How does local Google search work for search engine optimization

Local SEO: Tips & Tricks for Local Findability

Local search engine optimization plays an important role for regional companies with stationary shops and should therefore be considered in the general SEO strategy. But what exactly is local SEO and for whom is this measure particularly worthwhile? In this article you will get information about the background and basics of local optimization and learn how to optimize your own websites locally.

Table of Contents

What does local search mean?

The local search includes all Search queries that have a regional reference. These include, for example, search queries in which a user searches for a business, one restaurant or one Service close by is looking for and one concrete place names used in the search. This also includes search queries that do not contain a specific place addition, but often have a local reference.

Since Google and other organic search engines strive to provide each user with the most suitable search result for them, in this context highly personalized search results played out. To do this, the search engine relates user-related data with a, such as the Location of the user. The search results are adapted depending on where they are. The optimization for search queries with a local reference is called Local SEO.

But not only organic search engines like Google and Bing appear in the context of local search. Users pull too Map services for the local search. Hence not just that Optimizing your website Part of Local SEO, but also the Optimization for map services like Google Maps, Bing Maps or Apple Maps.

Why is local SEO important?

Search queries with a regional reference are now quite common. While in the past the business directory was used to research opening times or the like, nowadays the Smartphone that is always at hand even when you are out and about. As early as 2015, a study on local search behavior by Google came to the following results:

  • Nine out of ten consumers use search engines to search for Services, reviews and products in your area to search.
  • Just on the go Search queries with a local reference are widespread from.
  • Most consumers look for it in this context Business addresses, directions and opening times.
  • Users who search for services or products in their area on their smartphones tend to stand shortly before the actual purchase decision.

On the go, users are looking for products and services that they need and want to buy right now. Since Google takes the location of the user into account when displaying the search results, companies have the opportunity to precisely search for Addressing users who are nearby and want to use the products or services offered. Anyone who appears in the local search with the appropriate information at this moment has a great chance of finding it Turn users into customers.

Local searches in Google Search

Basically, you can roughly distinguish between three different types of local search queries:

  • Search queries with Location
  • Searches for usually a local reference to have
  • Targeted search query for Company location

Search queries with location information

The local reference is very clear when the user a place in his search query calls, for example with the search query "Autowerkstatt München". Here, Google can assign exactly what the user is looking for and display the corresponding search results, namely car repair shops in Munich.

Google search 10/23/2018

In the example you can see that not only the normal organic search results are displayed here, but also Google Local listings falls back. At this point it is already clear that simply focusing on your company's website is not enough when optimizing for local search. But more on that later.

Search queries that are usually local

However, there are also many search queries that do not contain a specific location, but one nonetheless local reference to have. A study by Google has shown that users now expect search results that are tailored to their location - even if their search query does not contain a specific location.

In this case, Google uses the Location of the user with a. The search engine receives information on the location via IP addresses, GPS, W-LAN and other functions.

For example, if a user in Cologne searches for “auto repair shop”, they automatically receive suggestions for auto repair shops in Cologne and the surrounding area.

Google search in Cologne, October 23, 2018

If, on the other hand, the user is in Munich and makes the same search query, car repair shops in Munich are preferred - even if they did not explicitly mention Munich in the search query.

Targeted search query for a company location

Often, however, the user already knows where he wants to go and is specifically looking for it Company name or that Company names with local reference.

Google search, 10/23/2018

You should consider all of these search queries in your local SEO strategy.

For whom does local SEO make sense?

Hairdressers, supermarkets, doctors, gas stations, restaurants, accountants, hotels, auto repair shops and many more: Basically, local search engine optimization is all about it makes sense for every entrepreneur who has a locationwhere he offers goods or services or receives customers or clients. Offer your company local services on and yours Target group is limited to a regional area, you should definitely take this into account when designing your website and optimize it for keywords and topics with a regional reference.

Above all companies that have their Products and services preferably offline can benefit from local search engine optimization and better findability in Google search attract new customers to their shops - regardless of whether the company consists of just one shop or has many individual branches throughout Germany.

