It’s no longer optional; here’s why
Local search is quickly becoming customers’ main method of finding local businesses, which makes local SEO the most important marketing tool that small businesses aren’t using. Especially if your business offers a face-to-face, localized service, local SEO should be an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. Let’s start with some statistics that illustrate why.
According to a recent BrightLocal survey:
- 70% of Americans used local search to find a service in the last 12 months
- 67% check online reviews before selecting a local service
- 69% trust online reviews and ratings as much as word-of-mouth
- 27% have recommended a local business via Facebook
More precise targeting than traditional marketing
Local SEO is also a better way to reach local consumers than most traditional marketing strategies, because can target customers with much sharper focus. Billboards target everyone on the highway, and TV commercials target everyone watching a particular show, but local SEO targets people in your community who are looking to buy exactly what you’re selling.
Abundant local SEO freebies
Unlike broader SEO strategies, most of the tools you’ll use to construct a local campaign cost nothing but time. Maintaining a blog, getting featured on reputable local sites, building a social media presence, and encouraging favorable reviews on Google Places or Yelp will cost you nothing, and these free measures can be a powerful force-multiplier for your paid SEO tools. Supplement your freebies with low-cost tactics like Facebook photo competitions or offering online coupons.
Reach mobile users
Local SEO is also the best way to reach consumers on their smartphones, because you benefit from Google’s location-tracking functionality. Mobile consumers tend to be on a tighter schedule than those looking you up from home, which means they’re much more likely to pick the top-ranked site for their search terms, and the only method they have to distinguish you from your competitors is your star rating and reviews – meaning your local SEO efforts are your only way to reach mobile customers.
Local SEO is easier and more effective
SEO is all about picking your battles – if you’re not careful about which terms you attempt to rank for, you can end up competing with multinational corporations with multimillion-dollar marketing budgets, and even if it were possible to succeed, you’d spend time and money winning over customers in areas you don’t serve, and miss customers in your own backyard. The more you focus your efforts, the more manageable they become. Look at the rankings for some local search terms to see where you stand among your immediate competitors, and make a plan to top those rankings before you move on to any broader terms.
Your site might need a design overhaul
Effective web design isn’t just about the look – your site also needs to provide a smooth, natural path for customers to make an online payment or set an appointment. Your local campaign is only as good as your web design: your rankings will do you little good if they aren’t creating leads.
Examine your site’s analytics carefully – if you have a high bounce rate or are experiencing high traffic from areas you don’t serve, consider how your design can better compliment your marketing and vice versa. You might want an SEO-savvy designer to take a look at your site, to make sure that it’s easy and intuitive for customers to reach checkout, no matter how they find you.
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.