Why it matters, and how to make it work for your business
For many small businesses, SEO remains a luxury or curiosity—but it isn’t to consumers. According to a recent survey, 70% of Americans use local search to find businesses in their area; and 69% trust online reviews and ratings as much as personal recommendations. Increasingly, local search is how consumers find the services they need, and small businesses can’t afford to ignore them. Here are a few reasons to rethink your SEO, and how you can make it more effective.
1. Most local SEO tactics cost nothing
Most of what you need to improve your local search presence just takes time, and costs very little.
- Maintain and publicize a weekly blog
- Guest post on reputable local sites
- Build a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter
- Publicize online-exclusive offers to draw traffic to your site and social networks
- Encourage and incentivize reviews on Yelp! or Google Places
These free measures don’t constitute a local SEO campaign by themselves, but they make every other aspect of your SEO campaign more effective.
2. Local SEO is more focused than traditional marketing
Most traditional marketing strategies target a very broad audience, whether you buy billboard space or airtime on local TV. This means that you’re paying for low-quality contact with a relatively non-responsive audience—but local SEO specifically targets those in your area who are looking for your exact service. Instead of reaching everyone who watches a particular TV show, or passes a certain stretch of highway, local SEO connects you directly to highly-motivated local customers.
3. Local SEO is the most effective way to reach mobile users
With Google’s location-tracking feature on most smartphones, the odds of reaching mobile customers without a local SEO strategy are pretty slim. Mobile consumers don’t have time to do as much homework as a home consumer, so they’re much more likely to glance at star ratings, check out the first or second-ranked items, and make a snap decision. All of these factors make local SEO absolutely essential for any local, brick-and-mortar small business.
4. Going local provides better results at lower cost
Your small business can’t afford to compete with national companies with million-dollar SEO budgets—and for most small businesses, it wouldn’t even make sense to try. Rather than blowing your marketing budget winning over a global audience (most of whom are too far away to serve anyway), focus on grabbing the attention of the community that actually benefits from your service. Take a look at where you stand among your immediate competitors for local search terms. Make a plan to top those rankings first, and see what kind of impact your tactics have before you move on to broader search terms.
5. Boosting your site’s local performance might take a design overhaul
Too many web designers build sites to look as slick as possible to impress their clients, without any consideration for the actual commercial purpose of the site. Always remember that the main goal of your company’s website is to help people buy your product or service in as few clicks as possible. An SEO-conscious designer will make sure that your site provides a smooth, simple path from your landing page to checkout to online payment.
If you’re drawing plenty of traffic, but not seeing the lead-generation you were hoping for, consider having an SEO consultant take a look at the structure of your site, and where your clicks are coming from. In most cases, the prescription is more disciplined, focused local SEO.
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.
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