Local SEO: A Simple (but Complete) Guide

Local SEO: A Simple (but Complete) Guide Mars664

Local SEO: A Simple (but Complete) Guide

Do you want to rank your local business on Google, Bing, Google Maps and other local search engines? You are in the right place.

46% of all Google searches are local.

However, 56% of local retailers have not even claimed their Google My Business listing.

For those of you who don't know, claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is the cornerstone of local SEO. If 56% of businesses haven't even claimed their GMB listing, well, I doubt they've done anything else...

But while claiming your Google My Business listing is a good starting point, there's a LOT more to local SEO than just that.

This very comprehensive 6-part guide covers the topic...from start to finish.


Let's get started!


What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to the process of 'optimizing' your online presence to attract more relevant local search business. These searches take place on Google and other search engines.

That last point is important: it's not just about Google.

People search for local businesses using various search engines… Google, Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, Google Maps etc.

However, Google has an estimated market share of ~87% (at least in the US). Which means most people use Google to search for local businesses.

For that reason, this guide will focus approximately 80% on optimizing your local presence on Google.

So let's talk about Google...

Google Local 'Snack Pack' VS. Organic Results

Writing blog posts is hard… I need a coffee.

These are the search results for “coffee shop near me”…

Please note that there are two different sets of search results:

  • The result of the “snack pack”
  • “So-so” organic results

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the old Google search results.

But what the hell are “snack pack” results?

Google Snack Pack is a framed area that appears on the first page of results when performing a local online search through the Google search engine. The snack pack box shows the top 3 listings of local businesses most relevant to the search query. (Fountain)

Según un study, 33% of clicks go to local “snack pack” results, and 40% go to regular organic results.

Tip: It's worth ranking for both, which is where local SEO comes in.



Don't forget that Google local searches are performed from different devices and applications.

Here's the same search for “coffee shop near me” on mobile, in the Google Maps app, and in Google Assistant…

I'll show you the secret to optimization for all three apps (and any other Google app) in one go later in the guide.


Before starting …

First thing's first…

You must know the right basics.

That means making sure your website is optimized for mobile visitors, as 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-optimized site.

Use the testing tool to Google mobile devices to verify this.

You should also make sure your website doesn't look like total garbage.


No matter where you rank, no one is going to get in touch when you have an ugly website.

Lastly, I recommend writing down your current and past business name(s), address(es), phone number(s), and website(s) in a spreadsheet.

This will be useful later.

Let us begin!


Chapter 1. Keyword Research

Let's say you run a local coffee shop: its name is Déjà Brew.

Clearly, you'll want to appear for searches like:

“Coffee shop near me”;

“Déjà Brew”;

“What time does Déjà Brew close?;

“How long does it take to walk to Déjà Brew?”;

“Déjà Brew phone number”;

But these are not traditional queries, because Google displays this information in the form of cards in the SERPs.

Here is an example from a pub near me:


NOTE: Bing does the same.

Google obtains this information from Google My Business listings.

(More on this in the next section).

But what about the more “traditional” keywords? How do you find out what they are and what you should optimize your site for?

Here are some tactics:


1.1. Brainstorm your SELs (“Service in One Location”)

Local keyword research is not a science.

For most businesses, the top keywords to target will be fairly obvious.

Let's say you're a plumber in Sheffield – how do you think people will search for your services?

They'll probably go to Google and type something like:

“Plumber in Sheffield”;

“Emergency Plumber Sheffield”;

“Clogged drain cleaning in Sheffield”

Did you see the format? It is service at a location or place (SEL).

Doing this is easy. Simply make a list of all the services you offer and the locations you serve…then combine them to create a pool of potential keywords.


Be sure to list plurals and variations of your services.

For example, “plumber in Sheffield” → “plumbers in Sheffield” → “plumbing in Sheffield”, etc.

Here there is one cool tool to help you with that.

Simply enter your services and locations, then click “Generate Keywords.” You will get a list like this:

If you're an Ahrefs user, you can copy and paste this into Keyword Explorer to see search volumes (and other metrics) for each keyword.


Are you doing local SEO for a small town based business? There may not be enough actual searches for us to see accurate search volumes.

So here's a quick trick...

Change your location modifier (e.g. “Sheffield”) to a larger, closer city (e.g. London).

You should see search volumes for this location.

Then do the following calculation:

(Population of target town / Population of nearby city) * Search volume of nearby city

FYI, you can usually find population data by simply searching on Google.

