Small businesses far and wide are now realizing the power of local search engine optimization. As a business leader, you may still be wrapping your head around the concept of SEO, and understanding the differences between various SEO strategies may sound complicated. Fortunately, incorporating local SEO practices is not as difficult as it might sound, and through a few targeted tasks, you can make your way up the search engine rankings and draw a whole new set of customers to your location.

 

The Difference Between Local and Organic SEO

Understanding the distinction between local and organic SEO is the first key to mastering it. Simply put, local SEO incorporates a geographical component that organic SEO usually does not. The end-goal of local SEO is to build up the relevance of a site based on its location, rather than its content. Organic SEO can have a geographical element, but it’s not necessarily attached to a physical location.

If you are an eCommerce business that is striving to reach consumers from across the country, or even across the world, organic SEO might be the right fit. Local SEO works well for small businesses or those that are focused around a brick and mortar location, like a restaurant in Philadelphia, a plumbing service is Chicago or a chain of bicycle shops in Southern California.

The distinction between organic and local SEO is more than geographical. How you improve your organic SEO is based largely on links. The more links that you have from websites with authority, the better your online reputation. When it comes to local SEO, citations are King. Citations are merely the mention of your business’s name, address and phone number in directories like Yelp, Superpages or Google Places. The more citations your brick and mortar business has, the more trustworthy it is in terms of local SEO.

Seizing the Local SEO Opportunity

All types of local businesses can benefit from local SEO. By utilizing the practice, you have the unique opportunity to reach out to consumers who are specifically searching for your type of business. Local searching is growing rapidly, particularly on mobile devices – it’s estimated that nearly a third of all web searches have some sort of local aspect.

Consider the way many consumers now search, particularly those who are searching on their smartphone or tablet. These searches are largely conversational, like “grocery stores open now” or “where can I get pumpkin pie.” Voice search is another mobile phenomenon that is on the rise, so considering how these users conduct searches will help you to develop your local SEO strategy.

Local SEO also has some advantages over businesses that rely solely on newspaper and word-of-mouth advertising. Traditional marketing methods are great for planting ideas and getting attention, but it’s hard to beat the benefit of connecting with potential customers who are ready to buy what you have to offer, as soon as they are seeing your information. Getting your name, address and contact information out there – right when customers need it – will greatly increase the chance that they will end up walking through your door, not just visit your website or put a visit on their “to-do” list.

The ROI on Local SEO

If you are considering implementing local SEO, you might be wondering what the return on your investment of time and resources would be. Will local SEO really help you to attract new customers? Chances are high that it will. Nearly 65% of local customers use online searches and directories to find local businesses. Phone books and paper directories are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and local SEO is the future.

Local SEO provides a means to connect to potential customers in a highly targeted and timely fashion. Search engines like Google love to give users what they want. This results in a high conversion rate and ROI. Since 78% of local searches from mobile devices result in offline purchases, it’s clear that local SEO works. Local SEO also boasts a 50% higher conversion rate than traditional directories.

The Importance of Mobile Optimization

There’s no doubt that internet users are turning to their phones for information more and more. While newspaper readership is down, mobile usage is increasing. Around 68% of Americans own smartphones and 45% own tablets. Nearly 90% of smartphone users utilize a search engine at least once a day. This is, of course, good news for businesses looking to leverage local SEO.

Optimizing your website for mobile use is an absolute necessity when it comes to local SEO. You’ll also need to focus on keywords that are relevant to local searches. Including the name of your city, county or neighborhood is crucial, but utilizing keywords that mobile users are likely to use naturally is also key.

When prospective customers do reach your website, you’ll want to keep them engaged. Your website is should be prepared for mobile traffic by ensuring that it is easy to read, simple to navigate and looks great on a small screen. Photos, reviews and videos will also assist with your efforts to make your site mobile-friendly. Sites with videos are far more likely to make their way to the top of the search rankings than those without. A video that revolves around your local keywords packs an extra punch and will generate much more traffic than a few well-placed reviews.

Effective local SEO also requires you to register on local directory sites. These citations will lead business directly to you while increasing the value of your website via the link. Be sure that the addresses, phone number and additional contact information listed on any directory sites is correct and matches the data provided on your website.

The benefits of local SEO for local-based businesses are clear. When combined with organic SEO, you can attract new customers, build your reputation and make a major impact in your community.

About Cheryl Baldwin

Cheryl Baldwin, Director of Marketing Communications at WSI, oversees WSI’s Marketing Department. She’s an integral part of the WSI’s global brand presence and corporate identity.