Local search results

But not only the optimization of your website plays a role in local SEO. Let's take a look at that Search results for local searches, it is noticeable that the generic search hits in which you can appear with your website are only placed very low:

Google search, 10/23/2018

Be in the first place Local Google Ads faded in. You cannot influence these with search engine optimization alone, but have to run appropriate campaigns.

Follow below Google Maps / Google Local Listings. Matching companies are displayed here with their address, telephone number, opening times and ratings. Clicking on one of these results does not land you directly on the company's website. Instead, a larger map opens and you get more information about the company.

Google Local Listings, October 24, 2018

For example, you can find out when a store is visited particularly often and you can have reviews from other customers displayed. Here you also have the opportunity to click on further results and have them displayed directly on the map. To place your company here, you have to get one Create a Google My Business entry. Only then will the first organic results appear in which your website can appear.

Many users also search directly via Google Maps or another map service. Here, too, you can ensure that you are listed among the first hits through good optimization.

Google Maps search 10/26/2018

When you click on the search result, data on the company that comes from Google My Business is also displayed here.

Google Maps hit

Which local SEO ranking factors are there?

For your company more local visibility you should optimize the following areas:

  • Google My Business: This is Google's own business directory. It is responsible for displaying the Google Maps hits and Google Local Listings.
  • Optimizing your own website: Ensures that all relevant information is available on your website and optimizes it for search queries with a location reference. You should also use the appropriate markup for your company.
  • Citations: Entries in other online business directories and directories.

According to Google, they are most important factors for ranking in local search:

  • the relevance of the search result for the user
  • the distance the result from the user or the location in the search query
  • the Awareness of the company in general

Industry experts also name other local ranking factors:

  • a well cared for Google My Business profile
  • external links from other websites
  • Onpage Website optimization
  • Mention of the company on other websites and in directories
  • Positive Online reviews the company
  • User signals
  • Social signals

All of these points should be considered in your local SEO strategy.

Consistency of your company data (NAP)

Before you start with local optimization, I have to say that the Consistency of your company data also plays an important role on the various instances on the Internet. As mentioned above, a good local SEO strategy is made up of different components: the Google My Business entry, your website and entries in others Business directories. In addition, your company information may also appear in Social networks like Facebook, Xing or Twitter.

It is important that you have the same company data (NAP = Name, A.dress, Phone number):

  • Company name (Name of your company in combination with your service and / or your location)
  • address (pay attention to a uniform spelling here)
  • Phone number (always choose the same format here)

The best thing to do is to create an Excel spreadsheet in which you record this data and use it again and again when you enter your company data somewhere. This is particularly useful if you have multiple branches or locations.

Local onpage optimization on your website

Your own website you can optimize for local search queries relatively easily. The most important thing here is that you choose the right keywords and topics.

Keyword analysis & keyword strategy

With the help of a keyword analysis you can find out which Regional keywords searched frequently. There may be here regional differences in the designation of a service or a product. If you have several branches in different regions of a country, it makes sense to take this into account.

When choosing keywords, pay attention to both Locally named keywords (e.g. "Pizzeria Cologne") as well as more generic keywords that do not contain a place name, but often with a local reference can be used (e.g. "Pizzeria"). You should also check whether your service is also in Combination with districts or postcodes to be sought. The search volume tends to be lower here, but you also have to struggle with less competition and can address precisely those users who are searching in your neighborhood.

Google Suggest shows search terms that are locally related

Depending on how your company is structured, it not only makes sense to rank with your branch but also with it individual services. For example, if you run a cosmetic studio in Cologne, you should consider and check the following keywords:

  • Company type and synonyms without location reference: "Beauty Salon", "Cosmetic Studio", "Beauty Salon", "Cosmetic Salon"
  • With Location reference: "Beauty Salon Cologne", "Beauty Salon Cologne City Center", Cosmetic Studio Cologne "," Cosmetic Studio Cologne Deutz "
  • Applications: "Waxing Cologne", "Nail design Cologne", "Eyelash extension Cologne"

Using the keyword analysis, you can determine which type of landing pages you need.

Content optimization for local websites

After you've identified the keywords you want your website to rank for, you're ready to start Create or customize content. Fundamentally important content for local websites are:

  • Address of the business / branch / location
  • opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Information on the services, products and services offered

It is very important with regard to your NAP data (name, address and telephone number) that these are consistent and are given the same everywhere. If you only have one location, you can put this data in the footer. If you have several branches, you should avoid this as much as possible. Instead you lay a separate subpage for each location which in turn only contains the company data for this location. More on that later.

