With the average consumer’s search experience cumulatively improving due to technological advancements, local SEO is gaining a higher level of prominence everyday. There have been several developments in the local SEO realm as of late that is changing search as we know it.
People are turning to the Internet to make purchase decisions by searching for information online, and businesses need to leverage local SEO.
But before we go any further with understanding the importance of local SEO, we need to get some basics out of the way.
What is local SEO?
Simply put, local SEO is a way for business owners to add business information online and optimize it to appear on searches. This business information needs to be listed on major directories and online sites like Facebook, Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.
The business information that goes on these sites includes:
- Business name, address, and phone number (NAP)
- Business hours
- Business category (Example: Homes services, restaurant,
- Website and email address
- Accessibility details on the store location (Example: parking, handicap-friendliness, etc)
- Services offered
- Images and videos of store location
- A short description
Take a look at this Yelp listing. This information can help consumers make purchase decisions when they encounter business information.
Where and how do you get this business information listed?’
The Internet being a tremendous resource, has a plethora of listing sites that business owners need to get their business listed on. You have your major sites like Google, Bing, Yelp, Yahoo and Yellow Pages. And then you have your social media players aiding to the expansion of a business’ online presence (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter). And then you have niche-specific sites that are independent to business categories. Business owners have to get their businesses listed on all these sites to get maximum coverage and reach.
So, that bit elucidates the “where”; here’s the “how” you do it!
How do you implement Local SEO?
- You can manually work around things.Make a list of all the sites that are relevant to your business and add your business information to them, one at a time.
- Just automate it.Automating your local SEO and marketing efforts is far more efficient than the manual way. It doesn’t all end with getting your business listed; you also need to manage and maintain those listings by updating information and monitoring reviews. This is a better solution as it will help in the long term. You can use a local marketing software like Synup to automate your local SEO efforts.
Aside from getting yourself listed, you can also improve your local SEO by adding local Schema markup to your website. Local schema markup is code that you add to your website’s source code; this further helps search engine crawlers identify certain specifications and understand your website information better. Here’s what local schema markup looks like in the search results.
Now that we’ve covered some ground understanding the basics, let’s get to the important part.
Why is local SEO so important today?
Search as a whole might seem like it is bound to aid in discover, but it is also making the Internet a better place for business owners and marketers. Here are some factors that have been instrumental in making local SEO a prominent practice.
1 – Local SEO caters to today’s “empowered consumers”.
You’d agree with me when I tell you that an informed consumer is an empowered consumer.
“What does that even mean?”, you ask?
It simply means that consumers are making full use of local business information online to decide whether or not to walk in to your store and buy something.
According to an article by Think With Google, it was found that four in five customers use search engines to find local information. Moreover, 84% of people look for local information online to decide whether or not to visit a store.
When someone wants to make a purchase, they search for information online to make the best possible decision. And they make these decisions through online searches where they find business information. They need not rely on conventional sources as it used to be in the past like television commercials, radio ads, word of mouth, etc. They have a labyrinthine resource that is the Internet to help them find business information like name, address, phone number (NAP) details, directions, website details, services, etc. If business owners forego this opportunity, they risk losing customers and potential sales.
Local SEO helps business owners leverage this behavior to the advantage of aiding their business’ discovery. And the pot of gold at this end of this rainbow is increased sales and revenue.
Local SEO strengthens your business’ online presence.
As we have read, consumers are so much more informed and empowered with the Internet and their mobile devices. And we also read that local SEO aids in discovery when these searches are conducted. But in addition to this concept, having a robust local SEO setup will also help businesses build a strong online presence. This is achieved by getting your business listed with accurate and consistent business information across a wide set of directories and listing sites.
Local SEO is going to help you leverage Voice Search
Voice search is a rising trend that is changing search behavior as we know it. People are using their mobile devices like smartphones and smart speakers to search for business information. This trend is going to define the future of search to a significant extent. Just take a look at this infographic.
According to a study by Gartner (reported by MediaPost), 30% of searches will be conducted without using a screen by the year 2020. In 2017 alone, Google and Amazon came up with voice-activated speakers that had quite a large adoption rate. In addition to voice-activated speakers, cant-enabled assistants are turning out to be quite the rage. The Google Assistant has been reported to be available on more than 400 million devices.
Given that the stakes are high on voice search, business information needs to be up to the mark, that is, optimized to its teeth to appear on such searches. You can learn more about how to get found on voice search here.
Local SEO helps businesses build on an online reputation.
Reviews play a major role in aiding trust between consumers and business owners. A simple star-rating online can help a customer decide to click/tap on a business listing that appears on searches. Having a good star-rating can also improve a business’ chances of ranking higher and appearing in the local-three-pack. This further translates to more customers walking into your store, making a purchase and adding to your cash register.
So, business owners need to fully take control of their online reputation to make sure that they can improve their star-rating.
With the scale of advancements becoming more intuitive and user-friendly in all things search-related, business owners need to be at the top of their game. Without making any efforts to maximize local SEO or local marketing, businesses will suffer the loss of not being discovered on searches.
So, the key takeaway from this article is that local SEO helps improve and enhance a business’ online presence, caters to an informed and empowered consumer and helps build a strong online presence. The best way to go about things for business owners would be to put their local marketing efforts on top of their priority list.