You may be wondering why local SEO matters for your small business. If you don’t already have a strategy in place, you may want to take a closer look at what your business is missing out on. In this post, we’ll walk through why local SEO matters for your small business and what it can mean to your bottom line.
Paths to Your Website
Before we dive into the details of local SEO, let’s look at the different ways people arrive on your website.
- Email: Links included in an email message.
- Social: Links on social posts or profile pages on networks like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.
- Ads: Destination for ads you run on search engine pages or other websites.
- Direct: Your website URL is typed in the search bar, or a bookmark is clicked.
- Referrals: Unpaid links from other websites.
- Search: Links clicked in search engine results (like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing).
Mindsets for Each Path
Each traffic channel (or “path”) has a different purpose, and everyone uses each channel a little differently. But in general, there’s a common mindset for each of the six channels above as it relates to trying to interact with potential customers:
Email = Delayed
People like to get to email on their own time. So any action from email is usually delayed. Unfortunately, most people aren’t sitting waiting for a specific company email to arrive.
Social = Distracted
Social media is mainly used to socialize and to find interesting or helpful information. So it can be hard to get any undivided attention with so many other conversations happening at once.
Ads = Tuned Out
Many consumers have learned to filter out ads to make more time and energy for the content they choose to consume. And while there’s a time and place for a good ad placement, generally speaking the mindset for ads is that people want to tune them out.
Direct = Black Box
Direct traffic means a visitor came directly to your site (with no indication of how they learned about your company, or why they came to visit). So it’s a bit of a black box from a data standpoint, and nearly impossible to understand the visitor’s intent.
Referrals = Helpful
Referrals can be helpful if the original website a person visited couldn’t solve their problem. But they may still not have any intentions to buy right then and there. After all, they may have just heard about your business for the first time in that referral link.
Search = Intent to Buy
When searchers use a search engine, they’re usually looking for specific information about a problem, want, or need they have. Searches often have some level of time-sensitivity, meaning that the person plans to take action (like make an online purchase or visit a business) in the near future.
Why Intent is so Valuable
Let’s look at an example to see why searcher intent is so valuable.
A searcher is in need of getting a haircut. She suddenly realizes she wants to get her hair done before the upcoming weekend. So she hops on Google to see her options.
She types in ‘hair salons nearby’ and several local salons pop up. But the one that stands out is the the one that’s right down the street and says they offer same-day appointments. She’s sold. She books an appointment using the online scheduling tool.
This is just one example of the power of location-based searches for local businesses. Searchers more often than not have a strong intent to buy, and want to take action soon. In fact, Google’s research suggests that about 80% of consumers use search to find local businesses. And that 50% of smartphones searchers visit a local store within 24 hours (or 34% of desktop searchers). This is a powerful way to bring new, ready-to-buy customers in the door.
Ways to Rank on First Page
There’s two types of search results: paid and organic.
Paid results show up before any other results, but typically get far less clicks than organic results. And the cost per click is estimated to be about four times as much as organic clicks, according to Moz.
Organic results, on the other hand, can come in the form of local pack or standard organic results. Small businesses that rank in the local pack are extremely visible and provide helpful information to searchers (like a map and clickable contact information for your business). For tips on how to rank higher in Google Maps, check out our video tutorial.
Moz not only estimates that the long term cost per organic click is less than paid ad clicks, but they state that about 80% of all search result clicks go to organic results (according to their ‘Overview of SEO’ Whiteboard Friday edition).
This means there’s a lot of opportunity for your small business. Local SEO can help you get more clicks for lower cost over time (compared to paid ads).
Why Search Result Rankings Matters
Ranking high in search results can boost your online visibility and in-store foot traffic. Showing up in the top ranking positions, lets you reach these ready-to-buy searchers before your competitors.
In fact, the majority of searchers (about 64% according to a study by Advanced Web Rankings) click on only the first 5 search results, with very few looking past the first page (only 5% of clicks are on pages 2 and 3). If you’re not ranking in the top 1-5 positions, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers.
So the sooner you optimize your business for location-specific key phrases relevant to your business, the sooner you can outrank your competitors and create a powerful marketing strategy to keep customers pouring in your door.
Local SEO can help your small business connect with customers in your area that are ready and eager to buy. It’s never too late to begin taking steps to optimize your website for these local searches and boost your bottom line.
If you’re ready to step up your local SEO efforts to improve your business’s online visibility and bottom line, you should check out the rest of our SEO 101 series to help get you on the right path. For example, learn how to focus your SEO efforts on the factors that have the biggest impact with our post on the 3 Top Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2018.