Let's see if we can reverse engineer an approximate search volume for “coffee shop sheffield” from our knowledge that “coffee shop london” has approximately 900 monthly searches.

(518,090/8,136,000) * 900 = 57

Not far away, the true search volume is 90.

NOTE. This will only give you an estimate. But if you use the same nearby city in your calculations for any keyword, you'll be able to get an idea of ​​relative search volumes, which is what really matters.


1.2. Search Craigslist for Keyword Ideas

Craigslist can be a gold mine when it comes to finding local keyword ideas. Simply go to the services section, select your location and enter a keyword.

Let's look up “plumber” in New York.

Right away, a bunch of keywords stand out:

“Reliable plumbing services”;

“Affordable plumbing services”;

“Drain cleaning”;

“Experienced plumber”


1.3. Google Autocomplete Option

Then, use Google Autocomplete to generate more search suggestions.

This is easy. Simply enter your main keyword into Google and take note of the suggested searches.

Let's do it for “sheffield coffee shop”.

Here are some interesting suggestions: I didn't think about “city center” and “train station” during my initial brainstorming of locations.

Take note of any that seem relevant.

You can then repeat this process for other placements or keyword variations you have.

If you're an Ahrefs user, you can skip this entire process by using the Search Suggestions report in Keyword Explorer. Contains clipped suggestions from Google AutoComplete for the terms you enter.

This saves a lot of time as you don't have to do it manually with Google.


1.4. See the keywords your competitors are ranking for

Google is very good at understanding search intent, which is probably why the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top 10 for nearly 1,000 relevant keywords (according to a ahrefs study).

For example, when I look at the organic keywords report in Site Explorer for a local Sheffield plumbers website, I can see that they are in the top 10 for a group of related terms.

By looking at these keywords from your competitors, you'll discover other relevant long-tail and related searches.

But this is just one competitor. So here's another trick...

Use the Ahrefs Content Gap tool to see common keywords for multiple competitors at once.

Simply paste a group of competitors, leave the “at least one target must be in the top 10” box checked, and hit “Show Keywords.” You should see something like this:

All right!


Do this for similar businesses in other larger areas (for example, a big city) to discover keywords that may also be relevant in your area, which your local competitors may have overlooked.

For example, when I ran a content gap analysis for some London-based plumbers, I spotted keywords like “drain blockages London” and “drain unblocking London”.


Chapter 2. Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps Listings

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is arguably the most important part of local SEO, although Bing Places and Apple Maps listings are also important.

Setting them up isn't too difficult; just follow the instructions offered by Google / Bing / Apple.

But with GMB (Google My Business) in particular, there are a few things that tend to bother business owners.

That's why I've included a full tutorial below.


2.1.Google My Business

Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence on Google, including Search and Maps.

According to Moz, GMB is one of the top local ranking factors for both “Snack Pack” and organic results.

To configure it, go here, then follow these steps.


Step 1. Enter your business name

Google will first ask you for your business name.

You have two options here:

  1. Create a new business
  2. Claim an existing business

Start typing, and Google will search for your business in its system.

You'll see if they have it. Press the option to “create a business with this name” if not.



DO NOT try to use keywords here. Enter your business name and business name ONLY.

For example, if you own a coffee shop in New York called Déjà Brew, enter Déjà Brew as your business name. DO NOT enter something like Déjà Brew New York Coffee Shop, this is against Google My Business guidelines.

Step 2. Enter your address

Next, Google will ask you for your address.

If you are claiming a business that Google already has in their system, this will be pre-populated. Otherwise, you will need to enter your address.

If you have a brick and mortar business with a store listing, this is easy, just enter your store address.

But you may be confused about what to enter here, if:

  • You work from home.
  • You have one or more business partners, and both work from home (multiple addresses)
  • Your company is mobile (for example, Food Truck).
  • You have one or more offices.
  • You have a virtual office, but you don't have an actual physical location.
  • You serve customers at a physical location and remotely (e.g. takeout).

This is my advice:

  • If you have an actual physical office, use that address.
  • If you (and one or more business partners) work from home, write down the address of the person closest to the main area your business serves.
  • If you only have a virtual office, DO NOT use this address, unless this office is “staffed during business hours.” Doing so is against GMB guidelines. Use your home address instead.

Remember that consistency is key here, so I suggest you copy and paste the information from the spreadsheet you created above to ensure it is correct and consistent with the information on your website (and any other business listings you may have).

