Local SEO Glossary: Every Term Explained

Local SEO Glossary: Every Term Explained

Updated: January 2022

Maybe you’re new to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or you might be an industry pro who’s moving into a Local specialism?

Either way, BrightLocal’s Local SEO Glossary explains all the relevant terms to bring you up to speed, and is the perfect partner to our Complete Guide to Local SEO.

We’ve also turned this glossary into a quick-reference downloadable CSV for you to repurpose however you’d like!

A

Anchor text

The visible, clickable text that links out to another web page. Anchor text can be supported by the alt attribute behind the link.

This text signals to users and search engines what the content of the hyperlinked page is about. It’s SEO best practice that anchor text is descriptive and relevant to the hyperlinked page’s content.

Apple Maps

The default map system for Apple products, and the second most popular maps application among mobile users, after Google Maps.

Local SEO should target Apple Maps alongside Google Maps through Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business), and Bing Maps through Microsoft.

Average star rating

The rating that shows up next to a business listing on any directory that features business reviews, such as Yelp and Google.

The review score is calculated from user ratings and a variety of other factors, and after someone leaves a new review, it may take up to two weeks to get an updated review score.

B

Bing Places for Business

A free tool for businesses to appear in Bing search engine results, as well as in Cortana results.

It’s suitable for businesses with storefronts, chains with multiple locations, or service providers without a physical store.

Want to know more? Check out our dedicated guide to Bing Places for Business.

Bulk management

Adding, changing, or deleting data for more than one business/citation/location at the same time.

This is usually done through a tool (such as Brightlocal) and is especially useful for agencies, as well as enterprise or multi-location businesses.

C

Centroid

A concept in the local search industry used to define a central point of geography or activity.

Wherever a user is physically located at the time they search for something local, Google’s results will be customized to display the businesses nearest to the user’s device. This may be referred to as “proximity to the point of search” or the “user-as-centroid phenomenon”.

Citation

In local SEO, a local citation is a complete or partial web-based reference to a business’s name, address, phone number, plus other core data.

Structured citations can occur in the form of formal local business listings on local business data platforms. Unstructured citations occur as simple mentions of a business on a blog, news site, website, or other online publication.

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Local Citations.

Citation campaign

The practice of auditing, cleaning up, and building citations for a local business on a variety of local business data platforms.

D

Data aggregator

A data aggregator is a company that collects data on local businesses such as their name, address, phone number, opening hours, etc. in order to present it elsewhere online.

Data is verified then sold (leased) to other companies in need of local business data. Companies that typically buy this data are online directories (e.g. YP.com), local-mobile applications, and mapping and GPS companies (e.g. TomTom).

Want to know more? Check out our guide to data aggregators.

Directory

Any website which lists business names and contact information in an organized fashion, typically in alphabetical order or by business type.

Directory information is frequently assimilated by local search engines.

Duplicate listing

Any time you have more than one listing on a given platform (like Google Business Profile) representing a single entity (a business), that’s considered a duplicate.

It’s important to regularly check for and consolidate any duplicate listings for the same business.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to removing duplicate listings.

F

First-party reviews

User reviews that are collected and displayed on your own website with no input from the business owner.

G

Geo modifier

Also known as a geographic modifier, location modifier or location qualifier, this is the part of a search term which references a location.

Examples of keywords with geographic modifiers would be “plumber London” or “plumber near me”, rather than just “plumber”.

Geotagging

The process of adding geographical identification data to various media such as a website, image, video, SMS messages, QR code or RSS feed.

Geotagging helps search engines make the connection between your content and the location of what it depicts.

Google Business Messages

A Google add-on that allows mobile users to message a digital agent from within search results and Google Maps.

Google Business Messages offers an interactive method of get answers to frequently asked questions, tracking orders and refunds, and accessing live customer support.

Google Guaranteed

A Local Services Ad label indicating that a business has passed the screening and qualification process and that Google will back the work of the business. This only applies to ‘home services’ businesses, including plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, etc.

If a customer that booked service via a Local Services Ad is not satisfied with the quality of the work, Google might reimburse the customer up to the amount they paid for the service (with a lifetime cap per customer of $2,000 in the United States).

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

Google Screened

A Local Services Ad label indicating that a business has passed the necessary screening and qualification process but is not backed by any kind of guarantee from Google.

Only businesses that provide professional services including law, financial planning, and real estate are eligible for the Google Screened badge.

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

Google Maps

A web mapping platform that offers street maps, satellite imagery, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets, and real-time traffic conditions.

