What is local search?

what is local search?
Local Search Results

Local Search is simply the process of making a broad search more specific by adding a location into the search. Therefore, instead of a user searching for “buy shoes”, they might search for “buy shoes, Norwich” or “buy shoes near me”. This Local Search allows Google, Bing, and other search engines to deliver the most relevant results. They do this by showing the geographically closest businesses that sell shoes. And very often, these businesses do not even have a website.

Online searches are those searches that users make millions of times a day all over the world, within the search engines. Sometimes these searches are for general information, and sometimes users are searching for specific products, services, or businesses. In most cases, the results list websites with the closest match to the search term. But in local search, the results are from structured databases like Google Maps.

Local Search is part of Google’s algorithm

Local Search began with users simply trying to narrow their search. Today, however, Local Search is an actual part of Google’s algorithm, and Google recognises local searches in a number of ways such as:

  • If a place is recognised in the search term
  • From the GPS on a mobile device
  • Or the IP address of a computer
  • The type of business sought (e.g. a shop)

Google will give businesses with a Google My Business listing a position in Local Search results, possibly in the 3-pack if they rank well enough. If they have been optimised for a location then they will rank better. It is not just Google as other platforms such as Bing, Yahoo and Facebook are offering similar local search facilities. The key differentiator is that the results do not usually show websites. More likely they will show map results linked to a database. The database will generally contain a link to a website if there is one.

More than half of online searches are Local

Research indicates that more than half of all online searches are local. Furthermore, a much higher proportion of local online searches have “buyer intent” than do general online searches. That is why Local Search has become such an important aspect of SEO.

What is surprising is that the majority of website builders or agencies do not differentiate between local businesses and (for want of a better word) brand businesses. How many, for instance, use Local Business Schema on the websites of local businesses? That is the subject of a later blog post but is one of the indicators we use to recognise whether or not a website builder understands Local Search.

After reading this blog series, I hope that business owners will be able to spot whether their website supplier has implemented the things that are required for Local SEO and, if not, seek help from an expert.


We work with your website designer to improve your ability to be found in Google and other search engines. And to look good wherever you may appear online. We specialise in local SEO and most of our work is off-site. But there still needs to be some on-site work undertaken by your webmaster to complement what we do. If you would be interested in finding out more, please use the Contact Form on our website.


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