What is a “local search engine”?
Quick Answer: A local search engine refers to when a search engine gives the user an answer based on their location or proximity to a place such as: local sites, local points of interest, local businesses, local reviews, etc. Search engines know where a user is thanks to their IP or by asking the user where they are located.
Some popular local search engines are: Yelp, Google Maps, and Bing Local.
Some examples of answers based on local search engines are when a person asks things like:
- Web design service near me
- Italian restaurants near me
- Martial arts classes near me
To which the response from a local search engine, based on the user’s location in Silver Spring, Maryland, would be:
- A web design agency near Silver Spring, Maryland is QA Digital Advertising.
- Tel: 240-593-6567
- Google Reviews: 62+ Positive Comments
- Website: qadigitalads.com
- Hours: Monday – Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.
This answer is possible thanks to the location of the business and the proximity of the user to the business.
On the other hand, when people refer to “What is local search in Google” this still refers to the aforementioned with a slight modification according to Google. And it is that local search in Google has even more strength when the search is done on a smart mobile device like a cell phone. In the case of Google, Google displays its local listings and Google maps to show the user the best possible options related to their search based on their location.
Let’s continue learning:
What is the difference between local search and organic search?
Quick Answer: Organic search gives more general answers to the user regardless of where the user is located as long as the answer is accurate. Example: If a user is in Argentina and wants to find an excellent answer to How to choose the right web design agency for his business. Google will search among millions of articles regardless of where these were written and will show them to the user. A possible answer to this question would be showing a link like this:
Note: It should be noted that competing locally is relatively easier than competing organically or globally. An easy way to understand this concept is if you think about any sport. Imagine that you play tennis. What’s easier, being the best at your local club or the best in the world? The same happens when you want to try to appear in the first places or first results in any search engine, the more competition you have, the harder it is to appear in the first results.
What’s better, local search results or organic search results?
Quick Answer: The answer to this question depends on what the user’s goal is. If the user is a business owner then the answer is to start by optimizing their local search results. If the user writes blogs to make money with an affiliate program then most likely their strategy will be more focused on something global, in this case trying to appear organically in the search engines.
Pro Tip: A key tip for all business owners who have physical offices is that Google rewards businesses with physical locations. How? Well, when you have a physical business and you register for free with Google My Business , Google will understand that you have a priority when someone searches for your services. This means that you can exploit this advantage and create local SEO content that will help you rank more easily in the top positions.
Is it important to have a Local Search Results strategy? How to improve your Local Search Results strategy?
Quick Answer: The quick answer is YES!, It is important for you as a business owner to have a local search results strategy in order to show your business locally in the top positions of Google.
Here are some important statistics you should keep in mind:
- Google reports that when people search for a local business on their smartphone, 76% of them visit the business within a day, and of those searches, 28% lead to a purchase.
- Google claims that 30% of the searches it handles are related to location. Mobile statistics for location searches.
- According to a recent survey on local search, 61% of consumers reported conducting a local search every day.
- During a local search, a recent survey on local SEO found that 82% of consumers read online reviews for businesses. They spend nearly 14 minutes reading reviews before making any decision.
- Google Maps is how most people find the location of a business, with 86% relying on it.
- 92% of the time, Yelp is one of the top five search results for small and medium businesses (SMBs).
- Of the total number of shoppers who searched before going to a physical store globally, 74% sought hyperlocal information such as the nearest store, locations, nearby product availability, etc.
- Over 50% of people looking for local information online use a mobile device.
- Google Search is the preferred option for 83% of people looking for nearby businesses. Among other options, 55% prefer to use Google Maps, 44% prefer Apple Maps, 39% turn to Yahoo, and 31% choose Bing.
Basic terminology you will need to improve your local listings
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization): It is the process of optimizing a website to increase its visibility in local search results.
How do you do SEO?
It involves strategies such as optimizing content for specific keywords and phrases, creating backlinks from other websites to yours, optimizing meta descriptions and titles, and using social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to your website. With the right SEO tactics, you can make sure that your site is seen by more people in your local market.
