If you’ve ever operated a SME, you’ve probably heard of local SEO and how it’s one of the most powerful tools of digital marketing for small businesses. However, before we nod our heads in agreement with the opinion of the masses, it’s important to understand what exactly local SEO is, why it's relevant, and the impact it has on a small business.
The Importance of Local Search SEO and Basic Ways to Start
Over the course of this article, we’ll break down down all the important aspects regarding local SEO to have a better understanding of why it’s such a dominant aspect of online marketing and how it can help you grow and develop your budding enterprise.
So, what’s Local SEO?
To put it in a nutshell, the primary purpose of local SEO is to increase the visibility of your business on location-based search engine results pages (SERPs). While it really is just a variation of regular SEO, local SEO is geared to increase your business’ online visibility in a specific locality.
This comprises searches that involve particular geographic qualifiers, such as state, city, zip code, and ‘near me’ searches in which the search engine uses the geographic location of the person to provide search results that are relevant to their area.
Why is it Important?
In today’s highly competitive business arena, it’s difficult for small business to get the exposure they require in order to be successful. This is where local SEO comes in. It’s especially important if you run a brick and mortar store that only operates in a certain locality.
A study performed by Forbes revealed that 95 % of smartphone shoppers conduct “near me” searches, out of which 61% call the business and 59% end up visiting. Another study from Search Engine Watch discovered that 70% of smartphone searchers click to call a business directly from the contact information provided by Google.
It’s evident from these statistics that location-based web searches are an extremely lucrative avenue in terms of potential customers, and it’s only likely that these numbers will grow even more. As these are qualified leads from people who’re actually looking for the exact product or service your business provides, it can be safely assumed that these leads are highly likely to convert into sales.
Local SEO: The Basics
Now that you have a basic understanding of what local SEO is and its importance, let’s move on to the things you can do to improve the local SEO of your business.
First, since local SEO is geared towards location-based searches, your business needs to have a physical location or address that’ll show up on local SERPs.
The next important thing is to ensure that the Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) of your business is the same across the online directories in which it’s listed. Any discrepancies can lead to Google not listing your business in its local 3-pack.
Citations are another effective way to improve the online presence of your local enterprise. A citation is when your business gets listed as a reference point by a third-party website. This could contain the name and contact information of your business, without needing a backlink to your business website.
The Impact Local SEO Has on Your Business
If you’re currently operating a small business, local SEO can be beneficial for you in a wide variety of ways. Here are just a few:
- Local SEO increases the online visibility of your business, making it more accessible to potential consumers in the relevant locality. However, a lot of local searches also come from non-locals. With the right local SEO techniques, you can tap into that audience as well.
- Local SEO provides a great platform to provide potential consumers with the exact information they want. For instance, if your business is pet-friendly or offers free WiFi, this information can be displayed in your local SEO. This will help you attract consumers who’re looking for these things.
- Regardless of whether you have a business website or not, local SEO ensures that your business ranks higher in local SERPs, which helps drive more traffic and qualified leads.
- Local SEO helps you provide potential consumers with more information about your business, and consumers are more likely to trust businesses that they know the most about. This provides you with a solid platform on which you can build long-lasting customer relationships.
No matter what kind of local business you run, a little SEO work can help you dominate local search and consistently grow your business. It makes it easy for people to find you as they search online for your specific products. It increases trust and credibility. And it puts you if front of the right customers at the moment they are ready to walk in your door.
Joesph Dyson is a digital marketing expert at Search Berg, an award-winning digital marketing firm. He specializes in on-page SEO, link building and small business SEO solutions.