Local Search Strategy for 2023 & Beyond

Local SEO Strategy (conceptual image)
Why Local SEO NZ? Because local search rankings can make or break a New Zealand online business. But if your business appears in the Local 3-Pack, it’s all good!

A good Local Search Strategy will boost your business!

The research data on the impact of Local Search services is compelling and local businesses ignoring this do so at their peril! After completing a search, more than 88% of web searchers will go into a shop within 24 – 48 hours. Assuming that you want to attract more customers from around your location and generate more revenues in 2022, you must first have “A Local SEO Plan” for this! That plan must look like a comprehensive search engine optimisation strategy with the specific goal of boosting your position on local 3-pack search results pages. The payback from top local search results is more potential purchasers who will find your business online, get in touch with you and/or visit your premises and buy your products and/or services!

The Local SEO Potential for Your Business

  • 46% of all search queries are related to location-related information. (Source: GoGulf)
  • 72% of potential customers who conducted “local” searches visited a store within 8 km of their home. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics
  • 97% of locals learn more about a nearby business online than any other source of information. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • 88% of searches about local business products and services on a smartphone or tablet either phone or go to the business premises within a day. (Source: Nectafy)
  • 61% of smartphone & tablet searchers are most inclined to contact a local company if the company has a mobile-friendly website. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
  • In 2021, portable devices influenced over $1.4 trillion in local business sales revenues. (Source: Forrester)
  • 18% of local mobile phone search queries lead to a sale within 24 hours, whilst only 7% of non-local queries lead to a purchase. (Source: Think with Google)
  • 78% of locality-based mobile searches result in an offline purchasing decision. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • Near me” or “nearby” type searches shot up over 900% over 2 years. (Source: Chat Meter)
  • 72% of desktop, laptop or tablet users and 67% of smartphone users want ads customised to their town, city or postcode. (Source: Think with Google)
  • Using locality-based vouchers on mobile can generate a 9916% increase in incremental device revenue. (Source: WordStream)
  • Localised searches result in purchases 28% of the time. (Source: Joel House Search Media)
  • Search listing results details will drive 70% of shoppers to a physical business premises. (Source: Joel House Search Media)
  •  92% of people will pick a business on the 1st page of local results listings. (Source: SEO Expert)
  •  Global retail e-commerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use Google search engine to find local information. (Source: Think with Google)

Source: https://www.hubspot.com/state-of-marketing

What does a local SEO strategy look like?

  • Local SEO is a search engine optimization methodology that focuses on increasing your position in “locality-focused” search results (SERPs). Attaining this goal allows more new clients to locate and visit your place of business.
  • A Local SEO Strategy is the overall plan and tactics that will be implemented to optimise your website’s content and enhance your online website profile to attain higher SERPs positions.

Old-school search engine optimization work increases your website’s SERPs footprint on the larger organic results/natural search landscape. The complimentary Local SEO services concentrate your efforts on acquiring people nearby – and drawing them into your business premises.

The advantage of local SEO NZ is that it allows you to profit from higher visibility in your nearby area. Because 88% of local queries convert into customers, it’s a winning plan for 2023 and beyond. You can guarantee these “Near Me” and “Nearby” searches will increase both in volume and in value to you.

How does a local SEO plan help your ranking in “local” queries?

When evaluating content, Google considers a variety of ranking factors for the Map 3-Pack results, but it primarily considers 3 elements::

  • Relevance: Does your company’s listing correspond to the searcher’s intent?
  • Proximity / Distance: At the time of the search, how close is your business to the searcher?
  • Prominence & Popularity: Is your company well-known both online and offline? Have you done Google Business Profile optimisation? (previously called Google My Business)

Your physical proximity to a searcher can’t be changed on the fly. But a strong local SEO plan can help your company influence Google’s other 2 considerations: Relevance and Profile. This can override Proximity, and allow you to appear higher in the search results.

If a searcher uses parameters like “near me” or “nearby” and your company listing is a very close match to that query, your business may be shown in the Local 3-Pack or Map Pack. These are the Top 3 local business entities that met Google’s criteria for the search.

To appear in the Local Search 3 Pack, you must have and execute a comprehensive local SEO plan.

Local SEO FAQs

Improve visibility of local citations & links

Top Priority: create your new (or claim an existing) Google Business Profile. (GBP)

This listing offers important details about your company and its location or service area. Google uses GBP listings to generate data for the Local Search 3 Pack SEO. As a result, following this local SEO advice is mission-critical to getting your business to appear in both Search (organic) and Maps SERPs.

