Let’s say you’re new in town and you’re seriously craving Italian food. Unless you make a mean spaghetti bolognese, the first thing you will most likely do is take out your phone, go to Google, and type “italian restaurant+[city you’re in]” or “near me”.
Voila! Up comes a list of Italian restaurants, all featuring photos of dishes in masterful plating. All you need to do now is comb through the search results and pick one that calls to you.
That is exactly how local SEO works.
It’s a digital marketing strategy that caters to a geo-specific customer base in order to bring people into brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s just like your traditional SEO campaign, but its methods are location-specific and all aimed at turning website visits into actual people coming into your store.
The Importance of Local SEO for Small Businesses
If you own a small business and have an SEO campaign in place without a local SEO strategy, you’re missing out on a lot. This is especially true if your business relies heavily on local consumers and makes little to no income online.
These are local barbershops, restaurants, and other service providers whose income-generating transactions come through outside the online space.
In the context of physical stores and local services, a local SEO strategy matters because it accomplishes three main things:
Drives Qualified Traffic to Your Website
Local SEO works like a filter, which refines web traffic and delivers to your site only qualified searches.
When done correctly, it helps build consumer trust through local linking, customer reviews, and optimized on-page SEO, so that the searchers that reach you are already interested in doing business or, at the very least, discussing your services.
According to Google, 76% of people who conduct local searches visit an establishment within 24 hours.
This goes to show that small businesses miss a huge opportunity by not utilizing a local SEO strategy, as it essentially weeds out casual searchers and prioritizes those that want something right now.
Makes It Easier for Serious Searchers to Find You
Everything and everyone is online. And your customers are using Google to search for services that you can provide.
But they won’t find you unless you appear among the top search results. Or unless they have the patience to go through hundreds of web pages.
This is where local SEO comes in. Where traditional SEO can drive traffic to your website, local SEO can deliver qualified traffic–searchers who are already interested in your business and are more likely to engage with you in a meaningful way.
In fact, a whopping 97% of Internet users search for local businesses through queries paired with words like, “near me”, “nearby”, or simply the name of a city.
Improves Conversion Rates
Among the 76% of Internet users who visit businesses shortly after conducting local searchers, 28% proceed to make a purchase.
If you think that’s a small percentage, it might interest you to know that “near me” searches have gone up 500% in recent years.
Moreover, a research study conducted on consumer behavior and local SEO concluded that 90% of consumers made a purchase within a week of conducting local searches online.
This proves that local SEO is exceptional at boosting conversion rates, making it an effective marketing strategy for small businesses eager to take up space in today’s highly competitive market.
Best Practices for Optimizing Local SEO
Nevermind that you’re a business trying to compete against big names. A solid local SEO campaign can drive valuable web and foot traffic that can help you grow your business, even if it might look like you’re trying to do so against impossible odds.
Here’s how you can make sure that happens:
Bolster Local Citations
Put out your business information in as many credible sites and business listings as possible. Local citations help people find basic information about your business, such as your name, address, and contact information.
One of the best ways to do this is to create and optimize your Google My Business profile. It improves visibility and allows consumers to connect with you much faster, whether they’re using Google search or maps.
Create Useful Hyperlocal Content
Drive people to your website by publishing content optimized with location-based keywords. But don’t stop there.
Your content has to be local, relevant, and useful. As always with SEO, it’s not enough that you’re using the right keywords. You need to use the right keywords in the most effective way.
And in this case, that means publishing content about relevant local events, as well as getting other credible local websites to link back to you.
This can be a long process, but it also produces long-term results.
Get and Respond to Reviews
Make it easy for people to give you feedback by providing space for it on your website or asking for honest reviews from clients. Do not pay for reviews! People can tell if reviews are inauthentic.
Besides, customers trust an establishment with lower ratings more than one with five stars, if the latter’s reviews all sounded like paid ads.
So welcome all kinds of reviews, whether it’s praise for your services or a harsh comment, and make a point of responding to each.
Don’t hide or ignore negative feedback. Instead, respond politely and make it clear that the issue was successfully resolved.
How you address negative comments and issues significantly impacts your credibility.
Tips for Improving Local Search Rankings
Improving your local search rankings can significantly improve engagement with your business and boost sales. Here are three tips on how you can make sure you’re SEO strategy is going in the right direction:
- Keep your on-page SEO on-point. Make sure that your website is crawlable and indexable, or else Google won’t find or rank you. Your keywords may be great, but if your on-page or technical SEO is lacking, you won’t get the results you’re aiming for.
- Optimize for mobile. Majority of Internet users are on their phones, so keep the user experience smooth.
- Use optimized photos. Make sure that you’re not inserting bloated photos that make your website clunky. Use the right photo formats (PNG or WebP are great!) and don’t forget to add indexable Alt text for each photo.
- You can’t have too many local links. Have other credible websites and blogs link back to your website. This shows that local sites endorse your business and “tells” Google to rank you higher.
Help People Find Your Business
Local SEO is an incredibly effective strategy towards reaching a targeted audience that wants your services or products now. But you need a strong campaign to make it happen.
And that’s exactly where we can help you. Our expertise is bringing businesses closer to their market and driving growth through solid, personalized, and results-oriented digital marketing campaigns.