Small businesses and nonprofits, especially new ones, always have a challenge becoming established and getting exposure. Advertising can be expensive. Other than your personal connections, nobody knows what you sell. It appears that you are a small fish in a big pond. So what should you do? Local SEO may be the best strategy for you. The benefits of local SEO will continue well into the future of your organization. The benefits are listed here, but first…
What is Local SEO?
Have you ever hear the phrase “location, location, location” in terms of marketing and promotion? Local SEO is the digital solution to being in the right place at the right time for your customers by taking advantage of tools and creating content focused on a geographic region.
According to a study by Google, searches that include the phrase of variations of “near me” increased over 500% between 2015 and 2017. This has no doubt increased even more in more recent years. The recent need to stay at home more often and limit exposure outside of the house has also increased the demand for customers to find local businesses for serving their needs.
This is why local SEO benefits businesses so well, and whether you are a small business, nonprofit, or even a large business. There are many benefits of local SEO.
#1 More Website Traffic, Faster
All local SEO efforts are bound to result in more traffic to your website. This is a goal of all digital marketing and SEO initiatives but local SEO strategies are a great place to start when you are not seeing the numbers you want.
I worked with a large client that opened a new location and built a website focused on it. Local SEO was an important factor in building traffic for a few reasons. First, it was important to differentiate the traffic from the other location-specific websites the organization maintained, second, it is a competitive geographic area for the industry. But look at the traffic chart seen here:
The website launched in July. In the 9 months following, traffic increased to over 30,000 visits a month. This was due to local SEO efforts including focusing content on the geographic region and creating awareness of the problem they solved specifically relevant to the region.
It is important to mention that 9 months is a very short amount of time to gain this much traffic. This should demonstrate the impact a focus on local search can have on a website. This is especially true in competitive industries.
#2 Longer-Lasting Traffic for Website
Because local SEO is a strategy that focuses your marketing on a specific location, this makes web traffic less likely to fluctuate. There are several SEO techniques that focus on narrowing the audience, but local SEO has the most industry focus. As long as your organization is a benefit to a specific region, local SEO will be a benefit to you.
Local SEO is also longer lasting than other marketing and advertising techniques. Unlike digital ads, the traffic will not disappear as soon as the campaign ends. I will speak more on how local SEO saves money in marketing efforts later, but I do want to mention that you should still seriously consider hiring an SEO consultant to help with your local strategy to get the longest-lasting and best quality results.
#3 More Online Ratings and Reviews
One of the best online selling tools is the online review. It enhances your reputation and shows that customers trust you and your services. The more you have, the more vocal people are about your business. Additionally this shows customer and community engagement of your brand. In return, people in need of your services are going to see your value and turn to you for a solution. Search engines like Google recognize this and will factor these ratings in search engine result pages.
There are ongoing benefits of online reviews and local SEO. The more frequent reviews and higher ratings of your business, the higher the ranking for your website in local searches. Additionally, this results in more ratings, reviews, and more credit in the search engines. They are very powerful.
There are many services and tools available for collecting reviews including Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and part of a tool called Google My Business. These reviews can be further fed into your website as additional content to promote your services.
Concerning Negative Reviews
One issue holds website owners back from taking advantage of rating and review systems, and that is the dreaded negative review. However, it is important to remember that negative reviews provide an opportunity for your business to address complaints in a positive way. Search engines value this positive engagement and may further provide your business with an advantage in the result pages.
#4 Build Trust and Authority Online
In addition to reviews and ratings, there are other ways optimizing for local search can contribute to building trust in your organization and authority in your community. Networking is an important part of running a business. This networking may not always lead to sales, but it can lead to partnerships. These partnerships can mean a lot for your business in the form of links. If a partner with a strong reputation in the community needs a subject matter expert from your industry to make a statement on their website, you want to be that subject matter expert.
Ask for the content on the partner’s website to link to a relevant page on your own. Search engines recognize this as a vote of confidence in your organization. And this is how your website’s local SEO benefits from reputation management.
