To the uninitiated, local SEO strategy can be a heady subject — where do you even begin? Even as experts, there is always more to know and learn as Google continues to evolve, becoming more nuanced in the way it crawls and indexes pages with each passing year.
Take a deep breath. While there are many layers to local SEO, if we peel them away, we only really have two core objectives:
These objectives, of course, are not mutually exclusive — you can't accomplish one without the other. Therefore, our local SEO best practices for 2022 are focused on giving Google more ways to put you in front of customers, and on presenting the best version of yourself to those customers (through your Google Business Profile and website).
Despite continuous tweaks and refinements to the Google ranking formula, there are certain local search best practices that are constants regardless of algorithm changes.
One of the most elemental aspects to local SEO are local listings — consisting of Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website (NAPW). Every instance of this information appearing online is known as a citation, and citation building is almost unequivocally a good move when it comes to local SEO. We just have to be vigilant about how this information appears (i.e. the same everywhere) and where it appears (e.g. in reputable directories for businesses in your category).
As a local business, you want to be everywhere your customers are — but in order to do that, you have to let Google know where you are by including location cues (geotags) in:
If you maintain a blog, it's also a good idea to occasionally touch on topics of specifically local concern — or, failing that, somehow relate a more general topic back to your location.
Speaking of geotagging, if you can include location cues in your target keyword phrases, great — Google will reference these in response to location-based or "near me" search queries. Otherwise, keyword strategy is about striking the right balance between volume (searches per month) and difficulty score (the higher it is, the harder it is to rank for it). Just make sure it's natural language and not some sort of clear attempt to rank (that never works).
Depending on the size of your city and the number of competitors in your industry, you may want to be even more detailed about where you're located (down to the section of town or neighborhood) or the products and/or services you offer.
As we mentioned earlier, it's important to build citations and earn backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites — that's fundamental off-page SEO. But it's equally (if not more) important to prioritize internal linking, the backbone of on-page SEO.
Because internal links are the highway system search crawlers use to map and contextualize your website according to topic clusters and keyword phrases, you'll want to ensure there are as few roadblocks as possible that prevent them from getting around (this will be appreciated by the humans using your website as well).
A few local SEO best practices for internal linking:
More than half of all web traffic today comes from smartphones and tablets, so you cannot afford to have a website that does not render properly on these devices. Furthermore, about a third of mobile searches are location-based, as people are out and about seeking products and services "near me" or "open now" or in "[insert locale here]."
Furthermore, three out of four searchers who query something nearby will visit that local business within a day, and at least one of those three will make a purchase. Responsive design is an absolute must in 2022.
Existing in between off-page SEO and on-page SEO is the almighty Google Business Profile (GBP). We talk about it extensively here (it is our reason for being, after all!), but just in case you're unaware, it's essentially the front window of your business on Google SERPs. Beyond providing basic NAPW information and hours to customers, it provides ample means of marketing, communicating, and altogether humanizing your business to build trust and draw people in.
Two things to focus on in 2022 are getting more Google Reviews (for prominence) and getting as granular as you can about your business category. Google references and pulls from your GBP heavily for local search queries, so ensure your information is as comprehensive and accurate as possible.
By now, you should know how to do local SEO at a fundamental level. But as we mentioned earlier, there are always new layers being added as Google evolves. So here's how you can evolve your local SEO strategy further going forward.
Google has taken more liberties with title tags as of late, shamelessly altering them to its preferences (which are, of course, based on its idea of what search users like). After publishing a piece of new content, pay attention to what (if anything) is being done to your title tags.
At best, it can be instructive — perhaps they're too long, or the right keyword isn't emphasized, or it's not lean enough. Google's mission, after all, is faster and more satisfying deliverables. At worst, you'll have to change them again.
There are about 30 types of rich results Google has been known to display, fueled by schema markup (structured data). Being the source of any kind of rich result is desirable — they appear toward the top of search results, and they stand out visually from the rest. However, the majority of them are not applicable to every business or every scenario.
FAQ schema, however, almost universally is. Many searches begin in the form of a question, and having FAQs on your website (or in the Q&A section of your GBP) has the potential to boost your local search presence tremendously. Furthermore, you can link or deep link (i.e. to specific passages) to helpful related pages within your FAQ answers, multiplying the inroads into your website even further.
For FAQ inspiration, refer to Google Search Console for insights into where page traffic is coming from and what concerns are leading people there. From there, craft at least two (this is the number that displays under each URL in a rich result) that best satisfy these burning questions.
Akin to what you might find on social media, Google Discover is a customized content feed on the front page of the Google mobile app informed by that user's search behavior. Article topics tend to be broader and include snappy, enticing titles (ideally no more than 110 characters), and are accompanied by pictures 1200 pixels wide.
It's not your traditional local SEO (as you're not targeting with local keywords), but something to keep an eye on in the future.
With the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has come the ability to view new engagement metrics ("GA4 Explorations") to help you understand your users and how they interact with your website from more and more unique angles than ever before. Especially in a competitive sector or market, harnessing these insights could give you a powerful edge in local SEO.
We know — there's a lot to think about. But if you're going to start anywhere, start with your Google Business Profile — any local business can claim and verify a GBP listing for free, and a website is not a prerequisite. Furthermore, it's the first place Google looks when serving local search results. ASAPmaps applies proven strategies to optimize your GBP listing for an increased chance of appearing in Google Maps and Search.