There’s a misconception about SEO in that it’s only suitable for businesses which sell products and provide services on a national or international scale. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth and if your business is primarily targeting its products and services towards people within your Town, City or Region then optimising for local search should not just be a priority but a necessity. Don’t just take our word for it though, these stats really do emphasise the importance of Local SEO:
- 46% of all searches on Google are related to discovering local information
- 97% of all of search engine users have searched the web to find a local business
- 86% of consumers already rely on the internet for local search
- 72% of consumers who search for local businesses end up visiting a store within 5 miles
- 29% of people search for local businesses at least once a week
- So already, it is pretty clear that if you are a business providing services and supplying products within your local area then you could be missing out on a large amount of potential customers if you are not already optimised for local search.
What is Local SEO and what makes it different from General SEO?
When it comes to SEO, the name of the game is to get your products and services to rank higher in search engines for queries related to that particular geographical location. For example, if you had a Book Shop in Newcastle then you would aim to appear at the top when people searched for the phrase; ‘Book Shop in Newcastle.’
General or ‘standard’ SEO is rather different in the sense that it doesn’t really matter about the location as it’s all about trying to appeal to as big an audience as possible. To optimise for general SEO the standard techniques involve targeting a list of keywords and using strategies like content marketing, link building and social media to try and make sure these keywords rank on search engines regardless of where people are searching from.
With all this in mind, a bespoke approach is what is required as local SEO demands a tailored strategy. Not only will optimising for local search enable you to compete with other similarly-sized businesses within your area but it could also give you the edge over much larger national and international businesses as these stats demonstrate:
- Google found that 30% of people would rather purchase in-store than buy online if they were close to a store
- 35% of people said they would be more willing to spend their money if they knew they could acquire a service or product quicker
- More than 50% of ‘near me’ searches results in that person visiting a local store
How have Smartphones Increased the need for Local SEO?
Smartphones have proven to be a real game-changer when it comes to local search for a variety of different reasons, not least the fact that mobile has overtaken other devices when it comes to online searches in recent years:
- Mobile now accounts for 59% of all online searches
Another factor is that smartphones have GPS Location settings and when these are activated you get results matching your specific area when you use search engines. This makes it pretty straightforward when it comes to discovering the products and services you require in your area which is why so many people use smartphones for this purpose:
- 50% of smartphone users search for business hours and directions to local stores
Not only should the amount of people using Smartphones to search for local businesses be reason enough to optimise for local SEO but also the quality of these enquiries can prove highly advantageous to businesses:
- 18% of local searches via smartphones lead to a purchase which compares to just 7% of non-local searches resulting in consumers parting with their cash
Furthermore, voice search is becoming increasingly popular on Smartphone devices; in fact, it is predicted to overtake typed queries very soon:
- Nearly 50% of Smartphone searches are currently made with voice search
This figure only includes the amount of general voice searches which are being made, when we look specifically at local searches related to business information then the figure is even higher:
- 58% use voice search to discover local business information
Which Businesses can benefit from Local SEO?
Any business which is providing a service or selling products in and around a specific geographical location can benefit from local SEO. Businesses which local communities rely upon such as car garages, hair salons, cafes and restaurants can look to acquire new customers by appearing at the top of local searches.
Optimising for local SEO not only ensures that people who live in your area can find you but also makes you visible to visitors. Ensuring your local business shows up on Google maps alongside information regarding opening times and directions to your store can prove invaluable, particularly for people who are not familiar with the local area.
How do you optimise for Local SEO?
As we mentioned earlier, Local SEO requires a different approach from general search engine optimisation. There are ways to ensure your business has a good chance of appearing in local searches and these include:
- Updating your Google My Business Account to ensure it provides up-to-date information and pictures
- Making sure you get your customers to provide reviews on Google and other sites like Trustpilot and Tripadvisor
- Using local search phrases in your content and also Meta Titles/Descriptions
- Ensuring your website is optimised for voice search by including content with a conversational tone – things like FAQ’s and blogs are good for this
If you own a brick and mortar business then you should not overlook the importance of local SEO. Google have placed a large emphasis on local search in recent years and this trend is set to continue which is why you should optimise accordingly and ensure relevant content and information is available on your website, social channels and Google My Business account. Local SEO is continually changing too which is why it is vital to keep up with these trends and algorithm changes to ensure you do not fall behind your competitors.
Andrew was in the digital marketing game for over ten years before starting up Alpaca Marketing, an agency which helps businesses of any size to improve their online strategy.