Google Is Going Local, And So Should Your SEO Efforts
It's 2022 and guess what? Google is going local. That sounds familiar. As if a bestowed Top 10 Dallas search engine optimization agency like Locus Digital has already predicted this is the future of SEO optimization.
We've made many predictions indeed and not to toot our own horn, but most of them turned out to be true. So let's elaborate a bit more on why Google is going local, how this will change your SEO efforts, and how this will affect your organic traffic and customers flow.
While you might be frustrated why Google is going local, and you don't understand why the tech giant tries to limit your reach, the answer has a lot less to do with you and a lot more to do with your audience and customers – at least those who find you through search engines.
It's a good bet that most of them were Google's clients before they became yours. So Google is not going local just to intimidate and does a bit of step-dancing on someone's nerves, but instead, they are following the trends. And the tendency is that people are going local, so the business should follow.
Understandably this change might be scary. However, thanks to the best practices in "Local SEO," you can not only retain your positions but increase your CTR tenfold.
Did You Say Local SEO?
Yes, that's exactly what we said, and that's the future of SEO. One might think that slapping "local" in front of their search engine optimization practices will only make it sound fancier, and nothing will change all that much. Well, first of all, it does sound fancier, but there are several differences between Traditional SEO and Local SEO.
It's good to know that they essentially have the same goal - to increase your visibility, search engine ranking and ultimately bring you more visitors, have higher CTR and make more sales. However, the traditional SEO focuses on a whole country or even the entire world, while local SEO is limiting its targeting to a specific small area where the business is located.
Furthermore, traditional SEO is perfect for brands with huge markets that target the public from vast regions, entire countries, or even globally. These are eCommerce websites, tech companies, IT support, and others. On the other hand, local SEO is more appropriate for localized businesses with a physical location or localized service intent. Such companies might be mom-and-pop coffee shops or giant franchising corporations. However, they both have the same goal - to appeal to a small target audience in a specific area.
These being said, both traditional and local SEO have some similarities and differences in their hallmark strategies. Typically conventional SEO depends heavily on keyword research, creating and maintaining high-quality content, sustaining outstanding load speed, having impeccable coding and navigation, and earning backlinks by authoritative websites.
On the other hand, local SEO demands optimizing your Google my Business account (since we are sure you already have one created. If you haven't, quickly claim it, and we can pretend that you had it all along). In addition to that, you will have to research and target keywords relevant to the local public, create a local-specific website, and most importantly, add your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP).
To be fair, everything so far sounds like a pleasant walk in the park during a warm summer evening, with a beautiful sunset, compared to the last item on the list - earning and managing customers' reviews. You only need to read a few Google, Facebook, or Trip Advisor comments to know that people write reviews only when disappointed. This being said, you should strive for perfection if you want to have a decent score, but more on that later.
While we are admittedly persuasive and charming, we might add, you might still need some more convincing that Local SEO is paramount to your success if you have a specific type of business. So, let's talk numbers.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
For a local business using local SEO is like spitting fuel in the air intake valves of a car. Unlike the Mad Max stunt, though, using local SEO is not a myth and will actually propel your business growth immensely.
Yes, it's true. Putting a small effort into preparing your online presence for the local public will repay in:
- Better online visibility
- A lot more clients in your physical locations
- You will attract a group with higher intent to buy
- You will enhance your credibility and authority.
A relevant and quite attractive question would be, why waste time tending to a smaller local audience when you can do the same for a much bigger one and still be on top. Well, the answer is in the audience's behavior.
About 97% of people use search engines to find local businesses offering a specific service or product. Furthermore, about 46% of all Google searches seek some local information. A HubSpot case study shows that 72% of people that did a local search subsequently visited a store within five miles. Moreover, 88% of people who search for a local business on their mobile phone call or visit the business within 24 hours.
If that's not convincing enough, 28% of all local searches end up with a purchase. You don't need to be a math enthusiast to notice that these numbers will benefit you greatly if applied to your business. So, if you are already convinced that local SEO is for you (it took us long enough), let's get down to business.
"Google My Business" Is A Must
If you lived in the past decade with elks in the great outdoors of Oregon, pretending to be their messiah in the hope of building a new elk religion around your persona, you might be surprised that Google actually likes it more when it can confirm certain information before forwarding it to its users.
