As a small business owner, you might not think SEO is important. You've got your website up, and you think that's enough. Optimizing your site for search isn't just for big businesses anymore, and it can work wonders to bring your site increased traffic and highly qualified leads looking specifically for your product or service. This article will answer what Local SEO is, who needs it, why its important, and actionable steps to help get your site noticed.
What is local SEO?
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of setting up your digital properties so that your business targets keywords from a geographic area or location. For example, if you run a garage door company in Roanoke, Virginia, local SEO would help your business to appear earlier in Google and other search engines with keywords like "Roanoke garage door companies".
The importance of SEO practices cannot be understated because these techniques help small business websites show up in search before their competitors. These higher rankings also provide free brand exposure while driving conversions and sales at lower costs when compared with traditional advertising channels like print ads or billboards.
Who needs local SEO?
Any business that wants to attract local customers needs search engine optimization. Organic search is without a doubt one of the most important digital marketing channels. This is why SEO, or search engine optimization, is critical for every brand and company that does business online today.
The success or failure of a company can be determined by a click on your search result, or the lack thereof. Here are some interesting statistics to highlight the importance of local SEO:
Nearly 1 in 3 of all mobile searches are related to location. (Think with Google)
Nearly 2 in 3 of all smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location. (Think with Google)
76% of people search on their smartphones for something nearby and visit a business within a day. (28% of those searches for something nearby result in a purchase.) (Google)
90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. (BrightLocal)
How local SEO can help your business grow
Reaches Customers Who Are Ready to Buy
One of the most important functions that local search has to offer is its ability to reach customers who are ready and willing to buy your product or service. By using geo-targeting keyword strategies, you will be able to target potential buyers who live near your business location.
Local search results on mobile devices convert into sales at a rate of 80%. This is because local SEO puts you in front of the consumer at the precise time they're looking for a product or service, making them significantly more inclined to buy.
Become an authority in your field
A business’ local SEO strategy should not only focus on their ranking in the local results but also how they rank within search engine result pages (SERPs) at large. By optimizing for keywords that are relevant to your industry or niche, you can become an authority in your field and develop brand awareness amongst potential customers who might be looking for someone just like you.
A proper strategy will also build content around products and services for prospects that are not yet ready to buy. By doing so, you are establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and helping potential customers decide to choose you over your competition.
Build a reputation
A proper Local SEO campaign will drive clients to submit reviews for your products and services. By doing so, you are building a reputation as an authority. Not only will this help potential customers decide to work with you, but it can also improve your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) at large based on the amount and quality of customer feedback that is available about your company.
- 91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. (BrightLocal)
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. (BrightLocal)
- The time an average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision. (BrightLocal)
- 76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. (BrightLocal)
Reach Those Hard-to-Find Customers
With more than 43% of local searches coming from mobile devices, it’s safe to assume that the majority of people looking for products or services through search engines are using their smartphones or tablets on the go. With this being said, a large number of these people may be searching while they’re out and about town rather than at home.
By ranking high within local SERPs for keywords related to restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, shopping centers, etc., businesses can attract those hard-to-find customers who happen to be nearby when they’re looking for something to do, eat or buy.
How can businesses improve their Local SEO
There are many things you may do to improve your local SEO efforts, which are simpler than you'd believe. Here are some of the most basic strategies for improving your local SEO.
Highlight your service area in your title tag
In most website builders, the title tag is the "page name" but it should be taken more seriously than that. The title tag on a webpage is arguably one of the most important factors Google uses to rank a site. Optimizing this title tag can show great returns for a local business, especially if they can fit the service area as well as the product or service into this tag. The title tag is limited to roughly 60 characters, so use the real estate wisely. Pro tip: You don't always need to include your business name in your tag. In the example below, the blue text is the page's "title tag" while the black text below is what is known as the page's "meta description.
Create Reliable and Consistent Local Citations
Citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on a site, such as a local listing page. Citations help Google and other search engines find out about your company’s existence in a particular geographical location, as well as provide the information that someone would typically want when looking for a specific type of service or product. Make sure all these instances of your NAP contain the same and correct information.
Also be sure to place your NAP on every page on your website, usually in the page footer.
Set-Up & Maintain a Google Business Profile (Formally Google My Business)
By creating a free Google My Business profile for your small business, your business information gets posted directly into Google Search and Google Maps. Managing a Google Business Profile allows you to monitor business reviews in Google, make updates to your hours, and even keep up with customers through features like Google Posts.
List Your Business in Online Local Directories
Online local directories can be a great way to attract customers and increase your ranking in search results. Listing your business on these directories also helps you stand out from the competition and will help Google associate relevant content with your page more quickly, making it easier for people searching online to find what they’re looking for. List your site on websites like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and NextDoor to drive traffic and increase your site's chances of showing up for searches regardless of where your prospects are searching.
Respond Regularly to Reviews (Both Good & Bad)
Taking the time to respond to customer feedback on platforms like Yelp, Google Business Profile, and other review sites shows that you care and are considered a good indicator of local search rank. While obtaining more testimonials and reviews may take some effort, you should be prepared to answer—regardless of how good or bad they are.
Add Hyperlocal Content to Your Website
Your website's content may have a significant influence. Including business identifiers such as "dentist in [CITY, ST]" into your online material can assist search engines in better comprehending not just what you do, but also where you serve. This means that if someone in your neighborhood searches for "dentist near me", you are more likely to appear.
Add Schema Markup to Your Website
Schema Markup is a type of code that can be added to a website's HTML to tell search engines what the different pieces on the webpage are. Since local SEO is about getting your business information into as many relevant places online as possible, it makes sense to start with adding schema markup to your site.
Schema markup is behind-the-scenes code that, if constructed properly, can paint a detailed picture of your business structure and website structure to search engines. There are different kinds of markups for different elements on your website, including markup for local businesses, services, products, blogs, and frequently asked questions. The local business markup, for example, helps search engines determine your location, the business's hours of operation, and builds associations with the social media profiles of your business.
If relevant, Google also uses this markup to create what are known as "rich snippets". These snippets show up in SERPs as part of the organic search results, and they make your website's listing stand out among its competitors.
Use Google Webmaster tools to track progress and improve
Google search console allows you to monitor the pages of your site that are indexed by Google and track performance metrics such as clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and average position for the keywords you are showing up in the SERPs for.
Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that helps you understand how users interact with your website—and gives you insight into things like where they're coming from (i.e., organic search), where they go once they land on your site, and where they're located geographically.
Local SEO is a practice that helps small businesses grow and thrive. This type of search engine optimization strategy can help your business get found by customers in the area you service, giving them access to more information about what you do and how they can contact you for assistance.
We know how difficult it can be to compete in today’s digital marketing landscape. Before you embark on your journey, make sure you have the right tools for success. Local SEO is one of them!