How do you put your company on the map in today’s crowded digital landscape? When a nearby customer searches for a service you offer, you want to be the first result they see. A powerful SEO strategy will make use of local search tools to connect customers in your area to your business. Here are four reasons why local search is such a crucial issue for your brand this year, plus three actionable guidelines for how to make the most of it.
1. Customers Are Searching for Businesses “Near Me”
The way people search has changed quite a bit over the last few years. In the early days of the internet, a user was most likely to be sitting at home in front of their desktop when searching for something. Now, people are using mobile devices and looking for a business that’s close by. Think With Google reveals that over a two-year period there was a 500% increase in mobile searches for “near me” that included terms such as “can I buy.” This includes searches such as:
- Someone looking for a certain type of restaurant might search for “pizza near me” or “nearby Thai takeout.”
- A search for a dentist or another type of medical professional.
- A user who wants to know what movies are playing at the local theater.
- Searching for a nearby salon, beauty parlor, or barber.
In these and similar cases, it’s important for businesses to optimize their websites for local search.
2. Local Search Lets You Reach a Targeted Audience
The goal of creating content is to reach your intended audience, and location is a crucial ingredient in the targeting formula. The more relevant your content is to your customers, the more likely it is to convert searches into clicks.
If you have a local business, there’s no point in reaching people hundreds or thousands of miles away who cannot make use of your services. Plus, if your traffic is largely from people far away, it’s not likely to convert, which will affect your ranking. By targeting nearby users, you increase the percentage of users reached that are likely to engage with your business.
3. It’s Easier to Rank for Local Search Terms
Anyone with any knowledge of SEO and keyword research is familiar with long-tail keywords. These are terms that are narrower or less specialized than more popular and competitive keywords. For example, if you have a website in the weight loss niche, it’s easier to rank for “best low carb diets for weight loss” than for “lose weight.” While many more people are searching for the latter, it’s much more competitive.
Local search terms are actually a type of long-tail keywords. It’s easier to rank for “auto body shop Cleveland” than simply “auto body shop.” Local search terms are easier to rank for if you’re creating organic content, such as blog posts. They are also cheaper to bid on if you’re using paid advertising, such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads. This is true no matter where you’re located but for smaller cities and towns it’s especially easy to rank with local search terms.
4. Google Provides Many Benefits with Google My Business
Google encourages local businesses to sign up with Google My Business, a service that not only helps sites rank better but also provides other significant benefits.
- Integration with Google Maps: This makes it easy for customers to find your business.
- Featured reviews: Customer reviews are clearly visible when someone brings up your listing. Reviews are an essential form of social proof that encourages customers to seek you out.
- Highlighted photos and key information: You can post photos of your business and also share your hours, services, and contact information. In some ways, this is like free advertising.
- Increased chances of reaching Google Local Pack: The local pack, also known as featured snippets and Google Position 0, are prominent listings at the top of the search results page. A complete Google My Business listing is the first step in qualifying for this position.
Guidelines for Local Search
Utilizing local search does not have to be complicated or fancy. Keep these 3 key factors in mind, and you’ll give your SEO a boost.
1. Don’t Overlook Local Terms Your Customers Are Searching For
Some local keywords are straightforward enough. If you have a gym in Atlanta, Georgia, you obviously would like to rank for “Atlanta gyms.” However, if you want to dominate local search you should think beyond the obvious. In addition to the name of your city, don’t overlook other terms people might use to locate you. These might include neighborhoods and prominent landmarks. If you’re close to a prominent building such as a museum or convention center, consider that people might search for something like “Atlanta gym near the convention center.” If your business has multiple locations, it’s best to create a separate page for each location. This allows you to insert the relevant local search terms on each page.
2. Make Your Website Voice Search Friendly
The growing popularity of voice search is a trend that’s closely related to local search. People conducting local searches are increasingly likely to use voice assistants like Siri or Alexa. Voice search SEO can actually be more intuitive than traditional SEO—it essentially means writing the way people normally speak.
We already referred to mobile searches using terms like “near me.” This is a perfect example of how people speak naturally using voice assistants. With modern GPS systems, users no longer have to specify where they are, since they can assume that the device and Google already know where they are. As people get more comfortable with voice search, businesses will transition away from the previous style of SEO keywords, such as “pizza Austin Texas,” and towards the more natural, “Where’s a pizza place near me?”
3. Understand the Importance of Local Citations and NAP
Local citations are any website that mentions your business, such as a directory or social media site. The most crucial element of citations is that they contain “NAP information” about your business: name, address, and phone number. Without this information, a mention or link to your business could be considered a backlink but not a citation. For local businesses, citations are extremely valuable.
Make sure that your NAP information is accurate and consistent. Even minor differences can confuse Google, such as different ways of writing your business name or address. If your official business name is “John Smith and Brothers,” don’t write it as “John Smith & Bros” on some sites, as this can be interpreted as a different business entirely.
Local Search Is Essential to Your Business
Make it easy for local customers to find your business. People searching online now expect to see local results, and utilizing local search practices will help pull your business to the first page of their Google search. If you need help with local search or any aspect of digital marketing, Direction provides award-winning digital marketing solutions.