SEO is always changing, with updates and innovation constantly shifting. One of the biggest innovations in recent years is local SEO. Innovations in geotagging and location services have pushed popular search engines towards local content. Now more than ever, searches end with the phrase like “near me” or “around me,” so brands have to learn how to create localized content. As Google and other search engines transition from an engine to a portal, and as voice search changes the game even more, marketers have to stay updated on the latest trends in SEO.
Why Local SEO?
More than ever, users are embracing local search. Whether they’re looking for a nearby coffee shop or home insurance rates, people care more about actionable, local results. That’s why search engines are moving towards local and voice search. Users aren’t just researching topics, they want to know where to go out to dinner tonight.
Local search behaviors
There are a few key differences between broad search and local search behaviors. For instance, searching for a term like “logo design” will yield a host of informational pages, guides, and resources. Searchers may dive in, take their time on each page, and learn about the broad field of Logo Design.
The phrase “logo designer near me,” however, will provide a list of local agencies that offer logo design services.
Note: The location services on your phone, computer or browser must be turned on for this search query to work properly.
As you can see in the below example there is a map with location pins, reviews, and contact information for each business. Users may not even click on a link, except to compare services and prices. This behavior may seem intuitive to observers, but to the search engine, it can be tough to parse.
Some of the most well-known ranking factors include time spent on the page and click-through rate. But for local search, search consoles understand that these behaviors will change. In order to optimize your website for these new behaviors, it’s vital to understand how to build local content around your keywords.Every local business aspires to grow. Every global business ahould go local. - Olga Andrienko Click To Tweet
Local search currently makes up nearly half of all searches, while voice search makes up about 20%. However, in the next couple of years, voice search will take over, making up the most searches.
Consider that most voice searches are local, and you can see why it’s important to optimize your content for local queries.
Note: In the Infographic below we have highlighted some statistics about voice search, this should help you further when creating localized content for your users.
Voice search is a new technology, but as it becomes more prevalent, it will change consumer behaviors. Currently, nearly three-quarters of smart speakers use their devices for local search, and up to a quarter of those searches lead to a purchase. Smart speakers and mobile voice assistants will help drive more users to local business, rather than using broad searches.
- Nearly half of the searches are local
- Most searches will be voice-operated in the next few years
- Over 20% of voice searches lead to a purchase
- Most smart speaker owners connect with local businesses via voice search
One of the biggest changes coming from local search is casually known as “Position 0.” This usually refers to the featured snippet that Google shows above all links that may answer the searcher’s query. On some searches, the answer can come up even before the user finishes typing their search.
Below are a few examples of Position 0. To learn how to optimize for Position 0 read the following guides:
Optimizing for Position 0 will also optimize for voice search, making it critical for SEO going forward. Getting to the featured snippet for a local search term will drive foot traffic and increase sales through both local and voice search.
Local Content Vs. Broad Content
Creating content is the cornerstone of any organic strategy. However, making content for a broad search query is completely different from creating localized content. Understanding how to build engaging content around local keywords will not only help with rankings. It’ll drive conversions by providing them value.
Local content is more engaging
No matter what the subject is, users are more interested in content that’s pertinent to them. Local content is one of the most effective ways to be relevant to a user, giving them truly actionable information.
For example, if a prospective hiker from San Francisco is looking up trails, they’ll be much more engaged by information about Mt. Tam, Point Reyes, or Half Moon Bay. This is true even without a “near me” or “San Francisco” in the search query.
Content is still king!
The days of keyword stuffing are long gone. Once you’ve added the location keyword to your content a couple of times, it no longer helps your ranking. From here, you want to focus on creating high quality, engaging content.
In broad searches, the preference is to have thoughtful, detailed information that attracts searchers to stay on the page, click-through, and convert. Local content, however, is generally more concise. You’re getting searchers who are further down the conversion funnel and are looking for detailed, actionable information.
A user searching “Car rentals near LAX” is not just curious about rental rates. They’ve already committed to rent a car near LAX. Providing in-depth information about the process of renting a car will turn this searcher away. Instead, provide concise information on how to get to the dealership, rates, and inventory. Content should add value to the user experience.
Apart from creating content that benefits the user, it’s still important to optimize your content for the search engine. Aside from including a location in the content, add in local landmarks. Apart from LAX, include relevant terms like “Los Angeles,” “Disney Land,” or “Hollywood.” Incorporate these keywords organically into your content.
- Create compelling, authentic content
- Generate value for your visitors
- Follow the fundamentals of broad SEO
- Be clear and concise
- Stuff your content with keywords
- Omit nearby landmarks
- Create fluffy, bloated content
How to Build Localized Content Around Local Keywords
Once you understand what drives local customers to click through the content, you can start to build effective local content around the right keywords. The rules of content creation and keyword research change quite a bit for local and voice search, but the fundamentals of SEO still stand strong.
