While globalization has significantly changed the marketplace, many businesses achieve their initial success by selling to local customers. Registering your business at local directories like the yellow pages, Just Dial etc. were once a necessity to attract local clients, but online search engines have taken over now. People simply Google what they are looking for and Google starts showing the nearby places. That is why local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become one of the most important marketing strategies for business success, regardless of location or company scale.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a digital marketing strategy to improve search results and rank your website higher in a specific geographical area. If your business relies on online and offline customers within a specific geographic area, local SEO can be the difference between your business surviving and thriving.
Google processes an impressive 8 billion searches every day, and nearly 50% of all Google searches are made by people looking for local products and services. If you don’t have a local SEO strategy for your business, you’ll miss out on valuable online traffic. Local business owners simply cannot ignore an opportunity of this size.
Why Local SEO Is Important?
Local SEO is important for online companies and for businesses looking to attract foot traffic to their establishment. A few years ago, consumers would look for local businesses in the yellow pages or on the map. Today, they are using search engines to find contact information, location, working hours and other details about a business.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about one in two searches made for businesses “near me” led to a store visit. If the search was made on a mobile device, the numbers were even more compelling. Nearly 90% of those queries were followed by a call or a visit to the business within a day.
Any business relying on local customers cannot afford to lose the opportunities local SEO can provide.
How Local SEO Works?
To improve local SEO results, improvements in relevance, distance and prominence is very critical. These are the three criteria Google’s algorithm applies to determine local search results. Your company’s Google Business Profile and Google Business listing should also be updated to attract more local customers.
Relevance is very important from a local SEO point of view. It is the measure of accuracy in the match between your business and the online search query. The search engine is trying to determine whether your business offers what the user is looking for. Providing clear and complete information on your website and business profile is critical to meeting these criteria and improving your relevancy.
Proximity is about the distance. It is how close your business is to the searcher’s exact location. If a user does not specify a specific location in their search, Google uses their location based on their IP address to prioritize nearby listings. Adding the specification “near me” in a search leads to similar results. To be featured in those listings, your business needs to optimize the location information on its website and Google listings.
Prominence is Google’s term to describe how well-known a business is both online and offline. The search engine determines your prominence based on the offline information it has about a business as well as through online means, such as reviews and website popularity. Increasing the number of quality reviews for your business will improve ratings. Interacting and responding to online ratings also boosts your prominence.
Algorithms tend to change regularly and without notice. Like any SEO activity, successful local SEO depends on consistent effort. Many businesses benefit from expert support to manage their local SEO.
Covid-19’s Impact On Local Businesses
The Covid-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of our lives. lockdowns and movement restrictions became the norm and it changed our shopping habits and patterns. Online searches for products and services increased, partially out of necessity. Consumers needed online alternatives to meet their needs.
Even after the pandemic is over, our long-term shopping habits have changed and we are depending a lot on online searches. Evidence supports both the continued popularity of online consumerism along with a growing demand for in-person shopping experiences.
A fact that is not in dispute is the incredible hardship the pandemic caused for many small businesses. Many faced closures, staff layoffs and a loss of customers. Carefully considered and well-managed marketing is essential for a successful restart. Proper local SEO can be the difference in this restart.
How Local SEO Can Boost Your Business?
Marketers and business owners have lots of options to increase their online presence and visibility through local SEO. It all depends on your business goal if you are looking to improve search engine rankings or to improve conversions and sales also.
Conversions and sales matter more than rankings if someone thinks practically. But there is a direct relationship between ranking and conversions for most businesses. If the business is ranking higher on the first page of search results, conversions will naturally be high.
Local SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase visibility in a key audience within a short space of time. It may seem like a small part of SEO, but considering the sheer number of searches with local intent, business owners and marketers need to consider it a priority. Search engines are the new yellow pages — with much more potential to transform the future of small businesses.