Local SEO is a digital marketing strategy that consists of targeting the local market through search engine optimization tactics. It’s perfect for service-based businesses, or for businesses located in a certain area that don’t want to target a nationwide audience. Before we start diving into the specifics of local SEO and the wonders it does for local or multi-location businesses, let’s talk about what search engine optimization is.
What Is SEO?
SEO – or search engine optimization – is a series of digital strategies that bring online visibility to brands and businesses. These strategies include creating a website that is user-friendly and keyword-optimized, as well as constantly crafting content that is valuable and interesting to readers. A website that always has fresh content will give potential customers the idea that business is booming and that the company takes good care of their clients, while at the same time telling Google that they have E-A-T.
Google’s E-A-T means “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.” It is one of the top three considerations for Page Quality. When a business consistently puts out content showcasing that they are experts, have authority and are trustworthy in a particular subject, Google ranks them higher. Higher rankings equal greater online visibility.
SEO is extremely important for brands, online publications and magazines that target a nationwide – or even a worldwide – audience. They want to get traffic to their websites; it doesn’t matter where that traffic comes from. For local businesses – a plumber, for example – it’s not just about getting traffic to their website. It’s about getting conversions, which only come from high quality traffic. To get conversions, a plumber would need to create content that is optimized to attract local searches in the areas they serve.
The Importance of Local SEO
As we mentioned before, local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that targets local customers. In order to reach that desired audience – the one that will turn traffic into high quality traffic that actually converts – it’s essential that a local business is visible in the right places.
If a local business is not visible online, are they even visible at all?
There is only a limited number of potential customers looking for a local business offline – by walking or driving around the neighborhood, or maybe by getting a direct referral from a friend. When a business’ online presence is not duly optimized, they are missing out on the potential customers that are finding their competitor instead of them.
Did you know that 46 percent of all searches on Google are seeking local information? People in the online world are not joking around. They’re spending their time searching for things they actuallywant or need – as opposed to mindlessly walking around a shopping center, for example. Online consumers are purposefully looking for a service in their area, and once they find what they’re looking for, 76 percent of them will visit a local business within 24 hours.
Local businesses that are not visible online are definitely losing potential customers to the competition.
What Constitutes Local SEO?
Local SEO is not just one thing. Local SEO is a big strategy comprised of a group of smaller tactics. Some of these tactics include online business directories, local citations, reviews, social signals and link building, among others. Let’s explore the most important of them.
Online Business Directories
Online business directories make up one of the best local SEO tactics for local businesses; this is also one of our specialties, so make sure you request a demo today to see how we help local businesses get found online through listing management. Having an optimized website is only a start – local businesses need to have that website seen by the right people. Business listings do just that. They showcase a local business’ information to their local audience, instantly increasing the reach and online visibility of the business.
One of the most important listings for local businesses – if not the most important – is Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This powerful listing lets businesses share posts, photos, events and special deals & offers. It also provides a way for businesses to communicate with potential customers through Google Messaging and gives the business’ customers a platform to leave reviews. Here’s a little something we wrote to help you master Google Business Profile in 2019.
According to David Mihm, 90 percent of a business’ leads are coming from Google, and a large portion of that 90 percent can be attributed to Google Business Profile. This is reason enough to focus on creating a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing.
In addition to GBP, Bing, Yelp and smaller niche directories are just as important. Each allows for the business’ NAP (name, address and phone number), and many will also include a link to the business’ website, which helps to build trust among search engines and consumers. When submitting a business to online directories, it is important to submit to the best of the best. Quality listings are just as important as quantity. Here lies the list of best directories for 2019.
Another plus of having well-optimized listings on GBP, Bing and Yelp is that they allow voice-enabled devices to spotlight the business in voice searches. This voice search readiness infographic tells you all about it.
Citations are mentions of a business. Online citations, one of our areas of expertise, usually include the name, address, phone number and URL of a business – think of an online version of the Yellow Pages. Local citations are found in local directories and can help a local business receive exponential reach, helping them to get found online by potential customers who may not have found it otherwise. All of this, of course, applies only if the business data included in the citation is accurate.
Inaccurate – or bad – data can have the opposite effect on a local business. It can result in a lack of trust from potential buyers who have trouble identifying a business’ actual phone number or current address. Wouldn’t you lose trust in a plumber in McKinney, TX if your call is answered by an accountant all the way in Southlake, TX instead? The answer is most likely yes.
The best way to deal with bad data is to get it cleaned up. Our free Online Visibility Report can help with that. You can run the report for any local business, then follow these steps to get rid of that bad data.
Once a business’ data has been cleaned up, they can then focus on building consistent citations across the web. Submitting a local business’ information to data aggregators, local directories, review sites, social media platforms and niche directories is the best way to build citations. These citations must be constantly monitored to ensure their accuracy.
Would you hire a roofer that has a rating of 2 stars on Google with claims of the roof leaking one week after the job is complete? Probably not. The online world and the increase in access to information have resulted in the need to trust what other people say about the products or services you – as a consumer – want to purchase.
Reviews are so important because 97 percent of consumers say that reviews influence their buying decisions. Even further, 88 percent of consumers have also said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
These mind-blowing stats only show that reviews can make or break a local business. Reviews are not only important to attract customers, they are also essential to send signals to search engines. These signals tell search engines, like Google, important information about a website – they impact the website’s placement in search results. This doesn’t mean that a business with bad reviews is automatically sent to the digital dungeons, but the business should be doing everything in their power to encourage positive reviews and respond to them – even those that are bad.
Local SEO Will Help Pave the Path to Success
We’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on what local SEO is. Download our Epic Guide to Local SEO and take a deep dive into each of the components that make up a comprehensive local SEO strategy.
Local SEO is the way to go for any local business that wants to receive the right kind of traffic from the right kind of consumer – and we know exactly how to achieve this. Request a demo today to see how our local SEO technology and services help local businesses get found online each and every day.