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What is Local SEO? Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2021

30 mins read

The use of search engine optimization (SEO) to climb up the search engine rankings is a continuous process. Whenever you post content, you have to make it count. This is particularly true for local businesses that depend on people in a specific area for their sales. The concept of local SEO is aimed at increasing the visibility of your business to people in your area and region.

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In this guide, we will look at why local SEO should be a part of your PR strategy and ways to get more coverage. Let’s dive in!

Source: NinjaRMM

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a hyper-targeted way of increasing the visibility of a business within its geographical location. In a nutshell, it helps businesses reach out to clients who are in the same place and who want to support a local business. 

It can include everything from targeting local keywords to gathering customer reviews on Google. Local SEO is an essential tool for small businesses. It also helps them manage local engagement, helping them build a loyal consumer base in their area. Whether you are reopening your local business following the pandemic or just looking to build your reputation and attract more customers, local SEO is your best bet.

customers act quickly after their local search.
Source: Databox

It has been proven that local searches directly impact sales. That’s because people who search for a product or service near them are more likely to convert into a paying customer. 

In the next section, we will see why local SEO is also a critical factor in an effective public relations strategy for a small business.  

Why is local SEO important for your PR strategy?

Good SEO practices elevate your content online and can also help you boost your PR strategy. On the other hand, getting mentions in the right publications can also help you climb up the search results. Do you see how the two strategies make ideal partners? The right combination of PR and SEO can help you give your business a significant leg-up over your competitors.  

Let’s look at three reasons why local SEOs and PR strategy go together. 

1. Creates credible links

Link building is essential for any brand with an online presence. It is a significant factor in how Google ranks your page. The higher the number of high-quality sites that link to your page, the better you will fare in search results. 

Google rankings are critical for local businesses, as most people will not go beyond the first page of results in any given Google search. Since local searches are often followed up with a visit or a call, people don’t spend a lot of time scanning through the results. A study estimates that about 92% of users choose businesses from the first page of results. 

When it comes to building links from trusted sites, what better site than a respected publication? PR helps you get visibility on influential websites. You don’t necessarily need leading national dailies (though that wouldn’t hurt!). For a small business, an appearance on a popular regional site can help you get an SEO boost. Pro tip: use online competitive intelligence tools to find out where your competitors are being featured. 

Strong SEO will make it easier for relevant publications (and their readers) to find you, while a good PR strategy will ensure you get featured and build those all-important links. This is the symbiotic relationship between PR and SEO for local businesses. 

2. Elevates brand awareness

SEO and PR also help you build more brand awareness for your business, which is vital if you want to attract more customers. Featuring on a high-quality outlet can help your brand get mentions across social media platforms and news sites, and is a great way to promote your business across channels. 

This helps both search engines and people see you as a trusted brand. Some sites have dedicated sections to support small businesses, which can give your business a platform and expose a broader audience to your message. 

3. Builds trust

An essential aspect of local SEO is managing reviews of your business. That’s right – reviews directly impact your search performance. If managed well, your reviews on dedicated sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor (as well as Google, of course) can also help you build trust with your consumers. Since 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends, they really do matter. 

Once people find your business online, they want to know if they can trust you. A quick search of your reviews will help them decide. Reviews can really make or break the public’s perception of your brand, so take the time to manage them properly. 

New Trends of Local SEO

What to expect from search engines in 2021? Briefly trends with explanations to understand where to go in work.

What is Local SEO

Trend # 1. User-friendliness and Safety Come First

 In 2021, Google launches a new ranking algorithm — Page Experience Update. It will focus on evaluating sites based on how users interact with them. The principle is simple: the more convenient and safer a resource, the higher its position in the search ranking. After this update, Google will analyze the following metrics more thoroughly and rigorously: 

