If you have a local business, or a store through which you offer products or services to people in a physical location, a great way to market your products or services to potential customers is with Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Local SEO is a form of online-targeted marketing. Through search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, local SEO helps consumers find businesses near them at the time they’re looking for specific products and services (Bright Local). For example, you and your boss are on a business trip in a city you’re not familiar with, and he asks you to get him lunch. If this were the age before the internet, this task would probably involve a long taxi ride, but, with local SEO, all you have to do is type the words ‘restaurants near me’ and a list of restaurants will pop up in your search results.
Recent statistics have shown how important local search has become in the process of growing a local business and attracting more customers. SEO Expert provides a summary of these statistics which show that;
- 46% of all searches on Google are local or regarding local information
- 97% of people searched the internet to find a local business
- 86% of people look for the location of a business on Google Maps
- 97% of people found out more about a local company through the internet in 2017
- 88% of local consumer searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours
- 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online
These statistics show how powerful local SEO is as a tool to promote your business, and the same features of local search which help consumers easily find local businesses, are the same features that can be used to attract attention when consumers are looking for businesses that offer a specific product/service. These features include: location (the distance between your business and the searcher), product/service description, opening hours, as well as ratings and reviews.
Let’s break down a few ways you can use local SEO to get in front of your target audience.
Local business listings
A local business listing is an online profile/portfolio of your business on a free listing platform. It includes all the relevant information about your business, such as the business name, address, phone number, business hours, photos, business category, and other data as requested by the platform. These platforms aim to provide accurate information about businesses while making it easier for prospective clients to reach them (Digital Doughnut). Popular listing platforms that can help boost your online authority include Bing Local, Google My Business, Yelp, Apple Maps, Foursquare and many others.
Localise your website
To localise your website, you have to ensure that the location of your business (country, region and city) are displayed on your website. For businesses with just one location, you can include a map which gives turn by turn directions to your business location on the “about us” page. For businesses with multiple locations, you can create a locations page, which will contain store hours, unique descriptions of your store, promotions, transit information and more details you feel will be relevant to a potential customer (Hub Spot).
Though it’s okay to write for a wide audience, if you’re a local business, it’s equally important to write content for people within your target geographical area. Unique pieces on your blog about recent social activities and occurrences or gaps which your business can fill within a specific location can help you reach people searching for related topics around you, introduce them to your business and encourage them to patronise your business now, or in the near future.
Optimise your website
From the statistics above, you can see that a good percentage of local searches are carried out through mobiles, and a slow-loading site, or a site that’s not optimised for a mobile device, can discourage a lot of potential customers. And, since there a lot of similar businesses on the web, these factors may drive them towards your competition. So, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimised to fit devices of different sizes, and ensure that pages load quickly (Hub Spot).
Another way to use local SEO to promote your business is through links. Links to your website from quality sites that are relevant to your industry and related to your business will help to promote your online authority and help your business rank better. Websites with similar content can link to your site, but you can also ask popular bloggers and business associates, like suppliers, to link to your site on their web posts.
Ratings and Reviews
The ratings and reviews given to your business by previous customers are another way to promote your business because they showcase the quality of your products/services. The ratings/reviews you have on your site also help potential customers determine whether to choose your business or not. For search engines, positive reviews, especially from high-ranking review sites, are important for local search rankings (Bright Local).