What is local SEO?

Less known than natural referencing or paid referencing, local referencing is nevertheless just as essential. What is Local SEO? What are its fields of application? Which companies does it benefit? How to use it ? Also discover our 6 tips to optimize your local SEO!

screenshot google maps

What is local SEO?

SEO approach still little known to some companies, local referencing is a very interesting Google service, which does not follow the same rules as natural referencing.

A brief history of local SEO

In 2006, Google launched Google Maps, which is now part of every user's daily life. Mapping service capable of showing maps of the whole world and above all plans and routes for any city dweller or traveler, Google Maps has quite simply replaced GPS. But this Google service is also at the origin of another revolution: local referencing.

Next to each map, Google also offers to find restaurants, hotels or shops nearby. Rather practical when you don't know the city or the country! Allowing to search for nearby businesses such as shops, restaurants or any other queries, local referencing introduces professionals to individuals in immediate search of goods or services.

How does local SEO work?

google seo local kebab paris

Example of local search request

This is, strictly speaking, a geographical referencing, in the sense that the businesses presented to the user are presented according to their respective positions: Google only offers businesses located within a certain radius of proximity. The results of local referencing are geolocated and are only conditioned by their position in relation to the user.

When you search on Google, your location is taken into account so that the results are as relevant as possible. For example, if you are in Paris, when you search for cafes, those nearby are displayed.” Official Google Blog

Since 2006, local SEO has improved significantly and seen several optimizations. For example, it is now possible to search for an establishment even if it is not located nearby, by formulating a request of the type “commerce + city”, or “cobbler Châteaudun”, “restaurant Lyon”, “municipal swimming pool Rouen ”...

Also, local referencing works:

  1. for local searches, thanks to geolocation;
  2. for remote searches thanks to the location of establishments near the place indicated by the user.

A few figures on local referencing

  • 25% (or a quarter) of searches carried out on Google are searches of a local nature (eg: hotel Alençon);
  • 26% of local searches are done on smartphones;
  • 88% of local searches on smartphones create one of the following 2 events within 24 hours: physical visit or phone call;

Users search for local businesses up to 85% on the internet. (source)

Local referencing: a guarantee of visibility of primary importance

Local referencing allows a trader or a service provider to promote his company like no other tool. The advantage of local referencing is that it offers a brand to a visitor even though the visitor is looking for such an offer in the same geographical area. Google serves the user what they are looking for on a silver platter. This is a real boon for companies which are thus discovered by users at the very moment they are looking for them. Google ensures that the user finds the business in the right place at the right time.

The fact that the user discovers the company in the right circumstances (at the time and place where he needs it) allows the latter to ensure his transactional or commercial will. Indeed, a user who discovers via Google a confectionery at the time and place where he is looking for it has much more propensity to buy candy than a user who knows the store but has no immediate desire to get there. A user who performs a local search generally goes to the store or the service provider quickly, even almost immediately, in order to carry out a transaction there. In 2014, 50% of users conducting a local search went to a store during the day, it is much more today. (source) Also, local search is much more suitable for merchants than natural referencing.

How to set up your own local SEO?

There are several methods to set up your local SEO, but the basics are to create your Google My Business.

The Google My Business

The listing is essential for local SEO. This is the tool that allows Google to locate the company on a map and thus offer it to users. The Google My Business listing is to our generation what the telephone directory was to our grandparents. The Google My Business listing is a real showcase and it should not be undervalued: it is imperative to fill it in correctly and with as much data as possible.

référencement local octopulse

Example of a Google My Business listing

What information does the Google My Business listing include?

The Google My Business listing includes:

  • business name,
  • address,
  • phone number,
  • website,
  • business photos,
  • keywords indicating the different offers offered,
  • user reviews about of the company,
  • opening hours,
  • questions and answers from users about the company.

The Google My Business listing is necessary for local SEO optimization, but it is not always sufficient, especially if the business wants to expand its prospects and make itself known to remote users.

Natural referencing to optimize local referencing

It is also possible to use certain natural referencing to optimize local referencing. In order to position yourself on user queries, you have to seek to position yourself on the expressions that they will enter into the search engine. For example, for a luxury hotel in Strasbourg, the company can disperse content optimized for the query “Luxury hotel in Strasbourg” on its website. To achieve this, it will be necessary to optimize this expression in particular by proposing, for example, a dedicated page, or by dedicating a level 1 or level 2 title to it, in order to give it importance.

Off-site referencing to optimize its positioning on a given query

Off-site SEO, responsible for the authority of a website on Google, is also a good way to optimize its positioning on a given query. For example, a mechanic in Marseilles can see his website appear among the results of his query by obtaining a backlink, ie an external link leading to his other site, whose anchor is “mechanic in Marseille”.

6 tips and tricks to optimize your local SEO

1. Enrich your Google My Business listing as much as possible

Your Google My Business listing is like a shop window : prospects need to have as much information as possible. With the advent of the Internet, customers expect a company to communicate enough about its activity to inform them. For example, a customer looking for a company and realizing that it does not have a Google My Business listing will possibly become doubtful, since it is a good practice that we are now imbued with.

The Google My Business listing must contain your opening hours and be updated according to your annual holidays, otherwise you risk losing customers and/or creating disappointment in a customer who arrives and finds the door closed. One is not better than the other and these bad practices must be avoided at all costs.

2. Keep a close eye on your customer

avis google octopulse

Example Google reviews

The Google My Business listing allows customers to leave reviews about your store. These are valuable since they will allow other users to form an opinion before visiting your site. A user who sees no reviews is often not confident enough to make purchases, so reviews are an essential part of the Google My Business listing.

Comments also allow you to evaluate your offer and your services: they can allow you to identify any failure or detail that you may have missed and rectify it to please customers.

Finally, respond to comments. Respond preferably if they are positive to show users that you care about the image you convey, but respond especially if they are negative in order to defuse the concern and discomfort of customers. Always remain constructive and show that you are improving yourself.

3. Opt for the FAQ

The FAQ optimized on a query + city is one of the most effective ways to position yourself on the said query. It allows you to work on keywords in order to create repetition or redundancy and to inform users about your working methods and your habits. Integrated into a website, the FAQ is highly informative and offers a very significant optimization propensity.

4. Offer a mobile-friendly site

With more than a quarter of local searches conducted from a smartphone, it is important to ensure that your site is responsive, that is to say optimized for display on smartphones. The user who walks with his phone in his hand will not have the patience to zoom and move his cursor excessively to find the information he needs.

5. Fill in the Local Business structured data

Accessible to experienced users, this method makes it possible to indicate the structured data to the indexing robots and to find their way more easily on your site for even better referencing. There are LocalBusiness-type markups to promote your business as a local business, in order to assign it directly to search results. To do this, just follow the documentation offered by Google.

6. Make yourself present in local directories

The Yellow Pages, Yelp or Trip Advisor are local directories allowing visitors to find out more about your business. It is a guarantee of trust that multiplies the information given about you, in the eyes of Internet users, but also in the eyes of search engines. Free and easy to administer, local directories allow you to increase your visibility in exchange for a few minutes a day.