Know your audience
When you’re putting a broad search term into a search engine, you get broad results. The content has to cater to a wide variety of users, ranging in interest, experience level, and goals. Searching for “coffee” will yield a wide range of results, and the top ranking pages are often extensive guides on brewing, roasting and purchasing coffee.
To rank for “coffee Glendale,” however, you need to know exactly what your audience is looking for. To get results from local SEO, your content has to answer a specific question. In this case, that question is “Where’s a good coffee shop in Glendale?”
Create value for visitors
Beyond understanding your audience, you need to create value for them. The answer to the previous coffee question shouldn’t just be “My coffee shop,” but should explain prices, products, location, and anything else the visitor is looking for. Creating value through being clear and explicit has a number of positive effects on SEO.
First, it addresses your visitor’s immediate concern, which should always be the top priority. Second, it helps your business rank on Google. If the keyphrase is “coffee Glendale,” than listing each type of coffee, nearby landmarks, your street address, and the fact that you’re a staple of Glendale’s coffee community tell Google exactly why you should rank.
- Organically infuse your content with relevant keywords
- Address your visitor’s concern immediately
- Cut out the fluff
- Try to pitch your business to local searchers
- Take too long to get to the point
- Forget to anticipate who your site’s visitors are
Don’t forget competitor research
Competitor research is one of the most powerful parts of any SEO campaign, especially with local search. You can find what your competitors are adding to their content to rank, or what they’re forgetting. Perhaps they’re listing prices, but not describing them with keywords like “affordable,” “imported,” or “luxury.”
The Importance of Voice Search
Aside from attracting the local market, creating local content incorporates more of the steps of optimizing for voice. Voice powered search is going to have a huge impact on the digital marketing space, so optimizing for it now will help brace a business for the shift.
The next step
Voice search used to be a novelty, but it’s quickly taking up market share. It’s often more convenient than typing out a question, and most users just want a quick answer. The advantage of voice search is that it provides a single, definitive result, or a handful of top results.
This coincides with Google’s shift to answering queries with snippets, rather than providing links. The number of smart speakers and voice assistants is projected to continue increasing. It’s because of this increase that we’ll be seeing such rapid growth of voice search.
Optimizing for voice-powered and local search go hand-in-hand because of the stiff increase in competition. Users will only see 1 to 5 results, a stark contrast from the 10 links per page on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
Rather than compete for the single top spot for broad keywords, it makes more sense to rank for local search. Having local content on your website will help rank for more precise keyphrases. If someone asks Siri for “Armenian food open late near me”, the top spot will have content that tells the search engines and users all of that information.
Examples of Great Local Content
Understanding local content is valuable, but seeing it in action is indispensable. Below we’ll discuss some of the top examples of locally optimized content. Each of these websites takes a different approach to rank for local search in Los Angeles.
The ridesharing giant excels in creating local content for every city in which they operate. Their LA page only features the phrase “Los Angeles” twice, but includes all of the major regional airports. These are significant landmarks, and help increase the page’s rankability.
Most importantly, the page provides all information about exploring the metropolis using their service. From emissions standards to accessibility, any visitor questions are addressed through this web page.
- Avoids stuffing the website with locations
- Includes major landmarks via the airports
- Provides a detailed overview of services
UpCity is a B2B directory for businesses to find local specialists in their field. Their main directory has dozens of local advertising agencies, IT service providers, accountants, and more. Click here to see their Top Accountants in Yew York page as an example.
Not only does the page frequently feature local keywords like “NYC” “Manhattan,” “New York,” and more, but includes keywords like “Accountanting” and “Tax Services.”
The search engines will have no problem understanding what the page is about and the users will get all of the information they need.
- Frequent use of local keywords
- Plenty of other relevant keywords
- Helps customers connect with the right agencies
The last example we’re looking at is Visit California’s website. Their page about traveling to Los Angeles is a model of local content. The opening paragraph is littered with local landmarks like Beverly Hills, Universal Studios, and Hollywood. The rest of the page is sparse, suggesting and linking out to unique experiences.
It also includes the map and weather information, which is very helpful to a user looking to visit LA.
This page not only provides plenty of solutions to travelers but is highly efficient with word real-estate. Nearly every word has both local SEO value and user value, making this page one of the top results for the highly competitive keyphrase “travel to Los Angeles.”
- Effective use of landmarks and suggestions
- Authentic, expert-level content
- Concise and to the point
The Future of SEO
As consumer behaviors shift and search engines adapt, digital marketers will have to learn new techniques. Recent innovations in location services, voice recognition, and ranking factors have created a new field of SEO. Because of these changes, local search and local content require a unique approach. But by being sincere and authentic, addressing user concerns, and incorporating an array of local keywords, businesses can cut through the noise and connect with local customers.