How to claim an existing list? Check the information Google has against the information in your spreadsheet. Update if necessary.

You will also see a checkbox labeled “I deliver goods and services to my customers.”

Checking this will indicate that you are a “service area business” in the eyes of Google.

Basically, you should check this box if you, in fact, deliver goods and services to your customers… even if you also serve customers in a physical location (for example, a restaurant with takeout).

If you do, you'll see another checkbox appear: “Hide my address (not a store).”

By checking this, while Google will know your business location (for verification purposes), it won't show your address to old Google employees. It will remain private and unlisted on your GMB page.

I recommend checking this box if you listed a home address.


Step 3. Enter your exact location

The next screen will show a map with a location pin.

You can drag and move this to locate your exact business location.

9 times out of 10, you can trust Google on this.

But if the pin looks like it's misplaced, feel free to move it.


Step 4. Choose a Category

Google only allows you to choose one category when setting up your Google My Business profile.

They have lots of tips on how to choose the right category hereí.

Here is an excerpt that will be enough for most people:

“Select categories that complete the statement: “This company IS one” instead of “This company HAS one.” The objective is to describe the company in a comprehensive way rather than listing all the services it offers, the products it sells or the facilities it has.

Think about what your business is, then start typing it in the category field.

Google will start suggesting categories as you type.

Press the one that seems most appropriate and press “Next”.


Not sure which category to choose?

Look at your competitors.

Let's say you have a metal polishing business in London. If you enter this in GMB, it will not return category results.

However, try searching “metal polishing [location]” on Google Maps. You will see which main category your competitors chose.

Step 5. Enter your phone number and website (optional)

This one is pretty simple: just enter your phone number and the website URL.

Here are some tips from Google.

Remember to be consistent. Use the data from your spreadsheet!


Step 6. Verify your listing

Before your GMB listing goes live, you will need to verify your listing.

This is usually done by phone or zip code; just follow Google's instructions to verify.


Step 7. Optimize your listing further

Congratulations, you are verified!

But don't stop there. You should optimize your GMB listing further by:

  • Add more categories;
  • Upload some photos (ideally ones that will be taken at your facility or at least nearby, as they will have location metadata attached);
  • List your opening hours;
  • List your individual services you offer;
  • Add any additional phone numbers;
  • Add relevant attributes/services;

This is one excellent guide to completely optimize your listing on Google My Business. I recommend taking a look.


2.2. Bing Places

Next: Bing Places.

This is essentially just Bing's Google My Business equivalent.

Is it as important as GMB? Not at all. Bing only has a 7.81% market share in the United States. Which means it's about 1/10th as important as completing your GMB profile.

But since it only takes a few minutes to set up your profile, it's still something you should do.

And as you'll see in a moment, there's a reason it's worth completing your GMB profile first.

To get started, go here and press “Start”.


STEP 0. Verify that you are not registered yet!

First, make sure your business isn't already listed on Bing Places.

(I can't stress the importance of doing this enough.)

To do this, go to Bing Maps and start typing your business name in the search bar. If you're already listed, you should see your business appear in live search results.

Let's try this for Paul's Meats, a stunning butcher shop near my old house.

It looks like it's already on the list.

If you find this to be the case for your business, view the full list, then hit the “Is this your business?” link. At the bottom of the list. (Yes, they couldn't have made this smaller!)

You will then be redirected to a page where you can claim/add your business - it will be partially completed.


Step 1. Select the type of business

Next, select your business type and location.

These are your options for the type of business:

  • Small, medium business.
  • Chain business.
  • Online business.
  • I manage business lists on behalf of my client

For the purpose of this guide, I will assume that you are a small business.

If you have a chain business, press option n. Tip #2: Bing will guide you through what you need to do.

NOTE: Online businesses (option #3) are not eligible for Bing Places listings, so you'll be out of luck if you fall into that group. But then again, why are you reading this guide if you don't have a local business?

So let's go to option #1.

Now something magical will happen: there will be an option to import data from Google My Business.

If you are already verified on GMB, do this. Not only is it a time saver, but it will also reduce the likelihood of errors.

Otherwise, enter your business name and location (I recommend entering a zip code) as normal.

Bing will search for your business. But as we already checked in step #0, it shouldn't find it. Therefore, press the “Create new business” button.

Step 2. Enter your basic information

Now you will have to enter the name, address, website, etc. of your company.

