Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a vital tool for small businesses who wish to improve their website rankings and traffic numbers from organic search results. SEO is not new. Although it has existed for many years, organic search continues to occupy a growing share of internet traffic. This is particularly true for searches that are related to the purchase of goods and services.
When it comes to organic search engine results, the higher a business ranks, the more traffic a site will generate. In fact, your chances of being seen by a potential customer are effectively nil if you are not on the first page of search results. According to one study, search engine users clicked on one of the top three search results 68 percent of the time. By contrast, links that appeared on the second page of organic search results received a click less than one percent of the time.
Local SEO and the Rise of Location-Based Search
If you are a restaurateur, a contractor or a dentist, it won’t help you to be a top-ranked search result on the other side of the country. It is certainly not the most effective way to convert clicks into customers. This is where Local SEO comes in. For small businesses, local businesses or any business that relies on in-person transactions, Local SEO provides one of the most effective ways to improve their reach to potential customers. This doesn’t mean that a local business should just abandon traditional SEO. Rather, the right marketing plan will likely include a combination of both Local and traditional SEO.
In their endless pursuit to provide the most relevant search results to the user, about a decade and a half ago, Google and other search engines began using the location information of the user search in order to optimize their search results. Local SEO is a marketing strategy that takes advantage of location based search results and targets local customers. Today, consumers increasingly rely on location-based search when deciding how to spend their money. This trend will only continue in the future.
Google Local Pack
Perhaps the most important example of location based search results is the Google Local Pack. The Google Local Pack uses location information to display the top three local results. For example, if a user searched “pet shop” it would display the top three pet shops near the location of the user search. The Google Local Pack is optimized for mobile devices and uses different ranking criteria than traditional SEO. Significantly, the Google Local Pack results are displayed above the regular organic search results. Therefore, Local SEO services provide a means for a local business to stay competitive with larger national companies.
What are Local SEO Services?
Local SEO services, like traditional SEO, is a marketing strategy designed to optimize the organic search engine ranking of a business. Unlike traditional SEO, Local SEO services are designed to target particular consumers in a particular location. Therefore, businesses that are dependent on local customers for sales and revenue or are limited to serving a specific region can often obtain more business from Local SEO than traditional SEO services.
Local SEO services have a regional focus. The scope of Local SEO services can range anywhere from a single neighborhood to a multi-state region. As users have shifted from searching on desktop computers to using mobile devices, Local SEO has become even more vital. One study found that 86% of consumers rely on the internet to find a local business and 78% of local mobile searches result in an in-store purchase. This trend has only accelerated as a result of the coronavirus.
Local SEO Marketing Plan
While Local SEO does not cost money, it does require time, expertise and active management. It is important to understand the factors that search engines use to rank and display results in order for a Local SEO marketing plan to work. Local SEO digital marketing services involve the employment of proven methods to capitalize on these factors. Those services include: website optimization for mobile browsers, social media marketing, optimizing link and citation signals, publishing locally targeted website content, reputation management, and creating and maintaining directory listings.
Local SEO Digital Marketing Services are More Important than Ever
With the proliferation of GPS enabled devices, location based searches and searches that include the phrase “near me” have grown substantially. Sixty percent of smartphone users have reported contacting a business directly from their search results. Additionally, twenty-eight percent of “near me” searches result in a purchase. Even without the phrase “near me,” location information is typically provided to a search engine automatically. As a result, Local SEO digital marketing services present an opportunity to stand out from the competition. Not to mention, compete with the larger national brands, too!
Google has responded to the shift from desktop to mobile search behavior by ranking businesses based on the mobile versions of their websites. (Rather than the desktop versions.) This is excellent news for regional businesses who can use Local SEO to their benefit by optimizing their online presence. Google continues to concentrate on the mobile experience and location based search results. As a result, companies who use targeted marketing strategies and tailored content will reach the greatest number of relevant consumers.
Location based search trends have only accelerated as a result of the coronavirus. Consumers are now traveling less and they are shopping more online. Users are becoming more sophisticated online shoppers and are demanding a better mobile experience. Consumers are also very aware of the need to support small and local businesses at a time when the likes of Amazon and Walmart are dominating the consumer market. Experts agree that businesses must adapt to these new conditions in order to survive.
This is why every local business should include content on their website describing the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of their workers and customers in light of the pandemic. Of course, it is also important to actually implement those steps. Two-thirds of consumers report that they would avoid a business if the customer reviews stated that it didn’t have coronavirus health and safety measures in place.
Why You Should Choose a Local SEO Marketing Company
A successful Local SEO marketing strategy requires more than just claiming directory listings and creating a web page for Google My Business, Google+, and Google Maps. It requires the analysis and monitoring of data. You can use Google Analytics to track behavioral signals, click-through rate, publication and participation in social media, the creation of targeted web content, website design and reputation management.
Local SEO Experts
Why do you need Local SEO experts? Local SEO experts can help your business with up-to-date statistics and knowledge on the factors that determine organic search and local pack results. Local SEO experts can use this information to add citation signals, optimize titles with local keywords, boost your citation and review signals and track your marketing campaign. The more websites your business can be found on, the higher its search results ranking will be.
Customer reviews and reputation management is also an important factor for influencing location based search results. Consumers trust and rely upon reviews that contain relevant information. 87% of consumers read online reviews when looking for a local business. However, 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month and only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars.
Search engines display consumer reviews at the top of their search results. Consumer reviews are often embedded within the Google local pack. Organic search results rankings also take reviews into consideration. Therefore, it is not only important to get good reviews, but also to get recent reviews.
Quality Local SEO
The topics that people are searching for are rapidly shifting. For many small or medium-sized businesses, high quality Local SEO can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Quality Local SEO demands active reputation management, data analysis and content creation.
This is why hiring Local SEO experts who specialize in identifying emerging trends and creating targeted content is vital for any local business wishing to adapt to the new realities and growing sophistication of consumer spending habits. It might seem like a big investment to pursue Local SEO as compared to more traditional marketing methods like Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, but this new consumer sophistication means that less than two percent of users actually click on a PPC link.
Consumers demand trustworthy and highly relevant information as efficiently as possible. As a result, consumers have grown to rely on location based search results. In fact, Local SEO might be the most effective marketing strategy available to your business. If you need help with your Local SEO marketing strategy, please contact us at SEO Design Chicago today!
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