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The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Local SEO is the process of optimising a website or web page to rank higher in local search results. In other words, if you have a business with a physical location, you want to show up when people in your area are searching for goods or services that you provide. For example, if you’re a plumber in Paignton, you want to rank high in search results when someone searches for “plumbers in Paignton, or plumbers near me."

Local SEO is similar to regular SEO, but there are a few key differences. In this Guide, we’ll explore what local SEO is, how it works, and how you can optimise your own website for local search.


How Local SEO Works

Google’s algorithms are constantly changing and evolving, but one thing has remained consistent over the years: Google wants to provide its users with the best possible results.

To do this, Google looks at a variety of factors when ranking websites and web pages in search results. These factors include things like website content, link popularity, and user engagement.

With local SEO, Google also takes into account factors that are specific to businesses with a physical location. These factors include things like your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as your latitude and longitude.

All about NAP

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. It's critical that this information be accurate and consistent across all of your online listings, including your website, social media accounts, and directories like BrightLocal, Bing Places, and Yelp.

Why is NAP Important?

NAP is important because it helps search engines understand where your business is located and how to contact you. This information is then used to help potential customers find your business when they're searching for products or services that you offer. NAP also plays a role in helping to build trust and credibility for your business. When potential customers see that your business has a consistent NAP across all platforms, it helps to build confidence that they're dealing with a legitimate business.


How to Optimise Your NAP

There are a few things you can do to make sure your NAP is optimised for maximum impact. First, make sure that your NAP is consistent across all platforms. This means that if your business name is "Torquay SEO," don't list it as "TorquaySEO" on one platform and "Torquay Search Optimisation" on another. Consistency is key when it comes to optimising your NAP.

Another thing you can do to optimise your NAP is to list your full address on all platforms. This includes listing the suite or floor number if applicable. Including this information helps search engines more accurately pinpoint your location, which can be helpful for potential customers who are looking for businesses in specific areas.

Finally, make sure your phone number is listed in a consistent format on all platforms. This means using the same formatting for area codes, extension numbers, etc. Using a consistent format makes it easier for potential customers to call you, which can lead to more sales and increased revenue for your business.

Google looks for citations as well

A citation is any mention of your business name and address on the internet— even if there’s no link back to your website. The more citations you have from high-quality websites, the higher you’ll rank in local search results.

How do citations help local SEO?

There are two ways that citations help with local SEO. First, they help search engines verify that your business exists and is located where you say it is. This is important because one of the factors that search engines use to rank businesses is location. The closer you are to the searcher, the higher you'll rank.

Second, citations help build trust with search engines. The more mentions of your business that can be found online, the more likely it is that your business is legitimate. This trust helps increase your ranking in local searches.

How Can I Get More Citations?

The best way to get more citations is by listing your business on directories and review sites. Some popular directories include Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places for Business. You can also encourage customers to leave reviews of your business on these sites. Not only will these reviews help improve your local SEO, but they'll also give potential customers an idea of what it's like to do business with you.

Directory listings are a must-have

If you're a small business owner, then you know how important it is to rank high in local search results. After all, according to Moz, “44% of all global e-commerce (and 4% of offline sales) take place within just 10 miles of the consumer.” And Google says that “4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.”

Why are directory listings so important?

There are two main ways that business directories can improve your local SEO. First of all, when you list your business on a directory, you're effectively creating another backlink to your website. Search engines view backlinks as a sign of authority, so the more backlinks you have, the higher you'll rank in search results. Furthermore, if the directory is a well-established and reputable site, then that backlink will carry even more weight.

The second way that business directories improve local SEO is by giving you an opportunity to include keywords that are relevant to your business and your location. When customers search for businesses like yours, these keywords will help them find you more easily. In addition, including your location in your directory listings will also help customers find you when they perform searches for businesses in their specific area.

Finding the right directories for you

Identify the top directories in your niche. The first step is to find which local business directories are most relevant to your business. For example, if you're a restaurant owner, you'll want to be listed on directories like TripAdvisor. If you're a home improvement contractor, you'll want to be listed on TrustPilot. The key is to make sure you're only focusing on the directories that are relevant to your business and that will drive traffic to your website.

Create compelling profiles on each directory

Once you've identified which directories you want to be listed on, it's time to create compelling profiles for each one. Your profile should include your business name, address, phone number, website URL, and a brief description of your business. In addition, make sure you include high-quality photos and videos, as well as links to your social media profiles. The goal is to make your profile stand out from the rest so that potential customers will be interested in learning more about your business.

Optimise your directory profiles for SEO

In addition to making your directory profiles look great, it's also important to optimise them for SEO purposes. That means including relevant keywords in your business name, address, and phone number (known as NAP), as well as in your description and photo captions. Including keywords will help ensure that potential customers will be able to find your business when they conduct a search online.