  1. Core Web Vitals — the main indicators of the site’s quality, which were supplemented and updated in May 2020. In the PageSpeed ​​Insights service, they are displayed in the upper block with a special mark in the form of a blue flag.
  2. LCP is the loading speed of the main visual content on the page. It should not exceed 2.5 seconds. 
  3. FID is the delay time between the first click on an interactive element on the page and the server’s response. It should be less than 100 milliseconds.
  4. CLS — Visual Content Stability. It is calculated based on the displacement of elements on the page without any user input. For example, the text is suddenly shifted, or a button is dropped. The maximum allowable value is 0.1.
  5. Adaptability for different types of devices and screen extensions. According to John Mueller (Google employee), in March 2021, the search engine was completely switched to mobile-first indexing. It means that websites without responsive design simply will not have a chance to reach the top of the search results. Check how your site is displayed on different devices, whether all elements are clearly visible and accessible. It can be done using the BlueTree.ai service.
  6. Secure HTTPS protocol. It is necessary to protect the personal data of users. If you still don’t use it, follow the step-by-step guide to configuring the HTTPS protocol. The absence of viruses, malicious files, and content can mislead users or threaten their safety. We wrote more about how to protect your site in the article “How to scan a site for viruses.” No pop-ups that block and make it difficult to access the main content on the site.

Something of this has already been met, something completely new and initially did not affect the ranking, but Google says that the integrated assessment of these 7 indicators will significantly affect the ranking in 2021.

By working on the metrics described above, you will not only be able to improve your site’s position in search engine results but also show concern for your potential customers. This means you can increase the conversion rate and your profit.

Trend # 2. Emphasis on Long-tail Keywords

They are precise and specific keywords that are 5-8 words long (and more). As a rule, they are less frequent, but in total, they can bring up to 70% of the traffic to the site. Various variations of “tailed” queries enable users to find the information they need faster, which means they save time. 

There are at least 3 more reasons for this: 

High conversion

A user who is looking for a specific product or service is already ready to order. And the chances that he will make a purchase are much higher. For comparison, when a person is looking for a “smartwatch,” he may be interested in: what it is, how to choose, which ones are, etc. And by driving in the request of a smartwatch, he has already decided on the model and is looking for a store where it can be purchased.  

You can get results easier and faster

Most of the site owners are engaged in promoting only high-frequency keywords, forgetting to optimize low-frequency ones. As a result, there is less competition for long-tail queries, and you can bring them to the TOP much faster and with less effort. 

Better Behavioral Factors

Long-tail queries drive targeted traffic. In addition to the increase in conversion, this affects the improvement of behavioral factors: lower bounce rate, greater viewing depth, longer visit. All this has a positive effect on the local SEO promotion of the site in general.

Use the long-tailed key phrases to optimize your resource in 2021. To get maximum traffic, try to create blog posts that target both short and long tail keywords. This will help you generate maximum traffic. For some ideas check out this SEO guide for law firms. The primary keyword is law firm SEO, but it also includes several long tail keywords

Trend # 3. Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness, or E-A-T 

It is a Google ranking algorithm that evaluates the quality and usefulness of content. First of all, it concerns resources that can affect a person’s health, safety, and financial well-being. These topics include purchases:

  1. Online stores and any other resources where online payment is provided; medicine: pharmacies, clinics, doctors, health blogs. 
  2. Finance: banks, insurance companies, accounting services.
  3. News: articles about international events, business, politics, new technologies.
  4. Jurisprudence and civil rights: lawyers, notaries, social services.
  5. All the resources that can somehow affect fate: fitness, nutrition, job search, career choice, car repair, etc. 

For the first time, they started talking about the E-A-T ranking factor back in 2015, but the search engine began to pay even more attention to it over time.

You have to increase the expertise, authority, and credibility of your content and the site as a whole in 2021: Publish materials that reveal the stated topic. Structure them – use lists, H1-H3 headings, images, videos, tables. Rewrite uninformative texts. Indicate the author of articles – a person who is responsible for the accuracy of the content. Create a separate author page, where to indicate: real name, photo, short professional biography, certificates, awards, and achievements in this area. Register the address of the offline office/store, contact information, links to social networks. Place a map of the road, information on the terms of delivery, and payment. Design a page “About the Company” or “Team” with photos of employees and brief information about them. Add copyright and date in the footer, which corresponds to the year of business creation and the current one. Post testimonials from real customers with their names, photos, or videos.

