Every business with a physical location needs local SEO, especially if you primarily do business on a local level. This may seem like a tough sell at first – after all, can’t you just get away with a website that has your current address on it? Not so fast.
That’s not how it works. Digital marketing has grown leaps and bounds from setting up a simple website. Today, you must reach local customers that are actually in the market for your product or service. It’s not, however, just one task. When we’re talking digital marketing for businesses, there are a lot of different components to plan.
Local SEO has a lot of great benefits, even if it does involve some dedication. Here are 11 important benefits to consider if you’re still on the fence:
1. Customers are actually using search to find local results.
Although the technology may seem new you, Millennials and digital natives are used to getting the best results. They’re used to using not only computers but smartphones and tablets, which both tend to deliver search engine results based on your IP address, which tells the technology where you’re located (and even what direction you’re heading, if you have GPS activated.)
Here’s how it works: When a customer is on the road, looking for a local pizza joint, they’re going to tell Siri or Google what they’re looking for. If you’ve optimized and advertised your business properly, you’ll show up first, with a couple of descriptions of your food and most likely a listing of your good Yelp reviews, helping your customer make the decision to go ahead and take the next exit to check your business out. Isn’t technology grand?
Another example: Let’s say you’ve just twisted your leg and you’re trying to find an urgent care clinic. You want to get to a place quick. You’re looking for a place that’s close by, reputable, and takes your insurance. Using local services online, you can find this information online in just a minute or two, while in the past you’d have to do a lot of research.
Proper geographic SEO is important, and your business must make sure that all of the relevant information is out there for the customers to digest. They’re used to making quick decisions.
- Real feedback that potential customers can trust.
People love to read reviews from actual customers, whether they are good or bad. In fact, 88% of online customers say that they read online reviews before making a decision.
Online services, such as social networks, review website, and social media like Twitter and Facebook offer a lot of customer interaction. If you don’t take your time to nurture customers on these channels, you may not be able to win the best online reputation locally.
There are many places on the web that offer users the chance to rate and give feedback to businesses. In fact, you can capitalize on this by asking customers who are happy, in-person, to please leave a kind review on Yelp. You’d be amazed how much impact a few customer referrals can have on your rankings. Businesses that rank highly within the Yelp search engine tend to have positive reviews. You may wonder how much it will hurt your rankings and public image if you happen to get a poor review. Monitoring reviews for negative feedback is often a part of nurturing your online image.
3. Get more exposure to potential customers.
When you’re at the top of local results in places like Yelp, Google and Facebook pages as a business listing, that’s a big deal. Customers like to shop around and check out reviews in more than one place.
When they see that you’ve got reviews all over the internet as well as more information on your business that builds credibility. Even if they don’t buy from you today, they’ll be exposed to your name. And next time they’re in the market for what you sell; they’ll probably remember your name.
If you’re in local directories, have a social media presence that reaches customers in your area, and have garnered a few results on a place like Yelp, Handy, or Angie’s List, your business is in a good place for saturation of the local market. You’ll be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to your local results. Isn’t that cool?
4. Have better timing that creates more customers.
Gain exposure online to people who actually will go to your business, most likely on the same day that they’re searching online. This means reaching customers at the same time they’re in the market for the service. At first, this may sound like mind reading, especially if you’re not familiar with the latest digital marketing trends. (They change frequently!)
If you’re a tire company that fixes flats, you’re always in the right place at the right time if you’re at the top of your city’s search engine results. Especially if the person doing the searching is on your side of town when they get a flat.
The same is true for restaurants every time a person searches for local food. One of the top searches when it comes to food online is “food near me”. This phrase will usually scout out the searcher’s IP address and suggest the names of restaurants and take-outs closes to the geographic area that their IP suggests.
Social media is a good example of reaching a person at the right time, as well. You can answer questions quickly and direct users to your actual business and products. Help people who are looking for your business to find it, in near real-time. It will be the first thing they see on their mobile device when they’re looking for somebody in the area.
When you’ve properly optimized your business online, you’re better able to increase local traffic. The traffic also will be the type that converts.
5. Multiple strategies focused on making more sales.
Localized SEO helps business through a variety of means. Optimization may mean getting ranked on search engines like Bing and Google, business directories such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, Bing Places for Business page, Facebook and more. Social media is also a part of the equation – you have to be available to local prospects online. This builds your reputation, gives your brand more visibility, and also converts more sales.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? The thing about the work is the rewards are huge, and there are professionals out who specialize in helping your business drive more local customers.
