When you are looking for a local business from where you can buy a sugar-free cake for your toddler’s birthday, what do you do?
Do you call your friends to ask them if they know of any bakeries near you?
But, most likely, you will reach for your phone, hop on Google search, and look for the local businesses that can provide the products and services that you need.
Your potential customers are the same.
In fact, reports show that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. 97% of consumers learn about local businesses online than on any other medium. And, most importantly, 72% of the consumers that do a local search, usually visit a store within five miles.
When you look at these numbers, you might think that local search engine optimisation is the Holy Grail for any small business. But, as with anything else in the realm of SEO and digital marketing, things aren’t so simple.
So, let’s talk today about local SEO – what it is, why it matters, and its pros and cons for small businesses.
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What Is Local SEO and How Does It Work?
Local search engine optimisation is a sub-discipline of SEO that focuses on optimising a website for the local search results. Unlike general SEO strategy, which focuses on getting higher search rankings for your web pages for searches that don’t have local keywords, like “near me,” this type of SEO can help you boost your local search ranking for specific areas, such as a town or county.
So, if you own a local business and want your website to rank high for certain local search queries, then you need to optimise your site for local search.
But, how does that work exactly?
When someone performs a search, Google uses a variety of factors to decide which are the best results for that particular query. But, when it comes to local searches, Google uses different ranking factors to deliver the best results. These ranking factors include:
- The location of the person searching for information;
- If they have an active and optimised Google My Business Page;
- Their NAPs (name, address, phone number;)
- Online reviews;
- The keywords used in their Google My Business profile;
- Google Maps stars rating;
- Social media shares;
Why Is Local SEO Important?
While it takes more time and work to create online business listings and optimise them, local SEO is well worth the effort. Local SEO enables you to reach the customers who are ready to buy. One report found that 80% of the local searches performed on mobile devices convert into sales. That’s because local SEO puts your business in front of your audience at the exact moment they are searching for a product or service they need. If someone searches for “dentist near me,” most probably they aren’t just prospecting their options but are looking to make an appointment.
Local SEO can also help you get more qualified traffic. Think about it this way: if your business appears in searches for “buy a foam mattress,” but the prospect is 30 miles away, they probably won’t visit your business. Someone who is only five miles away, on the other hand, is more likely to visit your store.
Is Local SEO for Everyone?
Local SEO works for any business that has a physical location or is set in a particular geographical area. From restaurants to bars and bakeries to law and doctors’ offices, almost anyone can benefit from local SEO.
If you are an eCommerce site, on the other hand, meaning you are selling your products or services exclusively online, then local SEO can actually narrow your audience. Even if your office is set in a certain town, it’s better to target a wider audience rather than a local one if you want to grow your business.
The Pros of Local SEO
Are you still not sure if local SEO is a good fit for your small business? Here are some of the major pros of local search engine optimisation.
Increase Your Visibility
When it comes to SEO, your success is measured by how high your website ranks. The first five results of Google generate nearly 68% of clicks. If your business is not among those top results, then your target audience may not even know that you exist.
Picture this: a user is searching for “pool supplies near me.” If your business is properly optimised for local SEO, then Google might list your website in the 3-pack – the top three results for local SERPs.
When you target a local audience in your localised content, the chance that they will convert increases significantly. As mentioned above, 72% of local searches actually result in an in-person visit at a store within five miles. When you target a broader audience, on the other hand, while you may be generating more traffic, the users that land on your site aren’t always qualified.
Let’s imagine that you’ve worked hard to write an insightful blog post about how to prepare the garden for spring. At the end of the article, you encourage your audience to visit your local shop and buy gardening supplies. However, if the audience reading your blog post lives in another state, then the chances that they will visit your store are very slim.
Of course, if you also sell your products online and are able to deliver them to other parts of the country, then it makes perfect sense to target a broader audience. But if you only sell your products or services online, then you need to target a local audience.
Build Your Community
One survey found that 57% of consumers prefer to shop local to help the local economy. 38% of consumers claim that they support local businesses because it helps them feel more connected with their community.
It’s not just that consumers want to shop from local businesses, but you too can partner with other companies to build a community. Getting backlinks from reputable local businesses can help you build your authority and increase your local ranking.
And, you can do the same for other businesses too. If you are a pediatric doctor, for example, you could refer your clients to a trusted pediatric dentist in your area.
The Cons of Local SEO
There aren’t really any strong arguments against local SEO. If you have a local business, then you will benefit from optimising your website and business listings for local search. There are, however, a few challenges that may arise when doing local SEO. Here are some of them:
Creating and Maintaining Your Google My Business Profile
A successful local SEO strategy starts with claiming, optimising, and maintaining your Google My Business listing. But, that can be easier said than done. Duplicate listings, lost passwords, or moving your business to another location can make it more difficult to manage your listing. Moreover, it can take a while to get your profile up to date if there were any issues or incorrect information that had to be changed.
Getting Positive Online Reviews
You may dread dealing with online reviews, but the fact of the matter is that your audience reads and listens to what other people have to say about your business. 89% of consumers read reviews before buying a product and 72% of them claim that they trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations. Moreover, consumers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week.
Getting positive reviews and managing negative ones can be a hassle and a challenge many business owners face when it comes to local SEO. And, you can’t cut any corners and create user-generated reviews as they can do more harm than good to your business.
Properly Optimising Your Landing Pages for Local Search
Optimising your landing pages for local search requires a lot of effort. You need to do keyword research, optimise your metadata like meta descriptions and title tags, make your site load fast, and use elements that signal local relevance to Google.
We Can Help You Rank High in Local Searches
Ranking high in local searches is essential for the success of local businesses. Your audience is looking online for information about the products or services your business is selling, and if you are not among the top results, then you are as good as inexistent to most of your prospects.
But, as beneficial as local SEO can be, keeping up with it, ensuring that your information is accurate across all business listings, optimising your pages for local search, and generating genuine reviews can be a challenge.
That’s where we can come into play.
If you need help managing your local SEO, get in touch with Australian Internet Advertising, and let’s discuss what you need.