What is Local Search Marketing?
When it comes to digital marketing strategies, local search marketing is among the most effective ways for businesses to reach consumers in their vicinity. Essentially, local search marketing (also known as local search engine optimization) refers to a series of strategies that businesses can use to appear in local results when potential customers in the area are searching for items or services. Let’s take a look at the basics of local search marketing, the potential benefits, and some steps you can take to engage more customers throughout your community.
Local Search Marketing: The Basics
Search algorithms, such as Google, determined that people were almost always searching for different types of business needs in their local area. As the search engine algorithm evolved, Google implemented a proximity factor that looks at a searcher’s location to determine which results to present to the searcher. Even when the searcher does not include their location in the search terms, the search engine will still display relevant businesses and services located near the searcher’s physical location. As more people use their smartphones to perform searches, local SEO has become a critical digital marketing strategy for businesses.
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How Google My Business Impacts Local SEO
While there are numerous ranking factors, one of the best ways to get Google’s algorithm to notice your business is to create a listing in Google My Business (GMB). This free service allows you to create a profile of your business, including your address, hours of operation, contact information, and other relevant information, to make it easy for customers to learn about your business. Additionally, you can use your GMB profile to create posts, highlight events, display positive reviews, respond to customer reviews, and address frequently asked questions. The search algorithm will take notice of your profile and start to display your business on Google Maps and local listing when people in your community search for the services you offer.
The Power of Localized Content
High-quality, SEO-friendly content continues to play a huge role in increasing your search result rankings. Not only should you create content that anticipates and addresses common questions your customers may have, but you should also choose keywords that appeal to the search algorithm. However, a little goes a long way—avoid “keyword stuffing” and mentioning your location every chance you get, or you risk coming off as insincere. Find organic ways of weaving in your primary location so Google can present your listing to searchers in your area. If your business has multiple locations, it’s probably worth it to build local landing pages for each location to broaden your reach and boost your visibility among your target audience.
Customer Reviews Can Boost Local Visibility
By now, you’re likely aware of the crucial role customer reviews play in building consumer trust in your business. A 2020 survey found that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, an 81% increase from the previous year. Additionally, only 48 percent of customers stated that they would consider using a business with fewer than four stars. Google’s search algorithm uses customer reviews as a factor in determining your ranking in local search results. The more reviews you receive, the more Google will view you as an active business engaged with the public. You must respond to your reviews, both positive and negative, to show other customers that you value their experience and that you’re invested in providing them with excellent service. Search engine algorithms will take notice of your active engagement in customer reviews, which will translate into a boost in local SEO rankings.
Site Navigation and Loading Speed Matter
Even seemingly insignificant factors can make a big difference in how your business ranks in local search results. Websites with outdated or unintuitive navigation often fail to hold a customer’s attention, and Google’s algorithm will take notice. Instead, by taking the time to navigate your website from the customer perspective, you can ensure that those visiting your website can find the information they need quickly and easily. Be sure to view your website on a mobile device—if images or text fails to display correctly, make the necessary adjustments so searchers can view your page accurately on any device. Customers will spend more time on your site when it loads quickly, provides intuitive navigation, addresses their questions, and displays contact information prominently. As a result, Google’s algorithm will send more local searchers your way.
Highlight Your Presence in Your Community
Most people looking for goods or services in their area want to know the faces behind the business. They want to know what your business is all about—the values and goals that drive you. Finding ways of connecting to your customers can go a long way in building your reputation within the community. Including a “Who We Are” page on your website or incorporating a blurb about your values on your Google My Business page shows customers that you care about building relationships with your community. A little authenticity can cultivate public trust in your business, generate positive customer reviews, and boost your ranking in local search results.
The Bottom Line About Local SEO
As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. However, by taking a few simple steps to increase your local SEO ranking, you can reach and serve more customers in your area. Once you’ve set up a Google My Business profile, Google’s algorithm will use this information to start displaying your business to people in your community searching for the services you offer. Essentially, Google’s algorithm uses three main factors to determine business rankings: (1) your business is relevant to the customer’s search terms; (2) your business is verified and trustworthy; and (3) your business is located near the searcher. The more you can craft your website, social media profiles, Google My Business page, and other digital marketing strategies to appeal to these factors, the more Google’s algorithm will likely present your business to local customers.
Remember, SEO marketing efforts are ongoing, so it’s ok if you need to make tweaks to your strategy from time to time. Businesses who find the most success recognize the importance of monitoring and evaluating each strategy to maximize their effectiveness and reach. By viewing your SEO and local search marketing efforts as a work in progress, you can commit to continuing to adjust your strategy to serve the evolving needs of your community.