How to Do Local SEO 2017 [Case Study]
How to do local SEO in 2017 is a common question we see on in forum blog posts comments and also often from our clients. Local SEO means optimizing your local stores for discovery searches in digital maps such as Google Maps or Apple Maps, so that people find your business.
Google has mentioned that about half of mobile searches are local, and Google 3-pack local results appear for 93% of Google searches with local intent, so are it’s very valuable to optimize your stores for these searches. In this guide, we asked Andrew Shotland, Local SEO guru at localseoguide.com to take us through a case study to show ‘How to Do Local SEO in 2017.
Key Takeaway: You can optimize your local web pages to capture all relevant maps searches.
About ‘Near Me’ Searches
If you have done any type of local search over the past few years, you may have noticed “near me” pop up as a suggested query. Google trends data shows the explosive growth of “near me” queries worldwide:
And “near me” queries for specific local categories have also increased both worldwide and throughout Europe:
Restaurants Near Me”Queries in Germany
“Restaurant Near Me” & “Supermarket Near Me” Queries in The Netherlands
And not just English-language queries:
“Tankstelle in meiner Nähe” Queries in Germany
The first time I realized the potential for “near me” queries was when I came across this results ranking #1 for “Best Restaurants” a few years ago:
The Research on ‘How to do Local Search’
We quickly put the pieces together and started testing similar tactics for our clients, and we quickly saw incremental traffic boosts across the board from very cheap, simple tactics such as adding “Near Me” to title tags.
The cat has been out of the bag for a while on “Near Me” SEO and it’s much more competitive now. Since we are curious SEOs and we always want to try to give our clients an edge, we decided we need to figure out how to systematically optimize for “near me” searches. In 2016, we had conducted the first ever statistical study of Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors by looking at over 35,000 businesses and 100+ factors. So we added a “near me” data set to our existing data and ran the numbers.
We looked at some of the most popular “near me” queries including:
-dentist near me
-grocery store near me
-gas station near me
-hair salons near me
-movie theater near me
-restaurants near me
All totaled, we looked at ~600 searches which included ~6,000 Google My Business (GMB) pages as well as the corresponding domains/pages that the GMB pages linked to. The data showed the following factors had the strongest positive correlations with ranking well in Google’s Local Pack for “Near Me” searches:
– Google Reviews
– Total Number of Backlinks With Searched City & State in the Anchor Text
– Percent of Backlinks With Searched City & State in the Anchor Text
In our Local SEO Ranking Factors study, link metrics also were some of the strongest indicators of good rankings, so it’s not surprising that they also matter for “Near Me” queries. In fact, TripAdvisor’s aggressive use of “Near Me” in internal link anchor text may be one of the reasons those URLs rank so well for “Near Me” queries:
Internal links on https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants
Interestingly, the distance of a business from the searcher did not correlate strongly with positive search rankings. When you look at typical Local Pack results, they are rarely ordered by distance. See this query for “hamburgers near me”:
In the case above, it may be because the two top-ranked businesses have “burger” in their name – Keywords in Business Name was a strong factor in our original study – or some combination of additional factors which may trump distance.
The data did show that being in the same city as a “Near Me” search had a stronger correlation with positive performance, so we are going to have to do some more digging into this subject in our 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study.
Key Take Away
So what can you do to take advantage of “Near Me” today? Based on our study and our experience working on large and small locally-targeted sites around the world:
- Add “Near Me” to the title tags of your location pages
- Add “Near Me” and popular keyword variants to the text of these pages
- Add “Near Me” to the anchor text of the internal links to these pages, particularly on your store locator pages if you are a multi-location brand
- Get backlinks to your location pages with geo-specific anchor text
Even with the growth in “Near Me’ queries, they still don’t come close to the volume you can get from ranking for a head category term (e.g. “gas station”, “gas station in Amsterdam”, etc.), but with minimal effort you can use this strategy to get near more of your customers quickly.
About the Author
Andrew is the CEO of LocalSEOGuide.com, a 10-year-old search consultancy with a specialty in SEO for Multi-Location brands, SEO for Franchises and White Label SEO Services. Follow Andrew on Twitter via @localseoguide and via the Local SEO Guide blog.