Trend # 4. Protecting Content from Theft

In 2021, it is not enough to publish unique content on your site; you also need to protect it from theft, track plagiarists, and punish them. To understand why it is viable, consider the possible consequences of stealing your texts and images: 

  1. Filters and sanctions from search engines. It often happens that stolen content is indexed before the original source. As a result, sanctions may be imposed on the site of the real author: positions will decrease, and pages will fly out of the index. 
  2. Loss of Traffic. If the content was copied by a resource with high traffic and good behavioral factors, it would likely rank even higher than the original. And most of the target audience will go to him. 
  3. Loss of rating positions. If articles are stolen massively, and many copies of them appear on the Internet, they lose their value for the search engines. Positions are sagging not only for plagiarists but also for the source site.
  4. Loss of reputation and audience loyalty. Users will not trust the resource on which, in their opinion, the stolen content is published. 

Nowadays, it is a common problem when businesses of the same niche steal articles and experts’ viewpoints. In social media, it is more likely they will utilize the pictures and photos of your work. Especially the beauty segment is quite vulnerable here. 

To avoid this, in 2021, be sure to add the following steps to your local SEO strategy: 

  1. Track stolen content. The most convenient way to perform a search is by batch checking a site for uniqueness in the Content Watch service. After completing the analysis, download the resulting list of plagiarists.
  2. Send DMCA Complaints to Google. Its search console has a dedicated copyright protection tool, the DMCA Dashboard. Create a new application, fill in all the required fields with the URL of the pages that copied your content. It is worth noting that Google will not be able to remove content on the site, but it will exclude it from search results. On average, this process takes up to 14 days.

Try all the options to get rid of the pages that contain the stolen content and protect your resources.

Trend # 5. Re-linking and Referencing of Queries as Anchors.

Re-linking is the connection of the internal pages of the site with each other using links. It is necessary: 

  1. ​​For users, as it makes it simpler to navigate the site and allows you to find the material they need quickly. In this case, the anchor, that is, the text of the link, serves to understand exactly where it will go after a click.
  2.  For the site owner, because it increases the conversion rate and even the size of the average check. A vivid example of the motivation of customers to buy more — the blocks “Similar products,” “Buy with this product,” “Bundled cheaper.” 
  3. For search engine robots, it distributes link weight and speeds up the indexing of the site. Simultaneously, the keywords used in the link anchor increase the relevance of the page and contribute to the growth of its positions in the search results.

Select meaningful, readable, and diverse keywords as anchors. As you can see, not only external but also internal links contribute to local SEO promotion, so be sure to use them in 2021.

Trend # 6. Use Variety of Traffic Sources 

Search engines encourage sites that naturally attract visitors from a variety of sources. This suggests that the resource is “live” — ​​we discuss it on the net, and it is interesting for different audiences. Therefore, the upward trend in the number of traffic sources will continue in 2021.

In addition to the benefits of SEO promotion, it has other advantages: 

  • attracting a large number of interested users; 
  • returning customers, and increasing sales; 
  • mitigation of risks: the loss of one of the traffic sources will not turn into a disaster for the business.

Do not stop your choice on two resources. Try to find as many as possible from trustworthy websites.

Trend # 7. External links should bring traffic 

High-quality external links are the ones the user clicks. They look natural, inspire trust in search engines and bring maximum SEO impact. You need to evaluate not just the traffic of the resource per month but also how many visitors on average fall on one page. It will allow you to understand how many people will be able to see the link to your site and, possibly, click on it. Use Google Analytics to make the analysis. 

With PRnews.io you can be sure that your content will become visible for many viewers. Our experts can write great SEO-optimized material to feature you in trustworthy publications. So you can increase the percentage of external links to your website.

How can you get more coverage?

SEO and PR should go hand-in-hand to ensure that it forms one coordinated effort to attract more customers and climb up the search results. Good content optimization can help you boost your public outreach by creating credible links and raising brand awareness and trust. 