You need to properly optimise your GBP profile by first including name, address and phone number (NAP) details such as:

  • Name – of your company
  • Address – your place of business – unless you are a Service Area operation instead of a fixed location.
  • Phone – phone number of your business

Products or Services

Products: add examples of your products, using Categories and be sure to add a Button with a hyperlink to “Learn More” or “Buy Now.” Be sure to include the targeted keyword phrase for the product you are linking to.

Services: you should list them AND add explanatory text with pertinent keywords related to the corresponding service on your website. It is now possible to provide a cost indicator for each service. Google may analyse your website and online profile and add “suggested services.” If these are relevant to your business, you should accept them and add a description.

Photographs: of your company, staff, premises, products etc.

Logo: make sure you load your current business logo.

Local Citations: get your business listed on local/national business lists.

Content Targeting

Build a customer profile for your area, city and region. Determine who your target consumers are, in terms of demographics. Ages, jobs, industries, purchasing habits and budgets, and any other data that may be influencing their purchase decisions.

Understanding your target market will guide you in creating market-specific website content and marketing material.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is an important component of all search optimisation activities, included in your local SEO consultant efforts.

The goal of keyword research is to uncover useful terms relating to your organisation and its products and services. Terms that people living in your area, town or city might use. Look out for combinations of “product + place name” for example.

Carefully researched and targeted keyword phrases allow Google to connect customers’ searches directly to your content (products & services). Incorporating local keywords into your content informs Google that your information is relevant to local searchers, which helps your content rank higher and enhances your online profile in your locality.

Learn the concept of "Search Intent"

It’s important to have some comprehension of a searcher’s intentions when they type specific keyword search phrases. Understanding the intent behind local name searches will help you drive rankings higher in search results. You don’t want to waste time and money targeting “informational searches” – instead, you need to prioritise content to best match a potential customer’s “buying searches” query.

“Assume” makes an Ass out of U and Me… You don’t need to ‘assume’ what the intent is of the keyword you want to target. Use Google!!! Search for the phrase and scrutinise the content that is ranking for that phrase.

Note that provides related keyword phrases that you may consider including in your pages and attaining rankings for.

When targeting keywords, don’t forget to take careful note of “near me” and “nearby” search phrases. Those, plus suburb/location names are the type of neighbourhood keywords you want to rank for.

There are a number of online keyword research tools available, but most require a monthly subscription to gain access. Google’s Keyword Planner is only accessible if you have an Adwords Account with live Ads running…Google, SEMRUSH, WordTracker and the like can assist you in conducting in-depth local research. Rank tracking services will let you research what position those phrases are already ranked at.

Keyword Types

When conducting your keyword search phrase research, it’s useful to have a basic understanding of the 3 common search formats:

  1. Navigational searches 
  2. Informational searches
  3. Transactional searches

Navigational Searches

Navigational searches are made with the goal of finding a specific website or web page. Instead of inserting the URL into a browser’s navigation bar or using a bookmark, a user just type “YouTube” into Google’s search box. The top 2 Google searches are “Facebook” and “YouTube,” – each is a navigational search query.

Informational Searches 

According to Wikipedia, informational searches are “questions that span a broad topic” For example, “silverado” or “pickup trucks” and may yield hundreds of related results. When someone enters “informational search queries” into a search engine, they are looking for detailed information, which is why the name is so specific and descriptive. They are unlikely to be looking for a particular website, as is the case in a navigational enquiry, or to conduct a commercial transaction. They simply want to know the answer to a specific question or determine how to accomplish something.

Transactional Searches

Transactional searches are those that signal a desire to execute a transaction, such as purchasing something. Transactional search queries often include explicit brand and product names (such as “Samsung galaxy s8”), generic terms (such as “espresso coffee maker”), or terms such as “buy,” “purchase,” or “order.” If the searcher isn’t already whipping out their credit card, you can deduce that they’re thinking about buying something in the very near future. In marketing parlance, they’ve reached the bottom of the conversion funnel. Many location-based searches (for example, “Christchurch wine store”) are also transactional.

Knowing what type of intent the queries represent will allow you to create more targeted content for your chosen keywords. Location words are frequently classified as navigational or transactional. Local clients might find your company using navigational keywords. Transactional keywords assist people in purchasing your local goods and services.

The length of keywords varies as well. Head terms are usually 1 to 3 words long. These keywords are notoriously difficult to rank for. Consider how many firms are attempting to rank for “best microwave.”

Conversely, long-tail keywords have a far lower level of competition. These terms are often conversational in nature and frequently begin with what, how, when, where, or which. These are the kinds of keywords that people look for when they do a voice search – “Where can I get my microwave oven fixed nearby?” ”

This keyword category includes local place names, points of interest and directional markers.

