Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is optimizing your business’s online presence to attract more customers from relevant local searches. The primary goal of any local SEO is to bring your local listing to show in the top 3 positions of the map pack for your target query.

For most local small businesses, ranking well locally is even more important than the rankings of their main website. Why? The map pack results (a.k.a. the local pack or the local 3-pack) often show above the main organic results, meaning they get the most clicks (see the screenshot below). These clicks then translate into more visitors, and more visitors mean more business.

local search results appear above the main organic results, so optimizing your google business profile might be even more important than your website.
Fig. 1. Local results (known as the 'local 3-pack') are shown before the main organic results

Local Search Optimisation: Our Process

Our local SEO process starts with an initial audit to identify weak points and target low-hanging fruit for immediate improvements. We optimize your profile to accurately reflect the nature of your business and describe your products and services. Then the off-page optimization phase starts.

We perform local keyword research, and based on our findings, we build out location pages, enhance your online presence through strategic citations and directory registrations, and manage your reviews by monitoring existing feedback and proactively asking for new reviews from current and past clients.

GBP Profile Audit

The purpose of the initial Google Business Profile (GBP) audit is to assess and enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of a business’s online presence on Google. This audit is a critical step in local SEO for several reasons:

Verifying for Accuracy

It checks for correct and consistent business information across the listing, including the business name, address, phone number, and operating hours. This helps ensure that potential customers receive the right information.

Looking for Optimization Opportunities

The audit identifies areas where the profile can be improved, such as by adding more comprehensive and engaging descriptions, high-quality images, and additional relevant products, categories that may increase the business’s visibility in search results.

Competitive Analysis

It provides insights into how the business’s profile stacks up against competitors. This can highlight differentiators or areas lacking attention, which could be leveraged to improve the business’s local ranking.

Review Insights

By evaluating the current state of reviews and responses, businesses can understand customer perceptions and areas needing improvement. Managing reviews is a powerful way to enhance a business’s reputation and SEO.

Use Built-in Features: Q&A, Updates, Promos

The audit ensures that all valuable GBP features are being used effectively, such as posts, Q&A, and services or menu listings, which can help engage potential customers directly from the search results.

This screenshot features a GBP listing with two google updates on their GBP profile. Posting once a week is a great way to increase awareness engagement.
Fig. 2. This GBP profile uses the 'add update' feature to post updates about their work. Posting once a week is a best practice

Overall, an initial local search audit lays the foundation for the success of subsequent local SEO steps, aiming to increase visibility, brand awareness, and engagement with local consumers searching for relevant products or services.

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Optimizing Website Content

Once the initial Google Business Profile has been optimized, it’s time to work on the website. Here is what we do with the website as part of our local SEO optimization work.

Checking Website Responsiveness

First and foremost, we check the technical optimization of your website, including responsiveness. Most of your local traffic will be coming from mobile search, so optimizing for mobile devices as critical.

Adding Local Keywords

We incorporate local keywords that reflect the geographic area you are targeting. This includes city, neighborhood names, and local landmarks. We use these in titles, meta descriptions, headings, and throughout the content to improve local search relevance.

Ensuring NAP Consistency

NAP stands for Name, Address Phone, and they should be consistent across al your digital assets and other online platforms. This information should be easy to find, ideally placed in the footer of every page and on a dedicated contact page. We make sure your NAP is used in a consistent manner throughout.

Creating Localized Content

As our next step, we create content that speaks directly to the local audience. We prepare a content plan that includes blog posts about local news, events, or activities, and pages that explain the involvement of your business in specific local communities. Such content will not only resonate more with local searchers, but will also give you better prominence with the search engines.

Off Page Local SEO Services

Off-page local SEO services are aimed at increasing your local search visibility beyond just your own website. They focus on on increasing your online presence and reputation across the web.

The following off-page local SEO steps signal to search engines that your business is reputable and relevant, increasing the prominence of your business. Here’s an overview of key off-page local SEO strategies:

Local Link Building

This involves acquiring links from reputable local websites such as local news outlets, community blogs, and local business associations. These links serve as endorsements from other sites, which search engines consider a vote of confidence, boosting your site’s authority and relevance.

Business Directories and Citations

Ensuring your business is listed in online directories and citation sites is crucial. This includes platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, BBB, and industry-specific directories. Consistency in your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) across these listings is vital for search engines to confidently show your business in search results.

Fig 3. An example of a business listing on YELP. This counts as one citation for a business

Review Management

Encouraging customers to leave positive online reviews and actively responding to reviews, both positive and negative, can significantly impact your local search rankings. Reviews demonstrate to search engines—and potential customers—that your business is active and trusted by the community.

Social Media Engagement

Active participation on social media platforms can enhance your local SEO efforts. By engaging with local customers, sharing local content, and participating in community discussions, you can increase your local visibility and attract more traffic to your website.

Content Marketing

Creating and distributing valuable content relevant to your local audience but hosted on other domains can drive additional local traffic and increase brand recognition. This includes guest blogging on local blogs, collaborations with local influencers, and contributions to local news publications.

Local PR

Building relationships with local media to get featured in local news stories, interviews, or community events can boost your local reputation and visibility. This also includes participating in or sponsoring local events, which can generate local media coverage and create valuable local links.

