How to Do Local SEO: Complete A-Z Tutorial
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How to Do Local SEO: Complete A-Z Tutorial


Fact: 46% of all Google searches are local, yet
56% of local retailers haven’ t even claimed their Google My Business listing. If you’ re not gaining visibility and customers
from local search, then you and I, we are gonna solve that problem right now with
a jam-packed local SEO tutorial. Stay tuned. [music] Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. So, I’ve got quite a complete tutorial for
you on how to do local SEO, so even if you’re just starting out, this video should simplify
the process for you quite nicely and help you gain visibility in local search. Let’s dive right in. So first, what is local SEO? It’s the process of optimizing your online
presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. For example, if I type in best Mexican restaurant
Toronto, you’ll see that the top of the search results are dominated by a box of local listings
on Google Maps, which is called the “Snack Pack”. And below that are your typical organic search
results. It’s super important that you can gain position
in the “Snack Pack” because they generate 33% of clicks on the search results page. But it’s equally important to rank in the
organic search results since they attract 40% of clicks. So bottom line? It pays to rank in both spots, which is where
local SEO comes in. Now, Google has an estimated 87% market share,
in the US, which means that most people are using Google to search for local businesses. So in this tutorial, we’ll be focusing on
local SEO in Google only. Now, let’s get on the same page and draw out
an example scenario. Let’s say that I’m opening up a new coffee
shop in downtown Toronto for cool, hard-working people like SEOs and entrepreneurs. We’ll be open 24/7 because our target audience
tends to work around the clock. And of course, there will be fiber internet
because there’s nothing more frustrating than slow public WiFi. To differentiate ourselves from other coffee
shops and build some nice recurring revenue, we’ll be offering virtual office services
for a set monthly fee, which includes bottomless coffee, your own private cubicle, and incoming
mail service. I’ve invested in this concept, I’ve dropped
a lot of coin, but no one knows about my business because they’re finding other coffee shops
like this in Google search. Alright, so we’re going to start with step
zero, and it’s something all local businesses need to do. And that’s to ensure your website is optimized
for mobile. According to Bright Local’s study, 61% of
mobile users are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile site. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
tool. Just enter in your domain or URL and shortly
after, Google will tell you whether your page is mobile friendly, or if it’s not. On to step one, and that’s to claim and optimize
your Google my business listing. This is arguably the most important part of
local SEO. And it’s actually quite easy to do. Just go to google.com/business, sign into
your Google account, and the first thing you’ll need to do is enter in your NAP, which stands
for name, address, and phone number. If you have a business with multiple locations
or you purchased a franchise, then you can start typing in the business name, and you’ll
see a list of businesses that are already registered in Google’s database. My coffee shop is called High Speed Coffee,
so that’s all I’ll write and click next. It’s important to note that your business
name is not meant for keyword stuffing. So I wouldn’t write something like “Coffee
Shop Downtown Toronto 24/7 – High Speed Coffee”. It’s not going to help you rank, so don’t
bother. Next, we’ll enter in our address. Now, since we’ re a coffee shop, we’ll obviously
have a physical location, but if you’re an independent service provider like a photographer
or a work-from-home consultant then your typical client meetings might happen in their office,
or in a coffee shop like High Speed Coffee. If that’s the case, then you can enter in
your home address, select the “I deliver goods and services to my customers,” then choose
to hide your address since it’s not a store. Now, when your business shows up in Google
search, it’ll just show the city and province/state where you work from. Since that doesn’t apply to our business,
let’s move on to the next step, which is to pin the marker on the map. Google’s pretty good with this, but you’ll
want to examine the map and make sure it’s in the exact position where your store is
located. Just drag and drop it and click next when you’re
done. As Google recommends, don’t add multiple
categories to list all of your products and services. Instead, you should focus on this statement: “My business is a blank.” Rather than “My business has blank.” So in the case of High Speed Coffee, our business
is a coffee shop, even though it has virtual office space. Just start typing in a description and select
the most appropriate one from the drop-down. Let’s go to the next step, which is to enter
in your phone number and website, which is pretty straightforward. This step is optional, but I recommend including
both. Now, we’ll need to finish off the process
and verify the website, which can be done by phone or mail. You just need to follow the instructions
from Google and your My Business listing should be active in no time. Before you continue, you should add a few
