Understanding Local SEO – a small business owner guide

Jump to: what is local SEO | can local SEO make a difference | local SEO ranking factors | how to optimize your local visibility

At Rankability we get asked a lot of questions about why SEO can make a difference for local businesses, and what can be done to get started with local SEO. With this article, we try to answer these questions. And give business owners a few easy to implement recommendations on how to optimize your local search visibility.

What is Local SEO

Let us first start with a few definitions;

What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is
a long-term strategy to create visibility in,
and receive organic traffic through search engines.

What is local SEO?
Local SEO is an SEO strategy that aims to create visibility for your business, services and products in the local search results, for your targeted local audiences.

Can local SEO make a difference for Small Businesses?

The short answer is: YES. If the majority of your products/services depend on the proximity of your customers, then the answer is a clear YES, local SEO will help you increase your bottom line. And more in general, any business that has a physical location, or serves a geographic area, can benefit from local SEO.

46% of all searches done on Google are aimed to find local information.

Hubspot – Local SEO Stats

Local Visibility – an example

Let’s assume for a moment that you are a dentist, with your own practice located in Dubai. Most probably > 90% of all your customers’ life within a 1-hour drive away from your practice.

Now let’s do a search for ‘dentist’.

Notice how the search engine already serves you a fully localized experience;

1. Before you actually complete your search,
the autocomplete already includes 5 localized options to find a dentist near a location;

Localized Google autocomplete

2. The top search results themselves are targeted for your location,
even without actually including this into your search;

localized SERP results

3. And if this is not enough localized options, both Google and Bing include a map with 3 dentist practices near your actual location. Along with all the necessary contact details to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment;

Google 3 pack map

This localized experience is true for pool cleaning services, groceries, carpenters, food delivery, plumbers, beauty salons, refrigerators, lawyers, cleaning companies, bakeries, doctors, furniture stores, gardeners… you get the point.

A local SEO strategy will help you create visibility within the localized experience the search engines are presenting when someone is searching for local information.

Local SEO ranking factors

So how can you make sure your business takes advantage of this localized experience, and be visible to your local audiences?

Let’s take a look at what the search engines say about this. Google is very specific when it comes to how they determine local rankings;

“Local results are based primarily on a combination of the factors
relevance, distance, and prominence.”

Bing doesn’t mention any specific parameters for local search rankings, but instead lists ‘a high-level overview of the main parameters Bing uses to rank content’; Relevance, Quality & Credibility, User Engagement, Freshness, Location and Page Load Time.

Taken into account that both Google and Bing show very similar patterns in how they rank pages, lets use Google’s ranking factors to get a better understanding of how to optimize your visibility through local SEO.


The first one, relevance, is the most obvious – how well do your (product/service) pages match the intent of what someone is searching for?

Optimizing for Relevance is all about organizing your website with a clear navigational structure, and use keyword research to build your category structure and content strategy.


Distance can be relative. When someone is looking for a ‘queen mattress’, any store in Dubai might qualify – a 35min drive to the nearest Ikea sounds reasonable for most of us. But if you are looking for an ‘HSBC ATM’ we want to find one within a 5 to 10 minutes’ drive maximum.

Whether your business serves clients in the UAE, Dubai or only in Al Barsha, make sure you mention this on your website. Your shipping page, contact page and about page are a good place to start.


Prominence is harder to grasp. Google states that “Prominence refers to how well known a business is.” But how do you optimize for ‘being well know’?

Luckily, they do give us some hints; “Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web […] Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”

We can write multiple blog posts just about ‘Prominence’. But for this post, the key take-away is that a strong brand, following SEO best practices and receiving positive reviews will contribute to your local visibility.

How to optimize your local search visibility?

Get your free local SEO audit!

Starting your local SEO campaign might be easier than you think. Here are a 4 tips and tricks that can help you start today, and can make a big difference when done right.

1. Localize your website

Create localized content. You can do this by using location names in your blog posts and mention local events. And if you don’t have a contact page already, create a contact page that lists your business name, address, phone number (NAP) and include a map. Do you have multiple locations? List them all!

2. Be consistent with your Name, Address and Phone Number details

It is important that your business contact details are consistent, all over the web; on your website, on your social profiles, on business listings and every other location your NAP details are mentioned. If the search engines get mixed signals about your NAP details, it will be hard to show up in the local search results.

3. Claim your Google My Business – and any other online profile

Your Google My Business is the best (free) tool out there to manage your business details online. Use it. At the same time, make sure you claim the online profiles that make sense for your business.

Every business should claim their Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter account. But don’t forget the profiles commonly used within your industry. Owning a restaurant in Dubai? Then make sure to add your restaurant details to Zomato. And if you are in the hotel business, make sure you list your hotel details and amenities at TripAdvisor.

4. Take business reviews seriously

Good reviews not only build trust among your audiences, it also helps the search engines to understand if your business is legit and ‘worthy’ of listing. Or, as Google says;

“More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking.”

To wrap it up

Almost half of all searches done on Google are meant to find local information. Working on these 4 recommendations can give you a good head start when it comes to your local ranking. Optimizing for a localized search experience will help your business get more visibility, and when done right, will have a direct impact on your sales.

And when you feel your business is ready for it, let us know and we can help you set up your local SEO strategy and take on the competition. Especially in the local UAE market, where online competition is strong, but local SEO is not that well developed yet, it can pay off to start your local SEO campaign today.

Get a FREE Consult!

Wondering how Local SEO can help you get more business? Or do you want to understand what the competition looks like? Contact us and talk to on of our Local SEO Engineers. A first consult is always free. No strings attached!

Get your free local SEO audit!

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