Location based SEO – how to rank for a targeted area

Why the need for a change in SEO tactic?

“Google estimates that 73% of online activity has to do with local searches”

The discipline of SEO has evolved greatly in recent years. You can attribute this change to Google’s ever-evolving Search algorithm, but also to the fact that the way we’re searching is changing. Long-tail, more conversational keywords have become standard, with a report suggesting that search terms of 5+ words make up 41.7% of the overall keyword length distribution. As more and more content is appearing in search results, we’re adapting our method of search by using long-tail keywords to sift through content. Voice search is also on the rise, which also correlates to the increase in conversational long-tail keywords. In this increasingly competitive SEO battlefield, how do you get your content seen by your demographic? An interesting tactic is to use location-based search engine optimisation.

What is location based SEO?

Location based SEO, also known as geo-targeting, is the practice of optimising your content to appear for your target location. It is fair to say that Google is getting better and better at creating location-based search results on more generic topics, where searchers are looking for something. For example, if I’m sat in our digital marketing office in Banbury and search “restaurants” – Google knows to display me local results. A desktop search will return restaurants in the wider local area, as whereas a mobile search will show restaurants in the close vicinity. Google believes the intent is different between desktop and mobile search; those on a desktop are more likely to be researching whereas those using mobile search want immediate results.

This, however, does have its limitations. For less commonly searched terms, such as “SEO agency”, Google tends to display mostly national results.

Although location-based search terms have far fewer search volumes, they carry a lot more intent and can deliver traffic to your site that is far more likely to convert. Those searching locally are far more likely to be in the consideration or purchase stage of the buyer’s journey.

3 tips to get started with location based SEO

1). Target location-specific keywords

The most powerful way to get around keyword competition is by targeting location-based keywords.

This is a strategy that almost any company can leverage and is simple to execute. Think about keywords that take into account location, such as:

  • Your postcode
  • Your town
  • Your area in general

Let’s say I was tasked with improving a Banbury estate agent’s presence in local search. I’d initially create content optimised for keywords such as “Banbury estate agents”, “estate agents OX16”, “estate agents in North Oxfordshire” and then include variations of these for my regional SEO strategy. A good example would be to write a blog with the title: “How to make the most of your Banbury estate agents”.

2). Make use of Google My Business (GMB)

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To optimise your GMB for local SEO, ensure that:

  • Your GMB is accurate and filled out completely
  • Your location is owner-verified
  • The specific town/city that you’re targeting is mentioned in the GMB landing page title
  • The GMB primary categories are consistent with your service/product offering

As well as GMB, there are also lots of other regional online directory services that you can use to help build local authority. It’s important to appreciate that Google cross-references these listings to determine your business’ credibility – consistency is key!

3). Use a targeted Top Level Domain (TLD)

If you solely operate in the UK, it’s probably of your best interest to have a “.co.uk” TLD, as you will perform better in UK searches. For global businesses wanting to target several countries, this method may not be viable.

Can you optimise your website’s SEO for multiple locations?

Yes! As you’re aware, duplication of content is a big no-no in Google’s eyes. In order to rank for different locations, you must create unique content that is specific to your target areas. For each different location, you should almost create a “mini homepage”, which provides an overview of services you provide in that area with links off to relevant subpages. It’s important to make sure that the location is included in the slug.

Let’s go back to the estate agents example. Say I’d decided to set up a branch in London. I’d repeat my same location keyword strategy, although, the content optimised would be different. Informative content is key, and where possible should be tailored to reflect the buyer personas needs. Those buying property in London will have different concerns than those buying property in Banbury – your content should reflect that.

Remember – those searching with local intent are usually ready to buy. Your landing pages should include a prominent call-to-action that reflects this.

How can Toast Inbound help me improve my local rankings?

At Toast Inbound, we’ve worked with clients to improve their local rankings and help them expand the presence in Google with SEO location targeting. Our work starts by performing an SEO audit to ascertain how your website’s organic traffic is doing. From that, we’re able to create a bespoke plan to help those rankings increase. For more information, please click on the image below. 

seo audit


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Author – Lizzie Griffiths

Lizzie is a digital marketing executive at Toast Inbound. She works with clients to help them achieve their SEO goals and improve their presence in Google’s search results.

Get in touch with Lizzie



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