The Importance of Local SEO for Small Businesses – Get A Competitive Edge

Local SEO for Small Businesses

This has been a huge topic for discussion since local businesses started to thrive through online marketing. You probably know by now, it doesn’t matter if you are local, global or just online, you’re going to have a website so customers can learn more about your business.

However, setting up a website is just one part of the equation because you need visibility so people can find you online. Online bloggers generate traffic through different marketing channels like PPC, organic, social media, and media buys.

This same approach can be applied to local businesses. Even though some of the marketing channels don’t make sense in terms of ROI, the SEO aspect is something which should always be considered when setting up an online presence. Next,

In business, it’s all about getting the competitive edge, and gaining visibility over others in your niche. The ones who know how to do this correctly benefit from increased sales, profits, and overall growth. Personally, I believe it all comes down to skillful local SEO, and how to use the tools available to you to drive traffic to your business.

As a local business, we often make the mistake of thinking SEO is NOT important to our success, and I’m here to tell you over 80% of customers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. Check out this illustration:

SEO For Small Businesses

Provided by SearchEngineWatch

The illustration shows how many local searches are done online using different devices. Much of this can be attributed to a more personal experience provided by mobile phones, and the applications they provide. Smartphones allow people to be mobile while searching for information which can be seen above with 88% of searches done while on the move.

For those of you who are just starting with local SEO, let’s look at why it’s essential in order to get an edge over your competition. We’ll be exploring its importance, and in the end I’ll provide some ways you can get started.

HAVE A QUESTION OR NEED SOME HELP?

Local SEO for Small Businesses

This has been a huge topic for discussion since local businesses started to thrive through online marketing. You probably know by now, it doesn’t matter if you are local, global or just online, you’re going to have a website so customers can learn more about your business.

However, setting up a website is just one part of the equation because you need visibility so people can find you online. Online bloggers generate traffic through different marketing channels like PPC, organic, social media, and media buys.

This same approach can be applied to local businesses. Even though some of the marketing channels don’t make sense in terms of ROI, the SEO aspect is something which should always be considered when setting up an online presence. Next,

In business, it’s all about getting the competitive edge, and gaining visibility over others in your niche. The ones who know how to do this correctly benefit from increased sales, profits, and overall growth. Personally, I believe it all comes down to skillful local SEO, and how to use the tools available to you to drive traffic to your business.

As a local business, we often make the mistake of thinking SEO is NOT important to our success, and I’m here to tell you over 80% of customers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. Check out this illustration:

SEO For Small Businesses

Provided by SearchEngineWatch

The illustration shows how many local searches are done online using different devices. Much of this can be attributed to a more personal experience provided by mobile phones, and the applications they provide. Smartphones allow people to be mobile while searching for information which can be seen above with 88% of searches done while on the move.

For those of you who are just starting with local SEO, let’s look at why it’s essential in order to get an edge over your competition. We’ll be exploring its importance, and in the end I’ll provide some ways you can get started.

The User Search Pattern

Over the years, we have seen a huge shift in the user search pattern from phone books to search engines. As a matter of fact, phone books like Yellow Pages, and White Pages, have created an online digital book to adapt to the changes.

At one point being listed in a phone book was good enough to drive traffic to your business, however these day’s people are using Google so it’s important to optimize your local business website for search engines. For example, Google has updated its algorithm over the years to pull out results by first checking your IP address to determine your location. You’ll learn more about this in the next section.

In order to stay ahead of your competition, it’s important to cater to the user search pattern which is to get listed within local search engines.

HAVE A QUESTION OR NEED SOME HELP?

Personalization

We are living in a time where people are becoming more personalized. Much of this has to do with the growth of mobile phones, and the internet. With mobile, we get to choose the applications we want, what information to send us, and how it should be delivered.

Home computing is more targeted with results based on browser, surfing history, and IP location. What does this mean?

