LOCAL SEOAre you appearing where the customers are?
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online listings to display accurate and valuable information about your company across the internet.
What makes local SEO so tricky is the sheer number of factors that come into play. Each website that holds local listings (e.g. Yelp, Facebook, Google) has its own set of rules and elements they look for to determine if your business is one customers enjoy. You should always look to provide the most accurate information possible for ease of use for potential customers.
Local SEO requires substantial management time, as there are additional third-party networks that provide listing information to smaller online directors such as Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages, and City Search. The problem this creates for business owners is that, if left unattended, elements in the algorithms for larger directories (Yelp, Facebook, Google) will begin to notice discrepancies from the smaller guys and, over time, begin displaying them.
Want proof of how absurd the local listing landscape currently is? Check out this graph from a study Moz conducted in the last few years. Each arrow indicates a connection to another online directory. If one of them hosts inaccurate information, it will slowly bleed into the rest of your listings. Needless to say, you’ll end-up having a bad time if listing directories are left to their own devices.
Local SEO requires a very hands-on approach.
How does local SEO work?
To explain exactly what local SEO means for users and business owners, let’s cut straight to an example with a fictional persona named, Local Luke.
While visiting downtown Grand Rapids, Local Luke is having dinner with some friends. They enjoy a fabulous meal, pay their bill, and pack up to head home. While heading back to the car, they decide the festivities aren’t over yet. The group wants to continue enjoying what Grand Rapids has to offer, but they have no idea where to go because there are so many excellent options in the area.
They choose to rely on Google.
Luke pulls out his smartphone and searches on Google for “bar Grand Rapids” to find the best option nearby. The results shown display some of the most popular bars in the area, open hours, and even customer reviews.
Notice these results are centralized to Luke’s location. If he started moving about the city with his smartphone and conducted further searches, the results would vary based on his new location. Local SEO takes into account the user’s intent, their location, device, and even time of day.
How Local SEO Helps Generate Leads
Local SEO is designed to target your community and generate leads for your business. Google estimates that 80% of consumers use local search to find information. More than half of people who search locally with their smartphone visit their selected business within 24 hours. With local SEO, you get real traffic, real results, and real customers who are actively looking for your business.
The ability of your local search to generate leads hinges largely on the reviews of past and current customers. Staying on top of your reputation management is vital.
Get Reviews with an Acquisition Strategy
Regardless of the local search platform users are searching on, customer reviews are the common factor with the most influence. The key to reviews is encouraging actual customers to share positive experiences across a multitude of platforms. Your best option to accomplish this is through a review acquisition strategy.
An acquisition strategy can take many forms — email marketing, postcards, even word-of-mouth. The strategy that yields the best results will vary by company type, but there are three review signals you need to be conscious of when developing your strategy:
- Review quantity – the more positive reviews, the better.
- Review velocity – a steady flow of reviews is better than a ton of reviews in a short time, followed by long periods of silence.
- Review diversity – once you begin to establish a review base on Google, you should begin to shift focus to sites like Yelp and Facebook.