Local SEO guide: Everything you need to know in 2024

Roughly half of all Google searches are local while searches for “open now near me” grew by 400% YOY following the pandemic. Local search is playing a bigger role in the consumer journey than ever but the landscape is changing. Google is still the biggest platform for local search but it isn’t the only player, especially with younger users. This guide covers all of the big changes and everything you need to know about local SEO in 2024.

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What is local SEO?

Local SEO connects you with potential customers as they search for businesses, services or products in the local area. It builds visibility for each specific business location across all of the platforms your audience uses to find local businesses.

For most companies, this starts with Google Search and Maps, optimising your website and Google Business Profile for maximum discoverability. However, a complete local SEO strategy also needs to build visibility across other platforms. This includes social media, directory listings websites and any important niche platforms – eg: food delivery apps, travel booking apps, etc.

What can local SEO achieve in 2024?

Local SEO starts with building search visibility for business locations, but a complete strategy can also achieve much bigger things:

  • Visibility: Get seen by potential customers as they find local businesses through online channels – search engines, maps apps, directory listings, social media, etc.
  • Local targeting: Reach customers in the local area who are looking for businesses like yours.
  • Store visits: Bring more customers to your doorstep by turning local search visibility into store visits.
  • Online conversions: Drive more local business through online conversions – purchases, reservations, bookings, appointments, etc.
  • Local engagement: Develop a stronger relationship with customers and local audiences with meaningful engagement.
  • Brand reputation: Build a positive reputation by engaging directly with local audiences, earning positive reviews and securing press coverage.
  • Coverage: Build a larger search presence in every target location with multi-location SEO – regionally, nationally or internationally.
  • Omnichannel: Drive businesses from online and offline channels with a fully integrated, omnichannel customer experience.
  • Business insights: Local SEO data can deliver top-level business insights – eg: top-performing branches, most profitable products per location, best places to open new branches, etc.

The “right” local SEO strategy for any business depends on a lot of factors: goals, business size, industry, locations – and so much more. If you’re struggling to develop a local SEO strategy that drives real growth for your business, contact our team here.

7 key elements of local SEO [1,000]

Now, let’s look at the seven key elements every local SEO strategy should incorporate in 2024.

1. Website optimisation

Your website serves three key purposes in your local SEO strategy:

  1. Visibility: Your website is the hub of your online presence and visibility in local search.
  2. Destination: Your website is the destination users click through to visit from any platform that doesn’t already support conversions (Google Maps, booking apps, etc.)
  3. Action: Your website should support every action and conversion that generates business – phone calls, directions, online purchases, reservations, bookings, etc.

Every website is different, but any local SEO strategy should optimise the following:

  • Local pages: Every business location needs a dedicated location page on your website.
  • NAP: Each location page should include your name, address and phone number (NAP) details for the relevant location.
  • Maps embed: Add a Google Maps embed to each location page.
  • Location finder page: Group your location pages under a location finder page.
  • Localised content: Create localised content for each business location.
  • Mobile-friendliness: Mobile is particularly important for local search so optimise experiences (including conversion actions) for smartphones.
  • Internal links: Build internal links to each location page with optimised anchor text.
  • Schema markup: Add LocalBusiness schema markup to your pages.
  • Conversions: Support and optimise all conversion actions on your website (purchases, online bookings, phone calls, direction requests, etc.).

Optimising a website for local search can involve a lot of work. However, if you do things properly from the beginning and set up the right analytics and auditing system, ongoing optimisation turns local SEO into a high-ROI operation.

2. Google Business Profile

Aside from your website, your Google Business Profile is the most important asset for most local SEO strategies. This houses and enhances all of the information Google needs to show your business for relevant local searches. It also includes all of the information customers need to decide which business to choose: location, open hours, customer reviews, etc.

Mos Diner Google Business Profile

An optimised Business Profile helps customers find you in local search and Google Maps. It also supports a growing list of actions and conversion goals, including website visits, phone calls, online bookings, etc.

Further reading:

3. Local pack & maps

The local pack shows nearby businesses on Google Search results pages. When a user clicks on these, they’re directed to Google Maps where they can browse, find and compare relevant businesses.

Google Maps plays a key role in the local search experience. Likewise, Bing Maps and Apple Maps play similar roles in their respective search experiences.