Search engines have adapted to the user search pattern providing results which are accurate, local, and credible. This is why search engines have always encouraged businesses to submit information into local directories. This will give users a chance to rate them, leave comments, and even see how long they have been in business. In the end,

All this information gives search engines a chance to provide custom results to users searching for a local business.

IP Address & VicinityGoogle Search based on IP Address

Search engines like Google are pinpointing results based on your IP address, however they have taken this one step further. When someone is searching for a business, they’ll present results within a 10-12 mile radius because these fit the user pattern accurately.

For example, if you are looking for a local flower shop, it’s better to get a list of businesses within 10-12 mile from your search location. This just increases the chance of you visiting or contacting a local store.

No one likes competition, and your business being displayed because it’s 3 miles away instead of 15 miles will give you an edge. However, if you simply didn’t list your business online, you’d miss out on this opportunity.

Credibility

Think about the amount of times you’ve gone online to find out about a business`s reputation? I’ll admit, every time I’m shopping online I’ll always read reviews before taking a step further. The only way you’re going to attract reviews is through visibility within the search engines. Start by listing yourself in local directories like Yelp, Google +, Yellow Pages, etc.

Once you’ve been listed, you’ll have a portal for people to leave reviews, and this will ultimately benefit your business going forward. It’s widely believed reviews are responsible for shifting a consumer’s decision on where they shop, and this can be huge for your bottom line.

For example, if someone is searching for local Italian restaurants with two choices, they would choose the one with the positive reviews compared to negative…right?

Here’s a quick illustration from Yelp.ca when I typed in “Italian Restaurants”

Yelp Local Business Search Results

First, Yelp automatically pulled out local restaurants by checking my IP address, and secondly, provided results organized by rating. As someone looking to visit an Italian restaurant, I’m most likely to go where the reviews are the highest.

Competition = Local SEO

I often get asked by clients – What’s the main reason I should do local SEO for my business? And I tell them the following: Because your competition will be doing it!

With businesses, especially online, you have to make sure you follow the trend or your fall way behind. This means to accurately pinpoint what direction your competition is heading in, then make adjustments to adapt. If you look at the big tech companies, you’ve noticed how they are constantly changing products, marketing channels, pricing, and services to stay competitive within a very sensitive market.

The bottom-line is this:

If you can’t adapt to changing trends, then you’re going to have a hard time growing as a business. It doesn’t matter if you are a local business because your bottom-line is profit. It’s that simple!

How Do I Start Local SEO for my Business?

In order for you to improve your visibility and local SEO, here’s what you can do starting today:

First

Tweak your meta tags on your website so they contain targeted keywords which describes your business. Focus on:

  • Page title
  • Description
  • Keywords scattered throughout information pages

You can find “target” keywords by heading over to Google Keyword Planner, and doing a search using relevant keywords within your niche. I would make a list of 5-10 which you can scatter throughout your website.

Second

Google has given preference to those businesses who have a registered, and confirmed Google + account. If you have NOT verified your account, then it’s time to do that now.

You’ll get your verification code in the mail within 2-3 weeks.

Third

Do a search within Google creating a list of popular local directories in your area. The most popular ones are:

  • Yelp
  • Google Places
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yahoo
  • White Pages
  • Bing

Submit your business with accurate information into each of these, and make sure you have verified your account. All of them have a user review interface which will allow customers to leave feedback. From my experience two factors are responsible for improving visibility in local directories – Average Reviews, and Average Amount of Views.

Last, by not least important

Reviews are HUGE. Encourage your customers to leave reviews by sending them a feedback form to their email address. Within the email address embed a link which sends them directly to your local listing. You’ll achieve two things by doing this:

First, you’ll encourage them to leave a review which will help grow your business, and build credibility. Secondly, search engines will increase your visibility because of the overall positive reviews left on your page. However, keep in mind this does work both ways meaning poor reviews will have a negative impact on your listing.

Have a Question? Get in touch!