The fact that 97% of consumers use search to find local businesses is old news—that finding from BIA Kelsey dates back to a decade ago now. Yet over the past ten years, the importance of both organic and local search in discovery, engagement, and driving motivated buyers into your locations has only grown.

In that time, organic and local search have melded together in many ways, too. Gone are the ten plain blue links. Both organic and local results have become more visually interesting, interactive, and engaging. As Google has sought to better answer consumer needs right on the search results page, searchers can often find everything they need to make a decision and convert to an in-store customer without ever clicking through to a website.

And when the query has local intent, Google displays the Local Pack 93% of the time.

How can you increase your rankings in this prime online real estate? The good news is that some of your organic SEO efforts support your local rankings, as well. In this post, we’ll take a look at which organic optimizations can help move the needle in your locations’ local search performance.

Does organic SEO have an impact on local rankings?

One of the key findings in the most recent State of Local SEO Industry Report by Moz was that 88% of marketers agree that there is a close correlation between organic and local search rankings. That’s up from 65% in 2019, indicating that professional marketers recognize that the impact of organic on local is growing.

Moz organic search rankings

Source: Moz

We know that Google My Business optimization is a key tactic for improving local rankings; in fact, it is now the most influential factor in local ranking, according to the aforementioned study. 

Previously, a searcher’s proximity to the business was considered the heaviest weighted local factor, but this is no longer the case. In this year’s industry survey, GMB elements and Google Reviews (count, sentiment, and business response) topped the list, followed by:

  • Proximity 
  • Physical address
  • Consistency of local citations

Is organic or local search more effective for enterprise brands?

Organic search drives more engagement for multi-location enterprise brands, with 50% of those interviewed identifying organic as their greatest source of consumer engagement. 

Forty-four percent of enterprise marketers selected local search—26% the Local Pack and 18% Google Maps—so the two aren’t far off in terms of generating engagement for local brands. It’s not a question of which area your local marketing strategy should focus on. 

When it comes to local engagement, both organic and local SEO are key. 

Given how tightly intertwined the two disciplines are, a smart local strategy gives them equal weighting. Here are a few tips to help you use organic SEO more effectively to support your local search rankings:

1. Prioritize on-page SEO.

Moz found that on-page SEO is still the #1 organic ranking factor, followed by organic user behavior and GMB optimization. 

  • Optimize site and local landing page content for your target local keywords. Update headings, subheadings, and copy, and don’t forget to add descriptive alt text for images, as well.
  • Use schema markup to help Google better understand each page’s relevance to local queries and to increase the likelihood of triggering rich and featured snippets.
  • Update title and meta tags to include target keywords for each location.
  • Establish a content workflow that enables local stakeholders to participate in the creation and publication of the descriptive locally relevant content that consumers crave while protecting brand reputation with permissions and editorial controls.

2. Consider the customer journey in your web design.

Are you inadvertently creating obstacles in your local customers’ path to purchase? Consider how your website fits in the customer’s journey from search. 

While some find everything they need to make a decision on a local listing in search, others want more information before committing to visiting a store or office in person. Driving traffic from local listings to local pages ensures that you are able to deliver more in-depth, compelling information customers seek. They may be looking for:

  • Longer and more detailed business information
  • Photos to help them understand the experience you’re offering
  • Content in their local language
  • Product and service menus and availability
  • Upcoming events and promotions at their local store

Optimize your local pages to deliver on these needs and help searchers move fluidly from discovery to an in-store visit.

3. Support best practice technical SEO in your organization.

Technical SEO continues to be one of the most impactful ways to support a healthy search presence. Audit your site and make sure there are no technical issues preventing search engines from understanding and trusting your site’s content. 

Remember that accurate reporting is key in identifying potentially troublesome SEO issues before they impact your business. Develop a custom reporting solution that gives your brand the most precise view of local performance on the website and in local pages as well as across the broader local ecosystem.

4. Create new, optimized local content on a regular basis.

Keep feeding search engines and consumers fresh, relevant content to consider. 

  • Tap into your local knowledge base and subject matter experts.
  • Use high-quality images and videos in blog posts, local pages, Google Posts, and social media.
  • Focus on incorporating local context by mentioning landmarks that help consumers picture the location, working in local trends and lingo, showcasing local accolades and community service, and more.
  • Incorporate long-tail keywords that speak to the diverse needs of your audience in different geographic regions.

Dynamic on-page content

Lean on your local search insights to drive smart, data-backed decisions about new content opportunities.

Organic and Local SEO are just better together.

Think of your local and organic SEO efforts as complementary and find ways to support both initiatives whenever possible. For example, you could repurpose images in your blog posts by creating a new Google Post for each one. Or have your local pages dynamically include recent local reviews content so the resources you’re allocating to review management benefit you in multiple interactions with prospective customers.

These are just a few examples of how organic optimization supports your local ranking efforts. Get in touch with the Rio SEO team to discuss other creative ways to drive business at the local level.