As more and more people use the internet to search for goods and services, small and local businesses need to find ways of competing with large and national companies. One way local businesses can level the playing field and compete is through local search engine optimization (LSEO).
What is local SEO?
Local SEO focuses on the geographic component of SEO, mainly targeting users who are searching locally for goods or services. With a local search, the search generally has two components: an industry and a location. Google has gotten really good at understanding the intent behind searches, especially those for local goods or services.
Many local searches take the shape of “best bakery near me” or “local plumber.” While these terms don’t necessarily have a specific location, Google is able to pinpoint the user’s area and provides results that are close to the user. With location services available on many mobile devices, Google does an incredible job of narrowing results for local queries to within a few feet of a user. Local intent will also take the form of inquiries about: type of business, phone number, hours of operation, driving directions, coupons and special offers, and especially ratings and reviews.
With nearly 60% of searches from ‘mobile devices,’ this means local business owners benefit by appearing in searches for local results. With local SEO, there is an intent of finding a business close to a physical location as opposed to a general search or inquiry that may cover the entire U.S. or even the globe.
It’s Different From Organic SEO
Local SEO and organic SEO differ in specific ways, although local SEO benefits from organic SEO as a whole, especially for small businesses. Organic SEO utilizes a number of different strategies in order for a site to rank higher in search engine results pages and generally gain a higher domain score with Google. Those strategies include:
- website analysis
- client requirements
- keyword research
- content writing
- website optimization
- site submission
- link building
Local SEO, while benefitting from the strategies listed above for organic SEO, uses a number of other online strategies in order to capture local users. These include ranking in search engines (like Google and Bing); appearing in business directories like Yelp, Foursquare, Google My Business pages and Bing Places for Business; utilizing the power of online reviews, and adding localized content on websites. For local businesses, the power of local SEO is held primarily by business directories and online reviews.
Online reviews are considered one of the most important parts of local SEO. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% of consumers trust them as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews are a huge asset to small businesses, especially with websites like Yelp and Google making it extremely easy for businesses to set up their own pages for reviews and business information. With only 44% of local retailers claiming their Google My Business listing, it’s an extremely valuable resource that is often forgotten or disregarded.
It’s Important for Local Businesses
While organic SEO is great for anyone with a website looking to attract online users, local SEO is vital for small businesses who have a limited service area, especially considering the mobile world we live in. Local SEO is highly targeted, meaning users are generally looking for a specific business or a product and/or service in a specific area. Local businesses need to be found when searched for, especially on mobile.
Recent reports have found that only 20% of adults get their news from print newspapers, which tells us that being present online is incredibly important for not only businesses as whole but particularly for local businesses. Local SEO is also important for local businesses in that it can help the business’s information appear during a local search, and with 50% of local-mobile searchers looking for business information like a local address, local businesses need to be online and they need to be found by mobile users.
Another important aspect of local SEO is that local directories predominantly make up the first page of search engine results for local searches. What local business doesn’t want to be on page one of Google or Bing?
Why Local SEO Should Be Part Of Your Marketing Strategy
Local SEO isn’t just for mobile searches; local businesses can be found on the web regardless of whether the search is done on a phone or a computer. One of the great benefits of local SEO is that it’s effective and cost-efficient. A number of business directories, including Google My Business and Bing Places for Business, allow businesses to claim their listings for free (a good majority of them are free to use).
Traditional advertising, like direct mail and neighborhood leaflets, especially for small and local businesses, is expensive and more often than not fails to procure a large number of new customers or clients. Recent numbers suggest that the response rate of direct mail marketing is around 5% for house listings and only 2.9% for prospect lists. For a small business, those numbers aren’t the greatest, and they also come with a large cost to the business itself. It’s also difficult to track the effectiveness of a direct mail marketing campaign: it requires someone to manually track each customer and how many leads/sales were directly associated with each mailing. Not only is this time consuming, but it can be negatively impacted by human error.
With local SEO, potential customers are able to readily access information about the businesses they’re looking for – name, address, phone number, pictures, online reviews, and any other information that may be important in the conversion process. And the best part is that the information is free for anyone to access and doesn’t cost the business owner any money to put it on the web. There are a number of ways to track user engagement and conversions that don’t require a human element, which is an incredibly valuable tool for any business owner, and it’s much easier to determine the overall ROI.
If you’re a local business owner, investing in local SEO is an excellent way to get your business online and out to the masses. If you don’t have the time, Intuitive Digital can help with your organic SEO and local SEO strategies.