Local SEO: Is it Worth Spending Your Money On?
60 trillion web pages. Every time you decide to enter a keyword into the search bar, that’s how many archived sites Google will crawl through before it provides you with thousands of relevant results in mere seconds.
Learn why local optimization is worth the investment. This process will repeat itself globally on average 3.5 billion times per day, 1.2 trillion times every year. Of the estimated 2.5 hours the average person will spend per day on the internet, almost every time, their online experience will begin with a Google search.
The numbers are enough to make your head spin. Here you are with a newly created website that you’ve put a lot of time, expense, and effort into creating. You’ve taken everything into account from design and content to user functionality, only for all your hard work to get lost somewhere amongst this massive shuffle.
The more tech-savvy amongst you will be aware of ranking boosting tricks of the trade such as SEO and PPC, which do help to perch your online storefront somewhere near the top of that pile. But with Google changing its search algorithms anywhere from 500-600 times a year and, putting an increasing focus on results that change according to the residence and profile of the searcher. Keeping your website visible becomes a much harder task.
For businesses that don’t have the budget to tackle the internet at large, the solution is usually to build a better connection with local buyers, and it’s not a bad strategy at all. With 46% of Google searches being local in nature, placing your business in the eye line of people in your city and surrounding areas, ensures that you’re reaching the largest segment of potential customers possible. After all you’re not just looking for clicks, you’re looking for conversions.
So how do you start doing it? Local SEO is the answer.
How Will Local SEO Help?
Time was that the main way people found out about a business opening up in the city, was through word of mouth. Maybe your mom would mention a new store she went to, or your friend would tell you about a great restaurant he just visited. At most you’d see a wacky TV spot or see a full-page ad in the newspaper.
The marketplace has changed a lot since then. As of 2016 at least 40% of people expect local businesses to have a searchable website that contains vital information such as prices, products and services as well as contact information.
58% of 18-34 year olds are searching for local businesses at least once a month, while a lesser, but still significant 26%, of those 55 and above are looking online. It’s not just your website either; local customers are looking for more than just your word before making a commitment. 92% of people go over online reviews before deciding to visit a store, and 86% will check out the location on Google Maps before heading over.
So what does all this sleuthing get you? 18% of local mobile searches convert into sales within the day, while 78% result in an offline purchase at some point. A further 76% will result in at least a phone call.
These are numbers that are impossible to ignore while optimizing local SEO can seem like a daunting prospect, the sheer volume of sales and interest a successful high ranking local website will bring in more than makes up for the effort expended. It’s also worthwhile to note, that no money you spend on Local SEO is ever wasted, if customers are able to easily find your website then it’s because your products, services or content is relevant to their needs. Unlike Newspaper, or TV advertising that tries to reach as many people as possible, here you’re only reaching the people that actually need your business.
You may have noticed that conversion statistics we provided were only for mobile searches. In the US more people conduct Google searches through mobile devices than through any other platform, and the majority of these are on go. What Google and many smart businesses have realized is that these searches are often driven by a desire to find the closest business in proximity that fills the customer’s needs.
When a person, just down the street from your store searches, “buy slacks in Paramus”, and your website comes up on the first page with a name, address and contact information clearly displayed. You’ve all but guaranteed yourself a sale. 1 in 3 mobile searches are made right before customers visit a store, and these numbers are only set to grow further with wearable tech like the Apple Watch and Google Glass increasing mobile connectivity.
They Want you to Win
Remember, Google has displayed a clear bias to supporting local businesses in their search ranking for years now. They are motivated to give customers results that reflect their specific queries, rather than giving them a broad jumble of department stores that might not be suitable. Several of Google’s more comprehensive algorithm overhauls such as “Pigeon” and “Panda” have only reinforced this preference, so make use of Google’s tendency to prize niche results, and optimize your local SEO.
Steps to Local SEO Success
Here are some simple steps to start boosting your online profile and get a leg up in the local market.
There are many online registers that customers will consult when trying to find businesses in a specific industry. The first page you need to head is Google’s dedicated site for business listings (Google My Business – GMB). Simply sign in using your Google profile. Enter in your business’s name, operating hours, contact information, and any other pertinent details. Make sure you select the appropriate category and subcategory for your business. If you have multiple physical locations make sure you have separate listings for each. Make sure the information you’ve entered is consistent across every other business directory.
Some of the other most popular directories on the internet include, Bing Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Craigslist. You’ll also be able to find several industry specific listing sites if you search around a bit. Tools like Moz Local are a great help here, as they’ll automatically enter in your NAP (name, address, phone number) into any large citation sites.
On rare occasions you may find your information available on a directory. In these cases simply claim the listing as your own. It is usually a free and easy process allowing you to make sure information is accurate for potential customers. 33% of customers think accurate citations are a critical part of your business’s online presence.
Earn those Raves
We already know how important reviews are in determining customers buying decisions. So we want to make sure that your business gets as many of them as possible, preferably good ones. Recently, Google has started paying more attention to reviews as a barometer for website popularity as well. They are used to establish local businesses at the top of Google’s search results. So working on getting more reviews will not only earn you more conversions, but ensure a favorable rank on searches.
While around 50-70% of reviews are still conducted via word of mouth. A further 45% of 18-34 year olds make their feelings on your business available to friends and family on Facebook. Google’s My Business page, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and comment pages produce a further 15-20% of online feedback.
Encourage trusted customers, or those who you feel have had a good experience to post about it online. Stay engaged with your business’s social media and directory listings. If you’re looking for a helping hand to keep track of brand mentions, try marketing software tools like Hootsuite or Reputation Loop. These platforms alert you when to a new review and help you manage the ones already received.
Commitment to getting feedback is indispensable for obtaining customers. 84% of people trust online reviews. 7 out of 10 customers were willing to leave if a review dictated it.
Build a Local Network
Increase your business’s credibility and earn valuable inbound links through your business connections. Attempt to partner up with other local businesses. Promote each other’s services or establish a working relationship with journalists in your area. Independent reviews, articles, blogs and recommended links help to depict your business as an authentic brand with a strong following. This will increase your visibility on Google’s local search rankings and social media.
Optimize your Content for Local Results
The copy on your website should target the areas you service. If there are multiple physical locations take this into account, providing tailored content for each city or town. Include location specific keywords in the meta-title, tags, and descriptions; this may include references to a landmark, neighborhood, city or even the state.
Make sure that the footer of your website clearly states your NAP data. This provides a great, easy reference for Google’s and customers who need to find relevant information. Embedding a Google Map onto your website will save customers from having to look up your location. That might make the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.
Finally, make sure your information is up-to-date. Every month check your website and listings for needed updates. If you’ve included photos make sure they’re current and reflect any changes in your physical locations. Any quality media added to your website and local listings will reap you big rewards in terms of customer interest. The content gives visitors a clear idea of what your business is all about.
Work with Professionals
Local SEO is a long-term strategy designed to ensure site visibility. Merely achieving a high ranking and then leaving your listings and website as they stand is not an option. A local firm familiar with your local market will keep your online presence monitored and optimized.
Good SEO does not come free.
Last Few Thoughts
Maintaining and optimizing your digital presence is invaluable. Ignoring your local footprint in the online world will make you invisible to parts of the population. While learning all the ins and outs of Local SEO may not happen in a day, there are good digital marketing experts standing by at Clikz, who can help you achieve the results you want, and set your business on its way.