Local SEO is something that local companies live and die on. Don’t let that scare you though; in fact, it should encourage you! One of the easiest ways to get organic, local traffic to your business is through increasing your local SEO. This type of SEO is so ingrained in our day to day lives that you might not even notice it at work. If it’s so important then, what is it, and how do we use it? Let’s dig into the not-so-hidden world of local SEO…
What is “local SEO”?
Back in 2014 Google released an update that has been dubbed the “Pigeon” update. This change in it’s ranking algorithm drastically increased the number of local search results that came up when searching for just about anything. Between this and the “Possum” update in 2016, local SEO is now a game changer for your business.
Simply put, local SEO is your business’s ability to show up for local searches. Let’s look at this example of a desktop search done with NO location factors involved. I’m not going to use the term “near me” or “in Milford, MA”, I’m just going to search “brick oven pizza.”
Google knows I’m probably not looking for a Wikipedia article about brick oven pizzas, but am instead looking for a place to go stuff my face. With that in mind, Google gives me a map full of results alongside several websites that are all local brick oven restaurants. That’s smart! You even get access to the reviews of those companies right away, which 88% of customers use as a reliable source of information about your business
This is what local SEO means for your business. Smart searches that give you a chance to show up the moment a potential customer thinks about your products or services.
What are the advantages?
Having a high local SEO score allows you to show up in front of your local competitors more and more often. This is important for a few reasons:
- 96% of PC owners conduct local searches
- 46% of all Google searches are local
- 64% of local customers use search engines and directories as their main way to find local business
- 50% of local mobile searchers look for business information (like a company’s address or phone number)
- A whopping 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase
There are approximately 40,000 Google searches happening every second. In the time it takes you to read this blog (assuming it took you 5 minutes between reading and scrolling Facebook at the same time) there will have been 12 million Google searches. Every day Google churns out the answer to over 3.5 billion searches. So you tell me, what are the advantages of showing up in even a dozen of those searches?
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that showing up on someone’s phone who just googled “Brick Oven Pizza” is one of the easiest ways to get a sale!
What can I do about it?
Local SEO comes down to a number of factors that need to be handled properly:
- Proximity to the searcher
- Have a Google My Business local listing set up
- Encourage user reviews
- Have a mobile friendly website that is being updated
These 4 things are your ticket to local SEO fame. Now we can’t do anything about the first factor; it’s not like you can move your business next door to any potential customer (I’m looking at you Dunkin Donuts), so we need to focus on the other 3.
First up is your Google My Business listing. Incredibly enough, only 44% of businesses have claimed their Google My Business local listing. That means that by simply having one you have a leg up on over 56% of your competition – not a bad start! A Google My business listing looks like this in a search:
This is the bit that always pops up before searches or on the side toolbar with local places. If your business is here, you can guarantee you’re going to get business just from the exposure of this panel alone.
Next, we need to encourage those reviews to come in. There are plenty of ways to do this, but doing it the wrong way could be devastating to your local SEO, so make sure you avoid the following!
- DON’T have a “review” kiosk in your shop
- DON’T have all your friends write reviews for you
- DON’T buy fake reviews
- DON’T offer rewards for reviews (this one can actually be illegal)
What you need to do is give customers opportunities to leave reviews on their own, while encouraging them to do so. Some easy ways to do this are:
- Printing a reminder on their receipt
- Linking to your Google Business from your website asking for a review
- Having rewards for your employees who get the most reviews (not customers)
- Simply asking customers the next time you talk to them
Having 4-5 stars will help your business show up on top, and as long as your products and services are up to snuff then you shouldn’t have any problem keeping the reviews coming in!
Lastly, you want to link a mobile friendly website to your Google My Business page. Having a website that isn’t mobile-friendly will severely impact your search results. This is something you might need help on. Making a website functional on mobile devices and desktops is much easier than it has been in the past, but it always benefits to have an expert in your pocket when making a site. Lucky for you, we happen to be experts at making mobile-friendly (or responsive) websites that are SEO and local SEO friendly!
Local SEO is the most important thing to a local business owner on the web, so don’t let yourself get swept under the rug! If you need help with anything we laid out in this article then get in touch with us right away. We have years of experience doing everything that we talked about in this article and can get you on the right track today.