The single most-performed browser activity on mobile devices is search. That means people are using their phones for finding things more than they surf the web, skim Facebook peruse their favorite websites, make calls or even text!
Unlike desktop search, when searching from a mobile device, search engines have a general idea of the physical location you are searching from. Using this knowledge, searches that are typically location relevant (such as plumbers, lawyers or doctors, just to name a few) produce a local set of search results, different from, but within, the natural set.
The local search algorithm uses some very different signals to determine how businesses rank. In fact, you don’t even have to have a website to rank in the local search results; you just need to have all the right external signals in place.
While you can still rank organically for your geo-targeted keyword phrases (i.e. “plumbers indianapolis”), getting ranked in the local set provides additional advantages that the natural results don’t offer. These benefits include showing your address, a map pin of your location and a click-to-call phone number all right there in the search results. This gives visitors the opportunity to bypass your site altogether and make an immediate connection with your business.
Failure to understand the importance of these signals, and carefully ensure that your business meets all of the criteria, can keep you from achieving top local search rankings. Keep in mind, the sites shown in the local set can be different for each searcher, but “optimizing” for local improves your chances of being in the local results more frequently and for more searchers.