In the local search engine optimization of your content you proceed in the same way as with normal content optimization, only that you take the local reference into account. Make sure that your company name, your service and your location are mentioned in the following areas of the website:

  • Snippet (title and meta description)
  • Headings / especially important in the H1 heading
  • text
  • Image alt tags
  • URL (If this is not the case with the existing URLs, do not change this. But pay attention to this when you create new URLs.)

You can expand the Content on your local landing pageby bringing in the following topics:

  • Unique Descriptions of your services
  • Integration of Customer ratings (with the correct Schema.org markup, these appear in search results as a rich snippet)
  • Integration of a map, in which your company location is marked
  • Integration of Pictures of your location
  • Integration of Location videos
  • Directions by car, bike and public transport
  • description of Parking situation
  • Introduction of the branch manager and / or the team
  • Information on the regional environment in which Services and products Tobe offered

Think in advance exactly what your target group would like to know and also use the information from the keyword analysis.

Companies that are only active in a single region can also increase the local relevance of their website through additional regional content. For example, picks up regional topics through blog articles and writes about them.

Local landing pages for several branches

If you have a company with multiple branches or locations, you should a separate landing page for each location create. If there are several branches in a city, it is also advisable to create a higher-level landing page for the city, from which the individual branches are linked. This can also be reflected in the URL structure. For example, the following structure is possible:

https://www.domain.de/standorte/

https://www.domain.de/standorte/köln/

https://www.domain.de/standorte/köln/deutz/

https://www.domain.de/standorte/köln/lindenthal/

https://www.domain.de/standorte/köln/ehrenfeld/

Especially if you have several branches in a city, make sure that you are precise here Keyword demarcation posh and not all pages are optimized for the city. Always give that district with at. It may also make sense Post Code to include.

Structured data

The award is also important at this point structured data with Schema.org. With schema.org you can mark up data such as addresses, opening times etc. on your website so that search engines can recognize and interpret them better.

You can find specifications specifically for local companies on schema.org and on Google. There are already many guidelines for different companies that you can use.

In addition, Google itself also offers a markup tool that helps you to mark your data correctly.

Google's markup tool for structured data

You can then paste the generated code into the HTML code of your website. If you do not have this option, structured data can also be tagged using the Google Tag Manager if necessary.

Mobile optimization

A large proportion of local search queries are made while on the move using smartphones. Therefore your Website should also be optimized for mobile devices. Make sure that all elements can be operated are and your side too loads quickly on smartphones. Information such as opening times, address and directions should also be immediately visible on the smartphone.

Google provides you with a testing tool that you can use to set up your website Mobile friendliness can check.

Google's mobile friendly test

Google My Business

The Google My Business Account is another central point in your local SEO strategy. Google My Business is basically it Google's own online business directory. It ensures that your company is in Google Maps and the Google Local Listings is shown. These are currently displayed above the other organic search results and therefore receive even more attention than the regular organic results.

In addition, data like the Address, opening times, pictures and reviews pulled from Google My Business and displayed directly in the search results. You can usually find them when you search for a company to the right of the search hits.

Google My Business plays data in the search results

Registration with Google My Business is free. All you need is a Google account. Fill out your profile as completely as possible and always keep it up to date. Here too you can an entry for each individual branch invest. It is important that you use exactly the same company data (NAP) that you have given on your website and in other business directories. Important points that you should fill out:

  • Company name
  • Location
  • Phone number
  • address
  • category
  • opening hours
  • photos
  • Company description

The more complete your entry, the better Google can assess whether your company is relevant to a search query. You can find out how to optimize your entry in the article "Google My Business".

Bing Places for Business

Like Google, Bing has its own business directory. You can also create an entry for your company in this free of charge and thus have the opportunity to also enter the Bing search local listings and in Bing Maps to appear.

Local listings at Bing

Even if Bing is used significantly less than Google, Miscrosoft's search engine still has a global market share of just under 3%. In addition, it doesn't take long to create an entry. Pay attention to the uniformity of your company data, fill out your profile as completely as possible and keep the data up to date.