more optimizations to your listing. You can click on the info menu in the sidebar. Then you can click on the pen icon to edit
different parts of your listing. So you can add more relevant categories, for example. Other things you should do is to set your
hours of operation, add specific URLs to important pages, add a description of your business,
and photos of your actual location. Now that we have the foundation set up for
local SEO, let’s move onto step 2, which is to do some keyword research. There are some obvious terms you’d want to
rank for like “coffee shop near me”, “high speed coffee”, “what time does high speed coffee open
or close”, and “high speed coffee phone number”. With these kinds of local search queries,
Google pulls the information from the Google My Business listing. For example, if I type in “what time does Starbucks
close”, Google will pull up the Starbucks in my vicinity and show the hours of operations for all locations on the map. And if I specify a location or use a single
location business, then you’ll see a quick answer box like this, which is pulled directly
from Google My Business. So rather than going deeper into the “Snack
Pack,” or Google Maps listings we’ll be talking about keyword research for the organic search
results. First, we need to brainstorm your SiLs, which
stands for “service in locations”. As a coffee shop, I’d want to rank for queries
like these: “Coffee shops in Toronto” “24/7 coffee shops in Toronto” “24 hour coffee shops in Toronto” “Virtual office in Toronto” And we’d want to rank for synonymous variations
like “cafe in Toronto”. A photographer, on the other hand, might want to rank for “photographer
in Toronto” or “photographer in a nearby city.” Here are a few ways you can generate solid
keyword ideas. First is to use Google’s autocomplete. Just type in the main query you want to rank
for, and you’ll see a few good suggestions here like “open late”, “financial district”, and
“Toronto Canada”, which may likely come from tourists or travelers. If you’re in the services industry, then you
can look at local classified sites like Craigslist. So I can search in their services category
and use a seed keyword like “photographer”, and you’ll see some cool ideas here like “experienced”,
“freelance”, “engagement shoot” and more. But in my opinion, the absolute best place
is to find the keywords that your competitors are already ranking for. And the reason why this is so effective is
because this is basically telling you which keywords that you can also rank for. You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer,
and enter in the domain of one of your search competitors. Next, go to the organic keywords report. And this report will show you all of the search
queries that the domain is ranking for. You’ll see that they’re ranking for a lot
of branded queries, so you can use the exclude box, and type in the brand name, which will
give you a nice list of relevant keywords to target. And just from a quick scan of this list, there
are a couple of keywords that I would have never thought of like “coffee places near me”
and “coffee shop near Eaton Centre”, which is a large mall in downtown Toronto. You should have a solid list of keyword ideas
now, so it’s time to move onto some on-page SEO. If you’re familiar with SEO, then you’ll find
that a lot of the typical on-page SEO best practices apply here. For example, it can be advantageous to include
your keyword in your H1 tag, add your target keyword in the title tag, set the URL slug
to your keyword, and use short URLs. But there are a few other things you should
specifically do for local SEO. Now, these optimizations will vary depending
on if you have a single location versus multiple locations. So I’ll cover both. The first thing you’ll want to do is optimize
your homepage. In general, most single location businesses
should optimize their homepage around their primary location. So as a Toronto based coffee shop, I would
probably target keywords like “coffee shop Toronto,” rather than just coffee shop. Here’s why: If you look at the organic keywords report
for that Toronto coffee shop we were looking at before, you’ll see that nearly all of their
keyword rankings revolve around their homepage And you can see that they rank in the “Snack
Pack” for that keyword phrase. But if I do a search just 30 miles away from
downtown Toronto, you’ll see completely different results for the same keyword phrase. So here are a few on-page optimization tips
for your homepage. First, show NAP information, which again is name, address and phone number on the homepage. In fact, you can add this to the footer of
your entire website if you operate from a single location as you can see in this example
here. And it’s absolutely critical that your name,
address, and phone number match exactly or as close as possible to what you’ve submitted
to Google My Business. You can also add testimonials or reviews of
your business here and use Schema markup, which we’re going to attack right now. Schema markup is code that you add to your
website to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in the search
engine results. You can use Google’s structured data markup
helper to eliminate a whole mess of complicated coding. Just select a data type, so in this case,
we’d choose local businesses, then enter in the URL of the page you want to markup and
click the “start tagging” button. Next, just click on the elements that you
