2018 SEO Trends: Local SEO — What is it?

Now when we talk about local Search Engine Optimization, we’re referring to the process of making sure all the online elements of your business are optimized, so that your search result appears in front of an extremely relevant audience at a time when they’re displaying interest in your product or service.

In the case of local SEO, that relevant audience is someone that is currently, or will be, in the same vicinity as your business. When you visit a search engine, say Google, and enter a term, the goal of Google is to provide you with the best possible result. It’s why you continue to search on Google. If they keep delivering what you are hoping for in the first few results, you’ll continue to conduct your searches on their system. Google is motivated to deliver the best possible result. It’s how they make their money. So when you enter that search term, in an instant, Google has to make a determination.

· Is this something the user would want near them?

· Or is this something global?

Looking for cupcake recipes is very different than looking for cupcake bakeries. If I’m in Santa Barbara, a cupcake bakery in Texas is likely not what I’m looking for. However, a cupcake recipe can be on any blog, written by anyone regardless of location.

But How Does Google Differentiate?

In an extremely simplistic explanation, a bakery is clearly a category of a business that would be local, a recipe is not. How they know the difference between those words is a course in itself.

But that’s not what matters for you. What matters is that Google knows you’re a cupcake bakery and not an outlet for recipes, that’s local SEO. Together, we’re going to look at how to provide Google with the right information so that you not only show up when someone is looking for you, but that you’re provided with the tools to show up on top.

How Does Local SEO Work?

Before we get deeper into Local SEO, I want to take a minute to share a high-level overview of how Local SEO works. Understanding what’s going on behind the scenes will be valuable as you adapt the material you’re learning to your own specific business needs. When you enter a term into Google and hit submit, a lot happens simultaneously. Google’s going to check to see if it has any historical information on you, what searches you may have conducted previously, and any cookies that you’re dragging along. Beyond that, they’ll receive data on your physical location, which can come from your IP address, the public network you’re connected to, or even the true GPS data from a mobile device if you’re providing it.

Now that’s a fairly simple explanation, but it’s more than sufficient to get a picture of what’s going on behind the scenes. So now that Google has that information, they’re going to work to understand what it is you’ve searched for. There are a few types of local searches: Contextual, inferred, and intent.

Contextual is really easy for Google to understand. In this case, a user provides Google with a specific location, and that location is identical to where the user currently is. So if I’m somewhere in Los Angeles, and I conduct a search for the term “cupcake bakery Los Angeles,” Google has a very clear understanding of what I want. They have the complete context.

The next type of search is an inferred search. In this case, if I was in Los Angeles and I conducted a search for “cupcake bakery Las Vegas,” Google has to infer that I’m actually interested in local results from Las Vegas, despite the fact I’m currently in Los Angeles.

The last type of search is intent, and this is becoming one of the most popular types of searches. As Google gets better and better at understanding the intent of a search, people are less likely to include additional location context. In this type of search, I’m in Los Angeles, California, and the only thing I type into Google is “cupcake bakery.” In this case, I may even stretch Google by leaving out the term “bakery,” and instead only using the root key word “cupcakes.” Part of identifying the right Local SEO strategy is also identifying what type of search query your target audience is most likely to use.

There’s potentially a different approach to rising to the top in a contextual query versus an intent query. There’s a lot that goes on to make Local SEO work, but understanding the basics will give you the foundation you need to be successful with your implementation.

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