If a website doesn’t appear on the first page of a Google search, does it even exist? To the average user looking for information, the answer is clearly no. Studies have found that websites listed on the first page of a search result receive 95 percent of the clicks. Even more telling, nearly 68 percent of clicks go to the first five listings in any search result. So how does your website achieve this incredibly valuable first page placement? Through the implementation of SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) enables brands and businesses to optimize their websites to meet Google’s advanced search criteria. The more optimized a website, the higher it will appear in organic search rankings, the more clicks it will receive, and the better job it will do generating the web traffic needed to fuel your sales funnel.
SEO best practices can improve a website’s ranking in national keyword searches, but how does that help a small business that generates most of its sales locally? If your local Portland bakery ranks number one in searches for “best chocolate cupcakes,” how does that really help your business if the user conducting that search is located in New York, Miami, or any place that’s more than 30 minutes away? Other than offering sweet bragging rights, this type of placement won’t help your bakery improve sales.
Fortunately, consumers today are incredibly savvy in how they search. Nearly 1/3 of all mobile searches are location-based, according to Google. That means people don’t just search for “best cupcake,” they search using geo-targeted terms like “in Portland,” “near me,” or “neighborhood” so their results don’t produce a cupcake that’s located three time zones away.
Not only are consumers more likely to search locally, they’re more likely to visit the businesses those local searches find. Of searches that include the term “near me,” 34 percent result in a store visit, according to HubSpot. That makes appearing highly in local search rankings even more important to small and medium-sized businesses who generate the majority of their sales within their community.
Let’s take a look at local SEO, why it matters, and what it can mean for improving your business’ reputation and sales.
Local SEO vs. SEO
Sticking with our baking metaphors – if SEO was a donut, local SEO would be the jelly center of that donut. You can’t eat one without consuming the other.
Local SEO builds off of the same principles, but uses location-specific keywords so a business’ website ranks highly in relevant Google searches. For example, when a user searches for a “bakery near me,” Google uses their location-based IP address (for desktop users) and geolocation (for mobile users) to determine all of the bakeries nearby. By following the best local SEO practices, you basically send a flare up that alerts Google that you meet the criteria of being a local bakery and to list your business as an available option.
To implement local SEO, a website needs to build out from the targeted keywords related to its industry and add location specific terminology. It’s really that simple.
Why Local SEO Matters
Local keywords receive a higher ranking in Google searches when compared to keywords terms that don’t feature geo-targeted terminology. If you think about how people search, that makes perfect sense.
When Googling for goods or services, a local business will most often provide the best match to a user’s search intent. If searching for a dentist, doctor, auto body shop, restaurant, theater, bakery, or countless other businesses, a user’s intent is to find a local answer that meets their needs.
As a result, local SEO keywords offer businesses far more reach and potential sales power when compared to generic keywords. In fact, 76 percent of consumers who conduct a local search using their smartphone will visit a related business within 24 hours, and 28 percent of those searches will result in a sale, according to Google.
To capture that business, you need to embrace the power of local SEO and make it the fundamental principle behind how your website is optimized.
Realistic Expectations for Results
All too frequently, a business will try implementing an SEO strategy, not receive the immediate results it was expecting, and then give up on that strategy as ineffective. In actuality, it takes time for even the most successful SEO strategies to take root and bloom.
Google’s search algorithm places a great deal of importance on trust. It needs to trust that a website offers users valuable content. It needs to trust that the keywords a site features actually relates to the goods and services it offers. It needs to trust that a business is reputable and will do what it promises for its customers. Trust takes time to build.
For new websites, it can take up to a year for Google to fully index each page on the site and give it the juice needed to start ranking highly in local search results, even if you do everything correctly. For existing websites, the process may take less time, but you still can’t expect to see results overnight. Depending on how well indexed the site is and its current placement in search rankings, it could still take months for even an established website to improve once it embraces local SEO.
Marketing companies that promise to deliver immediate results give many businesses the wrong idea about SEO. Changing a few keywords and optimizing content won’t cause your website to immediately shoot up in the search rankings. It’s a process that takes time, but, as we’ve already established, it is well worth the effort.
Local Listings a Key Component of Local SEO
In addition to the placement of local keywords, a successful local SEO strategy will also focus on local listings. Local listings on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp offer enormous potential to help a business achieve the search ranking it needs to attract new customers.
Local listings are added to online directories and feature basic, but important, information about your business, such as its name, address, and phone number. Ideally, additional information like your hours of operation, products descriptions, and photos of your business’ interior are also included.
Local listings on Google My Business also offer a bit of a short cut when it comes to ranking highly in search results.
When a user conducts a search for let’s say a “dentist in Portland,” the search results will usually include the following from top to bottom:
- Ads for Portland dentists featured on Google Ads
- Google Places listings the featured local dentists in Portland
- Organic search results of dentists in Portland
Google Places, the segment of a search result that shows local businesses on a map, pulls the information it displays from local listings on Google My Business. By keeping the information on your business up-to-date and relevant to your customer base, you have a higher likelihood of achieving a page position that’s even higher than the top organic search listing. That potential alone makes local listings and local SEO an incredibly valuable and important marketing tool for any business.
LocalFresh Can Help You Conquer Local SEO
Successfully marketing your business online requires time, expertise, and know-how. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. Just as customers turn to you to meet their needs, you can turn to LocalFresh for help in developing and implementing a successful local SEO strategy, and ensure it supports your overall marketing and business strategy.
We know how to help your business stand out in your local market, and SEO is one powerful tool. Click here to learn more about what LocalFresh can do to help improve your website’s search ranking position and drive more business for your company.