Longer keyword phrases are very important in SEO in general since they better reflect a potential customer’s intentions than head terms. Because voice searches include multi-word keywords – which account for +50% of all searches – Google is placing greater emphasis on them.

When ranking content, Google evaluates the number and quality of incoming links from other websites to yours. That means you do need to include building local citation backlinks in your local SEO best practices strategy. Local business directories are a good place to start.

Backlinks provide two functions.

  • They assist people in navigating the world wide web (Internet).
  • They draw search engines’ attention to your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (aka E.A.T).

Some citation links are more valuable than others, this being dependent on the trustworthiness and authority of the site that is linking to yours.

In other words, a link from The Press newspaper to one of your posts carries more weight with both Google and site visitors than a link from a recently launched Webspot or Tumblr blog post.

Consider link building from reliable, local sites to strengthen your local and natural search profile. Local back-links help your brand recognition in your community. Because consumers trust local influencers, your credibility will skyrocket in the eyes of prospective customers.

You can begin building local back-links by:

  • Creating and disseminating localised content
  • Requesting that influential locals and news outlets distribute your content
  • Obtaining feedback and mentions from local customers

Link building must be done with great caution – less is more! Too much is harmful to your search positions and Google’s Link Spam algorithms get better with every release! For a small site with a modest budget, use free tools like Moz Open Site Explorer or AHREFS backlink checker to assess your backlink profile and also to keep an eye on your competitors’ locally sourced links.

Create detailed local or regional content

When it comes to ranking considerations, helpful content is always king. Inserting keywords and building links alone will not rank your content anymore. Page #1 placement is attained by the creation of unique and authoritative information, presented in a Topic-based format.

User demand is best met with high-quality material, written to answer questions, solve problems and provide informational needs. If users can’t find the answer to their questions within your material, Google is less likely to rank it.

Good content matches the searcher’s specific query and is usually full coverage of a single topic in a classic “How, Why, What, When & Where” outline of issues, options and solutions. If you answer the specific query and match the purpose of the searcher using the keyword phrase you want to rank for, then Google is more likely to reward you.

The quality of content works in the same way for local SEO as it does for conventional organic/natural search optimisation. The distinction is that local content is developed for topics that your regional customers are interested in learning about.

  1. People Also Ask & FAQ Details: content based on frequently asked questions. These can show in Google’s SERPs as a Featured Snippet. You should use customer’s regularly asked questions to create FAQ page blocks on your website. You need to use a Structured Markup block for this to work best.
  2. Ensure the important information is at the start: material should be original and easily digested. Tell them what you are going to tell them… so that readers can rapidly absorb the intent and purpose of the
  3. Add a Table of Contents: with the relevant headline levels throughout your topic so a reader can skim-read and jump to the exact section they want information on. Don’t skimp in word count – the average top-ranking page exceeds 1,000 words. Proper heading layouts and a TOC prevent the reader from being overwhelmed. Most readers prefer to be able to read and find everything about a Topic on one page.
  4. CTA: include a strong and obvious call to action (CTA) that will compel readers to take action.

Use local keywords in SEO Titles & Descriptions

To improve your Local Search AND organic SEO rankings, include local names in your title tags and meta descriptions where it makes sense to do so. This assists both searchers and search engines in understanding the meaning, intent and purpose of your content. This will help your rankings in location-based searches connected to your company.

The tag that appears in the SERPs is your title tag. It should have your main local keyword phrase, preferably at the beginning. The SEO title tag doesn’t need to be identical to the Page Title of your article, but it should convey the same concepts. Ensure certain that both are specific/relevant to your page content!

In the SERPs, your meta description is (usually) the description that appears underneath the SEO Title. It doesn’t appear on your page – only in the code. Google may dynamically change the Description – perhaps to better show a searcher how relevant this page is to their search. An SEO Description is usually kept short – 145 to 160 characters. Include the targeted keyword phrase, but write the description as a sales pitch. It’s not a ranking element per se – but it DOES have an impact on click-through/conversion rates!

Include those local placenames if you want your content to rank for more than one search result. They’re the first thing customers see in the SERPs (just after the title tag), so make them appealing to entice them to visit your site!

Google may truncate the SEO Description, so make sure all of the important information is nearer the beginning than the end.

EVERY page, post, product and category must have a unique SEO Title and Description.

Internal links in the main content container (not the header, sidebars or footers!) are regarded as “editorial links” and these assist Google in identifying what content they will find on the destination page. These internal cross-links contribute almost as much to your rankings as external links do! The internal links in content convey useful cues to people navigating your site.

