Designing and using local search methods is the latest marketing strategy being touted as the main way for any company to gain more regional business. Since digital mobile devices have become customary, search developers and marketers have been focusing upon how to leverage this very lucrative potential to elevate web traffic from the target audience.
Local SEO Value
The reason that savvy marketing professionals and business owners have come to realize the value of local SEO is through an understanding of how consumers use the Internet. In the past, it had been believed that online searchers ultimately did the majority of their purchases online. However, it was discovered quite a while ago that this assumption is incorrect. The reality is that shopping is still a very tactile experience for many people. There is also some risk involved in doing business with an unfamiliar company online.
However, most everyone is comfortable with researching the items and services that they wish to purchase ahead of time. Once they find what they are looking for, they often head out to the local store to make their purchases confidently from recognized businesses.
Online purchases are typically not delivered immediately unless the order is for something like take out food. Sometimes, customers need something immediately – so they search to find information about products and services to make their purchases. Another reason that customers shop locally is that local stores may have more liberal and easier exchange policies.
There are also socially conscious consumers who prefer to support their local communities by making their purchases from local stores. These are just a few of the many reasons why every business today, no matter what product or service they sell needs to have a web presence that is optimized for local SEO.
Business Search Presence
Despite the fact that the Small Business Administration has indicated that there are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., just over 5 million businesses are estimated to have active listings on Google. This is a startling statistic, given that it has been more than clear how local SEO provides such a great deal of opportunity for just about any type of business.
The Laws of Attraction
Small business owners are usually tied up with running their day to day operations. Because of this, there is a strong need for streamlined instructions with straight forward tasks to effectively accomplish local SEO goals. The tactics should always be designed to improve the chance that consumers will discover their businesses online. Attracting customers online is an art. Therefore, local SEO is most often accomplished through:
a. Local search and discovery on websites,
b. Optimized Internet business listings and
c. Local search rankings throughout the web.
Local Search Approach
Typically, it is understood that of all Google searches, the ones with a location are at around twenty percent. The Google results pages that display maps are generally at between 1 and 13 at the start of each year. Local search in this case relates to focused search verticals of Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local search engines.
Other local search applications could include online directories such as eLocal, Yellow Pages and destination websites designed to aggregate local business information for reviews, product and service details, photos and contact information. This usually includes sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, Insider Pages and Foursquare.
Optimizing a web presence for discovery and local search channels includes two kinds of local search avenues to consider: discovery and recovery. Recovery searches are those designed to locate businesses. In that case, the searcher is familiar with and concentrates upon business names, addresses and phone numbers.
The discovery search is research that is performed to find businesses that are not specifically known but could suit their needs. These focus upon the details that searchers may use to locate companies in listing directories and on local search sites.
Local Search Ranking and Requirements
Local search algorithms are largely not entirely specific. However, some of the ranking factors have been determined based upon performance and testing. For example, Google applies at least three separate algorithms that are used for results:
1. Organic algorithms occur naturally from techniques like social media and content. These concern the time that pages have been up and keyword density, as well as links that lead to the page. In addition, the page quality of those links is another important factor.
2. Map algorithm results generally come from:
a. Business information that was supplied or submitted
b. Web references or citations
c. Relevant data feeds
d. Quality user generated content like blogs, articles and case studies
3. 7 or 10 pack algorithms include only businesses with a local Google Maps listing. Based upon the Maps algorithm, it uses preferred positioning in order to push organic results further down, leaving them off the screen. This is yet another very important reason to keep all Google listings as current as possible.
Local Search Landing Page Optimization
Business sites can be local search optimized for best results. Optimized sites improve the company’s chances of appearing in organic search results. They can also deliver stronger signals to search engines with more detailed sources about the business mission, products and services. To accomplish this:
a. Include clear business names and location data web pages
b. Ensure that the address and phone information is in the Title tag
d. Provide visually engaging content like images and videos, as appropriate
Business Listing Management
Businesses must claim their listings and manage profiles in major search engines, social sites, directories and local search sites such as:
When local business listings are submitted, be aware of the keywords that searchers may use. Make sure the profile is complete with business hours, photos, location and payment options. Categorize the business as accurately as possible and keep listings fresh to provide the most current data. Also, updating the listing regularly is a good practice to achieve higher search engine rankings. Maintain consistency and accuracy for all directory and listing services online so that fingerprints do not become fragmented.
Brand Building and Reputation
Using effective local SEO techniques also assists businesses in establishing essential brand presence online. Increased visibility means that prospects searching for the types of products and services the business sells not only translates to more web traffic, but serves to strengthen the marketing message. Local SEO marketing activities also help to build the business reputation online as well as off.
The more that companies participate in local SEO activities online, the more likely that prospects will locate them easily. Also, good recommendations from consumers are a key factor in using local search methods effectively. Targeted audiences may also have increased opportunities to become more aware of key branding messages to establish lasting business relationships.
Local SEO has become more of an imperative for the success of companies online, particularly smaller businesses that can use these tactics to level the playing field against the big boys. The reality is that if a business cannot be found online, it more than likely will not be found in the regional marketplace, either. Every business needs to get on board with local search marketing in order to become and stay competitive in the growing on and offline business marketplace.
Local SEO 101 Infographic