The 4 Pillars of Local SEO explained

With every business migrating online it feels like the amount of competition out there makes it impossible to rank at the top of Google search results. Focusing on a Local SEO strategy can help you beat your competitors to the top of these results and gain more relevant traffic to your business. If you’re intimidated by the general scope of SEO then focusing on Local SEO is the best way to build your expertise whilst achieving amazing results.

There are four key components that make up Local SEO that you need to fully understand to succeed. By the end of this article, you’ll have each pillar of Local SEO explained to help you achieve online marketing success.

What is Local SEO?

When people are looking for a business in any sector, more often than not they’re looking for something in their immediate area. Google has their own local search algorithm that takes proximity for general searches for business. For example, if you just search ‘places to eat’ on Google you’ll be met with a map of restaurants within a few miles of your location. We call this map and highlighted businesses the local pack which is where you want to show up if you’re implementing a successful Local SEO strategy.

Put simply, a Local SEO strategy is the optimisation of your overall online presence (website, social media, backlinks etc.) to target these local search queries. To better understand how to implement this strategy the four pillars of Local SEO. 

Four Pillars of Local SEO

1. Content

The content of your website is what’s going to sell your business and services to your local community. You need to ensure you’re targeting local interest through strong keyword research and great quality content.

Your content can range from on-site content but extend to off-site platforms such as social media. In general, your content will be broken down into three main categories:

  • Marketing – This is where you want to show off your expertise. Identify a problem that your target audience wants to solve and demonstrate how your services can solve it. Blog articles and case studies are the best kinds of content for this category.
  • Services – This category will have you outlining the services you provide, how you provide them and where you provide them. When talking about your location, you need to include keywords unique to your local area; this will bring you to the top of search results in your local area. The content best for this category is mainly the copy for your services landing page but can also extend to online sales videos.
  • Credibility – This content will be more marketed towards the peers in your business than your consumers. The main purpose of this category is to demonstrate your expertise and put yourself at the top of your chosen field. Specialist blogs on your website and guest posts on relevant sites are the best way to incorporate this category into your content marketing plan.

2. Technical SEO

This is what many first-timers see as the most intimidating pillar of Local SEO and even for SEO in general. This pillar is centred around what we call the crawl. In this process, search engines need to be able to explore your site in order for your website to be indexed on Google, Bing and Yahoo. If your website suffers from technical issues then your website could struggle to show up in the local pack or not get indexed in search results at all.

To get to work on fixing technical SEO issues on your website, you’ll want to use software like Google Search Console, Semrush, Screaming Frog or any preferred platform. These tools will crawl your website like search engines and pull a report of technical issues for you to start fixing. This makes it so much easier to start fixing your site up so it’s easy for your local community to visit and interact with.

If you still need some extra help with this pillar, here’s a few focus areas to consider when it comes to your Technical SEO:

  • Indexing – An easy way to check if your website is indexed is to simply type in your business name into Google. If you show up in those results then you’re in luck! If you have an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can select which pages you do and don’t want to show in the index with a quick press of a button.
  • Sitemaps – If you haven’t submitted a Sitemap for your website, you need to do so to improve indexing. A sitemap gives search engine crawlers an easy way to find the content on your site and index it a lot faster.
  • Page Speed – How fast your page loads is also a huge factor. If someone in the local area needs your services right away then they aren’t going to hang around for your website load. Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool can tell you exactly how fast your pages are loading and how to improve page speeds overall.
  • Mobile – It should come as no surprise that the majority of people browse the internet on their phones. So chances are most of your website traffic is from mobile devices. You need to make sure your entire website loads fast on mobile and that the visual design of your page is adaptable to the smaller screen.

3. On-Page SEO Optimisation

Every page on your website should be optimised for SEO to ensure your website has a chance to rank at the top of local searches. There are a number of things you can do to optimise your pages but here are the most important areas to focus on:

  • Keyword Research – All on-page content you create will need to be bolstered by excellent keyword research. You should keep a long-tail keyword strategy in mind as you build up your online presence. ‘Long-tail’ keywords are more niche and specific terms that relate to your brand whereas ‘head’ keywords are more general and harder to rank for.

It’s also vitally important to incorporate keywords unique to your local area to rank for any searches by potential local customers.     

  • Content Optimisation – You’ll want to pepper your content with relevant focus and secondary keywords so that Google includes your pages for the relevant search queries you want to rank for.
  • Meta Titles and Descriptions – This is what displays in search results when users see your page as a result in search engines. Your meta title needs to include your focus keyword, grab users’ attention and a variation of your chosen H1.

The meta description needs to give a general overview of what users will find on the page and also include your chosen focus keyword and any secondary ones that are relevant.

You need to keep the character limit in mind too because meta titles should be 55 characters while meta descriptions are limited to 155 characters.

  • User Experience – This concerns how well a user is able to navigate a page and use all of its functionalities correctly. There’s a long list of ways to improve user experience, some of them are small fixes and others are big changes.

Simple design changes to the colour of a button or your page background can go a long way. Whereas solving 404 errors can take more time as you implement redirects and consider your site structure.

4. Off-Page SEO Optimisation

You want to demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field but to do that you need a little help from your friends in the industry. You achieve this through a strong link-building strategy which is the core of off-page SEO optimisation. Put simply, this is when you build links to your website on other relevant websites.  

The best practice for link building is through creating citations on relevant listing websites as well as writing articles and guest blogs on similarly relevant websites within your field. It’s well worth researching local businesses in a similar field to you so you can collaborate; this is a great way to boost your local SEO across the board. There are many link building myths you need to avoid but stick to those best practices and you’ll be a leader in your industry before you know it.

Getting to the top of Local search results

While SEO can seem intimidating but getting to grips with these four pillars of Local SEO gives your online presence a major boost especially if you’re just starting to build. Even if you’ve been in the SEO game for a while, keeping on top of the best practices for local SEO will see you ranking at the top of your chosen search results.

If you need help getting started, it’s never a bad idea to consult an expert SEO agency to help.

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