Is Local SEO Dead? A Comprehensive Answer in 2024John / Updated on 02 Nov 2023
In recent years, there have been constant claims by some people in the SEO industry that "local SEO is dead". This has raised some fears and sparked concerns among marketers and businesses on whether it's still worth investing time and resources in local SEO.
So... Is local SEO dead?
The simple answer is no, local SEO is not dead. It is still a very important marketing strategy for businesses that want to reach local customers. However, it has evolved and changed in some ways from how it used to be. Businesses therefore need to adapt their strategies to improve their performance in local searches.
In this article, we will cover what local SEO is, why some people say it's dead, answer whether it is dead or alive (in more detail), and its future.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website or online presence to rank better in search engine results for local keywords and queries.
These results appear when users search for businesses, products, or services in their local area. The goal of local SEO is to connect businesses with potential customers in their vicinity.
Local SEO works by considering a variety of factors, including your website's content, your Google My Business listing, your business's location, and reviews among other signals.
Why People Fear that Local SEO Might be Dead
Some people fear that local SEO is dead, dying, or at least declining in importance due to several factors, including:
- Increased competition: As more and more businesses are investing in local SEO, it is becoming more competitive to rank for relevant keywords.
- The rise of directory websites: There are now many directories that take up the top spots in local search queries, pushing down the actual business websites.
- Too many sponsored results: For some local search queries, it's common to find several sponsored results at the very top of the search results, before the map pack. This pushes the organic results further down.
- Suspension of GMB profiles: Google has been dropping and suspending Google My Business listings for no apparent reason. Optimizing GMB profiles has in the recent past become a bit risky as even doing valid changes sometimes leads to suspension. Also, the verification process of the profiles is a bit challenging for many businesses.
- The growth of social media: Social media platforms are becoming increasingly important for businesses to connect with customers and promote their products and services.
- Search engine algorithm updates: Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, which can sometimes impact local SEO rankings. What works today may not work in the days to come.
Is Local SEO Dead?
Local SEO is not dead. It's very much alive and thriving. Businesses of all sizes are still investing in local SEO to improve their online visibility and reach more customers.
As long as search engines continue to exist, optimization for local search will remain important.
With the widespread use of smartphones and the emergence of location-aware technologies, local SEO has become increasingly important. People frequently use mobile devices to search for local businesses and services. 46% of all searches on Google are for local information.
Google continues to prioritize local search results in its search algorithms, which shows that the company is still committed to local SEO. The Google Maps interface, local pack listings, and the "near me" feature all underscore the importance of local search. Statistics show that 86% of people use Google Maps to find the location of businesses.
The rise of voice search has also been a key driver of local SEO as it allows people to search for information by speaking into their devices instead of typing. This creates convenience for local searches, as people frequently use voice search to find businesses, products, and services in their vicinity, which relies on accurate local information and optimization.
Customers often rely on reviews to make informed decisions when engaging with businesses. Online reputation management for businesses remains a core component of local SEO and has an impact on search rankings.
Local SEO has evolved and keeps evolving to meet the changing user behavior, technological advancements, and search engine algorithms. The nature and methods of optimization will keep changing to keep up with these dynamics.
It is therefore important to keep yourself updated with the latest local SEO trends and techniques to remain competitive in the local market.
Factors Affecting Local SEO Rankings
Google determines the rankings of local search results primarily on relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Google generates the search results based on relevancy to the search query. Ensure that the content on your website and local listings matches the search queries that people use when searching for products or services that your business offers.
This refers to how close your business is to the searcher's location. The searcher may specify the location in their search, e.g. "web designers in New York" or may not e.g. "web designers". If the location is not specified in the search, Google will use the location information they have for the searcher and generate results that are closest to them.
You have no control over your business's proximity to the searcher. However, it's crucial to add your business location and service areas to your website, Google Business profile, and other listings to ensure that your business shows up for local searches in its proximity.
This refers to how well a business is known and what its reputation is in a specific location. Famous stores or landmarks that are familiar to many people are likely to be prominent in local search results. You can improve a business's prominence through online reputation via positive reviews, ratings, comments, and quality backlinks.
Local SEO Optimization Tips
Here are important optimizations you can do on your website and online presence for more visibility in local searches:
Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
Create and maintain a GMB profile with accurate business information, such as name, address, phone number, type of business, website address, and hours of operation.
In addition, upload high-quality photos and videos of your business in the GMB listing.
Optimize your website with a good site structure, good user experience, relevant local keywords, high-quality content, and a mobile-friendly design that is easy to navigate.
Add your business listing across various local online directories and platforms to increase online visibility.
Encourage your customers to rate and review your business in your GMB listing and on other directories. Positive reviews and a higher rating can greatly improve your local search rankings.
Ensure you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, and address any issues raised about your business, products, or services.
Acquire high-quality backlinks from local and industry-specific websites to boost authority and credibility.
In addition, do proper internal linking between your website pages for proper link juice flow.
Create quality content on your website that is relevant to the local audience and business offerings. This helps support the service pages.
Adding schema markup to your website provides search engines with more information (in a structured format) about your business, which can help them display your website more prominently in local search results. Such information includes business location, operating hours, and customer reviews among others.
Ensure that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information is consistent and the same on the website, GMB profile, and on other directories (e.g. Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Trip Advisor).
Local SEO is not dead; it has its challenges but remains a critical aspect of online marketing. It keeps evolving and businesses need to adapt to the changes to remain competitive and connect with local customers effectively.
For the high competition industries and areas, it usually takes quite some time and authority to rank organically and see significant results. Local SEO is an ongoing process that requires regular maintenance and updates.