There has been a lot of talk recently about the rise of local search online. With the increase in mobile online usage and the introduction of better location-based results in Google, local search optimization is becoming a vital component of overall SEO for businesses across the world. Check out these five things you probably didn’t know about local search SEO and what it can do for you.
- Going Mobile Is Key
The world is going mobile. If you are not convinced, just look at the numbers. According to Bloomberg, the number of smartphones in use across the globe is now over 1 billion and that number is expected to double in the next two years. And of those 1 billion smartphone users, 94 percent search for local information on their phone.
Moreover, Search Engine Land cites that 73 percent of mobile searches then trigger follow-up actions, resulting in a 28 percent conversion rate for mobile searches.
In other words, a lot of people are using their mobile devices (especially their phones) to conduct local searches and are then acting on the information they receive.
What does this mean for you and your business? It means that if you are not optimized for mobile (and local) search, you will lose customers and money. Do keyword research to discover what terms mobile users are searching under and produce content to address them.
Depending on your budget and business, you may also want to develop your own mobile app for customers to search for information related to your company. This is particularly effective if you are in the retail business, where shopping apps are becoming a popular way to conduct product-related searches.
Bottom line: Go mobile.
- Regular SEO Isn’t Enough
Local search SEO focuses on a location rather than general optimization for a website or business. In other words, local search SEO optimizes for a specific place or area while “regular” SEO has a broader world-wide audience.
Though both elements are important, when optimizing your business—or even just a blog— you should take into account local search. Google Places cites that 1 out of 5 searches are location based. This means that 20% of all searches on Google (over 5 billion per day in 2012) are local searches. That is a lot of potential traffic for you and your business.
Moreover, a study sponsored by YP found that “Four in 10 individuals use local search once a day, while 2/3 use local search at least 3-4 times per week.” If your business is location-based, it is necessary to optimize for local search.
This will include optimizing for location-based keywords, getting listed on Google Places and other online directories, adding updated local contact information (i.e. mailing address and phone number) to the homepage and perhaps even creating individual landing pages for every business location.
By doing so, you will not only be able to rank for regular search but also for local search—which can make a huge difference for your traffic and, more importantly, your conversion.
- Reviews Are Your Friend
People depend on reviews to inform their decisions—particularly when it comes to purchasing products or services. Moreover, search engines like Google and Bing keep track of reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Therefore, improve your local and online search ability by garnering reviews from your customers.
Ask them to review your business after an interaction. You can do so in person or by including call to action buttons on your website. For example, after a purchase is made online, give them the option to leave a review of their experience.
Unfortunately, there are fraudulent reviewers out there that can hit your SEO hard. Many companies deal with review scams. Even the SEO company Boostability has had to deal with these types of scams. For example, a quick search for “Boostability complaints” will bring up negative reviews.
Luckily, though, a few bad reviews won’t hurt you, so don’t be afraid of a mixed bag. Google even likes to see a diversity of ratings because this suggests that people are offering legitimate reviews and you aren’t buying positive comments. In the case of a bad review (or many), the most you can do is commit to great customer service and deliver a quality product.
- Sharing Is Caring
Social media is not only important for general online SEO but also for local search. People love to tell their friends about where they bought that cute couch or what ice cream shop had the best flavors.
That same study sponsored by YP (mentioned earlier) cites that the most avid local search users are also active on social media and commerce and that “three out of 4 posted a review of a business or product on a review site.” Clearly, if you want to get on the map—literally—in local search, you need to reach out and get social.
Create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, or blog. Share information, deals, and items of interest to your local audience. Because you are localized, you can get more personal and specific, tailoring your social media presence to the community you serve. As you share and interact across social platforms, you will build a better relationship with your target market and get publicity and exposure for your business.
- Old-school Still Matters
Because you are focusing on a local audience, small, old-school community advertising remains an important and viable marketing strategy. Your advertising efforts in the community will affect your online presence and should be considered part of your overall Local Search SEO campaign.
Post bulletins in the town square, buy ads in the local paper, and participate in or sponsor community events. This organic, offline advertising will translate to higher online traffic and greater conversion rates for your business.
Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance and accounting, as well as education. This passion has driven her to become a prolific writer on subjects like personal growth and higher education. Georgiah also loves biking, hiking, and people-watching at the beach.