Before we dive into what local SEO services are, let’s consider a simple scenario.
Let’s imagine you have the most high-quality products or the most refined services in a certain market in your locality. You have spent a substantial amount of time, effort, and other resources on improving your products or services and have designed a strong marketing strategy. Neighboring competitors of yours have products or services that cannot parallel yours. However, these businesses heavily focus on local SEO.
Now when an online shopper conducts a search, it is these businesses that will appear on the top of the search results, not yours. And who has got the time to scroll all the way down or move to the next page? And even if someone does, will they trust some business that ranks so low on a search engine?
The solution to this lies in a specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy known as local SEO. This article will describe the concept of local SEO, expound on why local SEO is important for business, and alert you to the possible pitfalls of implementing local SEO strategies.
Local SEO Defined
Local SEO is the practice of capturing local search territory to better connect with potential customers close by. This strategy works best for businesses that have a local customer base. How local SEO works is by focusing on the following key factors.
- Relevance: This refers to how well a listed business matches the search. The more detailed information you have provided for your business, the easier it will be for a search engine to find your listing.
- Distance: This measures how far the physical location of your business is from the search location.
- Prominence: How well a business is known also plays into the SEO results. Factors such as your Google review count and average rating matter here.
How Local SEO Creates Value for Business
Among the numerous benefits of local SEO, the following are notable for creating high value for a business.
- Employing strategies to improve local SEO can lead to an increase in your web traffic. If your content is not locally optimized, you will be competing with major businesses and websites from various areas, reducing your chances of ranking high in your relevant field. However, with local SEO services, your website is more likely to rank higher, leading to an increased click-through rate (CTR) — which would eventually bring more traffic to your site.
- This is an excellent method to stay competitive with neighboring businesses. For instance, somebody does a Google search for leather jackets in your area, it is imperative that your business appears in the search along with your competitors. Otherwise, even if your product is superior, the chances of a person discovering your business online are low.
- Another one of the local SEO benefits that might get overlooked is that it helps build links with local businesses. Competition is definitely an integral part of the equation, but it can also be beneficial to form alliances or friendly ties with neighboring businesses. This can be useful for your brand in situations where another business is looking to cross-promote products or if a brand refers your business to its customer. Another situation is if a coordinated marketing campaign that could benefit you is being conducted in your neighborhood, for instance.
- Customer retention is among the most significant reasons why local SEO is increasingly becoming a part of the marketing strategies of different businesses. If local customers find your business through an online search and have a positive experience, they are very likely to become repeat customers. Such customers are easier to sell to and often refer businesses to others in the same locality, bringing in more clientele.
- Among the benefits of local SEO, another notable mention is that this strategy can help you earn more trust through higher rankings. When making Google searches, most of us are likely to consider the businesses listed higher in the search results. Even if we do end up looking at the businesses listed lower or on the third or fourth page, we might not trust those brands as much. The thing is, they are not doing anything wrong or less appreciable — product or service wise — when compared to the brands with higher search engine rankings. However, just because their ranking is low, customers are hesitant to make a purchase. Local SEO can lead to higher rankings, which can make your brand more visible and trustworthy in the eyes of potential buyers.
- 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct “near me” searches. This means that if your business is showing up high in the relevant search results, you are already targeting the local population well. Thus, you can cut down on advertisement costs. There is no need to send out flyers, place ads in the newspaper, or conduct localized social media campaigns when locals are easily finding your business online.
As detailed by the aforementioned benefits, local SEO highly matters and can help you maintain a competitive advantage in a business environment full of cutthroat competition.
Pitfalls to Avoid With Local SEO
We have fully established why local SEO is beneficial and addressed the way it can transform a business. However, if you go into this without any idea of potential pitfalls or with unrealistic expectations, you might be disappointed with the results.
- Know that local SEO does not yield instant results. You will need to wait at least a few months (six or more) to see any desirable results and a return on investment. As fruitful as this strategy is, it takes its due time. This also means you will need to keep investing money and human resources during this time frame. Thus, if you are looking to quickly rank high on Google or need to popularize your business instantly, local SEO is not the right tool.
- Local SEO is a considerable investment. For many local businesses, paying rent and wages on top of the operational costs can be a struggle. Bringing local SEO into the equation can further put them under financial pressure. Then, couple this with the fact that not many businesses are well-equipped to run successful local SEO campaigns all on their own. They will have to invest in SEO services, which can get exceedingly costly if the business is in the medical or law field.
- This is an ongoing activity. Many consider local SEO implementation to be a one-time activity and, thus, a single expense. However, it is recurring and has to be monitored and updated regularly. This makes it a part of the fixed monthly expenses. Moreover, the more competitive your niche gets, the higher your local SEO budget will need to be.
- With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it is frightening to consider the impact of reviews on your business. With local SEO, it’s easy for anyone to find your business on Google My Business and leave a remark. And even if there are many positive reviews for your business, a single negative review (whether fake or real) detailing a terrible experience can be a make-or-break deal for a potential buyer.
- The most frustrating part is that any SEO strategy is almost a blackbox. Sure, there are numerous guides online detailing each and every aspect of local SEO and endless advice by experts, but no one has completely mastered the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm. Only Google knows how a webpage or website is to be ranked. Thus, there is no guarantee that your website will even land on the first page of search results.
None of this is to dissuade you from experimenting with this vital SEO strategy. Nonetheless, beware of these pitfalls and devise your marketing plans accordingly.
Local SEO prevents you from spending resources on campaigns, strategies, and plans that will not yield meaningful results. What this means is that instead of focusing on unrealistic competition and promoting your products to a generalized market, it is more time- and cost-effective to hone in on the local community that will help you build strong impressions where needed. That being said, after understanding why local SEO is important and learning the ways to optimize your marketing strategy with it, pay attention to the pitfalls that local SEO might bring to your business and brainstorm strategies to counter these issues.
To get an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your local SEO strategy, you can utilize SEO auditing services. The more mature your local SEO strategy is, the higher your chances of bringing in traffic and generating leads or sales will be.