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What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Matters

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What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Matters


Local search is an integral part of any SEO strategy targeting customers in a specific region, city, or neighborhood.

Simply put, local SEO is where you focus to improve your rankings and visibility in local search results such as Google’s Map Pack/Local Pack.

Organic SEO is how you improve webpage rankings in organic search. How your website ranks in those organic results can positively influence your Local Pack rankings, as well.

Organic listings are another great opportunity for your local business to appear in front of motivated searchers when Google determines that the query has local intent.

So, although local and organic SEO are interconnected in these ways, each requires a unique strategy with different optimization tactics.

Let’s start at the beginning – what is local SEO and why does local search matter?

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of search engine optimization for local search results.

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On Google, that means helping your business listing in the Local Pack/Map Pack rank higher and appear more often in response to a greater volume of relevant queries.

Think of the last time you were out in the world, searching for something you needed. Maybe it was [men’s shoes], or [daycare providers], or [coworking spaces].

Google’s mission is to deliver searchers the best answer for any query.

And when its algorithms detect that your intent is local – that you are looking for something in the area around you – those Map Pack results will appear prominently on the first page of the search results.

They may be complemented by organic results about businesses and services in your local area, too.

If you search for something like [Mexican restaurants open now], local results may appear as the default view above all organic content. Google has detected that you have an immediate, local need.

The information available in local search results – business name, address, phone number, website, photos and videos, customer reviews and star ratings, and more – is more likely to answer that need than a plain blue link.

Adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and creating a great user experience on your website are best practices for SEO in general.

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This is essential if you want your website to rank in organic search results where Google has determined there is local intent to the query.

But, you can appear in the Map Pack without even having a website, as MapPack results are largely informed by your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. They might include information Google has compiled from other places around the web and even user suggestions, too.

Google has a separate set of guidelines for local SEO, too, the most important of these being its ‘Guidelines for representing your business on Google.’

These guidelines are essential for maximizing your visibility in the Map Pack and avoiding getting your listing suspended.

As you work through our Local SEO Guide, keep the differences between local organic and the Map Pack in mind.

At times, we’ll talk about Google search algorithms, technical SEO for your website, on-page optimization of your webpages, etc. These topics refer to your opportunities to appear in local organic results and to support Map Pack rankings with your website’s presence.

As you’re reading about local reviews and star ratings, Google Posts, and other elements of your GBP, you’re learning about local SEO as it pertains to local results you see in Google Maps.

Why Local Search Is Important

Here are a few stats that prove how important local search continues to be for businesses:

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  • According to Google, 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.
  • 30% of all searches it processes are related to location, also according to Google.
  • 61% of consumers said in a recent local search survey that they search locally every day.
  • A recent local SEO survey found that 82% of consumers read online reviews for businesses during a local search and spend close to 14 minutes doing so before making a decision.
  • 86% of people rely on Google Maps to find the location of a business.
  • Yelp appears in the top five search results for SMB searches 92% of the time.
  • Worldwide, 74% of in-store shoppers who performed their search before physically arriving at the store said they searched for things like [closest store near them], [locations], [in stock near them], and other types of hyperlocal information.
  • More than half of Internet users worldwide use a mobile device for their local searches.
  • 83% of searchers use Google Search to learn more about nearby businesses; 55% use Google Maps, 44% Apple Maps, 39% turn to Yahoo, and 31% choose bing.

How Google Determines Local Ranking

Google keeps its organic search ranking algorithms a closely guarded secret but is much more open about what it takes to rank in local results.

The three main categories of local ranking factors, according to Google, are:

  • Relevance.
  • Distance.
  • and Prominence.
‘How to improve your local ranking,’ Google, screenshot by author, January 2022

“Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.

Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches,” Google states in its help resource on how to improve your local ranking.

Google defines distance as “how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we do know about their location.”

And prominence in this context refers to how well-known Google considers that business to be. This is perhaps the most complex of the local ranking factor categories, as search algorithms try to factor offline prominence into the equation, as well.

According to Whitespark’s ‘2021 Local Search Ranking Factors’ survey, these are what local SEO experts believe are the top Local Pack ranking factors:

  • GBP primary category.
  • Keywords in the listing title.
  • Proximity of the business address to the searcher’s location.
  • Physical address in the city of search.
  • Additional GMB categories.
  • High numerical star ratings.
  • Completeness of GBP listing.
  • Quality and authority of inbound links to the associated domain.
  • Keywords in native Google reviews.

Improving Your Local Search Presence

As you can see, local search is an essential channel for businesses of all kinds that serve local customers – franchises, retail chains, so-called Mom & Pop shops, financial services brands, service providers, enterprise brands, and SMBs alike.

In ‘Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings,’ you’ll find everything you need to know to develop and implement a successful local SEO strategy.

You’ll learn:

  • The top local ranking signals you need to know and why they matter.
  • How to create a winning local SEO strategy.
  • Tips and a process for analyzing the competition in local search results.
  • Why accurate NAP information and user experience are so important in local SEO.
  • How and where to find the best local link building opportunities.
  • Why reviews and star ratings matter – and how to make the best possible use of them.
  • How to completely optimize your GBP listing.
  • All of the different attributes you need to know to help your GBP listing stand out and convert customers.
  • Local SEO and listing management tools to save you time and improve your performance.
  • And a lot more.

You’ll hear from local search experts Ben Fisher, John McAlpin, Alexandra Tachalova, Marshall Nyman, Maddy Osman, and others as they share their best tips and advice to help shape a strategy built for your business.

Download the guide free right here.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Matters





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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

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But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

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Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

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  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

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6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock



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