You may have heard the term “local SEO” tossed around, but what is local SEO and what does it actually mean? Many people have heard of search engine optimization (SEO) or are somewhat familiar with it; few truly understand what it is and the purpose it serves. So first, let’s define SEO.
Defining SEO and Local SEO
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website to drive more organic traffic (aka unpaid traffic) to your site from search engine results pages (also known as SERPs). With SEO in place, your website has a better chance of doing two things. 1. Appearing on a search engine like Google or Bing when someone searches for your business or something related to your company, and 2. ranking higher on the SERP. For example, search “kids shoes” on Google. You’ll see that the first few sites listed on the page (that aren’t ads) are stores like DSW, Footlocker, and Macy’s. These businesses are household names and have great websites with SEO practices in place. Thus, they’re on the top of page 1 where someone is more likely to click on a link.
Now jump to page 20. The sites you see here are probably companies you’ve never heard of before. You may also see websites that relate very little to the search term. As you can imagine, not many people bother to go past the first couple of results pages. Even fewer make it all the way to page 20, so ranking this low isn’t great. Ideally, your ranking will be on one of the first few pages. Even better, your ranking will appear at the top of the page where web users are more likely to see and click on your company’s site link.
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website (on-site SEO) so that it ranks high on SERPs for people searching in or near your business’ location. Usually, the search queries include “near me” or the name of the town, city, county, etc. that the person is in at the time of the search. Bookstores near me, best restaurants near me, shoe stores in [location] are all examples of local search queries.
Optimizing your website for local SEO can transform your business, as we’ll explain now.
Why Local SEO Is So Important
All local business can benefit from local search – restaurants, retail stores, medical practices, banks, law firms, and so forth. It may feel counterintuitive to dedicate time and resources into establishing your online presence and improving your SERP ranking for your brick and mortar. What you need to realize is that the digital world influences consumers who shop online as well as in-store. A great website is a requirement for being a thriving business in 2019. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom and pop or a regional chain, e-commerce or in-store only.
There are countless reasons why local SEO is critical, but we believe that these are the five most compelling.
- Visibility: As we already said, your goal should be to rank on the first few pages of SERPs, ideally on page 1 and at the top of the page. Landing a spot here means that more people will see your site, creating brand awareness and increasing the likelihood of them visiting your website.
- Credibility: We live in a world where “Google” is a verb. You can bet that people who aren’t familiar with your company or are considering you for their purchase will look you up online. In fact, 97% of people get information about a local company online than anywhere else. If they have a hard time finding your website because you’re not on page 1 or even page 2, they may doubt your credibility as a successful business. Or worse, it may drive them to the websites of your competitors, which brings us to the next point…
- Competition: A high SERP ranking can be another weapon for beating out your competitors. By ranking higher than them, customers and prospects are more likely to see your website instead of theirs, thus making you more likely to win more business.
- Qualified Leads: Optimizing your website for local SEO helps connect you with prospective customers at the perfect time. They’ll see your site at the exact moment that they’re searching for your company and the services/products you provide. Ads on social media, display ads, and radio and TV commercials run the risk of reaching people who aren’t in the mindset of making a purchase or going to your business. Those formats are better for driving brand awareness, whereas SEO funnels qualified leads to your website.
- Conversions: Ultimately, local SEO is one of the best ways to increase your sales. It has conversion rates that are hard to beat with other types of marketing or advertising. According to HubSpot, 88% of mobile searches for local businesses call or visit the business within 24 hours, 18% will lead to a purchase within a day. An estimated 78% of local mobile searches lead to an offline purchase.
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