Local Search Engine Optimization Is CRITICAL For Small To Medium Sized Businesses
It used to be possible to do pretty well in business with nothing more than an entry in the local Yellow Pages, maybe a couple of direct mail pieces, and some quality signage outside of your place of business – but the world has changed dramatically in just the last 15 or 20 years, and if you aren’t taking full advantage of everything that the internet has to offer your local business is likely suffering (and suffering big time).
It isn’t enough to have a simple and straightforward website up and running, either. These kinds of sites are nothing more than digital business cards, and the odds are pretty good that you’ve learned firsthand just how useless business cards – traditional or digital – can be in today’s lightning fast paced business environment.
No, you need to make sure that you are driving targeted traffic to your website – and inevitably to your local operation – and that’s only going to be possible with strategic search engine optimization.
You need to own the top spot (or as close to it as possible) for a handful of critical keywords in your local area on all of the major search engine networks, and you need to get the ball rolling right now.
Your customers are searching for everything you offer online more than anywhere else
Right out of the gate, it’s important to understand that 80% of consumers report searching for products and services online before they search anywhere else – a flood of potential customers that you can’t afford to miss out in today’s ridiculously competitive business environment.
Nearly 60% of those individuals are searching with their mobile device while out and about actually looking for products or services right then and there, and 50% of all consumers that do a local search on their smart phone report visiting a store to purchase something within 24 hours.
If you don’t have your search engine optimization in place, and if you aren’t able to own top spots in Google and the other major search engine networks for local traffic and keywords, you’re going to be missing out on a big chunk of business.
It’s not a bad idea to really emphasize mobile traffic when you’re putting together your local search engine optimization campaigns, either. According to the research, 87% of ALL smart phone owners use a search engine at least once a day – and the overwhelming majority of them use a search engine to find products and services locally on a regular basis.
Think of it like this:
By knocking your local search engine optimization right out of the park, you’re able to capitalize on a flood of targeted traffic that would have otherwise been looking at your competitors products and services.
You’ll be able to put not only your entire range of products and services in the pocket of your potential customers with search engine optimization, but you’ll also be able to provide them with targeted advertising that compels them to purchase from you rather than the other guys – a major advantage in today’s cutthroat business environment you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy otherwise.
Local search engine optimization isn’t as expensive or as competitive as broader range SEO
The beautiful thing about local search engine optimization is that it isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy top results these days, and it is going to take the same kind of time or deal with the same kind of competitive nature that broader range SEO brings to the table.
Instead of trying to gain the top spot in Google for the keyword “garden center” – and having to go toe to toe with multinational companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s with million-dollar budgets for search engine optimization you will instead be able to focus on local targeted keywords like “Springfield garden center”.
This cuts down on the competition significantly but also improves the quality of the potential prospects you’re going to be attracting along the way. There may only be a handful of Springfield-based garden centers you’re competing with for local keyword domination, and the odds are pretty good that many of them still aren’t optimizing their websites or their internet presence as well as they could or should be – giving you another chance to jump ahead of and steal more market share before they wake up.
You’ll also know that people searching keywords like “Springfield garden center” are going to be motivated for relevance and targeted information. The odds are pretty good that there in the by something right now, this minute, and are willing to visit a local location to get their hands on the products or services they are after just because they’re searching their local area rather than “globally”.
These are the kinds of online prospects that can quickly turn into paying customers and, ideally, returning paying customers with a loyalty to your brand that you have built. When 50% of all local mobile searches result in prospects hunting for business information – like contact information and a local address – the odds are definitely tilted in your favor!
Your prospects expect a local presence online
It used to be that consumers were more than a little bit skeptical about online operations, handing over their personal, private, and payment details via the web, and trusting faceless strangers with their money in hopes that they would send the products or services they had ordered to them while having no problem jumping down to Main Street and purchasing whatever it was they were after in person.
More and more, however, the opposite is true these days.
Without a website and online presence, even physical retail operations or local services are seen as being less professional, less reliable, less trustworthy, and less credible – even if those businesses have been around for years and years!
The truth of the matter is your prospects today are expecting you to have a solid online presence, quality local search engine optimization in place, and an online experience that is going to convince them to do business with you versus the rest of your competition that is always a click or two away in the online sphere.
71% of people reported that they look up and then confirm information regarding a local business before they visit for the first time, and many of them report that this initial search colors they are experience even before they arrive on site and walk through the doors.