NOT:. If you imported your data through Google My Business, this should already be done.

As with your Google My Business listing, you should copy and paste data from your spreadsheet to make sure it stays consistent with other listings.

There is also the option to hide your address from search results.


You must check this box if you work from home or use a virtual office.

Step 3. Choose a business segment and category

First things first, if you are a “health professional or doctor”, check the special box, that is what you have done for the “business segment” part.

Otherwise, press the “navigate” button and select one of the 11 available business segments. Select “I don't know” if you are unsure.

Next, choose the category/categories your business falls into.

Bing's list is not as extensive as Google's. But unlike Google, you can choose multiple categories (up to 10) here and then select a “main” category later in the process.

I recommend pressing “navigate” to open a modal window, and then searching for a suitable business category there. Display categories and subcategories in a more logical way.

Don't go crazy here. Just because you can select 10 doesn't mean you should only choose the ones that are truly appropriate for your business. This is usually one or two categories, in my experience.

You can then select a main category from the categories you selected.

Finally, add a brief description of your business – sprinkle your keywords throughout, but don't go overboard.


Step 4. Add phone, website, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor links

Paste your phone number from your spreadsheet, again this will ensure things stay consistent.

Bing also shows social profile links in its Knowledge Graph dashboard (or whatever Bing calls it) when people search for your business.

Here is an example for Starbucks:

So if you have them, add them.

If not, you can always add them at a later date.


Step 5. Add photos

Here are Bing's guidelines for photos.

You can add up to 10.


3.3. Apple Maps

Apple's iPhone has a 32.9% market share in the US, that's ⅓ of all smartphone users, or tens of millions of people.

Now, if you're like me, you probably use Google Maps instead of Apple Maps.

But there are two important things to keep in mind:

Millions of iOS users still use Apple Maps as it is the default maps app on iPhone. Apple is pretty secretive, so I couldn't find updated statistics on the number of iOS users using Apple Maps. But, since it's the default maps app on iPhone, I'd be willing to bet it's the majority of iOS users, which is millions of people.

Apple Maps is integrated into Siri and Spotlight searches. Ask Siri for directions and Apple Maps will open. The same goes for Spotlight searches. The latest statistics show that Siri is actively used on more than 500 million devices. Many people!

Bottom line: If you're doing local SEO, you should claim and optimize your Apple Maps listing.

You can do that here. Then continue this guide to optimize your listing.


Chapter 3. Local Citations (NAP)

Citations are online mentions of your company, typically displaying your company's name, address, and phone number, known collectively as NAP (-name, address, phone) and in Spanish (name, address, telephone).

NOTE: Many SEOs refer to citations that do not show complete NAP information as partial citations. Some also talk about UNAP/NAPU (name, address, phone number, URL) and NAPW (name, address, phone number, website).

There are two main types of dating: structured and unstructured.

Here is an example of a structured quote:

Basically, structured citations are those in which NAP information is presented in a visually structured way. They usually reside in business directories, social profiles, etc.

Here is an unstructured quote:

Unstructured quotes are mentions of your business in an unstructured format (surprising, right?). These usually reside in blog posts, on newspaper websites, on business blogs, etc.

Why are NAP citations important?

Here are two reasons why accurate and consistent NAP citations are important:

1.- According to Moz, citation signals are one of the main local ranking factors. This is true for both Google “snack pack” results and regular organic search results. This is most likely because consistent NAP information on the Web serves to further verify the data Google has on file (GMB) for a particular company. Inconsistent NAP information, on the other hand, only serves to confuse, mislead, and mislead Google and potential customers. This leads to a poor user experience, not something Google is a fan of.

2.- Google is not the only place where people search for businesses. They also search through Facebook, directories, etc. Having an accurate NAP on those sites will allow potential customers to find your business, which translates to more customers and revenue.

So when it comes to local SEO, your job is twofold:

  1. Make sure existing citations are correct and consistent.
  2. Create more relevant quotes.

Let's explore how to do that.


3.1. Perform a citation audit

Most companies will have some existing appointments.

But more often than not, at least some of them will be incorrect and/or incomplete.

Some will have the correct business name and address, but the wrong phone number. Others will have the correct business name and phone number, but a previous address. And some may have partial information, for example, business name, address, but no phone number.

For example, Europcar Sheffield shows their phone number as +44 (0371) 3845930 on their website.

But their Yelp listing shows 0871 384 5930.

