Whether you’re running a physical brick-and-mortar establishment or an online-only business, how you handle SEO can be the difference between success and failure.
OK, so this isn’t exactly an earth-shattering statement coming from an SEO marketing agency, nor is it a topic that we haven’t covered before — but what about local SEO? Firstly, what distinguishes local SEO from, well, regular SEO? And secondly, why is it so important? Are there inherent advantages to optimising your business’s performance on a local (as opposed to global) scale?
Casting the widest net possible might seem like a great idea when it comes to mapping out your SEO strategy, but this isn’t always the case. Today we’ll explore the merits of abandoning the deep-sea trawler approach in favor of a more refined and targeted technique.
Rather than scouring the vast expanses of international waters, we’re going to discuss the benefits of heading down to a serene spot by the lake, carefully baiting the waters, and working in harmony with your environment. And, to really milk this metaphor for all it’s worth, let’s envision this fishing excursion being led by a tight-knit crew of master anglers – Seeker’s local SEO experts.
Below, we’ll dive (no pun intended) into why local SEO is so important, and how working with an agency that specialises in local SEO can make all the difference.
So what is local SEO, anyway?
It’s all a matter of scope. Global SEO is all about reaching a broad (albeit targeted) audience, usually spanning national or international markets. On the other hand, local SEO focuses on optimising a business’s online presence for location-based searches. This approach is especially crucial for businesses with physical storefronts and local services where attracting nearby customers and clientele is the name of the game.
Let’s say you’re at work — it’s Friday afternoon and you’ve had a rough week. Lunchtime is approaching and you’ve got major hunger pangs; the kind that can only be sated by a big, greasy cheeseburger. You head to Google and hastily type in “fast food delivery”. A second or two later, you’re greeted with a list of nearby restaurants ready to cater to this urgent craving. Better yet, you didn’t have to waste any time telling the search engine where you are; it just knew (isn’t tech marvellous)? In fact, specifying your location hasn’t been necessary for many years now, mostly thanks to GPS devices.
With the rise of mobile devices and the ever-increasing reliance on search engines for instant information, local SEO is not to be ignored. But what does it entail? Many local SEO elements will be familiar if you’re already a dab hand at traditional SEO. Backlinks, site optimisation, and keywords all play a part, but you’ve also got to pay special attention to other factors such as your Google Business Profile, your customer reviews, and your presence in local directories.
Let’s say you’re the proud owner of the aforementioned fast-food establishment. When a hunger-stricken individual searches “fast food near me” or “best burgers in [your city]” you want your restaurant to appear at the top of the results page. However, this isn’t just important for customers requiring deliveries — one of the biggest benefits of local SEO is that it helps users locate and visit your business in person.
Google’s 2022 consumer insights report revealed that “open now near me” searches have skyrocketed by over 400% year on year. In other words, consumers aren’t just using search engines to make online purchases; they’re also using them to find brick-and-mortar businesses in their immediate vicinity. By partnering with an agency that specialises in local SEO, you’ll ensure Google recommends your business as the superior option for “nearby” searches.
The local stamp of approval
One of the biggest factors in local SEO success? Reviews. Whenever a customer searches for businesses in their area via Google, they’ll be greeted with Google’s ‘3-pack’:
Side note: If you’re ever looking for a brilliant, Bristol-based burger establishment, make a beeline for Oowee!
As you might expect, those bright yellow stars have a huge influence on the consumer’s final choice. Positive reviews are powerful signals that are distilled into a ‘star rating’ serve as a verified seal of approval for any would-be customers. Any local SEO agency worth its salt-covered fries will likely implement strategies to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive feedback, as well as help manage the detrimental effects of negative reviews.
Even if your business is yet to reach the lofty heights of Google’s Local Pack, local directories such as Trustpilot, Yelp or Tripadvisor still have a huge part to play in winning customers over. By encouraging your local visitors to vouch for you, you’ll stand a far greater chance at climbing the SERPs.
Highly relevant traffic
Contrary to what you may believe, not all traffic is good traffic. Fortunately, any traffic generated through local searches is likely to be highly qualified. Why? Because anyone searching for “restaurants near me” is likely to be:
- Willing to pay in order to sate their appetite
A whopping 76% of mobile users visit a business within 24 hours of searching, and what’s more, they’re unlikely to need much convincing in order to hand over their hard-earned cash once they arrive. Many local SEO tactics can be employed with little upfront costs — it’s more a case of investing a chunk of your time rather than your budget.
However, by outsourcing your local SEO tasks to an agency, you’re effectively automating the growth of your business. You’ll also benefit from their expertise in other areas, such as digital PR, link building, and technical SEO, and this is without mentioning the myriad of industry-standard tools they’re likely to have at their disposal.
While keyword research, backlinks, and user reviews play a pivotal role in how Google ranks your website, it’s also crucial to consider your website’s user experience (UX). How does it feel to use it? When a customer lands on your website, are they confronted with garish colours and a maze-like design? Is the content on your site relevant and useful? How quickly does it load? All of these factors matter for local SEO.
While a tiny minority of businesses may have managed to carve out a name for themselves through their counter-intuitive design choices (Ling’s Cars, we’re looking at you), this isn’t a path we’d recommend taking. However, we acknowledge that web design is a skill, and despite what the likes of Wix and Squarespace may have you believe, it’s not one that comes naturally!
Web design: it’s not for everyone.
A lack of coherent design is one thing, but it’s just as easy to mess up the balance between form and function. Flashy websites with videos and transitions might look the part, but you should never sacrifice usability in the name of aesthetics.
Local SEO agencies understand the importance of a user-friendly interface, so if your website is in a sorry state, they’ll be sure to give it a much-needed tune-up. From performing a site-wide audit to tweaking technical SEO elements, enlisting the expertise of a local SEO agency will ensure your website resonates with your customers as effectively as it does with search engines.
Whether you’re running a quaint coffee shop or providing home repair services, investing in local SEO is a smart move. Embracing the power of location-based optimisation enables you to take full advantage of the customers closest to you, amplifying your reach, attracting more customers, and boosting your overall growth. Curious to discover the impact local SEO could have on your business? Have a chat with one of our experts today.