Is your small company struggling to bring in business? Are you not seeing any new customers come through your doors?
The solution might be to improve your local SEO efforts.
So what is local SEO, and why is it so important for your small business? Check out this beginner’s guide to local SEO.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Trying to find a new restaurant? Looking up data for a research paper? Want to find out more about your favorite celebrity?
Anything you could ever need can be found online in seconds with a quick search.
Search engines like Google and Bing have transformed the way the world finds information. Every day, more than 3.5 billion searches go through Google.
With so many people using search engines, it makes sense that appearing at or near the top of the results can pay big dividends for companies.
To earn a lucrative top position on a results page, websites turn to a practice known as search engine optimization or SEO. The point of SEO is to craft a business’ online presence in a way that builds favor with the complex algorithms used by Google and other search sites.
What is Local SEO?
As the name implies, local SEO is search engine optimization focused on searches made within a specific area.
For some queries, search engines will prioritize results that are closely tied to the place the search is being made from. Naturally, local results often prove more useful and practical for the searcher.
If you’re looking for a pizzeria in New York, it does you no good to learn about the top pizza shop in Chicago. You want to find a place down the street that you can order from and start eating immediately.
Local SEO is critical for small businesses such as mom-and-pop shops and regional chains. Their customers only exist in a limited area, so showing up in searches made in their community is important.
For national, international, or online-only corporations, local SEO isn’t nearly as important. Their consumer base is located all over the map. However, local SEO can still be employed to highlight a specific franchise.
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
So why should a small business owner care about local SEO? Aren’t there other marketing methods that can bring in business?
Sure. But local SEO is a powerful tool that can give you a huge boost. Here are a few of the benefits of local SEO.
Everything Happens Online
You’ll occasionally still get new customers from a personal recommendation or foot traffic from random passersby. But the overwhelming majority of new customers find your business through online means.
In fact, a stunning 97% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
Even if somebody hears about you outside of the digital realm, they’ll likely still take to the internet to learn more about your company, such as open hours or your restaurant menu.
Ignoring the massive potential of having a strong online presence is simply a foolish business decision.
It’s Cheaper Than Advertising
Advertising is a classic tactic to promote your company. But most forms of traditional advertising are expensive.
TV and radio commercials, print ads, and billboards are all often outside of the budget restraints of a small business. For example, the average cost for a single 30-second commercial on prime time TV was $112,000 in 2014.
Luckily, search engine optimization is a much more cost-effective solution. Many SEO actions can be done on your own. More advanced strategy done through an SEO agency will come at a reasonable price and have longer-term effects than a single ad.
It Builds Strong Leads
Another problem with traditional advertising is the low percentage of strong leads it generates.
When you advertise to a mass audience, a large chunk will have zero need of or interest in your product or service. Your ads might get seen by a lot of people, but most of those views will go to waste.
However, people who find your company through local search are naturally strong leads. They’re likely actively looking for a company like yours — that’s why they’re making the search.
Rather than trying to put yourself in front of a large audience and hoping to get lucky, SEO helps interested people come to you.
You Can Compete Against Online Shopping
Online shopping is booming. So much so that it’s starting to spell trouble for brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Recently, toy giant Toys ‘R’ Us went out of business. The collapse has been partially attributed to Amazon and the conveniences of other online shopping options.
Investing in local SEO can help prevent more of your potential customers from slipping away to the online retailers. By presenting an in-person alternative, shoppers might delay clicking “Add to Cart” and visit your shop.
This is especially relevant for businesses that sell things that people like to touch and test before buying, such as clothing.
How to Do Local SEO
SEO is both a science and an art.
There are many known factors that contribute to rankings, but the specifics of the algorithm are kept tightly under wraps by the search engines.
Those algorithms are also constantly changing as new improvements are made and new trends appear. For example, Google is implementing more machine learning and AI techniques as advancements surrounding that technology continues to grow. The growth of voice search through devices like the Amazon Echo have also influenced how search works.
Although local SEO is always in motion, there are some basic principles that can help you start seeing results.
For more insight into how to do local SEO, check out our in-depth local SEO tactics guide here.
Learn More About Search Engine Optimization and Local SEO
Search engine optimization is a crucial part of any marketing strategy. Local SEO is especially important for smaller businesses to stand out from the crowd and bring in new customers from their community.
Now that you’ve learned what is local SEO, it’s time to dive even deeper into the world of search. To learn more about SEO, check out our blog.