What you don’t know about local SEO (search engine optimization) can hurt you.
If you’re a local business that relies on local customers, like a dentist, for example, you need to focus on local SEO solutions. It’s probably one of the most important advertising channels.
Because think about this. What if that same dentist failed to see the nuances of local seo strategy, and then marched on a 6 month national seo campaign?
Yikes. You’ve probably guessed it. Wasted dollars, time, and effort trying to rank for search terms that won’t actually help their business.
Did you know that 46% of all searches have local intent? (1) Or, that 75% will more likely visit local stores after a search for a nearby business that reveals one nearby? (2) The keyword is local. Not hundreds of results that feature everything from national websites to yelp pages that promote local businesses with a bad reputation.
Exciting statistics for the savvy small business owner who knows a little local SEO best practices or knows the right local experts who can dominate the search engines.
But first, before you can start, or choose the right team, there’s plenty you have to know. First, how local SEO is distinct from traditional SEO.
Table Of Contents
- 1. Local SEO is Different from Traditional SEO
- 2. Listings must be Accurate and Consistent
- 3. The Goal is to Drive Diverse Traffic to your Business (Physical, Online)
- 4. Why Online Ratings and Reviews Matter
- 5. Google Crawls Product/Service Lists, and Menus … Put Keywords Here!
- 6. Why the “Google Snack Pack” gets the Most Traffic
- 7. Why Google Loves Fresh Content
- 8. Why You need to Capitalize on Mobile
- 9. Who I Recommend – The Search Initiative (Experts in Local SEO Solutions)
1. Local SEO is Different from Traditional SEO
Local SEO and traditional SEO best practices in 2020 are distinct from one another and need different solutions. All based around Google my business. You can more easily understand what the difference is by considering the goals, methods, and outcomes of each SEO solution.
- The objective of traditional SEO is to rank for keyword-related searches (for a 5 min. crash course go here)
- This is done by optimizing website content creation, keywords, web design and quality user experiences
- When successful, the business appears to anyone using those keywords nationally, or around the world
- The goal of local SEO is to rank for location-based searches
- This is done by developing listings (Google my business), claiming listings and climbing map results
- When successful, the business appears in all relevant close-range searches (usually within 0-50 miles)
If your past efforts haven’t included measures like those above, the local SEO experts (Google my business experts) you hire are likely to recommend a comprehensive effort to build out the missing infrastructure, depending on the state of your website and budget.
As you can already tell, Google my business is an important—even foundational—part of that infrastructure. That’s why search tactics are often focused on making sure listings are as accurate and consistent as possible.
2. Listings must be Accurate and Consistent
Local company listings (also commonly called citations or citation building) are one of the essential building blocks of local SEO marketing..
- Q: What is a local business listing?
- A: A local business listing is any online instance of your business’ name, address or phone number (NAP). Listings can be pulled from your website, business directories, news stories, and even social media pages.
What makes listings so important is how they’re used by search engines. Listings are first crawled from sources all over the internet. They are business information that can be pulled from your website pages, business directories (known as directory sites), news stories, and even social media pages.
Each listing the search engines finds will be used as a factor to determine whether your business is really tied to a given location.
That should make it clear why it is so important that the contact information is as accurate and consistent as possible. The nap is important to decide on first so as you think about business listing, it’s consistent. Consider them keywords relating to your business.
In many cases having an SEO expert (who understands the real differences between traditional and local SEO issues) who will take ownership of this and ensuring that these types of online directories are perfect, can lead to a dramatic improvement in the results delivered by search engines. In the long term, it’s much more important to have the right search strategy than social media marketing plan.
If any of the information is wrong or inconsistent, the following can happen:
- Your business will not appear in searches never mind the Google snack pack.
- Your Google my business may be reported as closed or out-of-business. This can remove your online presence with just one of Google’s updates.
- Different businesses may appear whenever your name is searched
- The results may show the wrong name address, hours or inventory (this can make potential customers furious)
Local SEO solutions exist to address all the issues that are related to listings. If you don’t have enough listings, you may need to consider building out new ones—even dozens of them for SEO success
Despite the high impact, creating up-to-date listings in small business directories for your industry or location is budget-friendly, even from sites with high domain authority, and can be one of the most affordable local SEO services out there.
On the other hand, your business may be suffering because you’ve already built out listings that contain incorrect your outdated information. Don’t worry. These incorrect listings can be cleaned up by local SEO solutions experts who understand how the process of these updates should be done.
Building out listings and keeping them in prime condition is just one of the ways that an affordable local SEO company drives diverse traffic to your business. Your business online is as important as the signage for physical place of work.
3. The Goal is to Drive Diverse Traffic to your Business (Physical, Online)
Local SEO may be focused on driving customers to a nearby business, but that doesn’t mean that the emphasis is only on foot traffic. Instead, the idea is to deliver a diverse range of local traffic with different types of intent.
Local search results can involve a number of different motivations, after all. You need to reach customers who are looking for all of the below:
- A business address so they can walk or drive to your location
- A phone number so that they can contact you about inventory or reservations
- Your website so that they can review information like prices
- Reviews so that they can compare you to other services
Any of this traffic that is currently being missed or directed to sources that are not ideal will be the focus on your local SEO solutions experts. Reviews, in particular, cannot be underestimated.
4. Why Online Ratings and Reviews Matter
Almost any Google search ((and Bing / Yahoo to a point) for a nearby business will also pull up other users reviews for that business. This is because map results are now a permanent fixture of the search engine results for local businesses.
Each set of map results comes complete with a business name, image and the average of all reviews. To advertise this information, you either need to have your name searched directly, or make it into the snack pack (more on that in a bit).