Stay active on the directories

Once you've created and optimised your profiles, it's important to stay active on the directories by regularly responding to customer reviews and adding new photos and videos. This will help keep your listing fresh and relevant, which will encourage potential customers to visit your website or store location. Additionally, many directories offer paid advertising options that can help increase visibility for your listing even further.

Why the reputation of business directories is important for Local SEO

One of the main reasons why the reputation of business directories is so important for local SEO is because search engines like Google use them when determining ranks. Google looks at both the quantity and quality of backlinks when determining ranks, so it's important to have high-quality backlinks from reputable sources

If you list your business in a directory that is known for spammy backlinks, this will reflect poorly on your website and can hurt your ranking rather than help it. On the other hand, if you list your business in a reputable directory, this will help improve your ranking. So how can you tell if a directory is reputable or not? There are a few things to look for, such as:

  • The directory has been around for a while

  • The directory has a good reputation with users

  • The directory only lists high-quality websites

  • The directory has a strict vetting process

If a directory meets all these criteria, then it's probably safe to list your business there.

How to avoid spammy backlinks

In addition to only listing your business in reputable directories, there are a few other things you can do to avoid spammy backlinks. First, don't engage in link buying or selling practices. This means paying someone for links or offering to pay someone in exchange for links. This practice is not only frowned upon by Google, but it can also get you penalised. Second, don't participate in link farms or link schemes. These are groups of websites that all link to each other to improve their ranking. However, Google can identify these schemes and will penalise websites that participate in them.

Customer reviews are essential

Another important factor that Google looks at with local SEO is customer reviews. Google knows that customers trust reviews from other customers more than they trust anything else. So if your business has positive reviews on popular review sites like Google Business Profile, TripAdvisor, or Trustpilot, you’re more likely to show up high in local search results.

Google looks at 3 types of reviews

There are three main types of reviews you can get for your local business: Google-based reviews, third-party review site reviews, and first-party reviews on your website. Let's look at each one in turn.

Google-based reviews

Google-based reviews are perhaps the most important kind of review you can get because they're tied directly to your Google Business Profile. When people search for local businesses on Google, your Business Profile will show up in the search results along with your star rating. The higher your rating, the more likely people are to choose your business over one with a lower rating.

To encourage people to leave Google-based reviews, start by sending them an email after they've made a purchase or used your service. In the email, include a link to your Business Profile and let them know that their feedback would be greatly appreciated. You can also include a link on your website and post about it on social media. Asking existing customers for reviews is one of the best ways to get more of them.

Third-Party review sites

Third-party review sites like Yelp can also be extremely helpful for local businesses. Not only do these sites provide valuable feedback from customers, but they also tend to rank highly in search engine results pages. This means that if you have a strong presence on these sites, potential customers are more likely to find you when they're searching online.

To encourage people to leave reviews on third-party sites, you can use many of the same tactics as with Google-based reviews (such as emailing customers and including links on your website and social media). You can also try giving customers an incentive to leave a review, such as a discount on their next purchase or a freebie. Just be sure not to violate any of the site's policies—Yelp, for example, doesn't allow businesses to offer incentives in exchange for positive reviews.

First-Party reviews on your website

Finally, don't forget about first-party reviews—that is, reviews that you host directly on your own website. These testimonials can be extremely powerful in converting website visitors into leads and customers. That's because potential customers will be able to see that other people have had positive experiences with your business, which will help build trust and confidence.

To collect first-party reviews from customers, start by adding a "Reviews" page to your website (if you don't already have one). Then reach out to past customers and ask if they would be willing to leave a review. Make it easy for them by providing clear instructions and a link directly to the page where they can leave their feedback. You can also consider adding a form directly onto the page so that all they must do is fill out their name and review— no need to even leave your site.

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile a free platform that allows businesses to manage and promote their online presence on Google Search and Maps. When someone searches for a business like yours on Google, your GMB listing is often one of the first things that appears in the results. That's why claiming and optimising your GBP listing is essential to local SEO success.

Your Google Business profile is what comes up when someone searches for your business on Google Maps or the Local section of Google search. Having an optimised profile increases your chances of being found by potential customers and can help improve your local SEO. Here are some tips on how to optimise your Google Business profile.

Claim and verify your listing

The first step is to claim your listing on Google My Business. Once you have claimed your listing, you will need to verify it. You can verify your listing by phone or postcard. Verifying your listing shows potential customers that you are a legitimate business, and that you care about providing accurate information.

Fill out all the information fields

Be sure to fill out every single field on your profile, including your business name, address, phone number, category, hours of operation, website URL, and description. The more information you provide, the more likely potential customers are to find you.

