- Use Local SEO for Business Growth
- What is Local SEO?
- Organic SEO vs. Local SEO
- What is a Local Listing?
- Local SEO Conversion Rates
- Creating Local SEO Content
Use Local SEO for Business Growth
Many local businesses rely heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to get customers through the doors. Whether you own a restaurant, retail store, boutique shop or professional services firm, you want Google on your side when people are searching for your offerings.
If you’re familiar with the basics of SEO, that’s great! We’re going to build on the foundational knowledge you have already acquired. If SEO is new to you, no problem at all. Learn how SEO works and why it has become so pivotal for local businesses in particular.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a digital marketing tactic that focuses on making your business rank highly in Google for local searches. It is essentially revolves around your local fingerprint, which is loaded with geo-specific content that allows you to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Google—by far the most powerful search engine—estimates that nearly half of searches have local intent, meaning people are looking for the products, services and storefronts that are closest to them. The independent gym looking to attract new members; the family-run coffee shop on Main Street; the tourism company providing day trips to regional attractions—these are just a few examples of businesses in need of local SEO.
Even national and international businesses will often practice local SEO to promote their individual locations or franchises.
Organic SEO vs. Local SEO
Local SEO can be part of your overarching SEO strategy. If you have a store front or location where you take customers – you want your website to be firing on all cylinders of search, local included.
While organic SEO focuses on your website’s general content and performance in relation to broad searches, local SEO brings its own set of ranking factors, including:
- Your Google My Business listing – Claim it and enter accurate information. It’s the simplest way to enhance your local SEO.
- Local keywords – Variations of searches combining your offerings and location, i.e. “dentist in vancouver wa,” “vancouver washington dentist,” “best dentist in vancouver wa,” etc.
- Online business directories – Foursquare, Apple Maps, Yelp, etc.
- Social media profiles – They add credibility and ongoing content to your business’ identity.
These are just a few of the key elements. There are many more, which is why local SEO becomes a job of its own that small businesses seek to outsource to an SEO agency.
What is a Local Listing?
Any reputable online directory—from the aforementioned Google My Business and Yelp to Bing, the Better Business Bureau, Manta, MapQuest, Yellow-pages and countless others-can serve as a local listing for your business.
Ensuring that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is present, consistent and thorough across a select number of these high-quality directories is one of the fundamental steps to building authority on the local level.
Google sees corresponding, consistent NAP entries as signals of a legitimate business, whereas fake websites and other spam attempts usually won’t go as far as creating a local listing with a physical business address and phone number. As such, local listings show up in Google search results, increasing your visibility in the rankings.
And even better, if Google sees visitors interacting with your listings across the web – via reviews, images, check-ins, and more – it can reinforce the trust and legitimacy of your brand in Google’s eyes.
Again, local listings are a project of their own that you do not want to be managing yourself as a business owner. There are automation tools that can be used to ease the manual data entry, but even so, you want an expert on the task.
Local SEO Conversion Rates
Users entering local searches typically behave a little differently than others—and in a good way. They are more likely to make a purchase in the immediate to near future, because they are searching for something that is easily accessible to them.
Furthermore, they may often be using a mobile device for their search, which would suggest that they might be in a position to make an impulse decision, such as stopping at your store on the way home from work.
Statistics show that half of all local searches convert (compared to the average website conversion rate of just a few percent) and more than three quarters of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase. People are searching online, ready to head to your physical location if you have what they are looking for.
Pair local SEO with conversion rate optimization, and you’re really in business. On the flipside, you could have what they are looking for, but not show up in a search because you didn’t invest in local SEO…and they may never see you!
Two Different Mindsets
When you think like a consumer, it’s easy to see why local SEO might be more primed for conversions than organic SEO. Let’s pretend you’re searching for Nike running shoes. If you’re looking to buy online, you might simply type in “nike running shoes” and be led to Nike’s website.
When you land on Nike’s site, you’re not necessarily ready to buy. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the options, realize you can’t try them on, or simply get distracted and move on with your day. This is why even the highest website conversion rates are inherently low.
Now, let’s say you type in “running stores in [your city].” When the results come up, your decision is much different. You want to know what store is closest to you and what type of experience other people have had there, not necessarily what shoes you’re going to buy.
You’ll pick the store that looks best and go when the time is convenient. And when you get there, you’ll expect to make a purchase if you find the right running shoes for you.
Creating Local SEO Content
Just like with organic SEO, content keeps your website climbing up the search rankings. And just like the comparison between organic and local SEO, a local focus dictates the type of content you want to create. The best content strategy for local SEO includes a combination of:
- Local landing pages – Create pages by region, city, town, or even neighborhood. Be sure each page has unique content and not duplicate content.
- Answers to common questions – Develop an FAQ page for your website, and also answer questions from users on sites like Quora.
- Local events – Host your own or sponsor others. Promote these events online for a stronger local presence.
- Blog content – Even just a few blog articles per month can be enough to slowly grow your credibility with Google. Give your articles a local spin to benefit organic and local SEO simultaneously.
- Timely announcements – Social media was made for specials, sales and promotions. Remember, your social pages help your local SEO.
- Testimonials – Bring your customers into your marketing through written or video snippets that you can feature on your website.
Have your own creative idea for local content? Don’t let us limit your imagination. If it’s genuine and feels like it could help your SEO, it definitely can’t hurt.
Local SEO Wild Card: Customer Reviews
Yes, reviews on Yelp, Google and other similar sites affect your SEO! Not only that, positive reviews and those with responses make a difference, too. Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey suggests that online reviews could account for 10 percent of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results.
We might never know for sure, but what we do know is that consumers undoubtedly use reviews in their decision-making process. The Local Consumer Review Survey found that 85% trust online reviews to the same degree as personal recommendations.
We won’t go into the world of reputation management in this discussion—but know that every review makes a difference. Encourage reviews from happy customers, answer those from frustrated patrons, and take feedback to heart for improving your business. After all, what good is local SEO if you don’t deliver on your promises.