In one study they found …
97% of consumers see the benefits from consulting product reviews before buying On Google and other places. (3) Additionally, 86% of users will check reviews before buying something from a brick and mortar store. (4) It’s a major element of the buying decisions of customers.
However, they aren’t only considered by the user, they are also considered by the search engines and a factor in local search rankings.. Google uses your average score as insights into understanding whether you belong in the most covetable positions.
Bad reviews can function as a penalty as well as impacting buying decisions. It will require more intensive solutions to improve your visibility if you’re trying to overcome bad reviews. However, growth is still possible, visibility can increase.
While poor reviews have to be addressed directly, there are some top affordable local SEO solutions that can help you retake some ground. One of those search engine optimization practices is taking advantage of goods and services lists.
5. Google Crawls Product/Service Lists, and Menus … Put Keywords Here!
Listings aren’t the only thing that Google crawls to find information about your business. Crawlers can also review information in any good or service lists that you’ve posted, and deliver that information directly via the search engines to the searchers.
These lists can take many forms including food menus, part lists, and things like service packages. By creating them, you create opportunities to feature all of your most important phrases. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of featuring all the terms you expect to be found for.
By optimizing your lists with keywords, or phrases that your customers use, you can show that your business is more relevant to certain searches. This can help you rank higher in the short term, but it has another important benefit.
Menus significantly increase your opportunities to appear for the most specific (and therefore, intentional) searches. If you have an Italian restaurant, you obviously want to rank for that term. Providing a menu improves your chances of appearing in searches for specific dishes.
It is always to your benefit to reach a higher rank in search engines, but there’s one tier that stands apart from the rest: the snack pack.
6. Why the “Google Snack Pack” gets the Most Traffic
The end goal after most local SEO consulting is to get you into the “snack pack”, and it’s important for you to understand why that matters so much.
The answer is pretty clear when you see where the snack pack appears and what kind of information that it offers…
The section that you see below is the snack pack. It is located below the paid ads, at the top of the search engine results and provides richer information than any of the search results below it.
The SERPs below the snack pack has to be content with what is revealed by their title, meta description, and URL. The snack pack results can share important aspects of their offer, like prices, opening hours, addresses, reviews, and a tantalizing snapshot.
Do all those extras matter? The data says it absolutely does. You are ensuring that you are the important information is to hand, all your features. Even before the pack had a guaranteed front-row seat in the top 10, three out of four people already preferred local results. A collection of data gathered by Squawka revealed that…
“68% of people searching prefer the local 3-Pack, 27 percent prefer the organic results below the three-Pack, and only 10 percent trust paid search results…if only one of 3 spots available garners 68% of all searcher’s trust, the 3 pack is an absolute requirement.” (5)
Forget blogs or articles and links, the real end objective of local SEO is to get your business online featured in the three-pack in order to dominate you competitors. That should be the plan. But it is not easy for even an experienced local SEO consultant/ partner to get there. One solution that has worked for many organizations is tempting Google with a steady stream of fresh content generation. Reporting shows that it is one approach that really delivers SEO results regardless of your industry. Restaurant owner to investment advisor.
7. Why Google Loves Fresh Content
Fresh content has always been an important component of traditional SEO, but in 2020 it’s considered a local SEO solution, too. It’s often the missing link and one the main reasons websites aren’t at the top of the search query.
Content is your opportunity to implement all of the keywords that tell your customers what you do and what special services you offer. You should constantly be on the lookout for keywords that you haven’t used yet and tracking them. Websites that take the chance to provide value to their audience will be favored by Google and other search engines.
Adding up-to-date content regularly is also a signal to Google that your business is active and growing. The types of content you can add are constantly expanding. (4) Have you taken advantage of all of the following?
- GMB profiles
- Responses to reviews
- Frequently asked questions
- Events (including sales, promotions and product launches)
- Google Posts
If you haven’t, that will be one of the main priorities for the local SEO expert handling your online presence.
While what you create is important, is just as important to consider who you’re creating it for. Mobile traffic make up an increasing percentage of all searches, and capitalizing on these searches is at times a necessity. It can be the best link you have to your potential customer.
8. Why You need to Capitalize on Mobile
Mobile searches are the most important battleground of local SEO. Users searching from their home computers may be getting ready to buy, but those searching on mobile are already out in their local area looking for their next purchase. There are others, like tablets but mobile is definitely leading the way.
And that translates directly to sales. 78% of local mobile searches end in an offline sale. (7) That means capitalizing on this variety of search engine optimization is one of the shortest direct paths to real leads. Local SEO solutions are really about reaching this vital traffic.
Now that you understand the why behind Local SEO, think about “who”. If your competitors are serious, they will be trying to steal your audience by employing professional SEO services.
It takes a number of different experts, with access to the right tools, to make these techniques deliver results. I recommend The Search Initiative.
9. Who I Recommend – The Search Initiative (Experts in Local SEO Solutions)
The Search Initiative (TSI) is an SEO agency that I oversee featuring some of the best thinkers in SEO, especially local search. Minds like expert SEO and partner Rad Paluszak have the ability to pull off complex SEO strategies and innovative local SEO solutions that target all of your most important needs.They are also masters at working with companies focusing on local search results and know how to dominate the local search rankings.
Using the latest expertise and tools (ahrefs, Google analytics Surfer etc), TSI offers serious competitive advantages to clients:
- Background experience with most local niches
- The latest tools to create a more advanced and more data-driven solution
- Local SEO metrics and trends that help you understand why each recommendation matters
- Conversion rate optimization
They’ve pulled off some amazing results with local businesses targeting customers in their local community. From furniture stores to vacation rentals, their assistance has resulted in:
- Doubled organic search engine traffic
- Thousands of new social media interactions
- Built 1000’s of backlinks
- 125% increases in revenue
Learn more about how The Search Initiative can help, here: https://thesearchinitiative.com/
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