Plain and simple, SEO isn’t dying; it’s only changing. This means that you still need SEO, local business or not, you just have to make sure your strategy is up to par with the latest best practices. When it comes to your local business, however, this is even more crucial. Remember that the way you create a plan for local SEO is slightly different than if you were focusing on a global audience because there are different factors at play. It should be easier to get rankings and see success, but it won’t come to you without a little bit of strategy on your part.
If you’re just getting into the local SEO game and are not sure how it differs from “regular,” or what many call global, SEO, check out some of the points below. Hopefully you’ll see a trend: Local SEO is something that your local business needs — it’s no longer optional.
You’ll notice when you visit a Google SERP that they prioritize local results, meaning they put them at the top of a results page. If you can work to improve your local SEO you should earn a space in the local results (as opposed to your typical organic results), as shown below. Notice how the results look different in the local “box” and the organic results below:
As you might imagine, this helps improve your visibility because it’s the first thing that searchers see. Local results are also more targeted and therefore appealing to a searcher who searchers for something that has local results, which brings us to our next point:
If someone types in a search query and local results come up, that means they’re likely searching for something specific. This means they are a more targeted audience and more likely to convert. Remember that it’s better to have 100 searchers that are local and serious about your business than 200 searchers who are just browsing around for something they may want to invest in sometime in the future (which is what you often get with organic results). Think about your own search habits: If you type in “plumbing services,” you’re probably not going to be searching for that just for fun, are you?
The cool thing about local SEO is you’re really only competing with others who are trying to optimize for your same local search queries. This means that the pool of competitors is much smaller than if you were trying to earn the number 1 spot for organic rankings for any given term. You can think of local SEO similarly to the way you think of long tail keywords. You still have to work hard to optimize, but overall local SEO is much less expensive, things move much faster, and through it all you get more targeted results. In fact, many of the businesses we work with survive on local SEO alone.
Again, the more visibility you have the better known you will be in your community. With local SEO it’s not all about earning visibility on a search engine in general, but earning that visibility amongst searchers and other businesses. After all, those who find you through a local search are probably in your area!
If you think about, most of the searchers that happen on mobile phones are local searches. You want something right there, in the moment, so your phone is the way to make that happen. According to Google research (PDF), local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day, and according to Search Engine Land, Google announced that mobile searches have now outnumbered desktop searches. The moral of the story is that’s a lot of traffic you’re missing out on if you’re ignoring local SEO.
What many companies don’t realize is that local SEO isn’t just about rankings, but it’s also about reviews. When you see a local result you can easily click on the review section, so these listings in general are more trusted than organic results and especially paid results. You can click a local listing before going to that listings website if you want to learn more right there on a SERP, which takes you to something called Google’s Knowledge Graph, and reviews are very prominent as you can see below:
According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means you should get involved in review sites as well — Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yahoo! and Bing Local, etc. — which is all a part of local SEO and creating that online local presence.
While local SEO may seem like it’s only necessary for small businesses or businesses with a physical location, it can benefit all types and sizes of companies. If you don’t have a physical store, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of all the benefits listed above. If you still want a targeted audience, optimize for your headquarters and then when someone clicks they can see that you do work all around the world. If you’re a national company with multiple locations, you can still optimize for each location.
So understanding why you need local SEO is the first (and major) step, but the next step is of course putting it into action. So how exactly do you improve your local SEO? Learn about best practices for local SEO and how to create a successful plan, or work with an agency to improve your local SEO to help you better meet your goals.