68% of searches made on mobile devices for local keywords were related to finding directions or contact information. If you don’t have a local search engine optimization working in your favor to guarantee that this information is effortless to find and easy to access, the odds are pretty good that your local market is going to skip right over your business and instead choose to move forward with a competitor that makes the experience as easy as possible.
These are the kinds of sales you just can’t afford to lose in today’s modern world.
Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that the rest of your online presence is top-notch as well.
A quality website featuring responsive design elements, beautiful pictures and multimedia, quick loading capabilities, a host of other consumer focused elements will go a long way towards converting complete and total strangers into paying customers – but the only way your visitors and prospects are going to be able to find your website is if you bring them to your online platform via local search engine optimization the first place!
When 46% of ALL searches being conducted on Google related to local traffic, local keywords, and local search elements, the numbers are telling you just how valuable it is to have your local search engine optimization taken care of.
If you aren’t knocking it right out of the park when it comes to local SEO, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to be missing out on a flood of potential business that may have otherwise come trickling right into your business – but will instead inevitably had to competitors that are a bit more strategic and a bit more savvy when it comes to local online marketing.
Focus on the fundamentals before doing anything else
When you get right down to it, local search engine optimization is a lot easier to master than most people expect or anticipate – and it is certainly a lot easier to get right then global search engine optimization or national search engine optimization.
As we highlighted above, when you make your search engine optimization strategies locally focused you no longer have to compete with a world of incredibly well-healed and financed competitors that have been at this game for quite a while and can’t throw the kind of resources at search engine optimization that small and medium-sized businesses simply cannot.
But because nearly half of all search traffic online is locally focus, and because so few business owners have really started to make an effort to improve their local SEO, you instead gain an immediate competitive advantage that can put you over the top and help you build on that head start moving forward!
But it all starts with focusing on your fundamentals.
93% of all online experiences start with a search engine being fired up, and 80.5% of ALL online searches are going to go through Google.
You’ll want to make Google the focal point of your local search engine optimization efforts for sure, devoting at least 80% of your resources, your time, and your energy to gobbling up the top spots on Google before focusing anywhere else.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are covering your bases with the other major search engine networks, too – but it’s critical to really knock your Google efforts out of the park before moving on.
The “Google Three Pack” is the top three results located on any Google search, and this is where the overwhelming majority of people are going to focus when they are looking for answers, products, or services online.
You need to gobble up one of these top spots if you are going to have any chance of real success, and that’s going to require you analyzing how the current top three got to their position and modeling their success as much as possible while improving on their shortcomings.
Remember, 75% of ALL online searchers are NEVER going to scroll past the first page of search engine results – and nearly 50% of all online searchers aren’t going to look anywhere else other than those first three results. You only have a couple of shots at success when it comes to local search engine optimization and you need to make the most of it!
Your on page search engine optimization need to be designed for local searchers and customers first and foremost. You want to make sure that all of your keyword terms are locally designated, but you also want to make sure that you don’t stuff your content with keywords too much. Google will recognize the stuffing and shuffle you to the back of the line, sticking you in what’s called the “Google sandbox” and never letting you grab those top three spots.
You also need to focus on getting quality back links with anchor text that includes locally targeted keywords as well. Think of these as votes of confidence in your page, your services, and your content from other websites that are ranked favorably with Google, and as long as the links include that targeted keyword qualities we mentioned just a moment ago you should be able to see a steady and speedy rise throughout the Google ranks for the keywords you are targeting.
It’s also critical that you make sure that ANY of the webpages on your site that your visitors land on after clicking one of your links or following through on one of your search engine results is optimize to immediately capture their attention, to pull them deeper and deeper into your site and your sales funnel, and to facilitate them staying on your page as long as possible.
Not only does this improve the odds of them actually becoming a paying customer rather than an internet stranger, but it also helps boost your search engine optimization results by cutting down your “bounce rate”.
Google tracks every single person that moves through their search engine and pays attention to the amount of time that they spend on websites that Google has directed them to. If people are bailing on your website because it isn’t optimize, because it isn’t user-friendly, and because it isn’t helpful, all of the search engine optimization efforts in the world won’t help. Google will send you to the Sandbox again and you’ll see your traffic tank faster than expected.
Really nail the fundamentals of local search engine optimization and everything else will begin to fall into place.