In a nutshell, local intent is a users intent to see geographically relevant search results in search engines. But let’s dive a little deeper to discover what that really means and how Google sees it.

Examples of local intent search phrases

A keyword is deemed to have ‘local intent’ when the majority of people searching that keyword within a search engine are interested in geographically relevant content Some examples might be:

  • SEO agency near me
  • Train station
  • Hotels London
  • Tesco Hertford opening times

In all the examples above, the majority of people using these keywords in search engines would want search results that are geographically relevant to them.

How Google treats local intent?

Google and other search engines monitor what people click on in search results and how much time they spend on pages that appear in search results. They use this information to guide the evolution of future search results by always showing what most people are most interested in more prominently.

If, for any given search query, the majority of users are deemed to be interested in local content such as Google Maps, Google will deem that query to have local intent. Once a query is deemed by Google to have local intent, an additional ranking factor is added to the mix for traditional search results, and a map is normally added above the traditional search results.

The extra ranking factor

Typically, for traditional search results (10 blue links) Google uses over 200 ranking factors including links from other sites and the words that you have on your page etc. If a search query is deemed to have local intent, an extra ranking factor is used to determine which 10 blue links to show. We will call this ranking factor ‘proximity’.

In simple terms, proximity factor means that Google will firstly try and identify the location of the user that is doing the search. Then it will try to identify businesses or web pages that are geographically relevant to the searcher’s location. Geographically relevant businesses and web pages will be weighted much more heavily than business that are further away from the searcher.

If the user mentioned a city/town in their search query, Google will show business in or near the mentioned town/city instead of businesses near the user within Google Maps. Within the traditional search results, Google will list web pages below the map (10 blue links), which mention names of relevant towns/cities in their text.

Why is local intent important for local businesses?

Local intent is important for local businesses because the vast majority of keywords that are relevant to local businesses have not only local intent, but transactional intent too. For example, if you are a Family lawyer in Brixton the relevant keywords would be; Lawyer Brixton, Lawyer South London, Lawyer Lambeth, Family Lawyer Brixton, Best family Lawyer Brixton etc etc.

All of these words are highly transactional. This means that most people searching for these keywords intend to hire a lawyer in Brixton. As such it could be very beneficial to appear prominently in Google for these keywords.

How Can I improve search engine visibility for my local business?

We thought you’d never ask! Of course you’ll need some Local SEO. At Spark, we specialise in Local SEO for small, local businesses. Click here to learn why we’re the best SEO partner for your local business or visit this post where we teach you how to do local SEO yourself.


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