This is, of course, a lot of work. And you certainly shouldn’t build these relationships just for the sake of value to SEO. You want to find valuable business partners that you can work together on an ongoing basis and build each other’s trust.
#5 The Competitive Advantage of Local SEO
There are competitive advantages in a local search. Did you know that 56% of businesses do not claim their Google listing and 82% do not claim listings on Bing? This means there is a high probability your competitors are not doing this either. So claim your listings. Optimize them for search engines and you will see a positive result.
Another advantage is the large amount of marketing information that comes out about your competitors. An important part of creating a local SEO strategy is researching your competitors. This more than likely includes a glimpse at the competitor’s website. You can learn what keywords they use, how their website is structured, and what SEO best practices you may be able to implement better. On an even higher level, you may learn what competitors offer that you can offer as well, but do not mention on your website. There are tools for evaluating competitors online. There is nothing malicious or unethical about doing this as every page a business allows to be search is available to the public.
#6 Collaborations With Local Businesses
I have touched on partnerships earlier in the article, but local SEO strategies can elevate these partnerships to increased publicity that goes beyond an advantage in search engines. Many businesses in your community may have a similar target market and goals as your own organization. This leads to opportunities to cross-promote products and services.
When you find partnerships that can give you an advantage online, consider offline advantages as well. These partnerships can come in the form of event sponsorships, promotional materials and business cards in other local stores, and guest posting on their blogs. All of these provide additional awareness to your business, and if you are really lucky, a larger sales team.
Through partnerships, BACE Digital has received multiple referrals. This is all because my business fills gaps that a partner’s customers need, but cannot be provided. Essentially, I am benefitting from another organization’s customer database.
I want to note, and this is important, this does not mean you can use their customer relationship management tool as your own, nor can you import all of a partner’s contacts into your own database. This violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which applies to organizations in the United States as well.
#7 Long-Term Customer Relationships
A customer with a positive experience from your organization is likely to continue to be your customer. SEO strategies of any kind should consider the visitor and customer experience. However, local search offers the opportunity to seamlessly guide the customer from their phone or computer to the store and back online for their shopping experience. Since 87% of shopping experiences begin online, you can begin providing quality customer service before they even know you are there.
If you build a solid local SEO strategy, set up the positive user experience on your website, and either allow a customer to buy from your website or direct them to your physical store on their phone, you have already proven yourself as a valuable business. This is why customer experience is so important, from beginning to end. Many businesses, including your competitors, do not consider their presence online as a part of the customer experience.
#8 Support Your Local Economy
Your organization is not the only benefactor of local SEO. A sale at your store provides a benefit to the community. This is, of course, obvious for nonprofit organizations but for-profit businesses as well. People like to support their community, and the prominence your local SEO strategy will give you will keep customers supporting the local economy as well.
This can be compounded with those partnerships discuss earlier. Promote other local businesses in your store and on your website, those businesses provide support to the community as well.
#9 Higher Rankings in Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Mapquest
Do not limit your local SEO to a general web search. A focus on local content gives you an advantage in the tools used to actually find your business as well. This gives you an advantage in two places on Google specifically:
The Google Local 3-Pack
This is a rich snippet that appears for the search “coffee shops in Clermont, FL”. Take a look at what appears here. You see only three listings, but there is a lot of information a potential customer can gather, that is going to be important to them. Not just where the coffee shops are but other valuable information like whether the business is open or closed, service options, cost, photos, and ratings. A potential customer may not need any more information than this to decide where to get some coffee. This is why optimizing these listings is important.
Google Maps Search
This is the mobile Google Maps Search view of the same local search: “coffeeshops in Clermont, FL”. You can see many more listings but the most optimized listings are the ones that appear on the map and in the listings below.
The major advantage of the mobile maps search is the customer is heading to your store as soon as they decide to go, with explicit and timely directions on how to get there. The customer experience has already started.