This blog is part of our organic and local SEO strategy by our team. Since it attracts traffic from different sides and this tells Google that we are experts in the area of design, programming and web positioning.
Google My Business: It is a free business profile that Google offers for local businesses. It is crucial to appear in local search results and on Google Maps.
The strategy behind Google My Business is to offer potential customers a guide of information in which the most relevant key points about your company are shown. That is why it is important to make sure that your company profile is complete, up-to-date and contains accurate information.
By optimizing your profile you can appear in local search results for certain keywords that people search for in your area.
Citations: They are online mentions of your business, including the name, address and phone number (NAP). These citations can appear in local directories, websites and apps and are a key factor in determining your ranking in local search results.
Many of these citations come from directories like Yelp. Our recommendation is that you list your company in many free local directories since public directories tend to have a good relationship with Google and are another way for Google to find your business more quickly.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone number): These are the basic details of a business. It is important that these details are consistent across all online platforms to help improve local ranking.
Reviews or Customer Reviews: The opinions and ratings that customers leave online about your business. Good reviews can improve your ranking in local search results and foster customer trust.
Local Pack or 3-Pack: It is the block of three business listings that appear under the map in Google results when a local search is performed.
Proximity: It is a factor that Google considers when displaying search results. The closer the user is to a business, the more likely it is that that business will appear in the search results.
Geo-Targeting: It is a practice in which ads or content are targeted to an audience based on their geographical location.
How does Google determine Local Rankings?
Relevance: Google analyzes how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. To increase the relevance of your business for local searches, you should make sure that all your business information is fully filled out and accurate on Google My Business.
Also, make sure that your business address and data appear on your homepage, as Google looks to compare this information with that of Google My Business.
Distance: Google considers how close a possible search result is. If a user does not specify a location in their search, Google will calculate the distance based on what is known about the user’s location.
Our advice when you start to optimize your website locally is to focus your SEO efforts considering what you can offer locally that other businesses cannot.
For example, in the case of our web design & SEO agency in Silver Spring, Maryland, we mention that we have a physical office where we can serve our clients in person if they wish. We also mention that with over 15 years working with local businesses in Silver Spring, it’s easy for us to understand the needs of our clients and more efficiently achieve their goals. This is a great advantage when considering that there are companies that look for agencies in other countries that do not understand the needs of a business locally.
Prominence: This factor refers to how well-known or prominent a business is in the offline world. Some businesses are more well-known in the offline world like Apple, and search engines try to reflect this fact in their local search results. Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google reviews are also a factor that contributes to prominence.
How can you improve your offline relevance? Although this is not easy, the best way is by requesting Google Reviews and participating in the community at different events, posting these events on social media channels and having these social media channels point to your website.
In summary, Google combines these three factors to present the best results in its local searches. Optimizing these three categories can improve the visibility of a business in local search results.
How can you gain a competitive edge knowing now how Google determines its local rankings?
- Use keywords when you are creating descriptions and titles in your Google My Business account.
- When you are entering your business information in public directories, focus on your best services and use keywords. It’s better to focus on your best services at the beginning as these attract more traffic.
- If possible, ask your customers to use keywords when leaving reviews. The most common way to do this step is by asking your customers to mention exactly the service they requested.
If I only focus on local search and signing up for local directories, will I secure a spot in the top results?
Quick answer: No, unfortunately, this is only a part of having the chance to compete and appear in the top local spots. Google has a scoring system that it gives to each business based on different parameters.
Some of these are:
- How much content does your website have?
- How well programmed is your website? If your website uses a template, it is most likely that it will go unnoticed among the thousands of templates that other businesses in your same category use.
- How much SEO was used in the construction of your website. Remember that a web programmer, a web designer, and an SEO expert are different professions.
- How attractive is your website and how long did your users spend on your website?
- How often do your users visit your website per month and how often do they share your website?
- Is your website secure?
- Does your website load fast?
- Does your website look good on mobile smart devices?
These are some parameters that you should consider if you want to improve your local presence.
If you have questions, we invite you to call us at 240-593-6567 or visit us in Silver Spring, Maryland to receive a no-obligation consultation on how you can improve your local web positioning on Google.