Apple Maps

To pick up Apple users too, you should get one for the sake of completeness Entry in Apple Maps invest. The effort for this is relatively low and you can also be found using the Siri search on iPhones.

Apple Maps

Local Citations: Directories and web catalogs

In order to increase the relevance of your company, you can convert this into more Online directories enter. But make sure that you relevant business directories chooses. For example, there are directories that are only of interest to certain industries. And there are catalogs that are only useful for certain regions, such as koeln.de. In addition, when researching, you will certainly come across directories that are of no relevance at all, as they are hardly visible and are actually not used at all.

So limit yourself to the business directories that are important for your company. The thematic context must be right in any case. When entering information about your company, make sure that you choose the same company name and that the address and telephone number are identical to the information on Google My Business and on your website. Basically, you have to create your own entries for each individual location again.

Now test in which directories your company is already registered and whether the company data is correct everywhere: Directory check

There are now a few paid toolswho do the job, yours Enter companies in relevant directories. These include, for example, uberall and yext. With these tools you can manage your entries centrally and also make sure that the NAP data is the same everywhere. These tools are particularly useful for companies that have to manage a large number of branches or locations.

Backlinks

As with any search engine optimization, local search Backlinks are an important ranking factor. Another possibility to improve the findability of your website in the local search are therefore links from other websites. In order to increase the local relevance of your website, you should above all click here regional links put.

Possible websites are, for example, IHKs, chambers of crafts, regional newspapers and magazines, dealers and suppliers as well as local institutions but also private blogs. The prerequisite for good links is that you Content on your page that are worth linking to. Basically pay attention to the Quality of the links. An unnatural-looking link profile can lead to your website being penalized. You can find out how to do this in the article "6 measures for a successful link building strategy".

Ratings and reviews

They are also important for increasing visibility in the local search positive reviews to your company.

  • Not only Users read reviews from other customers and decide on their basis which service provider or which offer they choose.
  • Also Google relies on your existing online reviewsto assess the relevance of your company.
  • In addition, Google shows the average rating in the form of Asterisks in search results if you have received at least six ratings.

It is not necessary to only receive positive reviews. One or the other average or negative rating make your company appear more authentic. A company with a consistently positive rating, on the other hand, quickly arouses the suspicion of having manipulated it. Much more important is that you react to negative and average reviews. However, you should be careful not to get too many negative reviews. A positive overall rating not only attracts attention, it also increases the likelihood that users will click on your company.

It is important at this point that regularly new reviews to be added. If the last rating was a few years ago, this can also be rated negatively. One way to get new reviews is to ask your customers to rate you. Start with your regular customers or indicate after a successful sale that you would be happy to receive a review.

It's best to tell your customers right away, on which platform they should evaluate you. There are a number of different rating portals on the Internet. As with the business directories, it is important that you take thematically appropriate portals into account. Google My Business, Yelp and Kennstdueinen.de are ideal for all kinds of industries. Tripadvisor is also particularly important for hotels and restaurants, or Jameda for doctors.

You can find out more about dealing with reviews in the article "Online reviews for local companies".

Conclusion

For companies that offer local services or have physical stores, local SEO is an important part of search engine optimization. Thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, it is possible to address users on the go and to draw their attention to the services and products they are currently looking for. Not only is the consideration of organic search engines an important part, but also the optimization of map services. If you can place your company in the local search in such a way that relevant content is displayed to users at the right moment, you have great chances of turning these users into customers.

For a good findability in the local search one on local search queries is important optimized website, a well-groomed one Google My Business Entry and entries in other relevant online business directories as well as predominantly positive reviews and reviews of your company.

More articles on local search:

 

cover photo© Rawpixel - Fotolia.com

Mareike Doll

Mareike heads the SEO team at lunapark. She originally comes from the humanities and studied German and Italian philology. She started out in online marketing as an online editor, and is now at home in the world of search engines. At lunapark, in addition to the SEO team, she is also responsible for editing the Fimern blog and is passionate about writing specialist articles. She also gives workshops and has also been a guest at one or the other SEO conference as a speaker.

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