want to tag. So if I click on the logo here, I can set
it to the name. Then I’ll scroll down to the footer of the
page and add a few more markup elements. So here, you can see that they have two phone
numbers, so you’d want to choose the one that’s submitted in their My Business Listing. And the last thing I’ll add is the address. You would need to select all of the different
parts of the address and choose the correct field. Also, you’ll see that they include their address
here, but left their postal code out, so in this case, if I were this business, I would
include that in the footer too. Once you’re done, you can click on this button,
and a piece of code will come up which you can add to your website. Now, if you’re a business that has multiple
locations, then you’re exempt from the rule of optimizing your homepage around your primary
location. And by multiple locations, I’m not referring
to a couple brick and mortar shops 10 miles from each other, but bigger companies like
hotels or car rentals where they might have hundreds or even thousands of locations. Instead of the home page, you would want to
optimize local landing pages by including key elements like the location’s NAP, operating
hours and sprinkle in related keywords targeted at that location. Let me show you how Enterprise Car Rental
does it and pay attention to the URLs too as we go through
this process. If you want to rent a car in the US, then
you’ll start at their location directory where you need to select a state where you want
to rent a car. Next, you’ll need to pick a city within that
state. Then you’ll be brought down to the branch
level. Finally, you’ll see the local NAP information
that’s actually designed to convert visitors into customers. Scrolling down, you’ll see the operating hours
for this specific location. And if we look at the organic traffic for
these 4 pages, you’ll see that they all get a good amount of targeted search traffic on
landing pages, which I’m sure is quite profitable. The next step is to build local citations. And citations are online mentions of your
business. There are two main types of citations. They are structured
and unstructured. Structured citations are mentions that include
your NAP information and it’s usually presented in a visually-structured manner. So this would include places like business
directories and social profiles. Unstructured citations are mentions of your
business that don’t follow a structure. So this might be in blog posts, preferred
vendors pages or on other websites. And building local citations is super important. According to a 2017 study done by Moz, citation
signals were one of the top local ranking factors, which was true for both Google’s
“Snack Pack” results and regular organic search results. And this is likely due to having consistent
NAP information from all over the web, which verifies that the data Google has in their
My Business listing is accurate. On the other hand, inconsistent NAP information
can confuse or mislead both Google and potential customers. So your job is two fold: First, you need to make sure that your
existing citations are correct and consistent. And second, you need to build more relevant citations. So to handle the first part, you need to perform
a citation audit. More often than not, some of your citations
will be incorrect and/or incomplete. And you can run a quick search using Moz’s local
search tool. Just enter in the name of your business, and
choose one from the auto select options from the best results. From here, you can see a breakdown of the
complete, incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations, which you can then manually fix. You can also do a manual audit using Google
search operators, which I won’t get into now, but you can check out our local SEO blog post. The link’s in the description. After you’ve completed your audit, you’ll
want to build more citations. Now, if you’re a new business, I would start
with a list of core structured citations. Whitespark.ca has a great resource on places
to build these structured citations, which I’ll leave a link to in the description. Just choose a country, and you’ll see a list
of places to add your mark. You can then branch out to other relevant
local directories like your local chamber of commerce, other local business associations
and then expand to niche specific websites like TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Findlaw and
more. Another great places to find citation opportunities
is to let your competitors do the work for you. So using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, look up the homepage
URL of one of your competitors since most citations will lead to the homepage. Next, go to the anchors report. In here, you can use the search box to look for
any of these keywords: These are common anchor texts that you’ll
find in directories, which make them easy citation opportunities. So if I search for “website,” then I’m gonna click on
“details” and “referring domains,” then you’ll see a bunch of places where we can build both
structured and unstructured citations. Another hyper-effective tactic you can do
is to use the Link Intersect tool. In the top section, enter in the name of a
few of your organic search competitors. So I’ve already entered in a few domains of top-ranking
Toronto coffee shops. Then, I’ll set the top dropdown to show websites
that link to any of these sites. And you can enter in your domain in the bottom