Choose the right categories

When choosing categories for your business, be as specific as possible. For example, if you are a hair salon, you might choose categories such as "hair salon", "beauty salon", "hair colourist", etc. Choosing too many broad categories will make it harder for people to find you when they are searching for a specific service.

Add photos and videos

Adding photos and videos to your profile helps potential customers get a better sense of who you are and what you do. Be sure to add high-quality photos that accurately represent your business. You can also add photos of your team members, products, services, or any other relevant information.

Respond to customer reviews

In addition to encouraging customers to leave reviews, it is also important to respond to both positive and negative reviews promptly. This shows potential customers that you value their feedback and that you are willing to address any concerns they may have.

Monitor your insights data

Google My Business Insights provides valuable data about how people are interacting with your listing. This data can help you understand what is working well and what needs improvement. Be sure to check your Insights data regularly so that you can make changes accordingly.

How to check your Google Business Profile Performance

Keep your information up to date

It is important to keep all the information on your profile (business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation) up to date at all times. If any of this information changes, be sure to update it as soon as possible so that potential customers can find you easily.

Use keywords

Including relevant keywords in your GBP profile is a great way to improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results. - When choosing keywords, try to think like your potential customers. What words or phrases would they use when searching for a business like yours?

Stay active

Posting regular updates on your GMB profile shows potential customers that you're an active and engaged business owner who cares about their needs and concerns. You can post updates about new products or services, exclusive offers or promotions, and changes to operating hours.

Try to earn high-quality backlinks

One of the most important ranking factors for any type of SEO is backlinks— links from other websites that point back to yours. The more high-quality backlinks you have pointing back to your website, the better — if they're coming from relevant, authoritative sites.

Make sure your site is worthy of linking to

This may seem like common sense, but it's important to make sure your site is well-designed, informative, and user-friendly before you start reaching out to other sites asking for links. Take the time to put together a strong website and then promote it accordingly.

Reach out to local businesses and organisations

An effective way to earn high-quality backlinks is to reach out to local businesses and organisations that are relevant to your industry or niche. For example, if you're a plumber, you could reach out to a local home improvement store or contractor. Many times, these types of businesses are happy to link to websites that provide valuable information or resources for their customers.

Write guest blog posts for other sites

Another great way to earn backlinks is by writing guest blog posts for other websites in your industry or niche. When you do so, be sure to include a link back to your own site in your author bio. This not only helps expose your site to new readers, but also tells search engines that others view your site as being an authoritative source of information—which can help improve your rankings.

Get involved with online communities relevant to your industry or niche

There are likely online communities related to your industry or niche where you can get involved and become an active participant. These might be forums, Facebook groups, or even Twitter chats. Often, these types of community involvement can lead to opportunities for guest blogging or even getting featured on other websites—both of which can help earn quality backlinks for your site.

  • Create informative blog posts or infographics and share them on social media or with other bloggers in your industry. If they like what they see, they may link back to it from their own site.

  • Add new content regularly to keep people coming back to your site. This could be anything from podcast episodes to new product listings. If you're consistently putting out new, high-quality content, other site owners will be more likely than ever before to link back to it.

Boost your local SEO with SERP features

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. And when we talk about SERP features, we're talking about anything that appears on a search engine results page that's not a traditional organic result.

What Are SERP Features?

Some common examples of SERP features include:

  • Featured snippets

  • Google Maps listings

  • Local pack listings

  • Reviews

  • Images

  • Videos

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are brief answers to searchers' questions that appear at the top of the search results page. They're designed to give users quick and easy access to the information they're looking for without having to click through to a website.

Google Maps Listings

When someone searches for a specific type of business in a particular location, relevant businesses will appear on the map (along with their contact information and reviews).

Local Pack Listings

Local pack listings are very similar to Google Maps listings, but they also include additional information such as opening hours, price range, and photos. These listings usually appear above the fold on the search results page, which makes them very visible and hard to miss. Review stars also appear next to local pack listings, which can help attract clicks.

Images & Videos

Images and videos can also appear on the SERP, usually in the form of thumbnails next to organic listings or in featured snippets. These can be a fantastic way to catch users' attention and entice them to click through to your website.

Local SEO is important to every local business

Local SEO is an important part of any business marketing strategy— especially if you have a physical location that customers can visit. By optimising your website for local search, you can increase your chances of showing up high in search results when potential customers in your area are looking for goods or services that you provide. And when you show up high in search results, you’ll get more clicks, more leads, and more customers.

Interested to learn more?

We are local SEO experts and work every angle to earn you SERP results and get you on the map! Our local SEO package is a simple project that takes less than 2 weeks to complete, with no hassle and no ongoing maintenance costs! It really is the most economical option to land you on Page One for local businesses in Devon.

Get in touch with us at or simply grab an appointment in our open-book diary below. We love listening and learning about your ambitions and helping Devon businesses succeed.


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