Local SEO Guide

Learning SEO on a local level is a completely different animal than learning global SEO – and often when you do accidentally rank for global SEO, it’s a detriment to your business as you now have folks looking for you to provide a service that you legally may not be able to fulfill. Take for example a doctor or lawyer that is licensed to do business in only one state. Now these leads are a business distraction as opposed to a revenue generator.

Building succinct local SEO for a physical store front or service provider is much different than national and global search engine optimization strategies. Local SEO has specifically to do with geography, city names, zip codes, and geo-location. Let’s get into the specifics so you can start attracting prospects in your neighborhood that you can turn into customers.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a tool that Google has created specifically for local businesses trying to be found. There are two specific places that GMB supports, the Local Map Pack you find with listings next to the map and the Google Knowledge Panel you see when you Google your business and get a search result that is oversized on the right side of the search engine results page (SERP). Google My Business is free and provides great value to your SEO with standardized fields, hours, specialty, store front support, payment methods supported, reviews, contact methods and much more.

If you do not have a GMB account yet, you can claim your free page here: local.google.com

Local Map Pack

The local map pack is the place to be for local SEO. It’s the highly coveted spot  that shows at the top of the page under the paid ads and shows a preview of 4-6 local businesses.  In addition to featuring your local business, it also shows the number of reviews you have and the star rating at which you are reviewed.

Reviews are a highly valuable tool; not only does Google own them, so they prioritize businesses with better reviews in large volumes – but consumers also genuinely value these. It’s the new word of mouth marketing, which has been considered the number one trust factor prior to the proliferation of internet reviews. There are many review services out there – though none as valuable as the true-blue Google Reviews.

Additionally, you also receive a link to your website, driving directions, phone number, and years in business. Restaurants that use GMB can also add their menu and reservation links to GMB – it’s quite the comprehensive local tool available to you at no charge. Google reports that 50% of searchers typically show up in person to the local search result within 2 hours. This is pretty compelling outside of the local SEO value it’s providing behind the scenes.

Google Local Map Pack


Google Knowledge Panel

The Google Knowledge Panel is a mini encyclopedia for your business. It provides an expanded view of GMB providing an image gallery, a map, driving directions, phone number, website link, hours, reviews, about the company, questions and answers, social media pages associated with this business, areas served for service businesses, featured blogs, and an optional inquiry button.

There is a vast amount of information in the knowledge panel that not only supports your local SEO but also markets you with tools that are extremely easy to use and received well by prospects. The knowledge panel also enables you to send from desktop to phone so you may use it for driving directions in the car or  to call the merchant before heading over.

Google knowledge panel

Areas Served

It is very important when you are a local services company to have an areas served page. You want one for each city you service. This means creating a page for each city. You can cleverly create a single landing page with all cities served as a first step before taking on a whole county. This is a beginning step for showing your service area to Google and your prospects. Once you have this established you can create a page for each city.

Each city page should have the following elements:

Page Title: City Name [Service Offered] (e.g. Huntington Beach Lawyer)

H1: City Name [Service Offered]

Image: Upload an image with alt text that also has the city name and service provided.

Map embed: Be sure to embed a Google map with the city area shown – this is a signal to Google

H2: Ensure you use your area name with sub-services on your page. An example of this would be Huntington Beach Estate Planning (subset of lawyer).

Your page should have a minimum of 350 words on the page to signal to Google that you are providing ample information about your business on any given page.

Local Backlinks

Google looks at popularity just like high school kids. The more people that link to you – the more trustworthy, reliable, and popular you are. You can get backlinks in a variety of ways. from joining your chamber to publishing a press release. Advertising with the local paper online can also provide this backlink that you want to show your popularity. If you sell certain brands of products in your store or service offerings, you will want to ask your supplier to link to you as a “where to buy” link on their website.

You need to be careful to not have too many backlinks from the same domain as Google views this as spamming their spiders. The links should be authentic and not paid. Each link you have provides a different level of value based on the authority of the website the link comes from. Newspapers and media outlets will get high value as this indicates to Google that you are popular. Get published in Forbes and you get some super value for your local business. Make the local news? Be sure to ask that the story gets put online too, so you can earn your backlink!

These are the basics of local search engine marketing. When you’re ready to face the local Google gods, you will be in good hands with these tips and tricks.


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