box, which will exclude links that are already linking to your website. But since we don’t have a real website, I’ll
leave the bottom section empty and run the search. Now, when you’re looking through the results,
just scan these 3 columns and look for referring domains that link to at least a couple of
your target websites. In general, the more sites a domain links
to, the better the chances of it being a legit place to create your own citation. So dinehere.ca would be a solid one that we
can add our coffee shop to. With these citation hunting methods, it should
be enough to keep you busy for a while. But we can’t stop here because we still need
to build quality editorial links. According to Moz’s 2017 survey, link signals
were the most important ranking factor for local organic results. For the local “Snack Pack,” links were the
second most important factor. Rather than focusing on a full-out link building
tutorial, I want to leave you with two tried and true tactics that work. The first is to create and promote a useful
resource. In this case, a local resource related to
your niche would be ideal. I know I say it all the time, but people are
more willing to link to helpful articles over salesy content like product and services pages. So a couple ideas would be to create local
“best of” guides or content that would appeal to your target audience. So for example, we could create content on how
to make the best cup of coffee, where we can plug our own products. We could also create content targeted at coffee
drinking solopreneurs on the best and affordable local places for office space, since we offer
virtual office services. The second tactic would be to guest blog. Even though guest posts normally come with
a link back to your site, I want you to look at this as an opportunity to build yourself
up as an industry expert. This is particularly important for people
in the services industry. People want to hire professionals they can
trust and know will do a good job. And often times, they’re willing to pay a
premium to have the peace of mind that the job’s gonna get done right the first time. And you can look for local blogs that accept guest
posts by googling any of these queries. So looking at the search results for “Toronto “write for us”, you’ll see some very relevant local websites
that are seeking writers. You can also do this in Content Explorer to
expand your list of potential guest posting prospects. Just type in a topic related to your niche. So I’ll type in “coffee beans” and I’ll also
set the search to a title search for more relevant results. Next, click on the “one article per domain,”
filter, since we don’t need to contact the same website multiple times. Scrolling down a bit, you’ll see this post
on The 12 Best Coffee Beans to Buy. From here, you could easily pitch yourself
as a pro barista that runs a cafe in Toronto and share some actionable or interesting insights
on something like roasting beans. The last and final step is to take care of
ongoing activities. Even though you’ve set up your Google My Business
and built a bunch of citations, these are all things that you want to have well-documented. In business, things change. That might be you moving to a new location,
changing your phone number, or even changing your business name, in which case, you would need to update all
of your citations. So the first thing you need to do is ensure
that you keep your Google My Business account active. There are 3 important regular tasks that you need to take care of. First is to consistently respond to customers
and client reviews. This includes both positive and negative comments. Next is to be on the lookout for inaccurate
edits to your Google My Business listing. Anyone can click on “suggest an edit” on your
My Business listing and sometimes Google will accept these suggestions without notice to
you or the business owner. In fact, scammers have even swapped phone
numbers with legit businesses for a quick payday. So it’s your job to ensure that your listings
are up to date and correct at all times. Finally, is to use Google Posts to keep your
customers informed and engaged. Google Posts is a micro-blogging platform
within Google My Business. And all of these updates are visible in the
Knowledge Panel and accessible with the click of a mouse. This provides an opportunity to attract more
attention to your listing, connect with your audience and ultimately boost conversions. You can create a Google Post from within Google
My Business by going on the posts menu, click “Write your post” and then add an image and
up to 300 words of text. This is a great way to share your promotional
offers or teasers for your blog posts. You can also choose a call-to-action button
from a list of preset options to bump click-throughs. I recommend all local businesses play around
with this feature and stay active with Google Posts. It doesn’t take any more time than a tweet
and there’s a ton of potential to garner attention from Google searchers. Now we’ve covered a lot here, so what I recommend
doing right now is putting these techniques into action, and watching some of the video
suggestions in the cards, which will dig deeper into some of the topics we’ve talked about like
link building, SEO for blogs, and on-page SEO techniques. So hit the subscribe button for more actionable
SEO and marketing tutorials, go and get your local website ranked, and I’ll see you in
the next tutorial.

