As a local business owner, you may feel there’s little point in investing time and money to optimize your Google presence when you’re up against the likes of Walmart and Amazon for top-tier rankings. That might be true when it comes to the main organic listings but it’s not the case for local search.
Whether you have a physical bricks-and-mortar location or serve a particular geographical area, local SEO allows you to better connect with people in your neighborhood, town, or city. That’s important given that 81% of consumers now turn to Google to evaluate local businesses.
Benefits of local SEO
- Better online visibility: Local SEO activity, such as citation and link building, increases your online visibility. That makes your business more easily discoverable by new customers.
- More in-store foot traffic: Greater local visibility brings more foot traffic to your bricks-and-mortar location.
- Tap into local shopping boom: Post COVID, more than half of consumers now prefer to shop locally and support local businesses or smaller brands. Local SEO puts you in contention for those new business opportunities.
- Targeted web traffic: Optimizing your site for local search delivers more targeted traffic to your website which can lead to more leads, subscriptions, sign-ups, and sales.
- More calls: Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) optimization can lead to enhanced Google Maps visibility. This can lead to more calls and more in-person visits.
- Thought leadership: Content marketing can help you establish a thought leadership position and be seen as an expert in your field.
- Enhanced trust levels: Reputation management builds trust in your business.
- More sales: Consumers are known to use online reviews to help with decision-making when choosing a local business.
- Improved conversion rate: Website optimization can bolster your conversion rate, increasing contact form submissions, phone calls, email subscriptions, or sales.
- More competitive: Local SEO also makes you more competitive as it encourages you to study what your rivals are doing well and what tactics are working for them to then ingrate into your own approach.
This is Why Local SEO is Important
Imagine you’re a bridal boutique in Charlotte, North Carolina. A bride-to-be actively looking for ‘bridal boutique, Charlotte North Carolina’ is your ideal customer. However, the organic search results are populated by big-name brands such as directory sites, top 10 lists, and blogs. This makes it hard to compete and difficult to imagine a route for the bride to find her way to your store.
However, if you perform local SEO you’ll appear at the top of the search results, and in the Local Pack, with useful information such as opening times, your phone number and location, an image, and your five-star review rating. The bride-to-be can see you’re close by, offer a great service, and can easily plan a visit or call your store. You’re now in the running to make a sale.
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The 10 Benefits of Local SEO
1. Better Online Visibility
Many of the activities associated with local SEO will not only help you to improve your visibility in local search results but also help you to build better online visibility overall.
Citation building, for example, is a staple of local SEO activity. This involves building mentions of your company’s name, its physical address (ideally including zip code), and phone number via directory listings, social media profiles, and online review platforms.
Because you’ll do this in as many different places as possible, it’s easier for your business to be found by the right people (those interested in your specific product or service in their local area) at the right time (when they’re actively searching for a business like yours). If you’re running a B&B in Upstate New York, for example, a TripAdvisor NAP could help interested guests find you and make a reservation.
2. More In-store Foot Traffic
Greater local visibility can help to bring more foot traffic to your bricks-and-mortar location, whether you’re a cafe, dry cleaner, or hardware store. If you’ve invested heavily in specialist equipment, designed an innovative space, or have a bricks-and-mortar location because your products are best experienced in person, growing the number of people stopping by can help you to create a buzz about your space and make more sales.
3. Tap Into the Local Shopping Boom
Recent years have seen widespread changes in consumer buying habits. One of the most notable is that today’s consumers increasingly prioritize local businesses when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
Research shows that consumers are thinking smaller and opting to prioritize small, local, independent businesses rather than bigger, brand name offerings or experiences they may have chosen previously.
56% of consumers say that they purposefully give their custom to local stores and actively seek out locally sourced products.
76% of consumers also say that they plan to shop more locally over the next 12 months, meaning an opportunity is emerging for smaller, independent businesses to increase their sales. One of the core benefits of local SEO is it puts you in front of local consumers exactly when they need your products or services. As a result, this can empower you to fully leverage this shift in buyer behavior to grow your business.
4. Targeted Web Traffic
As a small business, every minute you spend dealing with unqualified leads or people who aren’t likely to make a purchase or book a service is money lost.
Local SEO can help weed out irrelevant traffic and remove those time saps which prevent your business from running efficiently, helping ensure your business is only visible to search users in your local area.
With 59% of search users turning to Google to research a purchase they plan to make in-store, this can be a significant advantage as it allows you to focus your resources on those customers most likely to convert.
5. More Calls and Visits from Maps Users
Optimizing your Google Business Profile can lead to enhanced visibility on Google Maps. This, in turn, can lead to more calls and more in-person visits, since Google Maps was specifically designed to help users find local services and plan their journeys.
Google Maps is populated using information that Google gleans from Business Profiles, so any Google Business Profile optimization you carry out will directly aid your Maps visibility, increasing your number of calls and in-person visits.
6. Establish a Position of Thought Leadership
Performing content marketing and link building is necessary to establish prominence and relevance, two of the core pillars of local SEO rankings. This same activity can also help you to cultivate a reputation as a thought leader and expert in your field.
Local content marketing should naturally see you talking about your local area or hometown and involving your local community. Not only does this help to grow your position as an expert voice, but it can also bring your customers closer to your business, building stronger links, brand loyalty, and increasing engagement.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO – Free Online Course
When you take the time to create locally-focused evergreen resources you’re also more likely to receive links back to your site from other local businesses. These links, whether from a local source like your town newspaper or an industry-specific site (like your local chamber of commerce) can all add to your authority and credibility, helping position you as an expert in your field.
7. Enhanced Trust Levels
It’s no secret that reviews are a cornerstone of local SEO success and a key local search ranking factor. The more reviews you get as part of your reputation management strategy, the more visibility you’ll earn in local search.
Reviews are also an essential ingredient for building consumer trust—a vital attribute that precedes any business transaction.
Research confirms that more consumers than ever before are reading online reviews more regularly, and half say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Greater visibility, plus top-rated, fresh reviews are a magic formula both for local pack prominence and higher levels of consumer trust.
8. More Sales
Consumers use online reviews to help with the decision-making process when choosing a local business. Around one in eight people go online to find information about a local business more than once a week.
Being able to present them with authentic recommendations from their peers for your business as a result of your reputation management activity is a powerful benefit and underlines just why local SEO is important.
9. Improved Conversion Rates
When asking ‘what are the benefits of local SEO?’ it’s easy to focus attention on what’s happening on Google and other platforms, but it can also play a direct role in improving the structure and performance of your own website.
Website optimization tasks carried out for local SEO, such as adding new locally-focused optimization, reviewing landing page text, and working on page load speed, all help with conversion rate optimization (CRO). From there, you should see an increase in the number of conversions your site generates, including increases in contact form submissions, more phone calls, email subscriptions, or sales.
10. Your Business Becomes More Competitive
An important part of developing and refining your local SEO strategy is benchmarking competitors and identifying what they’re doing better than you.
Identifying these opportunities to improve (and being able to put the things they have learned into practice without the trial-and-error they may have gone through to arrive at a successful strategy) puts your business on a much more competitive footing. Studying their reviews, for example, could tell you what customers appreciate about their service so you can incorporate a similar approach within your own business.