The goal of almost any marketing strategy is to get your business in front of the right people. And most of the time, the right people are local. Your business isn’t interested in consumers across the world, it wants to be discovered by people in your area. They’re the ones who are going to drive to your store or call for your services.
But since so many consumers start the buyer’s journey online, you can’t just settle for a sign out front. You need to have a digital presence that tells locals where you are and how you can help them. That’s where local search engine optimization (aka local SEO) comes into play.
This marketing strategy has the power to bring more qualified consumers to your website and through your front door. So how exactly does it work? In this article, we’ll help answer the biggest questions and provide the tips you need to get started.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a digital strategy that optimizes your information so consumers in your area can easily find your business. Simply put, it’s about getting your company in front of the people that are close enough to buy from you.
To do that, you have to play nicely with Google.
Google and other search engines want to provide their users with relevant results. They know that when users are searching for a business, the most relevant results are the ones that are geographically closest. (For example, when you’re searching for Chinese food, the most relevant restaurants aren’t going to be across the country, they’ll be right down your street.) So Google sets up rules and algorithms to determine which results are the most relevant.
Like general SEO, local SEO uses special techniques (more on those later!) to take advantage of these rules. When you optimize your information for local search, you make it easy for Google to recommend your business to searchers in your region, city, or neighborhood. That way you can increase your web traffic and conversions instead of being lost to the clickless void of results on pages 2—infinity.
Where And When Does Local SEO Help Your Business Rank?
When we talk about being visible, we’re thinking of two places in particular:
- Organic search results
Organic search results is a fancy way of talking about the options that come up when you search for something on Google (or Bing). You’ve seen it a thousand times before. It looks like this:
With good local SEO, your website will rank high in these results when people include terms like “near me” or your city name in searches related to your services. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, local SEO helps you rank ahead of that rival firm across town.
Note that Google is really smart and makes use of local information even when users don’t type it into their search. It knows when you’re looking to buy something locally. For example, when you type in “Chinese food”, you’re not going to get a dictionary definition and a history of the cuisine. You’ll get a list of restaurants serving Chinese food near you.
- Local map pack
The local map pack is the group of businesses that appear at the top of the search results page. It looks like this:
These results typically see the highest clicks and can lead to quick conversions. However, unlike the organic search results, the map pack is based on your Google My Business profile.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Optimizing for local search results helps your business stand out from the competition and drives traffic to your website. Beyond that, here’s why it’s important:
- It’s how consumers are searching
Roughly 45% of all Google searches are local searches. That means there are A LOT of people searching for local businesses.
- It results in qualified leads
The beauty of capturing leads in your area is that they’re close enough to walk through your door. People searching for services in their proximity are usually ready to buy, which often means higher conversion rates for you. In fact, about 70% of local searchers who find results online then go to the physical store or office.
- Local SEO optimization is cost-effective
Where paid ads and marketing campaigns might right require a significant amount of investment, your local SEO strategy doesn’t have to break the bank. You can use a few free tools, such as Google My Business and Facebook, to boost your local search ranking and start generating new leads.
How to Optimize for Local SEO
So now you can see why local SEO is important and all the ways it can help your business grow. The next step is optimizing your listing so you can take advantage of these benefits. There are a few steps you can take to make sure your SEO efforts generate the returns you’re looking for.
- Claim and manage your Google My Business account. Keeping the information in your listing up to date is key to helping people find your business.
- Don’t forget mobile devices. Most searches happen on a smartphone or tablet these days, so you want to make sure your website and listings are mobile-friendly. Most platforms automatically adjust for these devices, but it’s always good to double-check.
- Display online reviews. Encourage your customers to rate and review your business on Google so you can attach positive reviews to your business listing. This provides some social proof for potential clients and helps to build trust in your brand.
- Leverage social media. Be sure to include your website link and business information on your social media accounts, too. This helps people easily find your business through those channels as they search for local businesses they identify with or believe in.
- Optimize your copy. Having things like your city and zip code mentioned on web pages can help search engine crawlers recognize the area your business operates in. This gives the search engine information about what users your website could best serve based on geographic information. One way to do this is to include your contact information in the footer of your pages.
These five things will help you optimize your business listings and put your services in front of the people searching for them.
Who Can Help
While the steps above will get you started, true optimization can be more involved. There are more techniques you can use, but you don’t have to figure them out alone. At Hughes Integrated, we help local businesses boost their profile and grow their client base. We can even take your local SEO one step further by creating location pages, indexing your site information, and more!
Let us help you optimize your local SEO so you can reap the benefits of appearing at the top of search results. Schedule your free consultation call with us to get started!