The Local SEO Playbook To Increased Visibility And Customer Acquisition

Columnist Thomas Stern discusses five essential components of local optimization that increase online exposure and drive offline traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.

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As device connectivity expands and mobile integration becomes more prevalent, local SEO is gaining importance for brands seeking to obtain digital visibility and acquire customers. Millions of new devices such as phones, wearable tech and integrated mobile devices are connecting each day — and changing how users search and discover.

More than ever before, local search influences where consumers choose to spend their money. With new trends in local SEO shaping how customers find brands in 2016, it is essential to adjust your digital content to the evolving search landscape.

Our digital marketing agency, ZOG Digital, is making a significant investment into local SEO in 2016, spurred by the growing importance of keeping brands’ local information accurate and consistent across platforms. A robust and optimized local search presence improves visibility, captures market share from competitors and provides a quality user experience for consumers who interact with your brand online.

Whether you’re moving offices, opening a new business or auditing multiple store locations for consistency, the following five best practices for constructing a complete local search authority will help your brand increase visibility and ROI from local search.

1. On-Page Elements for Location Landing Pages

According to Moz, the localized information listed on your brand’s website is the most influential factor for increasing exposure in local search. To ensure search engines see individual location data, create robust landing pages for each location with distinct and valuable information. Companies with many locations will require a high volume of page development to rank well in local markets.

Each landing page should include the following SEO factors, unique to each business location:

  • Page title (keywords, business name, location info).
  • Meta descriptions (call to action).
  • Page content (at least 100 words).
  • Contact information (name, address, phone number).
  • Structured data (to help achieve Rich Snippets or Knowledge Graph panels in SERPs).

A note when it comes to page content: Duplicate information across multiple location pages can be viewed negatively by search engines and subsequently decrease exposure. Keyword forecasting tools can help identify the best opportunities to diversify listings and target high-traffic search queries.

2. Google My Business Signals

Google’s local search is one of the most influential factors for being found in local markets. Their listings are displayed in SERPs, utilized in advertising, and syndicated across other digital platforms. Google’s local search expansion with recent Google My Business API changes and a soon-to-be editable Local Knowledge Graph showcase the necessity to build visibility in local markets with a robust Google My Business listing.

Ensure that your Google data exactly match the individual location data on your website. Consistent and accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) information across all listings is crucial for a successful local SEO campaign.

Furthermore, research your competition when selecting a category for your business listing, as this will be a big indicator as to how you will rank for targeted keywords. Often, local markets show different results for similar categories, so do your research to uncover the opportunities for best placement and exposure.

Google Local SEO Categories

3. Citations

Citations on external listing services are heavily weighted factors for generating high-traffic local SEO signals, especially since Google’s Pigeon update. They boost local SEO performance in much the same way that traditional backlinks work for Google’s traditional SEO algorithm.

Online citations can help strengthen the association between your business and its physical location. To establish the strongest possible relationship between your business, its location and its business category, aim to create as many consistent citations as possible. Some external listing services are Manta, Apple Maps, Urban Spoon, Yellow Pages and Yahoo! Local, as well as niche and local directories.

Utilize citations to share your business information across the web and build credibility in search engines with consistent local data. Expand the search terms your business will rank for in local search with diversified content and keywords optimized around user intent and unique market applications.

4. Review Websites

Review websites do operate as citation sources with standard business information, but their local SEO implications go far beyond that. Well-managed reviews can increase customer acquisition through valuable links, digital PR initiatives and viral word-of-mouth marketing.

BrightLocal states that 92 percent of consumers now read online reviews, up from 88 percent in 2014. What some business owners fail to realize is how these websites can be leveraged to boost local SEO rankings. The total number of reviews, the diversity of websites your business is reviewed on and how frequently your business is reviewed all impact how your brand ranks in local search (according to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey).

Encourage customers to rate your business and share their experience on a variety of review sites to build local authority. Monitor these reviews to resolve any negative issues and to encourage your most loyal fans to become brand advocates. This application of digital PR can help create moments worth talking about and organically build your brand’s influence online and offline.

5. Inbound Links

High-quality backlinks to your domain have a major influence on both organic and local search platforms. According to the Moz survey, inbound links are the second most important factor in local SEO performance, with a weight of 20 percent.

To build momentum from external links, develop quality connections with relevant websites boasting a high PageRank and Domain Authority. While the bulk of your link-building campaign will focus on links to your website’s root domain, getting links to the location landing pages can help boost rankings and visibility in local searches.

To generate additional local exposure, focus on building links from authoritative websites within your location’s geographical area, such as news stations.

Final Thoughts

Local SEO is an essential part of a unified search strategy that generates awareness at crucial moments of a customer’s journey to purchase. It is important to keep in mind that once rankings are earned, it is essential to continually build links, develop unique content and expand local listings to maintain a positive position in search results. Brands must stay visible in search to capture valuable market share and authority that drives customer acquisition.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Thomas Stern
Thomas Stern oversees the architecture and evolution of our services lines as Chief Innovation Officer at ZOG Digital. He has over 10 years of digital marketing experience through a range of industries like retail, insurance and travel/hospitality. He has been featured in numerous digital marketing publications, has received graduate level internet marketing education and is a board member of Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) Arizona. Follow us on Twitter @ZOGDigital.

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