It also offers route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle, air and public transportation. Crucially for local SEO, it enables users to search for places and businesses, and see their descriptions reviews and more details from Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business).

Want to know more? Find out how to get your business to rank on Google Maps.

Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business)

Google Business Profile is a free tool that allows businesses to set up a profile to promote business information on Google, such as address, phone number, email, social media links, and more.

Your profile will appear in Search and Maps, and you can use it to post photos and updates to your business profile, and see how customers are interacting with your business on Google.

Google Business Profile API

An API is an Application Programming Interface—in this case a dedicated link between an agency of business system and the Google Business Profile platform.

It allows for multiple locations to be more easily managed, along with alerts for user updates, a streamlined verification process, and additional engagement features.

Google Business Profile attributes

Having these displayed on your profile will help give potential customers a better idea of what you offer. They range from accessibility and languages spoken, through to the type of crowd and what the business is popular for.

  • Business-generated attributes are selected from within a Google Business Profile, with some attributes only offered for specific primary categories.
  • User-generated attributes are taken from user reviews or via Google’s prompting, and cannot be influenced or altered by the business.

Google Business Profile categories

Set these so that your business will show up in relevant local search results:

  • You can select one primary category—choose the one that’s the most relevant (and specific) to your business as this will determine which profile features become available.
  • You can also add up to nine secondary/additional categories from a list of nearly 4,000—a look at your closest competitors’ chosen categories is a good starting place to narrow this list down.

Only add the categories that match your business, as adding unrelated ones can cause ‘category confusion‘ and lead to a drop in rankings.

Google Business Profile guidelines and suspensions

Google has a set of guidelines that all businesses must follow for their Google Business Profiles.

Failure to comply with these may result in either a soft (temporary) or hard (permanent) suspension from the platform, and may require the submission of a reinstatement request.

Google Business Profile insights

A Google Business Profile tool that provides data on business profile views, searches and actions from both organic search results and Google Ads.

It includes metrics on search queries, direction requests, phone calls, and what a business is best known for.

Google Business Profile location group

This is the equivalent of having a ‘business account’, where GBP information can be shared and managed by a group of users.

It allows for changes and updates to be made to multiple locations in one go.

Google Business Profile Manager

An individual business’s profile information can be updated either through the ‘Manager’ area of the Google Business Profile website (or app), or directly from Google Search or Maps results.

This latter approach is sometimes called the Direct Edit Experience, or New Merchant Xperience (NMX).

Google Business Profile messaging

A Google Business Profile tool that allows customers to get in touch with a business in real-time, from the Business Profile.

Google Business Profile Q&A

Q&A is a Google Business Profile tool that enables searchers to ask and answer questions about a business, and also gives the owner or representative the opportunity to respond.

Anyone with a Google account can leave questions for the business through this section, and all Q&As are visible on the listing.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to Google Business Profile Q&A.

Google Business Profile products

A Google Business Profile tool that allows businesses that don’t have the ability to integrate product feeds via Google Merchant Center to add product inventory manually.

Access to GMB Products is dependent on a business listing’s primary category.

Google Business Profile services

A Google Business Profile option for a business to add the services it offers, along with descriptions and prices.

When local customers search on Google for a service that a business offers, that service may be highlighted in their GMB profile as a justification.

Google Business Profile spam

The act of unfairly employing spammy tactics in local search results to get ahead of competitors.

Examples include keyword stuffing, having multiple Google Business Profile listings, lead generation websites, and falsified reviews to manipulate local search results.

Google Business Profile verification

Businesses who have registered with Google Business Profile won’t be able to make changes to a listing until they have been verified. This is usually via a physical postcard sent out to the business’s registered address.

This is to make sure that only authorized representatives of genuine businesses can create and manage listings.

Google Business Profile website builder

A free feature that creates a simple, one-page website for a business based on information from its GBP.

This option is available during GBP setup, or can be accessed later on from within your account. You can also choose between a free GBP web address, or pay for a custom domain.

The website will be mobile-responsive, and information and designs can be edited. However, it will be limited for SEO features and for things like social media share buttons.

Google Local Guides

People who “write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps”.

In return, these influencers earn points and rewards — such as badges, partner perks, and early access to new Google features.

Want to know more? Read more about becoming a Google Local Guide.

Google Places

The old name for the Google Business Profile suite of tools, which changed in 2014 when Google consolidated its Places services with Google+ Local.

Google Posts

A Google Business Profile tool which allows businesses to provide updates and promote offers from their Business Profiles, which show up in the local panel on Google search and on Google Maps.