This is a perfect example of inconsistent NAP information on the web, and something that should be fixed.

NOTE: I should point out that both of these numbers actually work, but for NAP dating purposes, it's best to pick one number and stick with it. This will ensure consistency across all NAP structured citations, at least.

Here are some ways to find inconsistent, incomplete, and duplicate NAP citations:


Moz Local (check my listing)

Ve here and look for your business.

Moz will check the major data aggregators in your country and uncover incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate listings.

Here are a couple of inconsistent lists (here y here) they discover for Europcar Sheffield:

It looks like the phone number is the culprit here. Each shows version 0871 instead of the number 0371 listed on their official site.

To fix this, click, claim the listing (if you haven't already), and then refresh.


Check Big Aggregators/Providers

Most smaller directories get their business NAP information from data aggregators/providers.

Here are the big ones:

Checking your listings on these sites allows you to potentially update dozens or hundreds of inconsistent/inaccurate NAP citations in one go.


Use a paid service like BrightLocal to feed data to many of these data aggregators at once.


NAP Manual Citation Audit

Fixing any issues with major data aggregators will not remove all citations. You will likely still have some inconsistent, incorrect, or incomplete data.

The only way to clean this data is to perform a manual citation audit and cleanup.

The basic process for this is to Google such quotes with advanced search operators.

Here are some you can use:

To find incomplete NAP citations:

  • “Company name” + “partial address” – “correct phone number”
  • “Business name” + “correct phone number” – “partial address”
  • “Correct phone number” + “partial address” – “company name”

For example, I searched europcar sheffield + corporation street -0371 and found this:

After looking at some other listings on this site (example), I know that the phone number is usually shown below the address. Missing from this list.

To find incorrect NAP citations:


  • “Company name” + “partial address” + “old/incorrect phone number”
  • “Company name” + “correct phone number” + “old/incorrect partial address”
  • “Correct phone number” + “correct partial address” + “previous company name”

For example, I searched for europcar sheffield + corporation street + 0871 and found this:

I don't see this phone number on the Europcar website, so it's probably best to change it to the number 0371 (if possible).

Casey Meraz, Founder of Juris Digital, wrote an excellent post for Moz which goes much deeper into the manual citation audit process. I recommend that you check it.


3.2. Build more appointments

Now that you've found and fixed existing citations, it's time to build even more.

I recommend starting with some core structured quotes.

Here's a list of 50 to get you started.


NOTE: Not in the United States? See a list of the top dating sources in your country here.

You can then move on to geographically relevant quotes, such as:

  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Other local business associations and directories (e.g. local networking events)
  • Community centers

Additionally, there are relevant industry quotes, such as:

  • TripAdvisor (for restaurants, hotels, etc.)
  • com (for lawyers)
  • com (for doctors)
  • com (for plumbers, tradesmen, etc.)

Basically, just search for online posts related to your industry.

Here are some ways to find these:


Using Whitespark's citation search tool

Whitespark's local dating tool finds opportunities based on your location and key phrase.

Simply enter your location and a few keywords related to your business (for example, plumber). The tool will do the heavy lifting for you.

For this search, you found 110 potential dating opportunities.

It's just a case of creating listings on any relevant site. You can also easily outsource this task to a VA.

NOTE: Whitespark is a freemium tool. Most results will be deleted unless you are a paying member. But it's still possible to find decent opportunities, even with a free account.

Using the Anchors Report in Ahrefs Site Explorer

Go to Site Explorer > enter a competitor's domain > Anchors

Look for anchors like:

  • “Visit the website”
  • "Website"
  • "Visit website"
  • "Click here"
  • “See website”
  • [hidden URLs]

Generic anchors like these often come from directories.


Site Explorer > enter your website > Competing Domains

You will now see a list of similar sites competing with you in the SERPs.


Using the Backlinks report in Ahrefs Site Explorer

You can also use the Backlinks report and filter for nofollow links only, these are often directories as well.

Site Explorer > enter a competitor's domain > Backlinks > nofollow

Using the Ahrefs Link Intersection Tool

First, go to Google and search for [keyword] [location]. For example, “sheffield plumber”.

Copy and paste some of the top-ranking websites into the Ahrefs Link Intersect tool. Paste your site into the “But doesn't link to (optional)” field.

See who is linking to multiple websites with Ahrefs' Link Intersect Tool.

NOTE: Make sure these are real business websites, not directories.

Press “Show link opportunities”.

