What is local SEO?

Charlie Clayton
February 21, 2023

On one level, it might seem obvious what “local SEO” is. “SEO” stands for “search engine optimisation”, which TechTarget has defined as “the science of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services”.

The broad idea behind SEO is simple: you tweak your brand’s online presence to help make it more visible to those searching for relevant terms in Google and other search engines, and this will help you attract more awareness, sales, and growth for your brand.

And as the term suggests, local SEO is the locally oriented version of SEO. It is about optimising your brand’s online presence in ways that increase its visibility to people whose searches have local intent.

After all, these are the people who are clearly indicating they are searching for local brands, products, services, or other locally relevant information. So, by getting its local SEO approach right, your hospitality business – whether a café, restaurant, bakery, or something else – can better appeal to and attract the local customers who are likely to be interested in what you do.


So, is ‘local SEO’ basically just SEO using local keywords? 


We mentioned above that local SEO focuses on targeting searches that have local intent. An obvious example of a keyword with local intent would be “coffee shops in Camberwell”. If you perform this search in Google, the Google algorithm – the process that determines the rankings of sites in response to user searches – would recognise that you are looking for coffee shops in Camberwell, so it would present you with them.

However, you will have probably noticed that if you use a search phrase that obviously signals local intent, but which doesn’t mention a specific place – such as “Indian restaurants near me” – Google will treat this in much the same way as the example above.

Or you could even drop the “near me” altogether, and just search Google for “Indian restaurants”. When you do, it will produce a list of local Indian restaurants for you.

This should tell you something about the sophistication of local SEO – and indeed, of SEO in general – in the 2020s. Google takes your location into account in circumstances where you would obviously be seeking out local services, as it is unlikely that if you are in Aberdeen, you will search for “Indian restaurants” trying to find the best Indian eateries in London or Manchester.


Introducing the Google Local Pack 


It is difficult to talk about local SEO for long in 2023, without referring to what is known as the “Google Map Pack”, or “Google Local Pack”.

This term refers to the prominent section that typically appears when you perform a Google search with local intent, like those cited above. If you use Google for local searches, you will probably know what we’re referencing; it shows a snapshot of a map, setting out a selection of businesses in your area. Associated information is also displayed for those businesses – their address, average customer rating out of five, opening times, and so on.

You can probably imagine that getting your hospitality business featured in this Local Pack for a locally relevant search could be very lucrative for you. The featured businesses are prominently displayed, even above the organic search results.

So if you run a bakery in Leeds, for instance, and your business appears in the Local Pack for “bakeries in Leeds”, you would be in a strong position to attract custom ahead of local competitors.


So, how can you improve your local SEO performance? 


With local queries accounting for nearly half of the two trillion searches made on Google each year, in many ways, local SEO is simply “SEO”.

Nonetheless, it is also important to appreciate that local SEO is its own phenomenon compared to traditional organic SEO, which might have only even detected local intent if local keywords were used. That will necessitate your brand taking locally focused steps to help increase its visibility to potential customers based nearby.

Does your business, for instance, have captivating and relevant locally oriented content to help hook in local searchers, such as a landing page for each location you serve? Is your company’s Google Business Profile up to date? Is your social media advertising well-targeted to local people?

These are just some of the moves that will help improve your restaurant, bakery, or takeaway’s local SEO showing. For a more detailed discussion of how Slerp could further help boost your business’s local impact, please don’t hesitate to enquire to our team.

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