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How Does Local Search Work?

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By Garrett Spence   |    March 6, 2018   |    10:07 AM

Optimizing for Local Search

Local search marketing requires a refined SEO approach, designed to increase a business's visibility where it matters most. Here are the basics of geo-specific SEO, along with some strategies to help you connect with consumers who live near your company.

How Search Engines Determine Geolocation

Local search is based on a variety of methodologies, including geolocation, which is, in effect, the science of attempting to determine a user’s computer's geographic location. So, how does a search engine know that a web user is located in San Diego and not in Omaha? Local search works in some basic ways, with different services utilizing different combinations of methods.

Sometimes, search terms are enough to generate local results. For instance, if someone types in "dentist Dallas," the search engine will deliver results for dentists in Dallas instead of in Denver, Los Angeles or Bangladesh.

If someone limits his or her search to "local dentist," a search engine can often guess the person's location based on data from the website he or she is using. If someone conducts a search at Google France, that person is likely in France. If someone else conducts a search using Yahoo! UK, that person is probably in the United Kingdom. In some cases, partner sites can be even more specific, relating to a specific city or region. Search engines can also determine geolocation based on a computer's IP number, which - in the vast majority of cases - gives accurate insight into the web user's location.

Whatever the case, if a company wants its website to appear when someone makes a local search, they have to take a few steps to let the search engines know where they do business.

Optimizing for Local Searches

In effect, local SEO includes every aspect of traditional SEO, with the addition of geography. In other words, local business websites and blogs shouldn't simply focus on keywords relating to services, products and topics; they should also pay special focus to terms that are relevant to the cities and communities in which their businesses serve. Effective local search marketing also requires that you satisfy certain requirements from the world's largest search engine.

If you haven’t already, you should claim your Google My Business page. You will then need to ensure that your website meets key guidelines for representing a business on Google.

To ensure that Google and other search engines accurately associate your website with the correct geolocation, you will also need to include your complete NAP (name, address, phone number) throughout every page of your website. You should use the exact same details and format when mentioning your NAP on other websites. You will also want to use schema markup to provide Google with everything it needs to display your business information correctly.

Since local reviews have a big impact on local SEO, you will want to spend some time acquiring these at Yelp, local directories and, of course, at Google reviews. Local link building and citations can also go a long way toward pushing your website higher in local web searches. You can increase the likelihood of your content being cited on local websites by publishing informative content that is relevant to your local market.

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