You will now see which sites are linked to one or more of your competitors.

In this case, ManchesterEveningNews.co.uk is linking to ¾ of the competitors I entered; this is clearly a directory.

Remember, we know that each of these sites is in the top 10 of our target keywords.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that any common referrals/links these sites have are helping them rank. And if that's the case, it's probably profitable to be listed on these sites as well.

Using Google search operators

Every SEO should have a master list of search operators to request link prospecting. A good search operator contains two things:

– Root operator (i.e. “suggest a site”);

– Search modifier/keyword (i.e. Miami)

For local link building, we want the modifier to contain local keywords. Be specific with this: Instead of just using your city (e.g. Miami), explore neighborhoods, counties, cities, etc.

Ryan Stewart, from the agency “From the Future”

Here is an example:

See section 2 of this guide for the most relevant search operators.


Chapter 4. On-page SEO

Many “traditional” on-page SEO practices apply here, such as:

  • Keyword in H1
  • Keyword in title tag
  • keyword in url
  • short urls
  • Tempting meta descriptions

But there are a few other things that need to be maintained when it comes to ranking locally, such as displaying NAP information and adding relevant schema markup.

There are also differences in approach depending on the number of locations you serve.

So let's cover both bases...


4.1. Configure your website structure to rank local landing pages

If you serve multiple areas/cities and want to rank in each of those locations, you need to set up local landing pages.

Here is the structure I would recommend:

  • tunegociolocal.com/area-1/
  • tunegociolocal.com/area-2/
  • tunegociolocal.com/area-3/

Do you want to see a business doing this extremely well? Take a look at Europcar.

They rank well for hundreds of location-based terms, such as “car rental [location]” and “car rental [location].”

Europcar's 1,349 top 10 rankings for keywords containing the phrases “car rental” and “car rental”, from Ahrefs Site Explorer.

Take note of the pages they are ranking.

  • europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/london (ratings for “car rental in London”)
  • europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/edinburgh (ratings for “car rental Edinburgh”)
  • europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/inverness (ratings for “inverness car rental”)
  • europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/belfast (ratings for “car rental Belfast”)

They are all location-specific landing pages.

So this is clearly the way to go if you want to rank in multiple locations.


Don't go crazy with location-specific landing pages unless you have an actual physical presence (office) in each of those locations.

For example, if you are a Sheffield based wedding photographer (meaning your GMB listing address is in Sheffield), don't create hundreds or thousands of local landing pages for every town/city/county under the sun.

Stick to making landing pages for a handful of relevant nearby locations that really make sense for your business. E.g.,

Don't make local landing pages for far-flung locations unless you have a specific reason for doing so (for example, you're based in Sheffield but genuinely specialize in weddings elsewhere nearby).

Also, DO NOT create multiple landing pages for the same location, but instead search for slightly different terms. This will not help you rank.

Do you want proof? Check out the footer links on this site: sierphotography.com:

Here are the pages they link to:





Let's see if they rank for your target terms, shall we?

It looks like the site ranks #2 for all of these terms.

But look at the page it ranks: it's the home page, not the landing pages.

Basically, Google has made the decision that it is the landing page that should be ranked here, rather than the individual landing pages. So, no harm done, right?

Not quite. The downside of this is that so-called “link equity” is unnecessarily spread across multiple pages. In plain language, this means the home page could be stronger and potentially taller.

Bottom line? This is bad practice and you should avoid doing it.


4.2. Optimize your home page

Most businesses should optimize their homepage around their primary location.

For example, a Sheffield based wedding photographer should optimize their homepage for terms like “Sheffield wedding photographer” etc.

I know what you may be thinking…

“[…] but I do weddings all over the UK / Europe / The world! I don't want to restrict myself to [location]”

Fair point. So, you should leave out the location references and just optimize for “wedding photographer,” right? After all, that has 45 times more monthly searches.

This is a bad idea. This is why…

“Google” “wedding photographer,” I guarantee most of the results will be location-specific.

To illustrate this, this is the same search (wedding photographer) from Sheffield, UK and New York, USA:

Do you see my point?

Despite not adding a location modifier to your search, Google still shows localized results. This is because they can infer your location from elements such as GPS (on your mobile), your IP, etc. You know where you are, so they just add the local modifier in the background.

Therefore, you can also optimize your homepage for your location.


