Local SEO: 6 ways to outrank big competitors in South Africa

A street in Pretoria with the Jacarandas blooming to represent local SEO.

In the competitive world of e-commerce, standing out in search engine results is crucial. For South African businesses, this means harnessing the power of local SEO. This strategy not only increases your visibility to local customers but also gives you an edge over competitors. Let’s dive into how you can optimize your e-commerce site using local SEO.

If you need help with any of this SEO stuff, book a free consultation from our SEO page and I’ll help you with implementing local SEO. Or just help you with any questions you may have.

The Importance of Local SEO for South African Businesses

Local SEO is a game-changer for businesses targeting specific geographic areas. It’s about tailoring your online presence to rank higher in local search results, which drives traffic to your website or physical location. Local SEO increases your visibility, attracts more targeted traffic, gives you a competitive edge, and boosts your online reputation through positive reviews​​.

Optimizing for Local Search: A Step-by-Step Approach

1. Claim and Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile is a local listing that appears in Google’s web search results and Maps. Ensure your profile is accurate and complete, including your business address, phone number, website, and hours of operation​​.

Try to list on at least 5 local directories that are free in your area. This will significantly boost your local rankings. Try to list on sites that link to your business. What’s important here is NAP (name, address, phone number). Make sure that your business name, address and phone number are exactly the same on each directory listing.

2. Conduct Local Keyword Research

Local keyword research focuses on location-specific terms. It’s essential for creating content that resonates with your local audience. Utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Local Keyword Explorer, and SEMRush to find the best keywords for your business​​.

A great way of finding good local keywords is to look at a competitor’s website. Put their website into any of the SEO tools and it will give you the keywords they are ranking for. Use this list of keywords to start building your own.

3. Create High-Quality, Localized Content

Develop content that addresses the needs and interests of your local audience. Incorporate your local SEO keywords naturally to avoid keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact user experience and search rankings​​.

Here you have an opportunity to link out to other businesses in your area. Make sure to give them a call to tell them you linked out to them to start building that relationship.

Also, read our blog on creating great content consistently.

4. Optimize Your Website’s Structure and Metadata

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Integrate local SEO keywords into your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags to help search engines understand your content’s relevance​​​​.

There are 2 very important elements in website structure. The first is the speed at which your website loads (focus on mobile here). Check the speed of your website on Pagespeed Insights and make your website faster by following our guide on website speed.

Below is a screenshot of our own website’s speed. You can see it is a little bit slow and needs to be improved at the moment.

A screenshot of our own website speed on Pagespeed insights. This is very important for local SEO.

Secondly, make sure that all of your important pages are accessible within 2 clicks from the homepage. 2 is the maximum here. So for example from your homepage have a link to your blog and from your main blog page have a link to each post.

5. Build Local Citations and Links

Inbound links from reputable local businesses or organizations can significantly boost your local SEO. They signal to Google that you’re a legitimate company and improve your domain authority​​.

Here is a guide on building backlinks. Look at the following graph that I drew with my limited design skills. I don’t remember where I learned this but it’s very valuable for backlinks.

A helpful graph drawn by Marko to show which kinds of backlinks are good.

In this graph you can see that backlinks from local and related websites are the most valuable. Then links from related website that are not local are helpful. As well as local links from unrelated websites. However, do not spend time building backlinks from unrelated websites that are not local. Those are a waste of time.

6. Encourage Customer Reviews

Positive reviews, especially on platforms like Google and Yelp, can enhance your local SEO efforts. Businesses with more reviews and photos receive more requests for directions and website clicks​​.

Just build it into your business process. After the product or service is delivered, ask the customer for feedback. If the feedback is good, ask for a review.

The Continuous Process of SEO

SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Regularly monitor and adjust your approach based on keyword performance and analytics. Use tools like Google Analytics and Moz to track your keyword rankings and website traffic. Stay informed about local search trends and make necessary adjustments to your strategy​​.


Local SEO is a vital strategy for South African e-commerce sites looking to outrank competitors. By focusing on local keywords, creating relevant content, optimizing your online presence, and continuously adjusting your strategy, you can achieve higher rankings in local search results. This not only improves visibility but also drives more targeted traffic to your site, leading to increased sales and a stronger online presence.

FAQ: Local SEO for South African E-commerce

How is local SEO different from SEO?

Local SEO focuses specifically on optimizing a business’s online presence to attract traffic from nearby searches, typically within a specific geographic area. Regular SEO, on the other hand, targets broader, often global audiences without a specific geographic focus.

How do you do local SEO on Google?

  1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile.
  2. Conduct local keyword research.
  3. Optimize your website’s structure and metadata.
  4. Build local citations and inbound links.
  5. Encourage and manage customer reviews.

Is local SEO profitable?

Yes, local SEO is profitable as it helps businesses target potential customers in their specific geographic area. This targeted approach can lead to higher conversion rates, making it a cost-effective marketing strategy.

What is local SEO with an example?

Local SEO involves strategies like using location-specific keywords (e.g., “best coffee shop in Cape Town“) and optimizing Google Business Profiles to appear in local searches. For example, a Pretoria-based bakery optimizing for “fresh pastries in Pretoria” is employing local SEO.

How to do local SEO step by step?

  1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile.
  2. Conduct local keyword research.
  3. Create localized content using these keywords.
  4. Optimize your website’s metadata for local searches.
  5. Build local citations and links.
  6. Encourage and manage online customer reviews.

How much does local SEO cost?

The cost of local SEO can vary greatly depending on the scope of work and the service provider. However, it can range from R2000 per month to around R5000 per month.

Check out the SEO packages offered by Orcanically.

How long does it take for local SEO to work?

Results from local SEO can take a few months to become evident. Typically, you might start seeing improvements in rankings and traffic within 3 to 6 months, but SEO is a long-term strategy, and ongoing efforts are required for sustained results.


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