Small businesses far and wide have come to understand the power of local search engine optimization (local SEO).
As a business owner or manager, you may still be trying to wrap your head around the concept of organic SEO, and understanding the differences between the various SEO strategies. Fortunately, incorporating a local search engine optimization campaign and implementing SEO strategies is not as difficult as it might sound. By following a process with a specific set of tasks, you can make your way up the search engine rankings and be found by a whole new set of customers.
What's the Difference Between Local and Organic SEO?
Understanding the distinction between local and organic SEO is the first key to mastering it.
The difference is that local SEO campaign incorporates a geographical component, while an organic SEO (or national SEO campaign) usually doesn't. The end goal of local SEO is to build up how relevant a site is based on its location, rather than just its content. Organic SEO can have a geographical element, but it’s not necessarily focused on a certain physical location.
If you have an eCommerce business that is trying to reach consumers from around the country, or even across the world, organic SEO might be just the right solution. Local SEO works well for small businesses, or those that are focused around a brick-and-mortar location, like a plumbing service in San Jose, or an IT managed services business in Santa Clara.
The distinction between organic and local SEO involves more than geographical location. How you improve your organic SEO is largely based on links. The more links that you have from websites with authority, and in your related industry, the better your online visibility will be.
When it comes to local SEO, citations and customer reviews are “king”. Citations are just mentions of your business’s name, address and phone number in directories like Superpages, Mapquest and Yellowpages. Having a lot of citations for your brick-and-mortar business, especially ones that are relevant to your business niche, shows that your business is trustworthy in terms of local SEO. In addition having a fair number of positive customer reviews that are also posted on a regular basis is another thing that helps to boost your ranking.
Seizing the Local SEO Campaign Opportunity
Any businesses that needs to reach local clients can benefit from a local SEO campaign. By utilizing this strategy, you have a unique opportunity to reach out to consumers who are looking for the exactly the services or products your business offers.
You should know that local search is actually growing rapidly, particularly on mobile devices. In fact, it’s estimated that 46% of all web searches have a local aspect to them.
Another important thing you really need to know about to boost your local SEO ranking is the Google "local 3 pack".
This is something Google does to graphically highlight the 3 most relevant local SEO search results on a search results page. Google displays the top 3 in a colorful, prominent map that immediately catches a searcher's eye, and allows them to quickly see exactly where you are. Your business can really stand out to potential customers if you can get displayed in the 3 pack!
The following ranking factors are use by Google to determine how your business is listed:
- Relevance: Refers to how well a local listing matches to what someone is searching.
- Prominence: How well known the business is.
- Proximity (distance): How close the business is located relative to where the searcher is located.
So How Do I Boost Relevance, Prominence, and Proximity?
Proximity (or Distance):
There is nothing you can do about proximity because it’s a purely objective measure of how close your physical location is, relative to the person doing the search. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google calculates the distance based on what they already know about their location. It’s the one local 3-pack criterion that is out of your control.
You can, however, do something about the other two:
To improve relevance, be sure to complete all the detailed business information in your Google My Business listing and use relevant categories associated with your business. Also include photos of your office and the types of products and/or services your business provides in your listing and website.
Another thing to consider is looking closely at the search terms your customers typically use for relevant searches. This includes looking at searches done on smartphones or tablets, and including the patterns you see there in your local SEO strategy.
Many of those searches tend to be largely conversational, like, “local grocery stores” or “coffee shops near me.” Paying attention to what local phrases or “shorthand” references are commonly used in your business location, and including them in your content can help you boost your rankings in search.
To improve prominence, check that your business name, address and phone number is accurately and consistently listed across the web in directories, articles, and on your website. Google reviews and scores are also factored into prominence as well.
Google downgrades a business’s prominence rating if it finds inconsistencies. This is because it makes Google question your business’s credibility because it raises suspicions of "whether you are who you say you are”.
By no means is this a comprehensive list. You can almost bet that Google will change this set of criteria eventually because they are always working continuously to improve the quality of their search results.