Here are some suggestions:

  • Show NAP information (add this in the footer, unless you have local landing pages for other physical locations)
  • Embed a Google map showing your location (optional, but helps customers see/find where you are)
  • Show testimonials/reviews/etc.
  • Add relevant schema markup (more on this later!)



You are exempt from the rule of optimizing your home page around your primary location if you have hundreds or thousands of actual physical locations.

For example, take Europcar: they have over 3,300 physical locations around the world.

It wouldn't make sense to optimize your homepage around just one of them.

In this case, the home page should be optimized around relevant keywords (car rental, car rental) without location modifiers.


4.3. Optimize your local landing pages

Your local landing pages should be optimized for individual locations.

Let's say you're a Sheffield-based wedding photographer serving two other locations: Leeds and Manchester. You can have the following local landing pages:



To get some on-page optimization indicators, read this complete SEO guide.

Here are some additional inclusions specific to local landing pages:

  • opening hours;
  • Local NAP (if you have a real local presence);
  • Related keywords, distributed


4.4. Add Schema Markups to your pages

Schema Markup is really not that complicated.

It's just additional code that provides Google with additional information about your business/website and helps them better understand the data displayed on your website.

You don't have to be a TA to implement it either. Google Structured Markup Helper Google does most of the work for you.

Simply check the “local businesses” checkbox, paste one of your pages, and then hit “start tagging.”

Your page will load in a visual editor. Adding schema.org markup is as simple as right-clicking any element on the page and choosing the relevant markup elements from a list.

Let's start with the NAP information. So trade name…


Phone number…

You can also add marks for opening hours and a bunch of other things. If you want to add cell/mobile numbers, simply use phone dialing twice; This is perfectly fine.

Remember that all this data must match your Google My Business data as much as possible.

When you are done, press “create HTML” and select the JSON-LD format.

You will see a code snippet like this:


“@Context”: “http://schema.org”,
“@type”: “LocalBusiness”,
“name”: “Millhouses Plumbing & Heating Services”,
“image”: “https://www.millhousesplumbing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/millhouses-plumbing-and-heating-logo2.jpg”,
“phone”: [“07887 850588”, “0114 289 1817”],
"address": {
“@type”: “PostalAddress”,
“streetAddress”: “Dobcroft Road Millhouses”,
“addressLocality”: “Sheffield”,
“postalCode”: “S7 2LQ”

You can then test the code with the tool Google structured data test.

Simply paste it and it will highlight any errors.

Fix any errors, then paste the code into the header section of your website.


SchemaApp is another useful tool for implementing schema markup on your site.

It integrates with Google Tag Manager (and other existing platforms, like Shopify, Drupal, etc.), meaning you can add/edit tags without losing code.

If you have multiple physical locations (different addresses, phone numbers, etc.), you'll need to follow this full process for each local landing page.


Chapter 5. Link Building (for local sites)

According to the survey of Moz of 2017, the “link signals” They are the most important ranking factor for local organic results.

For the “Snack Pack” l

ocal, are the second most important factor.

You should have already created a basic set of links when creating local NAP citations. (Most directories and local listing sites allow you to link to your website.)

But unfortunately, many of these will be nofollow.

So here are some ways to build links to local business websites…


5.1. Create and promote a useful local resource

Nothing will help you gain more leads than helping them.

Let's say you are a plumber in Sheffield, UK.

Your target market is Sheffield folk. What kind of resource would be really useful to those people and likely to attract links?

Here are a couple of ideas:

1.- A guide to plant care (for Sheffield Folk) -Even here in the north of England the water is soft. But did you know that soft water is not great for plants? I didn't know this, but now I'm wondering if this is the reason why my basil plant always dies. Not entirely plumbing related, but I'm sure a plant care guide for Sheffielders would be both insightful and helpful.

2.- How to unblock a drain with vinegar and baking soda, this is a little silly. I found this video through Content Explorer, which talks about unblocking a drain using vinegar and baking soda. Given that Henderson's Relish is produced in Sheffield, and tastes exactly like vinegar, according to my palate, I wonder if this might have the same effect. If so, this could (maybe) be a great piece of linkbait.

I'm not saying those ideas are great (they're out of the ordinary), but I hope you get the idea.

If you're not feeling so creative, here are a couple more ideas that tend to work well:

  • “Best of” Local Guides – Create a list of the best restaurants, bars, breweries, attractions, things to do, etc. In the area.
  • Local Calendars – Create a local calendar with top events in numerous categories in the coming months.

