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What is local SEO and how can it help my business?

Local SEO is all about making your website appear on the web when someone searches for businesses close to their location.

It’s a way of grabbing the attention of all those customers who type things like ‘pecan pie near me’ and ‘bicycle repair San Fran’ into their search bars.

Understanding local SEO can be a tad tricky. So to help out, I’ve put together a super easy guide explaining what it is and why it matters for your business. Here’s what I’ll cover:

1) What is local SEO anyway? 

Before I explain what local SEO is, I need to start by showing you how ‘local search’ works.

Google has super complex algorithms that want to provide people searching online with relevant content. One way Google’s algorithm does this is by giving people search results that are relevant to their location.

Think of it this way: If you were strolling around New York and typed ‘greengrocers open now’ you’d be a tad confused if you started getting listings for vegetable shops in London. Local search makes sure you only get greengrocer recommendations relevant to your location.

To elaborate on this, here’s what happens when I type in ‘somerville bicycle repair’ from my home in Massachusetts.

According to our trusty friend Wikipedia, there are ten Somervilles in the US (and two more in Australia!). But Google automatically provides me with bike repair shops in Somerville, Massachusetts because that’s the location most relevant to me. Neat, huh? 

Local SEO is a collection of tactics that you can use to optimize your site so it shows up when people search for something nearby. It’s about making your content ‘search-engine friendly’ so you can get noticed and attract more paying customers to your store. 

This is exactly what Somerville Bike Kitchen did in the image above. You can see that their meta description includes the words ‘Somerville’ and ‘bicycle repair’. 

As such, Google has paired their website with my query—meaning I’m more likely to click on their website and choose their service when I need my bike repaired. It’s a win for me (I get great local service) and a big win for them (they get a new customer!)

2) So how can local SEO help my business?


Say you’ve just launched a new tapas bar in Barcelona. While you wouldn’t turn your nose up at a multinational fanbase (who would?), most of your customers are probably going to come from the local area.

With a great local SEO strategy, you make sure everyone searching ‘tapas bar open now’ in Barcelona sees your site at the top of the search results. That means more site visitors and more customers walking through your restaurant doors.

As a bonus, local SEO is a great way to build your reputation. Your website is a bit like a digital storefront. Make a good impression, and people will want to pay you a visit in person to see what all the fuss is about.

Oh, and did I mention local SEO is free? If you boost your local rankings organically, you can get a steady stream of traffic without ever paying a dime. It’s the perfect level playing field. 

Summing Up

To wrap things up, here are the things I hope you’ll take away from this:

  • Local SEO is about making sure your website is visible to people in your local area.

  • It will help you build your reputation and bring customers to your location.

  • And yes, it’s totally free. Anyone can do it with a bit of practice!

If you’d like to find out more about getting started with local SEO, I have a great guide to doing keyword research for free. Good luck!


My name's Claire and I’m an SEO and content strategy expert. I help startups and ambitious businesses improve their content, so that customers can find your website in search, and so that when they do, they convert.

I’m a former startup CEO, and I’ve worked for some of the world’s biggest publishers (Penguin Random House, Oxford University Press), as well as training with Google's in-house SEO team. I even built a website to attract 45k in organic search visitors/month. Drop me a line if you need help of any kind with SEO and content.


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