For any business aiming to grow in a specific geographic area, local SEO is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tactic. An impressive 78% of consumers will make an in-store purchase after a mobile search with local intent. People making local searches are actively looking to buy, making them an ideal audience for you to target.
The practice of local SEO can help both search engines and searchers identify your business as a relevant result. Your shoppers can get quick, easy, and accurate information about your service, product, or industry with a local context. When implemented well, local SEO can be the reason your brand becomes a nearby shopper’s first choice. But without it, there’s a chance your business will remain unnoticed on the web.
In this article, we’ll dive into five ways you can provide virtual “context clues” that can help search engine users find your local business. Whether you own a brick-and-mortar company or a business with a dedicated service area, these tips can help you take your SEO marketing to the next level.
1. Answer Location-based Questions
If you’re already putting local SEO into practice, odds are that you’re already inserting location-based keywords throughout your content. It’s a basic local SEO tactic that can effectively help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). But if you really want to stand out for local searchers, understanding and directly answering your target market’s questions is the next step.
Answering location-based questions (for example, “where are georgia peaches grown”) can increase online visibility in three key ways:
- Rank high (even first) for long-tail keywords with little SEO maintenance.
- Win local featured snippets, which show up above search engine results.
- Show up in expandable ‘People Also Ask’ boxes for related searches.
So how do you know what questions to answer? Standard local keyword research tactics still apply. Great questions should include a core term that’s relevant to your business, like “pedicure” for a nail salon, as well as a local term (like “in LA”). Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush and AnswerThePublic can tell you the exact questions searchers are asking.
Expert Tip: Voice search now makes up one in five Google searches, so answering local questions can be critical when searchers use smart speakers and other voice assistants.
2. Localize Your Language
The need to include city and state names within local SEO content is fairly well-known. But even the best SEO experts often forget the importance of localizing your language or the way you write altogether.
Where we live affects how we speak and write. In the USA, a ‘soda’ in the West is a ‘pop’ in the Midwest and a ‘coke’ in the South. What tourists call San Mateo County, locals may call the Peninsula. Similarly, Londoners spell theater as “theatre.” Naturally, our learned language affects the way we search.
Using highly localized language can help you match your target audience’s search terms exactly. And when you do, search engines will take note of your website’s heightened relevance. Local language will also catch the eyes of searchers themselves, and help you build trust with the people who matter most to your business.
Expert Tip: People are literally searching the way they speak, so mix in both local and colloquial language.
As more casual terms make their way into queries, search engine algorithms will adjust by seeking web pages that provide matching context clues.
3. Expand Your Online Presence
Having your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on your site is already a good start for localization. However, search engines know that not all businesses stay on top of website updates. To make sure you’re actually a local company, search engines like Google scan outside sources for confirmation. To show up for more local searches, your NAP must remain consistent across all of these sources.
One way you can improve your local SEO is by claiming your business listings on platforms like:
- Google My Business
- Better Business Bureau
- Bing Places for Business
- Industry-specific review sites (like Avvo for lawyers)
Claiming your listing allows you to personally update your business listings. Rather than relying on your current clients to report any changes, you can proactively keep your NAP data aligned across all platforms.
In addition to jumping on business review and directory sites, you can create social media pages for your business. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to input your NAP on your business pages to offer additional context clues to searchers and search engine algorithms.
Expert Tip: If you ever write a guest post for a blog or get your brand featured in an online publication, see if you can get your address and phone number alongside your business name.
Even if you can’t, these can still be opportunities for your business name to appear with broader local terms on an external site.
4. Use Visual Communication
Visual communication—including your visual branding or images of your signage or building—can tell users a lot about who you serve. For example, if your logo includes a state flag, local shoppers will instantly connect with your brand, and they’ll do so fast. The human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, compared to the 114 milliseconds it takes to translate sounds into actual words.
Adding images that hint at your locality to your website, Google My Business page, and other platforms don’t automatically boost your search engine ranking. However, they offer context clues that attract high-quality shoppers.
Great images alone push 60% of consumers to click and make a decision. Now imagine if those images offer a local context. If shoppers are scrolling through Google Maps and see a sign they recognize, or scroll through Google Images and spot a familiar building, they may gravitate toward your brand.
As your visuals improve your organic traffic, dwell time, conversion rates, and other important SEO metrics for local searches, this can start to improve your local search rankings, too. Visual communication will only grow in importance as Google Maps AR grows, combining real-world visuals with search and content.
5. Set Up a Chatbot
Live chat solutions are highly effective contact platforms that let customers get their questions answered at any time — including those about your location or service area. And on the flip side, they can help your business gain information about customers’ locations, too. With a chatbot, you can even automate your information collection.
The data you can collect is valuable for local SEO. You can gain insight into where your shoppers are located and what they need help with, so you can continuously shape your local SEO strategy. If your website uses dynamic content, data collected by chatbots can also help you improve your personalization.
Boost Your Local SEO with Better Context Clues
Adding local context to your online content is crucial for reaching and converting nearby searchers. It can make both searchers and search engine algorithms confident in your relevance. As a result, you can start ranking higher for local searches, attracting more local customers, and improving your business results altogether.