When you search for a local business where you can take your kids to the dentists, what do you do?
Do you ring your mum and ask where the local dentists are? Maybe.
But, most people living in Sydney will pick up their phone and type the words: dentists near me into Google, which is the way people search for local goods and services in 2021. I cannot remember looking through a magazine or the local paper for anything that I needed and how your customers do a local search. Don’t think they do it any other way!
Here is one of the most impressive statistics that will blow your mind about local SEO search. Pay close attention to this. According to HubSpot: 88% of consumers do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day. And, 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else.
If you look at these stats, as a business owner, you probably think that WOW, this is all I need, so let’s go for it! But, as with everything in the SEO space, there are pros and cons with local SEO.
So, let’s dive right into this and take a closer look at local SEO, its significance for business and the pros and cons.
What Is Local SEO and How Does It Work?
Local search engine optimisation is a form of SEO that optimises a website for local search results.
Let me break this down further. General SEO will focus on ranking a set of keywords for general searches, perhaps even the whole of Sydney. Conversely, local SEO looks at optimising your primary services or products for a particular suburb or area such as the Northern Beaches, Parramatta or Bondi. Local search also looks at optimising a website for searches ‘near me.
If you have a business that wants local customers only or is not prepared to travel far to quote for jobs, you need a local SEO campaign.
How does local search work?
When a customer searches on Google, it uses various factors to decide the best results for that particular query. But there are significantly different ranking factors for local search, and you have to be on top of these to maximise your local reach. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to adhere to the same SEO principles such as link building, page titles and content, but there are more variables to focus on
These ranking factors include:
- The persons location – if they are Manly based, then Google will show search results from all businesses in Manly.
- If they have an active and optimised Google My Business Page – one of the most critical steps for optimising local search GMB offers customers a snapshot of the business, including; location, phone number, website and most importantly, reviews.
- Their NAPs (name, address, phone number)
- The keywords used in their Google My Business profile
- Content creation. If businesses want to dominate areas, they can create separate landing pages targeting that area.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Search Engine Journal tells us that; local SEO is a strategic process that focuses on emphasising the optimisation efforts of local brick-and-mortar businesses.
Probably the most crucial reason why businesses should be implementing local SEO is convenience. Buying products and services from a local business is convenient. Rather than getting in the car and driving in the traffic, they can go to the local dentists, florist, chemist, medical centre. And, before they start their journey, the first thing they’ll be doing is searching for local suppliers on Google, which is the nuts and bolts of local SEO.
Local SEO places your small business front and centre of local customers who want to buy from you. They are a captive local audience that’s super responsive, loyal, and want to give local traders their business. Think With Google explains this in more detail in Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour.
The takeaway of this is that if someone is searching for ‘lawyers near me’, they are not tyre kicking or fluffing around but wanting to engage the services of a local lawyer very quickly. These leads are very qualified, and if you can price your products or services competitively and know what you’re talking about, you’ll most likely get a new customer. This highlights the beauty of local SEO and the massive advantage for your local small business.
Let’s look at this from another perspective: if your business appears in searches for “buy a Smart TV,” but the customer is 45 km away, they probably won’t buy from you. Conversely, a local business that’s a mere 8 km away that sells smart TV’s is more likely to get the sale.
Is Local SEO for Every Business?
Local SEO is perfect for businesses that rely on Google for new business. I sometimes get people ( very rarely ) that they are so busy and are not looking for more customers. These people do not need local search. But, for the other 99.99% of Sydney businesses, Google is the holy grail of customer acquisition. From trades, caterers, doctors, lawyers, landscapers….the list is endless, and all of these small business operators need a local SEO presence.
The Pros of Local SEO
If you are still on the fence when it comes to local SEO and feel that it might not be the right fit for your business, here are some pros regarding local SEO. Those businesses rely on traditional forms of local marketing like local newspapers and letterbox drops, but they are in the minority.
Increase Your Online Visibility
Simply put, you need to be in the top 5 positions to generate any traction on Google. According to Banklinko:
1. The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 31.7%.
2. The # 1 organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click than a page in the #10 spot.
So, if you want to capture more clients, there are serious advantages to implementing a local SEO campaign to get your business higher up the SERP’s. This statistic by Backlinko proves this point:
On average, moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase CTR by 30.8%. However, this depends on where you’re moving from and to. Moving from position #3 to position #2 will usually result in a significant CTR boost. However, moving from #10 to #9 doesn’t make a statistically significant difference.