6. Highly targeted marketing.
Local search is typically utilized by people who are ready to buy, and that’s exciting. Usually, they’re in a moment where they’re trying to solve a specific problem, and the matter is urgent. They need an answer, they want to look at their options, and when they’re satisfied they’re getting a good deal, they’re ready to buy.
The opportunity for the customer to buy starts at the website such as Yelp, but moves beyond that when a customer is interested. They may choose to visit your website.
A lot of people who search through a local engine will make a phone call to make sure a product is in stock or simply to ask a question. Businesses have opportunities on the national level to create ads that reach local people but using local promotion methods online deliver results that are much more swiftly than any marketing funnel.
The highly localized results and geo-targeted search engine ads, give you more opportunities to be in front of your customers in the right place at the right time.
7. It’s more relevant and cost-effective.
Sometimes it seems it’s easy to get lost in the search engine results, especially among a world of national businesses that can seem to smother you in the search engine results. When a search is geographically local, it gives users highly relevant results. What this relevancy means is that your customers can find the exact products and services they want, in the location they want.
These types of prospects are much easier to convert than those on a national level. Even if your business does do business on a national level, you’ll find it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Using algorithms and web indexing technologies, local search providers will help your ads and information on your business, website, and products/services to be served to a person in the market for them right now.
If your information changes, you can also update it instantly, which means that products and inventory information can be available to your customers in near real-time. That’s a lot of information to put in the consumer’s hand, and the best news is that it makes them feel powerful. By the time they actually make it to your business’s storefront, they’ll feel like they have done all of their homework and they are empowered to make an informed decision. Your customer, based on the information they’ve found online, feels empowered to buy.
- You’re reaching desktop and mobile users.
Traffic from localized search is at an all-time high, and that’s because it’s used the most by mobile users. That means that there are people out there, right now, on a bus, in a waiting room or in a parking lot surfing the internet, looking to buy something.
They may be casually browsing the products on your website or reading the reviews of your business right now. And if they’re looking at products during their downtime, they’re in an excellent position to buy. Why else would they spend their free time browsing?
9. Highest conversion rates of all types of SEO.
Local online directories and local directories have entries that tend to dominate the search engine results, and most people who are looking for a local business cut to the chase. They’re getting ready to make a trip out or they want to stop by a business on their way somewhere else. So they’re looking for a phone number or address so that they can complete their purchase.
Local results make the process of purchasing decisions easy for people who simply want to see if a business is reputable and performs a certain service or sells a certain product. Customers come to your local business from the internet. It’s a fact. When a customer is searching for the addresses of local businesses, it’s because they plan on visiting. Anything extra, like reviews, makes the purchasing decision easier.
10. Mobile internet usage is still growing.
As technology gets easier to use and more intuitive, more people invest in a tablet or mobile phone. In fact, now 51% of Americans who use the internet use it on a device, rather than their PC or laptop.
With more usage, comes more people doing their research on the go and making shopping decisions based on what they find online.
Optimizing your business’s marketing through ads, search, and other forms of digital marketing will help you create a local business profile that converts customers easily. After all, when they’re using mobile, sometimes your new customers will drop by at the spur of the moment based on something they’ve read online.
- If you use it, you’re still ahead of the competition.
Crazy as it seems, only a small fraction (44%) of online businesses have done something as simple as creating their online Google business listing, which is highlighted separately and more prominently that search engine results. It’s a free service, yet many business owners don’t know about it and haven’t been able to take the time to really try to get ahead with digital marketing on a local level.
Thousands of businesses on Yelp haven’t claimed their profiles, either. Yet all of these forums are free for business owners unless you do something to enhance your listings or use their marketing services.
Why wait for your competitors to finally get a clue when you can get a jumpstart on them, and build your online profiles and reputation. Local marketing is the most important thing for businesses that operate locally, regardless of if they also do business elsewhere. Converting a local customer is often as easy as getting them to visit your business, and local searches can deliver your business directly to them.
So using local search engine marketing, you can truly build your business on a local level. You can use local optimization services to help create an online reputation that creates more leads, converts more sales, and turns more customers into online cheerleaders. You’ve got a great business with some great products or services. Isn’t it time your community really got to know them?
About the author
Sarah Barnes is a content marketing manager at Omnicore UAE. She contributes on a number of blogs sharing useful marketing tips from her research. She is fuelled by tea and long phone calls. Proud owner of teacup yorkie.