These off-page SEO strategies complement our on-page work, creating a comprehensive approach to local SEO that can significantly enhance your business’s visibility in specific geographic areas.

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How do we measure our local search engine optimization work?

Growth in keyword positions leads to growth in visitors coming from organic search and there are several ways to measure that. First, you need to add UTM tracking codes to your Google Business Profile URL. We add the following UTM snippet to our GBP URL:


Once this is done, you will start seeing your local Google search campaign in your Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Here is where to find this info:

Google Search Console

Click on the ‘Performance’ menu item in the left side of your Search Console, then click on the ‘Pages’ tab and look for a URL that contains the UTM code you have previously added:

Fig. 4. How to find your local search traffic via the Google Search Console

Google Analytics

In Google Analytics 4, click Reports, then Traffic acquisition, then add a secondary dimension on the report (click on the plus sign in the header of the table), select source/medium, and you should get something like this:

Fig 5. How to find your local search traffic report in Google Analytics 4

Heatmapping Tools

We use paid professional tools to measure clients’ business rank in their local area. There are many alternatives, but we like to use Local Dominator and Local Viking to check local rankings via heatmaps.

Here is how it works: the system measures your keyword rankings at a given point across the multiple points in your chosen service area. The higher your rankings, the greener the heatmap will become. Here is an example of one such keyword:

This images shows an ideal geogrid heatmap, where the client is showing on top position for a given keyword across the entire geogrid.
Fig. 6. Perfect geogrid scan from one of our clients. Showing in the top 1 position for the given keyword

Wait a minute... so is local SEO different from general SEO?

Yes, they are different, with some degree of overlap. Both aim to drive organic traffic to your website but target different audiences. To better explain the key differences, we will break them down into three main categories: target audience, search intent, and key elements.

Here is a comparative table to help you quickly understand the difference:

Key FeaturesLocal SEOGeneral SEO
Target AudienceSpecific AreasGlobal Audience
Search IntentKeywords include specific cities, localities or zip codesBroader keywords without geographical modifiers
Key ElementsOptimizing Google Business Places Listings

Managing local citations and directories

Acquiring local backlinks

Customer reviews
Technical Optimization

High-quality content

Keyword Optimization

High-quality backlinks

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the differences:

Local SEO:

  • Target Audience: Local SEO focuses on optimizing a business’s presence for a specific geographical area. It’s ideal for small businesses with a physical location or that serve a specific community, such as restaurants, local shops, or service providers.
  • Search Intent: The strategies are tailored to attract customers searching for products or services within a specific locality. Keywords often include specific cities, neighbourhoods, or even zip codes.
  • Key Elements: It involves optimizing Google Business Places (ex. Google My Business) listings, managing local citations and directories, acquiring local backlinks, and garnering reviews from local customers. The aim is to appear in the Local Pack, which prominently displays local businesses related to the search query.

General SEO:

  • Target Audience: General or global SEO targets a broader, often global audience. It suits businesses that operate online without geographic constraints, such as e-commerce platforms, online services, or digital content providers.
  • Search Intent: This strategy focuses on broader keywords that do not necessarily include geographical modifiers. The goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible, regardless of their location.
  • Key Elements: General SEO strategies include website optimization for speed and mobile use, high-quality content creation, keyword optimization without geographic focus, and building a diverse backlink profile from authoritative global sources.

The choice between local and general SEO ultimately depends on the business’s goals, target audience, and the nature of its products or services.

Local SEO Ranking Factors: Distance, Relevance, Prominence

In local SEO, “prominence,” “relevance,” and “distance” are three critical factors that search engines use to determine the ranking of businesses in local search results. Understanding these factors can help businesses optimize their local SEO strategies effectively:


This factor measures how well a local business listing matches what someone is searching for. To improve relevance, businesses need to ensure that their information is detailed and complete. This includes having up-to-date and precise details about their business, such as services offered, categories, business hours, and more. Keywords play a significant role here, as incorporating the right local keywords in the business’s online content and listings can help improve the match with users’ search queries.


Simply put, this is how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location. Local SEO practices can’t change where a business is located, but ensuring the business’s address is clearly listed and consistent across all online platforms can help the search engine accurately calculate and use this factor.


This refers to how well-known or popular a business is offline and online. Some places are more prominent in the offline world (like famous landmarks or well-known store brands), and search engines try to reflect this in local ranking. Online prominence is often based on information that Google gathers about a business from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Reviews count toward this, too—the number of reviews and the ratings can influence local search rankings. Strong SEO practices such as obtaining backlinks from reputable sites, generating positive reviews, and engaging in social media can enhance a business’s prominence.

These factors help search engines decide which businesses to show in a local search and in what order. Businesses looking to optimize their local SEO must address each of these areas effectively to improve their visibility and attract more local customers.


Local SEO is a great way for local businesses to elevate their brand, increase visibility and user engagement, and ultimately grow leads and sales. Whether you service a specific area (HVAC, Plumbers, etc.) or operate a storefront, local search optimization will greatly help you grow your business.

Adhouse specializes in comprehensive marketing services, covering general and local SEO services.

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