54 Comments

  • AH360

    How in the heck do you rank for “Near me”? I feel like not only is it not specific to an area but that its hard to use in a sentence that will sound like natural language.

  • Marty McLeod

    I'm not currently doing local SEO but had considered it for a possible niche opportunity. I know it's a different "beast" altogether, so thanks for this! Very educational. Sam you produced some of the best videos I've seen. I send everyone I can to your channel. A+! 🙂

  • Movies World

    Great content. Can you show a few steps, i have my agency and have 5 different locations. Each locations has a different page like abc.com/california_location
    abc.com/texas_location
    And so on to 3 more
    How can i add a schema mark up for all the different location pages?

    Please explain

  • punit bayad

    In India, for seo there are not much potential clients who can afford this service so I want to reach to USA and Canadian businesses. How cannI do that from India? Many people say that show them proof, but for proof also, we need some previous clients. I can give examples of Indian client but how can I tackle that?

  • Tolu

    Yo sam ,
    You can hardly rank for KWs with NEAR ME – Google understands User intent and anything NEAR BY google will use their locations to get them best results.

  • Mats Corvin

    About the local best of guides: Let's assume I'm a doctor in Atlanta and I write about Parks, Museums and Restaurants – isn't that (how can I say) watering my content?

  • CJ Hobbies

    Sam, is it safe t use an SEO company in India if you have an Australia based site? Does it matter or make any difference where SEO is applied from?

  • Jason McDonald

    Excellent video! I don't agree with a person who hides their address however. In my view, that is a sure-fire way to NEVER rank on local searches vs competitors. This is common for instance for plumbers who work from home vs. those who have a physical address. Google rigs this against the former, and they never show unless they have a "real" address visible in my experience.

  • Jen Rock

    Great video & very helpful thank you. Question: Once you have the code generated from the structured data mark up helper, where abouts do you actually place it on the web page?

  • Akshit Singh Dutt

    I'm living in downtown Toronto and I found this extremely useful. Thanks ahrefs. And yes I'm using ahrefs monthly subscription. 🙂

  • letty Ort

    great video thanks for your time and expertise. my question is where do I enter the schema markup code in a WordPress site with no html?

  • Movies In Parts

    I love this video sir thanks for this valuable information. And sir can you please help me out. Actually I'm going to open new event management services in my area. Please sir help me if possible. And if possible give me your WhatsApp number or skype or Facebook or Instagram anything which you're using. Thanks in advance.

  • Mark Puckett

    I love Ahrefs and your videos but Your not correct when you say "Keyword stuffing" your name is not helpfull for ranking.
    Just ask anyone that does "Rank and Rent" sites like myself.

  • Vijay Rajendran

    Finally a video that explains the entire procedure from someone. Or else everyone Seo expert on youtube only tell "tips" which is useless until you know the proper procedure.

  • Scott Jones

    Google My Business was updated not long after you uploaded this video. You no longer have the option to hide your address, it now gives you service area options instead.

    I guess it's the same principle and still soild advice!

  • chop chay

    Your presentation is far more better than others… It's not boring, so engaging. Snaps are so presented… Imagination runs. If you have a course, people will buy it. More presentation like this… Very rich content.

  • The Keto Chief

    I am not no sea but thinking of becoming one after all I think I no more then most seo companies do. do not think so. well I am a antique dealer and I live in a place that has tuns of antique stores some of witch are way bigger then mine. but with my way of seo I get others who pay pushed down on the list and I pay nothing I just no the right ways to do it. snack pack forget that the pack gets pushed down so it can make room for me and on google its to make room for my map. do not beleve it search antiques 53104 on yahoo and google and see wear I show up and how many times I show up on them pages I show up with different names even as we have 2 building on site. I would like to no do you think if I became a seo business I could charge people a arm and a let and would get it when they see how powerfull my work is.

  • Tracey Poland

    Thanks for the video! Do you have any new tips or changed for 2019? Also I see a lot of companies adding directions on their webpage and even some with detailed directions from each direction… do you feel like this is important ?

  • Bably Sinha

    Hi Sam, I started watching your videos, really its very useful, Thanks for sharing, its very interesting and easy to understand 👍

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