The days of easily being found on the internet are over. It takes work to rank well in the search engines to drive traffic to your site. The same is true with local SEO (search engine optimisation) where companies try to rank well with Google’s local SEO structure which includes highlighted local businesses, contact information and maps to show location details.
Being one of these few businesses to show up for local SEO searches has become extremely important to drive relevant local traffic to your business which converts much higher than more general traffic. Local-based visitors are searching for businesses near to them who can provide what they’re looking for quickly rather than going to a national or global solution provider which could take longer and who may not offer a tailored service that matches their requirements.
What Is Local SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimisation which means working to rise to a higher position in the results pages of major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Local SEO is local-based results that display differently when local searches are searched for. For instance, “web designer in essex” would be a local search where the searcher is looking for a web studio or web designer in the Essex county in the UK.
Local SEO Benefits
The benefit of local SEO is that it gives local businesses the opportunity to promote their products and services to people within the community over the internet. Rather than needing to advertise in a more general manner, to position a business so that it shows up when local related searches are run is a great way to pull in new visitors and potential new customers. Those visitors will be looking for a local solution where they might be able to meet the principals of the business to get a feel for if the company can deliver on the project that they need completed.
Local SEO often benefits from access to local business information sources like TouchLocal, Yelp and Superpages which have catalogues of the many businesses operating locally. Searches are run daily by people looking to find local businesses that can meet their need that day.
When a searcher finds your business through local SEO they will see the business name, business address, contact telephone number and often the operating hours as well. This helps customers who prefer to pick up the phone and call to start a dialogue. No more cold calling.. people call you instead.
Here are a few reasons why local SEO is worth investing in:
1. Two thirds of customers are not using paper-based Yellow Pages any more.
They’re going online, searching business directories and search engines for local businesses near where they’re based. Less than 30% of customers still use old paper directories now. Getting in front of these people requires showing up in the right places online so the business can be found.
2. Local searches our growing quickly.
Growth rates are over 50% for searches with locations included in them, meaning the person is searching for something in a certain area, town or city. Local search is growing twice as fast as online search is growing generally.
People are making their searches more specific in order to get local results and drill down to more relevant search results. This change in searcher behavior is only likely to grow in the years to come as the number of internet web sites and web pages expands exponentially and searches need to become more granular to find what’s being searched for.
3. Local search marketing is carefully targeted.
Local search marketing is designed to attract those online customers who are looking for those businesses in that area. These types of searches are more related to people and other businesses looking to buy today or soon, rather than those searching just for research purposes.
4. Higher conversion rates than other local advertising opportunities.
The local conversion rates are far greater than with more general searches and listings. Local directory marketing lets visitors find exactly what they’re looking for, often matching location within a certain number of miles to include suitable businesses that are easily within a short driving distance. Higher conversion rates mean the cost per customer acquisition is far lower. Visitors via local traffic also turn new customers more often.
5. Growth in local mobile internet use
More people are using the internet while on the move, via web browsers and apps today. Some no longer own a laptop at home but may own a tablet. Others just own a smart phone and no other computing device. Being listed prominently for local search results means customers can run searches when out and about and find your business. They can then choose how they wish to contact you or just head over for an in-person visit.
6. High Return On Investment (ROI)
Local SEO has a very high return on the money spent to improve positioning and listings for local searches and directories. Customers find what they’re looking for more easily and are not irritated by cold calling and other inappropriate initial contacts when they’re not even interested in your service yet. Compared to more generalised advertising options, local SEO is far cheaper and converts more often.
7. Google Places local listings still have a minimal pick-up by businesses
Despite the obvious benefits, only a small percentage of local businesses have ensured that they have a listing in Google Places so that they show up with local searches and on Google maps. This is a real wasted opportunity for exposure. Get ahead of the competition by being listed.
8. Local SEO listings are mostly still free
Listings in Google Places to show up during a Google map search, amongst other things, is still free. Getting a company into business directories is often still free for popular directories which are ad-supported rather than relying on subscriptions. This free promotion is a great opportunity to increase the number of calls, emails and web site visits received and turn those initial contacts into new sales quickly.
9. Newspaper Readership is Declining Quickly
The reading of newspapers is on a sharp decline and it isn’t recovering. Some of the readership has moved to online publications, some to blogs and other forms of information consumption. The lack of readers to print newspapers means that even local rags are not getting eyeballs on the advertising or the classifieds any longer. Readers are finding other ways to get their local information and to find local businesses.
10. Local consumers want to see trusted reviews
Social proof coming from business reviews has become an important piece of the puzzle for pulling in visitors and convincing them of the value of your products or services. Trusted reviews from sites targeting local information are a valuable source of traffic for businesses seeking new customers in the region.
11. Going local is more ecologically friendly.
Going green may not always be the strong incentive we think it will be, but for some buyers they prefer to buy locally to cut down on the use of fossil fuels and reduce the release of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. They wish to feel good about their purchase and look for ways to reduce their own ecological impact. Local businesses can provide that feel good factor.
Don’t Forget Other Search Engines
While registering for Google Places is important, there are also ways to list in Yahoo and Bing to ensure that the business shows up for their local listings too. Yahoo and Bing combined still account for over 10% of search traffic today and that figure is growing. Grab as much of that local exposure as you can possibly get.
Get The Images Right To Get Visitors Through The Door
With many local SEO accounts it’s possible to add several photos that customers can view. The head office or main retail shop is the one that should be the primary photo so that visitors know what to look for when driving over to the address. Pictures of the interior of the office, showroom or shop is also useful to give customers a better sense of what to expect when they first visit.
Don’t Miss Out
Local SEO is important because whilst globalisation has helped internationalise manufacturing, many business transactions are still conducted at a local level. While this local commerce can often be conducted face to face, more people than ever before are using online local listings and local searches to locate suitable businesses to work with. For this reason, it’s important to be prominently displayed for the right local searches and listings so that your business doesn’t miss out on these opportunities.