#10 Local SEO is Good For Your Budget
Part of why local SEO is valuable is not just the revenue it creates, but it limits the expenses as well. There is a lot of exposure an organization can get with limited resources through a local SEO strategy. What you really spend on local search is time and effort. The effort of optimizing your listings, building your reputation, and getting ratings and reviews. Fortunately, there are also free tools available for carrying out your strategy as well.
Free Tools Include:
- Google My Business – A platform directory in Google for managing your Maps listing in Google.
- Free Directories and Local Listings – This includes websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Yellow Pages.
- Localized landing pages on website – Creating content specific to a geographic region and directing listing and community traffic to the page is helpful.
- Google Alerts – Be alerted whenever your business or organization is mentioned in the local news and take advantage of that exposure.
These are all highly valuable, but if you are willing to put money into the local search, there are other options as well. The most value is through hiring an SEO consultant to manage your strategy.
#11 Gain Customers Who Are Ready to Buy
According to the Local Search Association, there are three important facts to know about customers who are ready to make a purchase:
- 27% of customers will visit a company website
- 24% turn to the search engines to decide where to purchase from
- 9% using review and rating sites to influence their decision
We have already established the value of your website, search engines and ratings and reviews. However, a considerable chunk of traffic gained from your local SEO strategy are ready to buy from you, right now. All you need to do is be the first to appear in front of them.
This means it is important to optimize your local listings. Additionally, make sure it is as easy as possible for that purchase to be completed. Either online or through the store. This means making sure your listings link to a page that allows visitors to make a purchase. And allow for the purchase to happen as quickly as possible.
#12 Easily Make Your Local Mark
One of the best-kept secrets about SEO is it’s benefits continue beyond the internet. Your reputation online indirectly, but quickly, becomes a reputation offline as well. You can place a review in printed formats in your storefront to draw people into the store or on the menu to promote specific products.
There is also value in the visual connection between something you see online, and what you see in person. So make sure photos of your store are available on your website and encourage photos of your business to be added by customers to Google Maps.
#13 Show Up In Voice Search
Our homes and pockets are now filled with search engines that can be used without even using your hands. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana are more than likely all within a voice’s reach and always ready to answer a question. But what does this mean for local SEO? In 2019, 58% of consumers have found a business locally using voice search capabilities. Voice search is also a major contributor to that 500% increase in “near me” searches.
The challenge with voice search is your business needs to be first in line. Attention to voice search will typically drop after the first listing as there are limited methods of quickly offering multiple listings through a vocal track.
This is why it is important to include natural language in your content. What I mean by this is to write content the way a person speaks. This is always good practice for readability standards, but for voice search, this means not stressing to include keywords in a specific way.
#14 Understand Your Customers Better
SEO is not just helpful for increasing revenue but for market research as well. When assessing and planning out a local SEO strategy, if done well, you will have access to a lot of important data. Between website analytics, the content of the reviews, and local listing data, you can determine a lot about your customers, and improve your marketing even more.
By understanding what customers are searching for, you could further promote corresponding products. You can make sure the most visited pages are the most optimized and provide the best user experience. You can increase engagement and brand recognition by focusing on the content that appeals to your most valued customers.
#15 Increased Profit
If you have read this far, you may have already realized this benefit, but we saved the best for last. The truth is, 80% of local searches result in a profitable engagement. Whether it is a purchase or a download that leads towards a purchase down the line, local SEO often means more revenue for your organization.
Step Up Your Local SEO Game
The benefits of local SEO are many, but not a complete guarantee. It requires a lot of effort to be optimized for local SEO, at least to see the full benefits of it. But remember the value:
- More website traffic
- Longer-lasting web traffic
- More online ratings and reviews
- Trust and authority online
- Competitive advantages
- Collaborations with local businesses
- Long-term customer relationships
- Support your local economy
- Higher rankings in google maps, apple maps, and mapquest
- Good for a budget
- More customers who are ready to buy
- A Local Offline Reputation
- Show up in voice search
- Understand your customer
- Increased profit
If you want these benefits but are concerned about the work involved. I am here for you. Connect with me and request a free quote for my services.