Local SEO vs. Traditional Approaches
Local SEO also offers significant advantages to a B2B business over those that rely just on newspaper and word-of-mouth advertising. Traditional marketing methods are great for planting ideas and getting attention. However, it’s hard to beat the benefit of being able to connect with potential customers who are ready to buy right after they see your offer.
Getting your name, address and contact information "out there" – right when customers need it – will greatly increase the chance that they will call or walk through your door. They won't just visit your website or just put a visit on their “to-do” list.
The ROI on Local SEO
If you are considering implementing local SEO, you might be wondering what the return on your investment of time and resources will be.
Will local SEO really help you to attract new customers?
Chances are very good that it will!
Just consider that nearly 97% of local customers now use online searches and directories to find local businesses. They are not looking through phone books and paper directories - these are a thing of the past, and have been for a long time.
On top of that, the rapidly growing number of searchers on mobile devices that makes it a "no-brainer" that makes the local relevance of search results even more important. This is because whenever the built-in GPS location tracking capability in these devices is "on", they can be directed to your business whenever they happen to be in the vicinity.
Local SEO is here and now, and will definitely be around for a while!
Local SEO provides a means to connect to potential customers in a very highly targeted and timely fashion. Because search engines like Google are designed to provide the most relevant information that users want, search engine optimization practices that increase the relevance of your webpages to a certain locality boosts the relevance of these pages to searchers looking for local business help. Employing local SEO results in a high conversion rate and a good return on investment (ROI) when properly implemented.
Consider the following:
- Local SEO boasts a 50% higher conversion rate than traditional hard copy or online directories.
- Looking at the rapidly growing number of searchers on mobile devices, statistics indicate that a very high percentage of them are doing local searches is something you need to pay attention to.
The Importance of Mobile Optimization
There’s no doubt that internet users are turning to their smartphones for information more often. While newspaper readership is down, mobile usage is continuing to increase. As of November 2019, 81% of Americans say they own a smartphone. Tablet ownership has risen from 45% in 2015 to 55% in 2019, declining slightly overall, but increasing in the adults 74+ age group. More recently, Smart Speaker reach has more than doubled between 2017-2019 in U.S. households with Wi-Fi, going from 12% to 29%. To top it off, 90% of smartphone users utilize a search engine at least once a day. All of this is good news for businesses looking to leverage the power of local SEO.
Optimizing your website for mobile phone use is an absolute necessity when it comes to local SEO. It requires you to focus on keywords that are relevant to local searches. Including the name of your city, county or neighborhood is crucial, as well as utilizing keywords that mobile users are likely to use naturally.
Once prospective customers visit your website, you also need to keep them engaged. Your website should be prepared for mobile traffic by ensuring that it is “Responsive” (or mobile friendly) so it is easy to read, simple to navigate and looks great on various small and mid-sized screens. Photos, reviews and videos will also promote your efforts to make your site engaging on mobile devices. The effectiveness of videos in keeping visitors on your site is very high, and sites with videos are far more likely to make their way to the top of the search rankings than those without. A video that revolves around your local keywords packs an extra punch and will generate much more traffic than a few well-placed reviews.
An effective local SEO campaign also requires you to register your business on local directory sites. These citations are referenced by Search Engines and can lead business directly to you while also increasing the ranking of your website via the link. You also need to always make sure that your business name, addresses, phone number and additional contact information listed on each directory site is correct and up to date, and matches the data provided on your website.
The benefits that local SEO provides for local-based businesses are clear. Using this strategy can attract new customers, build your reputation and promote your visibility in your local community. If you want to discuss how a local search engine optimization campaign can be effectively implemented for your Silicon Valley business, contact us at WSI Smart Web Marketing today!
Did you know…
- It is an absolute MUST to review Google’s guidelines for listing your business on Google My Business to avoid being delisted by surprise!
- Google will delist your business’ Google My Business account if you provide a UPS store address as your business address.
- Google may also delist your business listing if you don’t provide a photo showing your business office entrance!
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