December 23, 2019

What is Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Local SEO can make or break small businesses. What is Local SEO, and how do you take advantage of it?

Small businesses typically have a small number of physical locations. If you’re just starting your business you might have a single physical location, or maybe you’ve branched out and now have two or three locations.

With a single location, general SEO can be valuable to you, but more than likely you should be spending time and attention improving your Local SEO. These days, potential customers in your area may do little more than a simple Google search for something they need. If your business does not show up in the first few results, you are likely losing a potential customers.

Local SEO is optimizing your business to be surfaced to potential customers with local intent. What this means is that a search engine (typically Google) will determine if a certain query has “local intent”. What this means is that Google will try to predict if a user’s query is looking for something local to them. Google and other search engines are able to identify your location in real-time as you search and provide results most relevant to your location.

Local SEO is optimizing your business to be surfaced to potential customers with local intent.

Local SEO In Action

Here’s an example scenario of a customer looking for a barbershop in Brooklyn, NY. A customer looking for a barbershop might go to Google, and type “Barber Shop in Brooklyn NY”. Here are the results that they would see:

Brooklyn Barber Shop Results

You should immediately notice that the results only display three barber shops “above the fold”. This is the critical real estate which users see immediately after searching for something and requires no further action. The term “Above the fold” originates from print media, and in particular newspapers. Articles “above the fold” were the primary pieces of content that would display when a newspaper was folded on a news stand. This concept applies in the digital age of the internet as well, the term just has a slightly different definition. On the internet, “above the fold” means the content displayed to a user before the user scrolls.

On the web today, if your site appears below the fold for a given search your Local SEO could likely use some attention. If your business is not even on the first page, this should be a red flag that your business is missing a large number of potential customers.

How can I improve Local SEO?

General SEO practices still apply. You should make sure your site is:

  1. Crawlable
  2. Relevant
  3. Mobile-friendly
  4. Fast

However, to optimize for locality you look into the following:

  1. Include your address on your website - table stakes, usually in the footer and on the contact page
  2. Add your business to Google
  3. Location keywords - mention your location in the content of your website
  4. Reach out to other local businesses for guest posts/backlinks
  5. Apply [schema.org metadata for local businesses] (http://schema.org/LocalBusiness)

If you have multiple locations, make sure you list all of your locations. Potentially consider adding a feature like a Store Finder to help your customers and Google know where you are located.

How High should I be ranked?

The higher the better! There are a number of studies indicating the percentage of traffic by position in Google search results. Here are some key takeaways:

  1. The number one spot earns ~35% of all traffic
  2. The number two spot earns ~17% of all traffic
  3. 92% of traffic never clicks to page 2

These are approximate numbers, and YMMV (your mileage may vary) as different searches yield different styles of search results with a varying number of ads or other widgets which may impact traffic. The above indicates how powerful your business’s ranking in Google can be for your bottom line. One more highlight from the above article is that jumping from number 11 to number 10 in Google can yield almost 150% increase in traffic. If your business starts to see a 150% increase in traffic to your website, what impact will this have to you bottom line? While not all potential customers convert to purchasing something, this can still yield incredible results for your bottom line.

Online Only Businesses

Maybe you do not have a store front, and you do most of your work from home. This does not mean that you are exempt from the potential benefits of local SEO. In this case, the benefits can be just as valuable. When running an online business, it is still valuable to meet your current or potential customers face to face. In fact, this is often the best way to identify new opportunities or fixing existing ones.

If you’re not sure if Local SEO is important for you, ask yourself the following questions:

Does my business depend on customers physically coming into my store/restaurant/office?

Does your competition rank higher than you?

Do I meet with customers in person?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then Local SEO should be a key part of your online marketing strategy.

How to get started?

As a small business, it’s often difficult to be in the right place at the right time. Your resources are limited, and you are spending time managing your business and might not have much of a budget to commit to online advertising. This is where investing into driving traffic to your website can help. Organic traffic (traffic not generated through paid ads) is often the cheapest and most valuable form of traffic. Customers organically arriving at your website are often looking for exactly what you are offering. While the conversion rate might not be high, it’s a key part of your conversion funnel.

Here at PageRank Panda, we’re here to help you with your online strategy. We offer a number of affordable services including a Local SEO package. Give it a shot, and let us know what you think. If you’re looking for more general SEO help, check out our Complete SEO package, or some of our content creation services.