Google search best restaurants london

The maps experience is particularly actionable with users requesting directions, clicking through to websites, clicking to call businesses and completing a variety of other actions. So, aside from optimising your website and business profiles for visibility, you need to optimise these assets with the maps experience in mind, too.

4. Local keywords & content

Local keywords play different roles in the search experience. Broadly speaking, they fit into two key categories:

  • Explicit local keywords: Specify the search location in the query – eg: “restaurant london”.
  • Implicit local keywords: Imply local intent without specifying a location in the query – eg: “restaurant,” “restaurant near me,” etc.

You need to target both types of keywords, but make sure you also carefully analyse the intent of each query.

Local keywords can have remarkably high purchase intent – eg: the “open now near me” queries that grew 400% YOY following the pandemic.

When it comes to creating local content, you have to do more than insert some local keywords. You need to come up with legitimate reasons to create localised content, in the first place. The best way to do this is by being an active participant in the local community. This gives you all the material you need to create local content and it also acts as the basis of your link building strategy.

5. Local backlinks

Building links from reputable local sources is difficult. Not only do you have a smaller pool of potential sources to earn links from, but the average quality of referral domains is always lower, too.

First, you need to know where you can get quality local links from. Here are some key sources you should target:

  • Other local businesses
  • Local news publishers
  • Local councils and authorities
  • Universities and local educational facilities
  • Local charities and organisations
  • Tourism websites
  • Local directory listings
  • Local bloggers

The next big challenge is actually earning links from these reputable sources. Once again, being an active participant in the local community is the best approach.

Sponsor events, run them yourself, partner with local companies or raise funds for charity. Give local organisations every reason to write about your business and link to your location pages. Make yourself a newsworthy brand to earn local press coverage. Aside from earning links, this does wonders for brand awareness and your reputation in the local community.

6. Online citations

A local citation is any online reference to your business or a specific business location that includes basic contact info: business name, address and phone number (NAP).

Citations help search engines verify your business details and confirm each location is legitimate. To send the right signals, make sure the business info in every citation is 100% accurate and consistent, down to the same formatting (phone number codes, address spelling, etc.). This is especially important for your NAP details across online citations.

Further reading:

7. Customer reviews

According to insights from BrightLocal, 75% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews when searching for local businesses.

Immediacy plays a key role in the relatively high purchase intents of local searches. In many cases, searchers are looking to do business now or in the very near future. This means they’re often making decisions in very short time frames – sometimes, almost instantly.

Customer reviews help local searchers make decisions faster. They can select from businesses with a minimum average rating and browse customer reviews for more details.

The same BrightLocal research finds average ratings of 3.5 stars or higher result in the most conversions. So, don’t worry about perfect review scores. Concentrate on getting as many reviews as you can with helpful information future customers will use to choose your business.

Further reading:

How Vertical Leap can boost your local SEO

At Vertical Leap, we develop local SEO strategies that do more than simply build visibility. We create an online presence for every business location that wins more customers, increases revenue and drives real growth for the company.

We do this with a three-pronged approach:

  1. Brand awareness & discoverability: Make you visible and discoverable on the platforms your target audiences use to find businesses in their local area – search, social, maps, directory listings, mobile apps, etc.
  2. Visibility for every location: Build a local search presence for every business location to compete against your rivals with every key audience.
  3. Turn visibility into business: Optimise your local SEO strategy to convert searches, impressions and interactions into store visits, purchases, online orders and other actions that generate revenue.

The specifics of developing a local SEO strategy that achieves all of the above varies from one business to the next. For a more in-depth guide on this, check out this article: Create a local SEO strategy that turns visibility into business

Is your local SEO strategy hitting your targets for 2024?

If your local SEO strategy is falling short of expectations, our team can help you achieve your 2024 targets. Call us on 023 9283 0281 or send us your details to arrange a call-back.

Josh Wilkie profile picture
Josh Wilkie

Josh is an SEO specialist who joined Vertical Leap at the beginning of 2022. He studied journalism and was a reporter for a local newspaper before moving into digital marketing to combine his passion for the written word with his love for all things data-led. He believes content is king and that the key to success in this highly competitive landscape is to be uniquely useful. His main passion outside of work is skiing and he spent six winter seasons in the French Alps.

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