If you’re a small business, you might not think SEO is for you. After all, it’s just another expense to add to your already growing budget, right? It’s a common misconception amongst local business owners that SEO is just for big shots and major corporations. But the reality is everyone – yes, including you – can benefit greatly from local SEO.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is any activity that increases your ranking on search engine results pages. Why is this important, you ask? When people search a term that is relevant to your business, like “good coffee shop” for example, where you place in the search results page is very important.
The higher you rank on the search results, the more visible you are to potential customers, and the more opportunities you have to close that sale.
There are many methods for increasing your website’s ranking. The technical side of SEO involves having clean formatting, integrating social media, establishing business profiles on online directories, and making your website responsive for mobile users. The content side of SEO involves having great quality web content, using relevant keywords throughout your site, and being featured in articles and reviews by reputable third parties.
One of the most popular and effective ways a local business can market themselves is by using a variation of this called local SEO. Using local SEO will help you reach the customers that matter the most to your business: people in your area. You already have an advantage since you know your target audience well – they’re your neighbors, your friends, and the people in your community.
In 2018, having a strong online presence is crucial for any business, big or small. 64% of people use search engines like Google or Bing to find local businesses in their area, and a whopping 78% of local mobile searches end up in a sale.
The numbers don’t lie – here’s how local SEO can help you convert those website clicks into cash.
You target the right people at the right time.
When people need a specific product or service, they want one that is easily accessible to them at the moment they need it. Search engines understand that local searches are often more relevant to their users – someone in Huntsville, Alabama has no use for restaurant listings in New York, for example.
46% of all Google searches are actually local searches, and having an SEO strategy will help you take advantage of this.
Local SEO works because it connects your business to people nearby who are already actively seeking it out; they just need to know where they can get what they want and how. That’s where you come in – good SEO practices will make it easy for potential customers to find and contact you.
You improve your word-of-mouth.
Even with all the cutting-edge advancements in the field of marketing, word of mouth is still by far the most effective way to market your local business. Back in the day, this meant getting recommendations from friends and family about which bar to go to or which dentist is the best. The rise of technology hasn’t changed this at all, but it has transformed the way we get our recommendations.
9 out of 10 people trust online reviews – yup, even from complete strangers on the internet. Many people said they even put online reviews at the same level as a personal recommendation from someone they know.
They scan blogs and comments to determine the quality of a business so that they can make informed decisions about which brand or company to choose. If people like you enough to leave good feedback, others are bound to listen.
One of the major focuses of local SEO is monitoring and responding to online reviews about your business. It helps you keep track of what people think about your products or services, lets you signal boost positive reviews, and gives you the opportunity to reach out to the people who have had negative experiences.
This shows that you truly care about your customers and are dedicated to providing the best in your field.
You keep track of your customers and your business.
The great thing about SEO is that it’s measurable. Part of SEO is analytics – looking at the data and tweaking your strategy from there. You can glean so many insights from tracking your SEO results; you can monitor your number of clicks, website traffic, which pages are most popular. You’ll know which methods are working and which need improvement, helping you make better, more calculated decisions.
There’s also a sense of accomplishment in being able to see the tangible results of your SEO efforts, whether it’s an increase in site traffic or higher conversion rates.
You avoid losing sales.
If you’ve been neglecting your SEO, or, worse, using questionable methods to boost your rankings, you’re definitely hurting your business in the long run.
At best, not having an updated address, contact number, and business hours make it harder for people to find you and purchase your products and service. A messy website that is ill-structured, outdated, and hard to understand will turn away potential customers, thus losing you revenue.
At worst, black hat SEO techniques will get you penalized by search engines, whose algorithms are constantly being updated to weed out spammy and irrelevant websites.
If a search engine determines that you’ve been engaging in dubious practices to artificially boost your ranking, they can bump you down or remove you from the results altogether.
You can get revenue with little to no cash-out.
There are many SEO agencies who are experts in SEO for local small businesses, and they can definitely help you get the results you want. But did you know that you can still reap the benefits of SEO without having to shell out any extra money?
Claiming your business on online directories like Yelp or Google My Business is FREE. All you have to do is claim your listing, update your contact information and address. And voila! This is your first step to reaching your potential customers. Search engines will automatically rank you higher because your information is verified and up-to-date, and it will be much easier for people to find your business when they search online.
Any local business, whether you’re an established neighborhood mom-and-pop diner or an exciting new startup, can benefit from implementing good SEO practices. Promote your products and services online with SEO, reach a wider audience, and see your business really take off.