Connect your homepage to services pages and product categories, location pages, and more. When adding local pages to your website, make sure to link to them from relevant, older pages so Google can quickly find and rank the new content. The internal link anchor text should be concise rather than verbose, and 100% relevant to the information on the destination page. Slight variations to the keyword phrase anchor texts used on different pages can be helpful for ranking the destination page for multiple keyword phrases…

Internal linking should be a core component of both local SEO and organic search strategies in order for your content to rank in Search and Maps SERPs.

Website Updates & Redesign

When people are looking for information about your particular business, they will first look at your website. On the basis that “you never get a second chance to create a first impression” you need to keep your website looking good. Website SEO redesign SEO is required at regular intervals to take advantage of new standards, best practices, functions and features.

Content updates are especially important so if there’s time-sensitive data – such as promoting an upcoming event. If that type of information is left live 6 months AFTER the event date, you look silly at best.

Building and maintaining a high-quality business website is not without costs. If you’re tech-challenged, you should get someone else to maintain your website. An annual website maintenance plan is less expensive than the carnage that ensues from website downtime.

User Experience (UX)

Google will promote local content but they incorporated “user experience” (UX) into ranking algorithms since 2021. You must include UX considerations in both your localised search and natural SEO planning.

You need an intuitive, easy-to-navigate, and well-designed website to have the highest chance of ranking at the top of search results. Users will leave fast if page aesthetics are suboptimal and/or the site is slow to load on a smartphone or tablet. A website must be mobile-responsive AND load above-the-fold content in less than 3 seconds.

Image optimisation and caching plugins are NOT optional – they make a significant contribution to website rankings.

Mobile devices account for more than 50% of all web searches, so if your site isn’t mobile-compatible, you’re losing out on crucial local leads and income.

The objective is to prioritise your user’s experience.

Security & SEO

Security IS part of SEO! The security of your website is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Nothing will drop your traffic faster than Google et al posting security warnings in a viewer’s browser! Install security plugins (firewall, brute force login protection) and use strong passwords to ensure the security of your website. Update your website, apps, plugins, and content management system on a regular basis (CMS). Install an SSL certificate – the “s” in your domain’s https:// will indicate that the information on your site is encrypted and secure.

Social Media

40% of consumers spend more money on businesses that are active on social media, so provide regular updates and promotions. Regular blog posts, in addition to a social media presence, will boost your business brand and customer confidence. To appeal to your local audience, provide regular updates, and location-specific news and events.

Make sure your website has “Share” buttons that allow customers to share your products with their network of friends and acquaintances.


In association with optimising your Google Business Profile listing, be sure to actively ask for 5-star Reviews as a core strategy in your Search and Maps SEO plan. When establishing a company’s legitimacy, users look to testimonials, reviews, statistics, and other social proof markers.

Add Reviews requests in email signatures and thank you receipts for paid invoices etc.

Encourage your consumers to publish reviews and suggestions about your firm on local directories, social media, and other review sites after they make a purchase.

Google adds Star ratings in Local 3-Pack search results AND these 5-star ratings can be in organic search results IF you implement Schema data. See our Local SEO package for details on this. Those 5 yellow stars can be one of the first things searchers see when they first notice your business listing on SERPs pages. It’s essential to continue building favourable Reviews – the assessment is that five or more 5-star Reviews can boost rankings by 15%.

Research shows that reviews influence 80% of your consumers’ decisions it’s one of the most important things you can do for your SEO campaigns.

Reviews should be built into Schema data, see Schema below…

Implement Schema: Organisation, Place, Reviews

You need to do a full implementation of Schema Data across all pages, posts & products… This will improve the display of your listings in Search Engine Results in terms of:

  • Place / Organisation
  • Sitelinks search box
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Featured Snippets
  • Reviews

Implementing Schema may not (yet) be a direct contributor to rankings per se, but it does improve click-through/conversion rates. This is also relevant when doing local SEO for service area businesses.

There are very good plugins for schema data implementation which provide a high degree of automation, adding the bulk of the data automatically based on a top-level configuration process:

  1. Yoast SEO Premium, with Yoast Local Search module
  2. WPSSO core with Place & Organisation, plus Breadcrumbs modules (free and premium)
  3. Schema Pro – has multiple schema types which are added individually as/if needed, and includes reviews. (premium)
  4. LuckyWP Table of Contents – SEO-friendly table of contents for your posts, pages or custom post types. Can be configured to auto-insert TOC data above the first heading in your content, or elsewhere. (free)
  5. Structured Content – set up every FAQ and How To section as structured data.

Items 4 & 5 increase the likelihood of Featured Snippets appearing in SERPS.

After initial configuration site-wide, configure individual Pages so specific markup is loaded depending on the page type: Contact, About, Product, Service etc.

Schema References

Page last updated on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 by the author Ben Kemp