Local SEO is an important SEO strategy to be taken serious by any business that really wants to improve conversion, especially in their local market.
It’s no longer news that Google is the first place everyone goes to with every query or question. And one prominent query from most searchers in the world is related to finding products and services within their location. They do this by adding the name of their city or the phrase “near me” to the query. The illustrations below explain in practical sense.
A young man in Toronto, Canada wants to get a new smartphone. He already knows he is getting an iPhone because most of his friends use it. The problem he has now is where to get it. So, he turns to Google with the search query where to buy iPhone in Toronto or iPhone shops near me. The results he gets from this search would determine where he goes to get the phone.
A single mum moves in to North Hatley and notices some pipes in her new house are leaking. Apparently, she needs the services of a plumber. But how does she get one when she is new in the neighbourhood? She also turns to Google with the query Plumbers in North Hatley or Plumbers near me. She gets a number to call from the array of options Google presents to her.
These two scenarios demonstrate the importance of Local SEO. In both cases, the two businesses positioned themselves to be found by their potential customers through Local SEO.
Understanding Local SEO
Local SEO refer to the process of optimizing presence online to attract more business from relevant searches from people within close range.
For instance, someone who has a restaurant in Mississauga would want to appear in the first page of results for queries like places to eat in Mississauga or dinner near Mississauga. The best way to achieve this is using Local SEO.
When considering Local SEO, one thing to always bear in mind is to maximize effectiveness by optimizing across all the various platforms people use to search. Yes, Google has majority of the search engine market share, but quite a number of people still use other search engines.
What Do Stats Say About Local Search?
- 46% of searches on Google are done with local intent.
- 1 out of 3 searches on a smartphone was done just before getting to a store
- In 2017, 97% of consumers searched online for local businesses; 12% of them are looking for a local business online everyday
- 78% percent of searches that are local-based on mobile devices end in purchases offline
- 50% of users on mobile devices who carry out local searches are looking for a looking for information such as a local business address
- 18% of local searches on mobile devices results in a sale within 24hours
- 60% of American adults search for local searches products or services on smartphones and tablets
Numbers don’t lie, local SEO plays a significant role in a business’ online presence.
Local SEO Checklist
There are a number of Local SEO activities to tick off when trying to optimise your business for local search. The following guidelines, if followed consistently, will optmise your business for local SEO.
Google My Business and Other Business Listing Tools
There are a number of platforms, some of which are peculiar to industries, on which businesses can be listed for Local SEO. This allows a listed business’ information to show up during search. Google My Business is clearly the biggest of all business listing platforms. However, there are still others like Bing Places and Apple Maps.
Generally, each of these tools have simple instructions. Google My Business, however, can be a bit challenging to navigate sometimes. The following tips will provide all the help you need with Google My Business
- Only business name should be entered in the business name field. Trying to play the system by adding keywords to the name attracts ‘punishment’ from Google because it violates its guidelines.
- Auto-populated text fields must be thoroughly checked for accuracy
- Relevant and attractive photos should be added
- Additional information such as services, opening and closing hours, pricing should also be added
Apple and Bing’s processes are similar for creating listing. Just like Google, these should also have relevant images and information.
To optimize keywords for Local SEO, you have to carry out local keyword research to know which keywords users are using to search for similar businesses.
The most common format users and potential customers use to search for specific businesses is “service provider in location” For instance, “electrician in Toronto”. The two keywords here are the Service provider (electrician) and location (Toronto). However, they may also be searching to find additional information such as menus, directions, pricing, hours and so on. It’s therefore important to add those details too as they are all keywords.
Some users search by stating the problem they are trying to solve such as “my home cable is faulty”. Situations like this should also be put into consideration when doing Local SEO.
Get Regular Reviews from Customers
Getting customers to review your business doesn’t just help with local SEO, it also helps to convince potential customers to patronize your business. Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising and the only thing close to word of mouth advertising online is reviews.
A few tips that can help with this:
- Ask your customers for a review after a transaction
- Send after-sales email or text requesting for reviews from your customers
- Professionally respond to existing reviews, appreciating the good reviews and taking time to address complaints.
Optimize Websites for Mobile-Friendliness
A 2018 study by Stone Temple that looked at 2017’s desktop vs mobile trends showed that more people are moving, at a very fast rate, to mobile, and the numbers will only continue to rise. For instance, mobile visits to websites increased from 57% in 2016 to 63% in 2017, and the total visits to websites reduced from 43% in 2016 to 37% in 2017.
All of these show the importance of mobile optimization to local SEO since 78% of searches that are local-based on mobile devices end in purchases offline.
List on Online Business Directories
Some popular online business directories include sites such as MapQuest, Yelp, YellowPages and Foursquare among others. This doesn’t just help with additional visibility, but also has a way of boosting Local SEO ranking.
Have you ever read an article in your language that felt really weird? That’s because that article was probably not written by a native or someone who has experiences with your culture. How does this impact local SEO? People are more likely to become regular readers of your content and even share your content if the it appeals to them! When your content is widely read in a specific location, it triggers Google to rank you as a preferred source by people in that location. We’ve tested this with several websites and it works!
Local On-page/Off-page SEO
There are several on-pages SEO factors but keywords, meta-descriptions, alt-text are more vital for local SEO. Because these include text, you can optimise them for local search. Localising off-page SEO on the other hand would require actively pursing off-page activities on authority websites that serve your local audience. Learn more about on-page and off-page SEO here.
Why is Local SEO Important?
There are several reasons Local SEO is important for SEO and businesses at large, but here are four of them:
Opportunity for Number One Spot on SERP
What else does any business want more than the number one spot on Google? That’s right – absolutely nothing, as far as digital marketing is concerned. But it takes a lot to both get and stay there.
Local SEO provides that opportunity for any small business out there to be on the number one spot on search engine result page (SERP). Local SEO allows nearby relevant businesses get to the top of SERP, even ahead of big brands with deep pockets.
Not just that, Local SEO using Google My Business allows for latest reviews, offers and a link to website. Refusal to use Local SEO is as good as shutting doors to potential customers.
Free Source of Advertisement
Using Local SEO allows businesses to promote their products and services to people locally who are seeking out products or services in their niche or industry. When done properly, Local SEO can be an avenue to advertise freely on the search engine.
Local SEO Prevents the Loss of Money
92.7% of businesses that apply inbound marketing (including local SEO) increased their lead generation and 42.2% of businesses boosted their lead conversion with inbound marketing to scale conversion rate. A smart thing to do, therefore, would be to take advantage of all that Local SEO can offer.
There are competitors everywhere, so when a business doesn’t take the free offer made available by Local SEO, they give their competitors advantage over them.
Local SEO works for Customers’ Benefits
The goal of every business would be to satisfy their customers. Seeing that customer experience these days begins online, there is a responsibility on businesses to make sure satisfaction also begin online.
Businesses have to be committed to giving their customers memorable experiences by making themselves easily accessible via Local SEO. The internet has made the average person impatient with everything at the tip of their fingers so customers shouldn’t have to stress or waste time to find your business online.
Some business owners think they don’t need local SEO. This is a wrong and here is why. 71% of people revealed that they look up and confirm the location of a business before visiting for the first time. Why would they have to do that if they know where the business is located?
Every business (big or small) with a physical location must take advantage of Local SEO. There is absolutely no excuse not to do it – it’s not very difficult and can provide unimaginable value.