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5 Reasons Your Small Business Should Focus More on Local SEO

Contributed article in our business series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

Local search engine optimization is often seen as the purview of big businesses helping people find the locations of their stores or restaurants. However, local search engine optimization is incredibly important while offering a very high return on invested effort. Here are five reasons your small business should focus more on local SEO.

If You Ignore Local SEO, People May Not Be Able to Find You

One of the reasons small businesses need to spend more time investing in local SEO is because businesses that have poor local SEO may not show up in local business search results. Neglecting local search engine optimization can hurt your business. The first step in improving your business’ local SEO is using the same business name, address and phone number (NAP) – including formatting – across all business directories. Use the exact same NAP format on your company homepage, and ideally, on the about us or “where we are located” page. Adding links back to your business in these directory results, increases the number of legitimate backlinks to your site and indirectly increases the ranking of your website in search results.

Claiming and standardizing your business directory entries is not just the most important local SEO strategy, but also the simplest. Putting your business in directories like Google My Businesses and online phone books like Yelp is straightforward. Claiming the business entry gives you the authority to edit it, clean it up and make sure it has the correct business category. If your business is in the wrong category, it won’t show up for searches for the correct type of service. If you don’t have the right address in all of these directories, those who find these business directories may not be able to find you literally.

If you ignore the local SEO impact of business directories and old or incorrect addresses are in these systems, search engines aren’t exactly sure where your business is located. They may show the wrong address or downgrade your business in local search results.

Local SEO Is a Big Influence

Over half of all internet searches take place on mobile devices, and many of these people are searching for something in the immediate vicinity. Where is an X type of restaurant near me? Where is an ABC service provider along the route I’m driving? When they make these queries, they are looking for your business right now. Conversational searches thus tend to be local unless someone is asking for information, entertainment or product information from an information appliance. If you rely entirely on traditional SEO, you could miss local searches by your most likely customers altogether. The fact that the searcher is walking down your street also attributes to local SEO’s higher conversion rate – they are at the last step in the sales funnel and will either pick the closest provider or the nearest one to them that has good reviews.

Small Regions Are Areas Small Businesses Can Dominate

Local searches are something small businesses can dominate whether in search engine results page rankings or advertising. You probably cannot afford ads for “home owners insurance” but could afford ads for “home owners insurance My City Name” or “homeowner's insurance X metro area”. Almost no small business can dominate a generic search query unless they are literally the only provider of the product or service. Yet they can take first place in local search results for their particular area by focusing on local search terms as part of their site’s SEO. You won’t beat WebMD for medical advice or Wikipedia for general information, but an allergist could dominate local searches for allergens in their area and tourist destinations could rank well for queries about local historical information. If you need assistance with local SEO, consult with an expert like the Snap Agency at https://www.snapagency.com/services/seo.

Brand Awareness

When your business integrates local SEO into business webpages and business social media pages, it is seen as more authentic. And it raises your profile with customers who find their “neighbors” online while building trust. Another benefit of focusing on local SEO is that creating content that is shared on neighborhood groups or websites for your community means those most likely to frequent your business will likely hear about you repeatedly. This familiarity increases the odds they will do business with you if they see your business or do a search for a service provider like you.

Google’s Rankings Prioritize Local SEO

Let’s suppose you have used the same NAP+W format across multiple business directories. The same information is located on your website. You’ll come up in local search results for your business category and direct searches for your company. The same user tendency to click on the first few search results applies to local search results for businesses and information as it does for other search terms. If your rivals integrate location information into business descriptions and their website’s content, they’ll rank higher than you in local searches – and that makes searchers more likely to buy from them. There’s another reason to optimize your local SEO.

Google altered its search results for local businesses to show only the top three instead of the top five local search results. This means that if you aren’t in the top three results, most people won’t see you because almost no one scrolls to the second screen.

One final thing to be careful of is how local your SEO should go. Businesses that try to use every neighborhood and suburb in a metro area as part of their local SEO end up ranking below more focused businesses. Don’t try to set up multiple business directory entries for your business to rank higher in local searches for a variety of areas, such as having employees all list their home addresses as business locations. This is a violation of Google’s rules and can get your site penalized in the search results.

Conclusion

If you ignore local SEO, your most likely customers won’t be able to find you in a geographic search or even internet search due to Google’s short list of local search results. Investing in local SEO increases the odds you’ll convert potential customers walking past you searching for a business like yours and increases their awareness and trust in your brand if they see your sign or product. Small businesses have the potential to be the big fish in the small pond, able to rank high for a small geographic area, even if they’ll never rank on the first page for more generic searches.

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