Once created, it's just a matter of promoting it.

Facebook groups like this are a great place to start.

Just make sure you let the admins know first!


5.2. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is still a great way to build high-quality links.

Just don't do it solely for the links. Do it for the exposure you can generate for your business.

In 2018, it's more about quality than quantity: you should write for blogs that have the potential to send targeted referral traffic to your website.

For local businesses, this will generally be:

  • Local blogs and publications;
  • Industry Specific Blogs

Finding local blogs is as simple as searching Google for things like:

[location] title: “writing for us”;

[location] title: “write for me”;

[location] “write for us”;

[location] “guest post”

Here's what that might look like for a Miami-based company:

You can also do the same to find industry posts: simply replace the location with a keyword (for example, “plumbing” instead of “miami”).

Similar searches can also be performed in Ahrefs Content Explorer.

Recommended reading: An In-Depth Look at Today's Guest Blogs (Case Studies, Facts, and Tips)


5.3. Improve popular content (aka “Skyscraper Technique”)

Here is a page I found through Content Explorer on how to prevent frozen pipes.

It is 482 words long and has 116 referring domains.

Having taken a closer look at the backlinks in Site Explorer, there are some good links as well.

Here is a DR90 link from mass.gov – the official blog of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

It would be super easy to create a better frozen pipe prevention guide and steal links from this page.


5.4. Steal more links from your competitors with intersection links

The links of intersection They are useful for more than just creating citations.

You can also use them to find common links between your competitors.

Link intersection > enter competing domains > view common links

Best to do this with the highest ranking sites for your target terms (e.g. Sheffield plumber) as this should reveal links that move the needle.

Nine times out of 10, you will discover a lot of directory links.

This is not a bad thing – it is a good way to discover more NAP link and nofollow link opportunities.

But you'll also discover forum links, guest posts, and other types of unique links.

Case in point, this DR78, dofollow link from an NHS discount site:

Links like these are easily replicable.


5.5. MORE MORE Link Building Tactics!

It would be impossible to cover every link building technique in this article.

Here are some of the best blog link building resources and other resources:


Chapter 6. Reviews (and other ongoing activities)

Having a “set it and forget it” mentality is the worst thing you can do when it comes to SEO.

Local SEO is no different.

As such, there are some ongoing activities that you should be aware of.


6.1. Stay active on Google My Business

These are the three most important tasks underway with GMB:

Responds to customer/customer reviews;

Beware of incorrect edits;

Use Google Posts to keep your customers informed

Number 1 is pretty self-explanatory: simply track and respond to reviews (positive and negative) in a timely manner through Google My Business.

NOTE: You should do the same with any other review sites that are crucial to your business (e.g. TripAdvisor for restaurants).

But you should also keep an eye out for bad edits to your list.

Basically, anyone can suggest an edit on any Google listing with the “Suggest an Edit” button.

Google apparently implements a large number of suggested changes without notifying the business owner or validating the information. So it's worth doing a quick check once every two weeks to make sure everything is still accurate.

Now let's talk about Google Posts...

Google Posts is a microblogging platform within Google My Business. All updates are visible in the Knowledge Panel and in your listing.

Here is an example:

This not only increases your SERP real estate, but provides the opportunity to attract more attention and increase conversions.

Some studies (this y this) even show a correlation between “snack pack” rankings and Google message activity.

You can create a Google Post from Google My Business.

There are a few options to choose from, including:

  • Upload an image;
  • Write text (up to 300 words)

You can also choose the call to action button (“Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Get Offer”, etc.) to include in your post.

I recommend all local businesses to play with this feature and stay active with Google Posts. It doesn't take much time or effort to do so, so the ROI will probably be high.

6.2. Publish new content regularly

Blogging regularly does two things:

  1. It tells Google (and visitors) that your site is active;
  2. Attract links

But don't do it for the sake of it, prefer quality over quantity.

Just publish a new post every month or two and it will be enough for most small businesses.

I'm not going to delve into this point as there are many resources related to blogging. I've included some additional reading links below.


Final thoughts


I know it's a lot to take in, but seriously, follow the advice above and I guarantee you'll rank better than 99% of your competitors.

Remember that you also need to track conversions as best you can (call tracking, contact form conversion tracking, etc.). Otherwise, you'll have no idea if your local SEO efforts are actually translating into leads and, ultimately, more revenue for your business.

Did I miss something in this guide? Let me know in the comments.