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Importance of Local SEO

Importance of Local SEO – 50% of people who do a local search on their phone go to the physical store within one day. That’s the same for 34% of people who search on a computer or tablet. But how does Google decide which business to show on the search results?

These results come up after local search engine optimisation (SEO) on behalf of the companies. Local SEO is mainly done through Google My Business, where you can add as much detail about your company as possible, all your offices/branches, contact details, key words. This all helps Google understand what your business does and who would want to see your listing. For example, if you owned a plumbing business in Manchester and someone in Plymouth searched for ‘plumbers near me’, you wouldn’t appear, but if someone in Manchester searched for ‘plumbers near me’, you could appear. It allows people to see businesses that would be relevant to them, instead of them scrolling through pages and pages until they find what they are looking for.

As with everything, unfortunately local SEO won’t benefit everyone. It would benefit those with a physical location, for example lawyers; doctors and medical practices; plumbers; restaurants etc. This is because it is based on physical locations, so Google can direct possible customers to these locations. Online businesses, such as e-commerce shops, don’t have physical locations, opening times, images of the premises etc, so Google would prioritise those with set locations in the search results.

If we take lawyers as an example of a sector who would benefit, they can add all the services they offer, where they have branches and any key words that are relevant to them. To be successful with local SEO you need to be consistent. When you first set up your Google My Business listing, you can enter keywords that are relevant to your business, but as your business grows, develops and possibly changes, your keywords would also change. You need to keep updating the information you provide Google, this makes sure you will be shown to the people who are most likely to need your business. Google also timestamps the information you enter, so the longer you leave between making changes and updates to your listing, the less likely you are to be ranked highly.

You also need to consider backlinks. Backlinks are links between different websites. The more backlinks you have will increase your domain name authority. However, be careful where those links are coming from. Some websites will list your website, but ultimately it’s doing the same for hundreds of other websites and will subsequently get banned. This is black hat SEO and your website is subsequently banned from search engines. Because search engines are the biggest source of traffic to websites, this would lower your chances of being discovered. The best ways of link building is through creating content and building relationships with other businesses and websites that you would like to be associated with.

Local SEO will also help to increase your chances of being picked up via voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. 20% of the global online population is already using voice search, and 58% of voice users employ it to run a local business search. By ensuring your website and descriptions on your business listings are written in natural language, i.e. a conversational format, not bullet points, you are more likely to picked up by Google, because your text will be in readable paragraphs, which would be easier for the voice assistant to say aloud to the user.

So what do you need to focus on first? We’d recommend claiming your Google My Business listing, or updating it if you already have access to it, ensure you have filled in as many keywords as possible and you have backlinks from trusted and reliable sources. Then focus on adapting your website so it is suitable for voice assistants to access and use.

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