Local businesses — those marketing specifically within a geographic area — should have very different marketing strategies than those marketing across the country, world, or online only.

According to Moz, “90% of purchases take place in physical stores and 80% of US disposable income is spent within 20 miles of home.”

Keyword Research

One of the most important component of Local SEO is your keywords. When choosing your keywords — whether for your hotel, restaurant, or travel agency — you need to consider local intent: what would people search if looking for a local business.

Google’s algorithm can (for the most part) understand if someone is in your area and searches without local intent. For instance, “best hotels tonight,” or “BBQ restaurants.”

However, if they are searching with local intent, you have an extra chance to make an appearance in that searcher’s Google search.

Local intent keywords include things like:

  • “Best thai restaurants near me”
  • “Hotels in Boise”
  • “Local breweries”

When a searchers searches with local intent, you have an even greater chance of showing up in that searcher’s Google map display as well — and if someone is looking for something near them, they are ready to convert and have a greater chance of finding you. This is because if you show up in the map, you may also be featured in the “local pack,” which is located above the very top search results.

Local SEO: Restaurants near me

Other factors when ranking for Local SEO

Local SEO is made up of different components than “general SEO” or “international SEO.” According to Moz, the factors to rank for local SEO are made up of eight different factors.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

Google My Business
Links
Reviews
On-Page SEO
Citations
Behavioral Signals
Personalization
Social Signals

Google My Business

You can find Google My Business here. The website is for local businesses to assure their information is correct. You can claim your own listing and edit photos, your address, business name, phone number, or other contact information.

Because Google wants to assure listings are as correct as possible on their search engine, they want you to go check and make sure everything looks good.

The downside of Google My Business is that if you are working out of your home (for instance, as a travel advisor) and do not want to share your address, then it is more difficult to make Google My Business, and the Local Pack, work for you. However, Google has been making some moves to help businesses like this still benefit from the platform.

You can see what your listing would look like here:

Hotel local SEO for hospitality.

Links

Many marketers have a love-hate relationship with links — and specifically link-building. It’s a sad truth that links to your website is one of the most important factors for ranking in search engines.

Google made this determination early in their history because they assume that if someone is linking to you, then you must have something worth reading. Unfortunately, many people take advantage of this and it is literally people’s jobs to call other websites asking them to link. Google says they will penalize you for paid links, but it still happens.

As a hotel, restaurant, or travel advisor, the best thing you can do is reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Bureau and see if they can link to you. You can even offer to write a blog post for them in your area of specialty.

Reviews

Google uses reviews as another factor in their ranking of your website if you are a local business. This includes reviews on sites like Facebook, Yelp, and even Google itself.

They look for review quantity, review velocity, and review diversity, among other things.

While you are not allowed to monetize customers for reviews, you can encourage them through social channels or other means.

On-Page SEO

Google looks for a number of things on your website when judging your relevancy to searchers. This includes: presence of your name, address, and phone number includes on your website; keywords in your page and post titles; and domain authority (something we will address in a different blog post).

Citations

Citations come from business directories such as Yext, and Google likes to know not only if you are listed, but how consistent all those citations are across channels — including your name, address, and phone number.

Behavioral Signals

Behavioral signals are how are people interact with your website and listings. This includes the click-thru rate from your listing in Google and how many times people click-to-call from your website or Google listing.

It is important to make sure your listing is as relevant as possible to what you are offering and to make sure your mobile click-to-call is enabled on your website.

Personalization

This has to do with where a user is located and other personal factors about them. Google knows many things about every searcher, including age, income, gender, location, buying intent, things they have purchased in the past, and other websites they have visited.

With personalization, Google is trying to make sure the searcher will be interested in your brand.

If you are a hotel, they may know how many times they have visited your website or other websites they have looked at (this could tell them their budget) — as well as other hotels they have stayed at in the past.

If you are a restaurant, Google could know how close the searcher is to you in that moment, as well as other types of restaurants they have been at in the past.

If you are a travel advisor or travel agency, Google may know which trips they have booked in the past and what income they are working with. How close are you to them and are you a fit for them?

Social Signals

Social signals may be the newest addition to Google’s algorithm. Google looks at different social media platforms and can see how popular you are: Are people linking to you? Are they mentioning you? How high is your Facebook engagement, Twitter engagement, Instagram engagement, and YouTube engagement?

Google’s intent with Local SEO is simply to find the right searcher for the business they are looking for. By making a few tweaks on your website, social media, and Google, you can come out ahead of your competitors by showing in the top of the search engines when your potential guests and customers are searching for you.