews are showcased in a box (with an average star rating where applicable) and a link to read further reviews from each source.

Chapter 5: Citations

A citation is any place your business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information appears together online, typically in an online directory or business listings website.

Simply put, NAP stands for a business’s:



Phone Number

These three nuggets of information are important details in their own right, but add them together and they can be the reason why a customer walks into your store – or the cause of them getting lost, being frustrated, wasting their time, or visiting a competitor.

In fact, we’ve already touched upon citations earlier on in this guide — Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps profiles are all considered citations.

There are two types of citation: unstructured and structured. Structured citations typically appear in business listings and come from form fields being filled in when the listing is claimed.

Ongoing citation building and management

Like link building and review management, citation building and management is an ongoing task.

Once a business’s initial online presence (in the form of citations and business listings) has been tidied up and corrected, new citations can be built.

But where do you need citations?

Firstly, the “big” directories are important to be listed on. These are sites like Google My Business, Facebook, Bing Places, and Apple Maps (to name a few).

In addition to these more mainstream sites, it’s also important to get listed on sites that are relevant to your industry. Remember, we want to think about where customers might find you — not just Google.

So if you’re in hospitality, you’ll want to be on Tripadvisor, mechanics should be on Carwise, and plumbers on… you get the picture. If you’re not sure which directories are most relevant to you, take a look at this list of niche directories by business category

Now, there are a few different options available if you’re looking to begin building citations.

Building citations yourself

DIY is pretty much always an option in local SEO; it just happens to be a very time-intensive one! 

Building citations in this way might suit you if you’re handling the citations of a single business. If you do go down this route, you can use a free tool like Local Listings Health Scanner to see where you’re appearing on top directories or where information is incorrect. 

Local Listing Health Scanner Citations Check

You can then use a good-old-fashioned Google search for business information to fill in the gaps. 

Once you’ve done that, you can go ahead and update, claim, or create your listings manually. It’s best to keep track of these on a spreadsheet and check them regularly.

Using a manual service

If you’ve got too many locations to handle yourself or simply find the process daunting, you can hand your citations over to a service like BrightLocal. 

With manual services like this, a team of citation builders will handle your submissions personally, getting you listed on the sites you choose and removing any inaccurate or duplicate information. 

Using an API provider

API providers like Yext are better suited to companies creating citations at scale. Information is pushed out automatically to the sites you choose, and you have to pay a recurring fee to keep the data intact. 

Using data aggregators

Less of an ‘or’ than an ‘and’, data aggregators are companies like Data Axle, Neustar Localeze, Factual, and Foursquare that disperse your data to apps, maps, and directories. They’re pretty cheap and straightforward to use, so they can be a good way to bulk out your online presence. 

Chapter 6: Online Reviews

I’m sure you’ve dealt with reviews before reading this guide. You’ve probably even left a few of your own.

 But what kinds of reviews do we care about most in local SEO?

Naturally, businesses that want to rank in local search will need to focus on online reviews of local businesses. These are unlike eCommerce reviews left on sites like Amazon, G2, or iMDB. 

Instead, in local SEO we focus on reviews that contain content about products or services offered by local businesses, such as plumbers, restaurants, lawyers, and so on.

Here’s an example of a local business review (top) versus an eCommerce review (bottom):

As you might recognize, the first review comes from Google My Business and recounts the experience the user had with a service-area business — in this case, a pest control provider.

Meanwhile, the second review comes from Amazon, where a user is simply leaving a product review for a mosquito-zapping lamp.

For local SEO, we’ll be focusing on the first type of review.

We’ll also be focusing on reviews left on third-party sites, rather than reviews that are native to your website. 

Why local businesses need online reviews

Many businesses hesitate to be proactive about growing reviews, fearing that it’s too big of a job to undertake or that it could result in negative reviews, but if you make this a regular part of your local marketing routine, you’ll be rewarded with better search engine rankings and increased consumer trust. 

Before you embark on growing online reviews it is worth ensuring you’re genuinely confident that you’re providing a product or service offering worthy of excellent reviews. While a couple of negative reviews are possible for even the best-run businesses (and can make listings seem more trustworthy!) you don’t want to be asking customers to review a sub-standard experience.

In local SEO, online reviews help you to do three things:

Rank higher in local search

Convert customers by building their trust in your business

Showcase your brand personality by responding to reviews

It’s no secret that reviews are vitally important for local businesses. Online reputation is increasingly referenced by consumers and is fast becoming a ‘make or break’ metric for those looking for a local business online.

Creating a strong online review profile is also a certified way to inform Google that you’re worthy of being surfaced in local searches (again, prominence!)

Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’

Core web vitals are a subset of web vitals, an initiative set by Google to help determine how well a website is performing.

Core web vitals cover three key aspects of the user experience:



Visual stability

It’s worth remembering that, just because those are three main areas might now, doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. Core web vitals tend to evolve due to changing contexts and tools.

For the time being however, the areas you need to focus on are:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This indicates your site’s loading performance. According to Google, in order to provide a “good” user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID). This signal measures interactivity. According to Google, website pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This signal, as it sounds, measures visual stability. According to Google, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

Fortunately, you can find out your website scores for these three aspects using a tool we’ve already discussed: Google Lighthouse Report.

It’s important that your site is optimized for these page signals on mobile in time for May 2021 as it has been confirmed that Core Web Vitals will be a ranking factor by then.



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