Local content creates local interest.
When you create content for a local audience and have local intent, the chances they will engage with you are much higher. Prowly tells us that: Content marketing is a crucial aspect of any local digital marketing strategy. When planned and executed correctly, it increases local business’ brand awareness, builds customers’ trust, and helps them position themselves as reliable sources of information.
We couldn’t have put this better. Just imagine that you create a blog about your service targeting a specific suburb. Not only will this rank better in the search results for that suburb, but the customer will identify with this article so much more. The results are instant; new local customers from nearby suburbs, especially if you end the article with a brief description about the author with a link to the homepage of your main website.
Local SEO Generates Traffic That Have A Good Chance Of Converting
Yahoo News tells us that consumers who are more likely to buy locally during the crisis, 68% of them stated they would continue to make purchases at local businesses post-pandemic.
Local business support makes sense as people want to see businesses in their local area thrive. It’s a win-win. No one wants a shopping strip full of vacant shops in their suburb.
There are tremendous benefits for small local businesses that can capture and retain their local share of the market as they will have loyal customers for many years to come. I much prefer to shop locally. All I do is walk up the road, and there’s a whole range of excellent shopping opportunities for me. The way to get into this market is to have a more substantial local presence online, especially if you are a professional without a shop front window that can attract passers-by.
The Cons of Local SEO
The cons are minimal; in fact, I can’t think of any except the process of setting up and maintaining your online local presence, which I’ll outline below.
Local SEO investment
Many small local businesses struggle to pay rent, wages etc., and adding local SEO marketing into the mix can put unnecessary pressure on companies. The underlying principle of any SEO campaign is that it must be performed monthly. If the niche is competitive such as cosmetic surgeons or lawyers, the fees can be expensive, putting local SEO out of reach for many people. Even worse, some businesses may hire an SEO agency that offers cheap SEO with fake ranking guarantees. They get totally ripped off, lose their money and may end up with a Google penalty tarnishing any future SEO efforts. These small businesses fall into the well-known trap of not knowing the difference between cheap v’s affordable SEO. It’s a shame because they have a good business model that can benefit many people in the community. Still, they get hamstrung with their digital marketing, which can, in some scenarios, put them out of business.
It’s not instant
SEO doesn’t yield instant results. SEO takes time, and you have to be prepared to wait at least six months to see some positive ROI. In short, quick SEO results are not possible. So many people call me up and ask me if I can rank them quickly on Google, and the answer is always the same; NO! You have to have patience and be prepared to invest money ( and in some cases quite a bit ) to be competitive online, which turns many people off.
Your SEO efforts can never end. It’s on-going with link building, content marketing and website maintenance, which means you have to incorporate local SEO into your fixed monthly expenses. A lot of people think it’s a one-off fee, but it isn’t! It’s a cost that you must get your head around and understand that it’s permanent. This permanence can frighten a lot of business owners or startups who need the capital for other expenses. Plus, as the competitive nature of your niche increase, so will your SEO budget.
Online reviews can make or break you.
89% of consumers read reviews before buying a product, which is frightening, especially if you have a few negative reviews that can cut deep. Creating your local online profile on Google My Business allows people to become very creative with their reviews, especially if they have had a bad experience. Restaurants, doctors, trades can all lose out big time with a few nasty online comments. Yes, some of these may be fake, and yes, some may have been posted there by your competition, but its sows the seed of doubt, which can significantly impact your new customer acquisition.
Search Engine Land explains that 88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations.
The key to managing the above for most local businesses is to offer excellent service and pricing, which should void any negative reviews. We live in an imperfect world, and there will always be one or two nasty comments. If you address these politely, people will respond positively.
Creating landing pages for local search
Creating separate landing pages for each suburban location is time-consuming. You have to write a new copy, perhaps draft up a whole new FAQ set, and find new images. However, this does pay dividends if you are prepared to put in the effort.
What to Rank High in Local Searches?
Getting a decent ranking for local searches is critical for the success of the majority of local businesses. Without this presence, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start.
That’s where we can help with our proven local SEO strategies. We have done this for many clients who have wanted to expand their offering by targeting many suburban locations. It’s super easy to do, and we can help you fast track this by following our formula. We know it works, and we can show it to you in our free 30-minute session or SEO Audit.