by Juan Robin II
Compared with big-box retail stores, local businesses generate 70% more economic activity for every square foot.
The “buy local” movement has been around since international trade and globalization began. Bolstered by buying local initiatives, this movement shows no signs of slowing down. As a small or local business owner, your success is becoming more and more dependent on reaching a local market.
Even if your website is already SEO optimized, your local marketing may not be. SEO simply isn’t enough to reach a local audience, which is where local SEO comes in.
Whether you’re new to SEO or just looking for ways to improve, you’ll benefit from knowing what local SEO is and how it can help your business.
What Is SEO?
On average, half of all your website traffic comes from organic, non-paid, editorial or natural searches. SEO includes various ways in which you can help your website rank higher in these types of searches.
SEO involves knowing how search engine algorithms function. It uses tactics that meet and exceed those guidelines helps your page get more visits.
SEO is always changing. The world’s most-used search engine, Google, changes their algorithm 500-600 times per year. That means that most SEO best practices are continually changing and so too will your local SEO strategy.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is exactly like SEO – except it has a focus on ranking for local terms.
Local SEO helps businesses serving specific communities increase their visibility to the people living in those communities and searching online. It’s a way to promote your businesses to the people who are most likely to use your product or service.
Local SEO includes claiming business listings, managing reviews, building local links between websites and engaging in social media that has a local focus. It ensures that anybody in your community can find everything they need to know about your business online, and quickly.
What Businesses Benefit from Local SEO?
Any business that provides a product or a service in a specified geographic area can benefit from local SEO.
Whether your business is a brick-and-mortar business, like a restaurant or a retail store, or a service business that provides services in a community, like a plumbing or cleaning company, you should be using local SEO to maximize the potential of your local marketing plan.
10 Ways SEO Optimization Impacts Your Local Marketing
1. Local SEO Is More Effective Than National SEO
Google’s sophisticated systems know when a searcher has local intent. Google understands when a searcher is looking for results that are location-specific and shows them those results.
Relying on national SEO isn’t going to drive those searchers to your site because it doesn’t focus on building a local-friendly site. Add to this that if your competition is using local SEO and you’re not, and your chances for showing up in search results are even less.
2. ‘Near Me’ Searches Are on the Rise
The number of people including ‘near me’ in their search terms is on the rise.
By 2015, searches that included ‘near me’ were 34 times more popular than they were in 2011. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of people searching using these terms nearly doubled.
A trend with that kind of scaling is something small businesses should pay attention to. If you’re a restauranteur or a service provider, you want your site to come up in the top searches for “restaurants near me” or “plumbing services near me”. That greatly increases the chance that your customers find you and come to you for help.
3. Improving Your NAP Improves the Chances You’ll Be Seen
What is NAP? It’s your business name, address, and phone number. Your NAP can appear on your website, on review sites and business listing sites, as well as on social media.
It seems like a little detail, but it makes a big difference.
If your NAP is different across websites and directories, search engines will pass you over when providing results. An inconsistent NAP means that a search engine doesn’t know for sure where your business is located. They prefer to provide searchers with listings that they are confident about.
Ensure that your NAP is exactly the same on every online platform. This includes your website, social media, directories, review sites and Google My Business listing.
4. Reviews Matter
Reviews represent a live conversation about your business and service. Yelp, Google, Facebook and other review platforms give your customers an opportunity to talk about their sentiments about your performance and share it with other potential customers.
Reviews are an important part of a user choosing your business over a competitor. In fact, 88% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
That’s why your reviews are key to local marketing strategies. But how do you engage with your reviews in a way that’s local SEO optimized?
Your first line of attack is to encourage positive views from the source. As the business owner in charge of training and preparing employees for situations that they encounter, you can ensure good reviews by providing good service.
Don’t be afraid to ask local customers to give you reviews and, once they start coming in, engage review-building tactics.
One important method for review-building is to utilize the ‘owner response’ function available on numerous review platforms. Use this feature to thank customers for positive reviews and engage with customers who leave negative reviews – offering explanations, apologies, and solutions.
5. Link Building
As with organic SEO, link building between sites can help you rank higher in search results. But why?
Having other websites link back to your website gives your website credibility in the eyes of the search engine. This credibility is known as ‘authority’ – the higher your authority, the higher your chance of ranking is.
Websites can gain some authority organically as a result of age. But SEO strategies like link building can increase your authority far more quickly and efficiently.
Local link building is often overlooked. Actively pursue opportunities to have your business quality mentioned by relevant sources, consider guest posting, create content that other local businesses can link back to, and link to local directories like Yelp, Superpages, and Yellowpages.
6. Local Searches Lead to Purchases
According to Google, 4 out of every 5 customers use a search engine to find information about their geographic location and 50% of customers who searched with a local intent on their mobile device visited a store within a day.
Including local SEO in your local marketing strategy increases the chances of your business turning up in local searches that lead to purchases. 18% of smartphone searches for local products or services lead to a purchase within one day. Only 7% of non-local searches produce a purchase within a day.
7. Your Customers Prefer Location-Based Ads
Not only will local SEO help you rank on local searches that lead to purchases, but it’s what your customers prefer. 4 out of every 5 consumers prefers that the ads they’re shown include their city, zip code or geographic area.
Providing an accurate location satisfies the customers’ experience before they’ve even decided to make a purchase. 60% of consumers have used the location information in ads. When they’re deciding where to spend their money, consumers think it’s important to have an address, phone number, directions and call buttons.
8. Google Likes Local
Google’s intent is to show the most relevant search results to the user.
As you already know, Google understands when searchers are searching with local intent. It provides results on relevance, distance, and authority.
Ensure your content is relevant to local search terms, your address is correct and that you’re doing the most to build your authority. Google algorithms will send a user their search results based on what is most relevant to them.
When you’re not SEO optimized for local results, you’re relying solely on organic results that don’t lead to conversions as easily.
9. Complying with Google Helps You Rank
Google My Business is one of your most important listings online. Considering that Google has dominated the search engine market since 1997, it’s an entity you want to maximize your association with.
However, marketing your local business had to adhere to Guidelines for Representing Your Business On Google in order to be effective.
Not complying with these Guidelines can result in anything from failure to rank to the complete removal of your listing.
10. Local SEO Can Give You a Competitive Edge
A competitive advantage in a local market can make a difference for your business. Look into opportunities that your competition hasn’t to gain an advantage in selling your products or services.
For example, only 56% of small businesses have a mobile-friendly website. Something as simple as ensuring your site is mobile friendly can give you a competitive edge. Using local SEO methods on top of that gives you an even larger advantage.
Using the right keywords to drive traffic can also give you an edge. Keyword ranking tools can tell you what your customer is looking for when they search online for local products and services. Integrating those into your website will help you rank before your competition.
Are You Local SEO Optimized?
Even if you’re search engine optimized, you might not be local SEO optimized. Use a tool like the Gauge Digital Media local SEO grader to find out how you rank and where you can improve.
Need more SEO tips? Explore our site!