Driving Customers to Your Physical Location
The first time I visited Bob’s Bait Shop, I remember having trouble locating his business. The physical address was incorrect on Google, likely a typo, making the journey slightly more difficult than it could have been. Information about his business, such as the hours of operation was also lacking, making me somewhat cautious about visiting his store. This happens all too often to many businesses, which ends up hindering their visibility in search results and decreasing overall foot traffic in their stores. Customers that are seeking local products and services may be deterred from visiting your business if issues such as these are present. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your business is optimized for local search.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO or Local Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing your business’s online presence in order to become more visible in local search results. This is extremely beneficial to businesses that have physical locations and want to experience a higher volume of customers. Did you know that 88% of people searching for a local business will either call or visit the business within 24 hours? If your business is not optimized for local search, you could be missing out on many potential customers who are in nearby areas looking for what your business has to offer. So, how do you get started?
Google Business Profile
There are specific tools that can assist you in developing an effective local SEO strategy. Creating a free Google Business Profile is an essential step in the process. This allows you to manage and optimize the information within your profile for local search, as well as inform people about what your business has to offer. As your business continues to create positive experiences with customers, you will be more likely to receive Google reviews and a higher star rating, both of which appear within your Google Business Profile and play a role in how you rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). These elements signal and communicate to Google (and even potential customers) that your business is trustworthy, which can lead to increased conversions and ROI over time.
Local SEO Best Practices
It is critical to ensure that the information included within your Business Profile remains accurate over time in order to provide the highest value to potential customers. When users are searching for local products and services, they want to avoid frustration and find what they need almost effortlessly. This means that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be accurate, up-to-date, and consistent online. Additionally, showcasing your business with high resolution and branded imagery within your Business Profile will help potential customers develop a sense of familiarity with your brand. Including the days and hours of operation of your physical locations is also important so that potential customers know when they can engage and interact with your business. Any errors in this information can confuse users and even Google about which information is correct, which can lead to your business potentially not ranking in search results at all. If you have multiple brick and mortar locations, it is important to create and add location pages to your website that provide users with the proper information for that specific location. Another component to consider is the fact that more than half of all Google searches are performed through a mobile device. While local search isn’t exactly new, mobile devices have changed the game. Most searches used to be completed from desktop computers, which limited local search abilities in terms of delivering relevant local information. Since the physical location of where users are searching from has evolved, more suitable and beneficial results can be delivered in a mobile-friendly way.
Location, Location, Location
Google takes users’ location into account (if the users’ settings allow) when they include a local keyword. “Near me” doesn’t necessarily need to be included in a user’s search query in order for local information to be provided, although research from HubSpot indicates that “near me” searches have risen 250% since 2017. It’s important that you conduct local SEO keyword research in order to understand what terms your prospects and customers use when searching for your business, products, and services. According to Google, local results are predominantly based on relevance, distance, and prominence. A combination of these factors are taken into consideration by Google to find the best match for each user. It’s important for your business to strive to be the local authority in order to benefit from local SEO efforts. This can be done through creating content that pertains to your business’s geographic area, participating in local community events, or building a presence in local media. These efforts will help you create brand awareness and even word of mouth referrals, which are extremely impactful.
Local SEO is a crucial aspect of improving your business’s overall SEO strategy. When your business is optimized for local search, it makes the experience of finding your physical location much easier for nearby prospects and customers. Keep in mind that when customers are searching online for local information, their intent to buy is quite strong, so it’s important that your business appears and ranks highly in search results when people are eager to take action.
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