So, how can you get more coverage for your brand? Many people are vying for a place in prominent publications, and it can be tough to attract attention to your brand. 

A few tips can help you target the right publications, create engaging content, approach the right people, and measure your results. Let’s take a look at how to do all this and more with the effective combination of local SEO and PR. 

1. Develop a target list of publications

Take a close look at the websites in your area that rank highly in searches. Local authority sites, newspapers, and relevant magazines will likely be your starting point. Look at niche magazines that specifically cater to your industry, too. Choosing the right publication is an essential step in your PR strategy. 

Use this list to create a database with the names of the editors, reporters, and other details such as specific ideas you can pitch to them, editorial guidelines, and social media handles. Once you have this, you’re ready to start reaching out via email and taking the conversation forward. 

2. Create great content that ranks for local keywords

Local SEO content is precise and must be highly targeted. You will have to combine what you know about the local market with your knowledge of your sector or niche. 

For example, take a look at this piece of content from a local coffee shop. Creating a local guide will grab people’s attention in the relevant area. Since the piece is also optimized for local keywords, it also gives the brand a big local SEO boost. 

If you haven’t already, starting a blog is a vital local SEO strategy that can also give your PR a boost. If you create compelling, relevant content that local people will love, you vastly increase the chances that a high-quality local publication will be interested in featuring your business. 

When you reach out to an editor or reporter with a query about getting your business featured in their outlet, send them a couple of your best pieces of content. If applicable, let them know that your content ranks highly for specific local keywords – that’s sure to impress! 

3. Get reviewed 

Another way to get coverage is to get reviewed by a publication or a media person. Review videos of businesses like hotels and restaurants are common, and many influencers make money on YouTube and Instagram by sharing this content with their subscribers. Then there are reviews in more traditional print and digital media. 

Reviews can be particularly useful if you are in the service industry as they give your business more credibility. These reviews are different from the standard feedback left by your customers and are more detailed and are published as standalone articles. For example, the New York Times has a separate section where it reviews restaurants.

Doing this helps you establish credibility and gives you a chance to feature in a story that isn’t just about selling your business. It enables you to cement your reputation as the best in the area.

Good local SEO practices make it far more likely that your business will get picked up for review. Publications and influencers want to work with businesses that have an active online presence. If your business appears on the first page of Google results for relevant local keywords, they’re more likely to conclude that their readers and fans will be interested in what you have to offer.

In addition, reviews will boost your search performance in the future by building valuable backlinks and relevant keywords about your business. 

4. Measure your success

Continuously measure the success of your campaigns. Are you showing up on a Google search? How many links do you have back to your site? What local search terms are you ranking for? When you Google your business name and read your reviews, is sentiment generally favorable? 

Ensure that you look at these metrics periodically to see what you can do better and what is working well. Just like marketing analytics can help you quantify your sales efforts, keeping Google Analytics handy enables you to understand your reach and the success of your combined local SEO and PR efforts. 

Another way to measure your success is to compare it with your competitors. Is there a common theme in their successful campaigns? Can you learn from them? It is always a good idea to keep track of the industry to set performance benchmarks for your efforts. 

Social media channels also give you an indication of your success through impressions, shares, and likes. These platforms also help you expand your reach and are among the most powerful tools for promotion. Keep track of your organic mentions and engage with your audience through the comment section. 

Conclusion: What is Local SEO

According to all described local SEO trends, we can conclude that search engines want to make the search results even more valuable, useful and safe for users. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for developing, promoting, and optimizing any content. There is also no standard instruction for internet marketing or web business. Of course, companies, agencies, and marketers provide specific services such as advertising, technical support, or auditing.

But if you want to understand the process of creating working content and local SEO management, as well as to make the position of the resource higher in the results of search engines on the worldwide web, then find out what tools and trends will be relevant in 2021.

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Matt Diggity

Matt Diggity is a search engine optimization expert and the founder and CEO of Diggity Marketing, The Search Initiative, Authority Builders, and LeadSpring LLC. He is also the host of the Chiang Mai SEO Conference.

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