Want to know more? Read our guide to Google Business Profile Posts.

I

Internal links

Any link from a page on your own website to another page on your own website.

You can use this ‘link architecture’ to guide people across your website. This includes funneling users towards particular calls to actions to meet business objectives.

This architecture also helps search engines understand the context of content on your site, as well as its overall structure.

J

Justifications

An extra snippet of text that Google displays in the local pack, local finder, and in Google Maps to signal to searchers that a feature of the business specifically matches their perceived intent.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to justifications in local SERPs.

L

Local backlinks

A link from another local website to your own website, which will boost your domain’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

Local SEOs can earn local backlinks from a variety of sources, this includes submitting to local business directories, newspapers, and blogs.

Want to know more? Find out how to get local backlinks.

Local business schema

Schema (or structured data) is a standardized format for providing information about a web page to help search engines display relevant results.

Local business schema includes business hours, department sections, reviews, reservation or ordering systems, payment areas, and other actions.

Want to know more? Find out why local business schema is so important.

Local finder

An extended listing of local businesses which appears when clicking on the ‘More Places’ link at the bottom of Google’s Local Pack.

Local landing page

A landing page is the page a user first visits when arriving on your website. In local SEO, a local landing page is one which offers details about a specific store location or branch, and which may be optimized for that specific location.

Local landing pages are particularly important for multi-location business websites, who may have a separate local landing page for every business location.

Local keywords

Any keywords that contain location-specific terms with the intent of generating results related to a geographic area.

A continuous cycle of local keyword ddeation and validation is needed for effective local SEO.

Want to learn more? Enroll on BrightLocal Academy’s free local keyword research course.

Local pack (also known as 3-pack, Local 3-pack / Google 3-pack / Google map pack)

Also known as the 3-pack, Local 3-pack, Google 3-pack or Google map pack, the local pack is a Google feature that displays a map and details of an area’s top three local businesses. For instance, if a user searched “restaurants near me”, it would display three restaurants near to the user’s current location.

Earning a rank in the local pack can drive a lot of local traffic and brand visibility to a business.

Local search intent

Any query in which a search engine assumes the user is looking for a local result.

Local search ranking factors

The components that contribute to the rankings of a local business.

These can change over time but tend to focus on Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business), on-site SEO, reviews and links.

Want to know more? Find out what the latest local search ranking factors are.

Local SEO

Local search engine optimization is similar to SEO in that it is also a process affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results.

Local SEO differs in that it focuses on optimizing for display by search engines when users enter local searches for its products or service, for example by including the name of a town/city, or by adding the phrase “near me”.

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Local SEO.

Local SEO audit

An assessment of existing and potential search engine optimization activities, with the goal of improving search visibility for a geo-specific target audience.

This will typically (but not exhaustively) include an analysis of internal and external backlinks, on-page SEO, Google Business Profile signals, citation and review profiles, and social engagement.

Multi-location businesses, or enterprise businesses with larger websites, will face different challenges when it comes to auditing their local SEO.

Local Services Ads

Pay-per-lead ads that appear at the top of local search results, above organic results and traditional Google Ads.

To run Local Service Ads, businesses must first pass a screening process that involves background checks, license checks, and insurance checks.

Want to know more? Find out more about Google Local Services Ads.

Localized organic search results

Search results returned for a specific location, dependent on local search intent, the physical location of the user, etc.

Ludocid / Ludo CID

The Ludocid, sometimes referred to as the ‘CID’, is a unique ID that Google assigns to a specific business location in order to identify it within its systems.

It can be used within Google search URLs to return the Knowledge Panel for that specific business. It can also be used within Google Maps to view a specific business.

Want to know more? Find out your business’s Ludocid with our handy free tool.

N

Name spam

Name spam refers specifically to any manipulation of the business name in Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business), such as keyword stuffing.

NAP

Local search engines use Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) information to judge the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. They do this by crawling the web to assess authenticity, or receive it from other data providers.

Consistent NAP information helps to improve search engine rankings and is beneficial to local customer acquisition.

P

Place IDs

Place IDs uniquely identify a place in the Google Places database and on Google Maps.

They are available for most locations and businesses, and it is possible for the same place or location to have multiple different place IDs. Place IDs may change over time.

Want to know more? Find out your business’s current Place ID with our handy free tool.

Place Topics

A feature in Google Maps that looks at data from customer reviews, and highlights relevant information to a searcher.

Note that topics will only be created once there is a sufficient amount of customer reviews for the business.

