Your Guide to Local SEO

Why is it important
Optimization & Users
Listing & Social Media
Review Sites
Citations & Linking
Analytics & Tracking

Understanding the Browsing Habits of Mobile Users

When optimizing for local search, it's important to remember that you are essentially optimizing for mobile. Mobile users are on the go, and they aren't searching for the sake of searching. They're looking to buy. When you're searching for a restaurant on your smartphone, you typically aren't doing it for the future. You're hungry now, and ready to eat. This applies across all mobile/local searches.

Trying to understand the habits of mobile users isn't difficult; you are one.

What do you search for on your phone when you're on the go?

The most common answers:

Restaurants & Bars
Retail stores
Travel (bus, airfare, taxis, rental cars, hotels, etc.)
Entertainment venues
Gas stations
Service-oriented businesses (salons, mechanics, attorneys, etc.)

I'd say most local businesses fall into one of these categories and if you don't, it certainly doesn't mean people aren't looking for you. Local search is a very business-first segment of the search industry. If you own a business, chances are someone is looking for what you offer.

So you now understand that people are looking for you, but do you know how to actually give them what they want?

Mobile browsers aren't looking to browse your website. They aren't there to read your blog. They're looking for something specific, and in order to have a chance at converting this visitor into a sale you need to give them what they want.

For most local businesses, the browser is looking for:

  • A menu
  • Operating hours
  • A phone number
  • Directions or an address
  • Pertinent information (dress code, reservation required, coupons, etc.)

This is, of course, a general list. You know what your business offers and with a little bit of thought you can probably guess what people are looking for when they're browsing your website. Put yourself into the shoes of the user and try to give them what they need.

Website Optimization

Keyword Research

First you need to understand what people are most likely to search for in an attempt to find your business. If you run a lawn care business, the search query will probably be something along the lines of:

"lawn care San Diego, CA"

Remember, local search is often hyper local, so if you live in a big city you might even drill the search term down further. It could look like:

"lawn care Miramar"

This is all about putting yourself in the shoes of the searcher and finding what they'd search for. If you need help, Google has a great keyword tool that can give you an idea of the search volume for specific keywords. For smaller towns, you'll search for the keyword that has the most search volume. For bigger cities - like San Diego - the key is finding a balance between search volume and competition. It's harder to rank for popular keywords, so you might not want to attempt "lawn care" in a big city like San Diego until you have a few reviews under your belt. We'll get into ranking factors later, but for now, let's take a look at the process.


To start, we're going to come up with 5-10 possible keyword combinations and we're going to type them in the box above.

In essence, when searching for keywords for local business, what you're doing is taking a list of search queries and finding one or two that you'd like to rank for.

There are two schools of thought here:

More Monthly Searches = More Money

This is true, but more searches generally means more competition. There is no right answer here, but essentially what we're doing here is attempting to take a small piece of a big pie as opposed to option number two, which would be to take a big piece from a small pie.

Less Competition = More Money

This sentiment isn't any less true than the first idea. The problem here, is that we need to grab a bigger number of the total searches to make the same dollar amount. In theory, this is obtainable because the competition isn't as strong as it is with the first set of keywords, but there isn't as much pie either.

The best marketers know that the real money falls somewhere in-between these two. We're looking for a keyword that isn't uber-competitive, but with enough search volume to make it worth our while.

Here's some sample keyword data that we're going to use to make our decision.


After typing our keywords into the box, and pressing enter, we're met with keyword data. There are some good options, some difficult options, and some without enough keyword data to make it worth our while. Avoid options with dashes, as these don't have enough data, meaning the search volume isn't high enough to be worth your time.

After looking at the data, as a lawn care professional in San Diego, I think I'd choose, "lawn care san diego" and "lawn service san diego" as my target keyphrases. Both of these terms are searched for semi-regularly, and neither of them look super difficult to rank for.

An additional step you might take here is to check to see how many Google Places listings there are for each keyphrase. This allows you to see which keyword should be your main keyword target when optimizing your page and profile listings.

Optimizing websites revolves around giving the customer what they want (as discussed above), as well as using your targeted keywords in vital places. The process is basically a stripped down version of optimizing web page for non-local search.

Title Tags

Use your keywords! Ideally, each page gets its own keyword, but the keyword or phrase used is relevant to your main title tag. For example, the title tag you use on your homepage might look like:

Lawn Care San Diego | Your Business Name

While the title tag on a secondary page, might be:

Lawn Service San Diego | Your Business Name

There are a few best practices to follow when using title tags on your website. Some of these are:

  • Use keywords in descending order of importance with the main keyphrase appearing on the home page.
  • Use one unique keyphrase or keyword per page.
  • Use less than 70 characters.
  • Use the keywords in the body text and meta description as well as the title tag.
  • Branding goes last (business name after keyword/keyphrase)

Meta Descriptions

Much like the title tag, try to use a unique description for each page that utilizes your keywords/keyphrases in descending order with the most important - or "main" - keyword used on the home page.

This string of text is what people see under the link to your page in the search results so it needs to be descriptive and offer a clear message to users to entice them to click.

Keep the text under 155 characters.