Pointy from Google

A Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) add-on that helps brick-and-mortar retailers list products online
and appear in search engine results.

Want to know more? Find out how Pointy from Google can drive sales.

Prominence

One of the three pillars of local search, along with relevance and proximity. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For prominence, the algorithm is asking, “Which businesses are the most popular and the most well regarded in their local market area?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

Proximity

One of the three pillars of local search, along with relevance and prominence. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For proximity, the algorithm is asking, “Is the business close enough to the searcher to be considered to be a good answer for this query?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

R

Relevance

One of the three pillars of local search, along with prominence and proximity. These pillars drive Google’s local algorithm and help determine the local pack and rankings.

For relevance, what the algorithm is asking is, “Does this business do or sell or have the attributes that the searcher is looking for?”

Want to know more? Find out how the Google local algorithm works.

Reserve with Google

A Google Maps service that allows for reservations and bookings of restaurants, tickets and appointments.

Review attributes

A Google reviews feature, where consumers are prompted to leave a ‘critical’ or a ‘positive’ quality rating, and offered pre-set buttons (such as “Good value” / “Not responsive”) to click.

Review attributes will show for almost all service based businesses, but the specific prompts will vary depending on the business’s primary category.

Reviews

A customer’s text summary of their experience at a particular business.

Reviews can be left on search engines, apps or websites, and are often simultaneously assigned star ratings. Google-based reviews are believed to impact Google’s local rankings.

Review gating

The act of soliciting feedback from a customer, and then deciding whether to ask them for a Google review based on their response.

This is strictly against Google’s review guidelines and can come with heavy penalties.

Want to know more? Learn all about the risks of review gating.

Review management

The practice of generating, and responding to, customer reviews, either manually or with the help of software.

Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Online Review Management.

Review spam / fake review

A fake customer text summary about a particular business.

This can include fictitious positive or negative statements made about a business for the purpose of helping or harming its reputation or rankings.

Want to know more? Check out these statistics that show why fake reviews are a real problem.

Reputation management

The strategy of determining and working towards how a business wishes to be perceived by its audiences.

This includes—but is not limited to—online reviews, PR, and overall brand messaging.

Want to know more? Find out more with our Review Management for Local Businesses article.

S

Service area

Typically used to describe specific neighborhoods, towns, or cities served by the service-area business model, which includes businesses like plumbers, cleaners, or gardeners.

Service-area business

A term frequently used to describe go-to-client businesses that travel to customers’ locations to render services, such as plumbers, electricians, and carpet cleaners.

  • A ‘pure’ SAB visits or delivers to customers directly, but doesn’t serve customers at its own business address—for example plumbers, electricians, and carpet cleaners.
  • A ‘hybrid’ SAB either directly visits or delivers to customers, or serves customers at their business address.

If a business doesn’t have permanent on-site signage, it’s not eligible as a shopfront and should be listed as a service-area business.

Small-to-Medium-sized Business (SMB)

Small businesses are usually defined as having less than $50 million in annual revenue and/or fewer than 100 employees.

Medium businesses typically make more than $50 million, but less than $1 billion, in annual revenue, and/or have between 100 and 999 employees.

Spam fighting

Reporting businesses who are gaining an advantage by breaking Google’s policy guidelines. Common examples of this kind of spam are keyword stuffing in the GBP business name and creating multiple listings for a single business.

When creating your Google Business Profile, it’s important to use your legal, registered business name so that you can’t be accused of spamming.

Structured citation

Business listing information built into the structure of a pre-existing digital platform or database, usually a business directory.

T

Third-party reviews

User reviews that are collected by third-party websites, such as Google, Facebook and Tripadvisor, which are independent of the business.

U

Unclaimed listings

Where a listing for your business already exists on a business directory, but you do not have control over it.

Unstructured citation

A non-directory listing of a business’ complete or partial contact information, for example in an online news article, blog, best-of list, etc.

V

Verified reviews

These can only made after a customer has made an online purchase from a business.

Verified reviews offer a more reliable way for real customers to leave feedback on Google, and the option must be turned on from within the Merchant Centre area.

Y

Yelp

A publisher of crowd-sourced reviews about businesses, currently with 100 million reviews worldwide.

Are there any terms you’d add to this glossary? Let us know in the comments below!

Mark Crowe
About the author
Mark Crowe was Content SEO Executive at BrightLocal. With an interest in all things search, his past lives included work both in-house and agency-side for companies around the world, such as American Express, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Vodafone.

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