That's where Google My Business comes into play. It's a simple tool that allows you to help Google confirm you are actually who you say you are. It's more like you scratch their back by freely offering them information, which they will forward to their users, and they scratch yours by placing your business on their map, sending you customers, and helping you with your elk theological ambitions (although, to be honest, the last one still hasn't happened).
Signing up for this helpful tool is just as easy as beating a tortoise in a hundred-meter sprint (although some rabbits might beg to differ). It takes only a few steps:
- Visit GMB and claim your business.
- Enter your physical location
- Fill in your contact information, including NAP and social media accounts
- Finish and verify your business
However, to make sure your Google My Business will be as attractive as Madonna in the late 80s', you need to optimize it a bit. First of all, you'd need to keep all your information up-to-date. This means keeping your open hours strict and being sure to inform Google when you are on holiday. Furthermore, you should take full advantage of Google Posts by including local keywords in your headline and meta descriptions.
A perfect way to tell Google you are highly respected, liked, and trustworthy is by asking your clients to leave a review. This way, you will also neglect the bad reviews left by insufferable clients, who always demand the stars and more, and blackmail you with bad reviews. Unfortunately, there are many of them.
Finally, you should always respond to your customers' reviews by entering key components like your location, products, company name, or relevant local keywords. This will not only improve your SEO but will make your customers feel special, and they might even return for more.
However, most importantly, connect your GMB to your website and make sure it is mobile-friendly.
Mobile-Friendly Is King
You might have noticed that recently people have been suffering from neck pain more often than not. Of course, they might attribute that to the wrong posture during work hours, but that's just a minor factor in the overall lousy posture dictated by the mobile era.
Nowadays, everyone has their nose stuck in their smartphone every second they have to spare. They want to look at that small gadget even when they drive, for God's sake. Hand mobile devices are responsible for 1.6 million crashes each year in the US alone. One out of four collisions is due to texting while driving. This is so frustrating and serious that we won't even dignify it with a joke.
However, our rant has a connection to your business and SEO efforts - mainly, people are hypnotized, and you should take advantage. Being mobile-friendly is no longer simply a matter of pride. It's a matter of survival. 61% of people who choose to surf through their phone will prefer to buy from a business with a mobile-friendly website. With 89% of people searching for a local business at least once a week and 58% once a day, getting some action if you took good care of your website and local SEO is pretty much guaranteed.
If that doesn't sound tempting enough, keep in mind that 18% of local mobile searches will end up as a purchase within a day.
Being mobile-friendly is the only sure way to take advantage of the otherwise horrific slavery of these small devices. One thing you should know, though, is that smobies are great for acquiring customers' reviews.
Customer Reviews Galore
We already mentioned the importance of customers' reviews. To put a number on top, though, we will turn to a Bright Local study showing that 97% of people read customers' reviews before making a purchasing decision. That should be quite enough to take this subject as seriously as a heart attack.
Acquiring a review is actually not that hard since people nowadays are glad to share their experience, especially if they are disappointed. That, however, is a problem for you since your goal, shocking or not, is to make the happy customers leave some nice words for you. Directly asking them to do that is quite effective actually, so go ahead and do that.
The tricky part is managing the reviews. By separating the genuine ones from the troll ones done by some bad people, blackmailers, and unethical competitors, you can score some huge points with the curious customers looking at your business. Remember that being disrespectful to a genuine complaint is a huge red flag for the researching person. Addressing the problem and simply asking for forgiveness from the offended customer will bring you a long way and pare down the review's effect. However, exposing a false review will instantly win you some points with the audience. There are a series of "murdered by words" instances where such back and forward end with an epic win for the business.
Finding good reviews is a hunt that can't succeed without going social.
Go Social And Stay Consistent
People love social media, and that's a good thing for you (not that good for society as a whole, but who cares). Spending gazillion hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Trip Advisor, or any other place where your brand and business might be mentioned makes them perfect for spying on your clients and improving based on their demands.
Communicating with your local audience through social media is very important and interacting with your community makes you look like part of the neighborhood in a sense. However, you need to keep all your information consistent across all channels.
Contradictory information leads to confusion, and confused customers are not willing to part with their money. So keep your NAP, work hours, and any other essential info always up-to-date everywhere.
Local Link Building
Finally, we have local link building, which is a bit like the traditional SEO link building, only easier. The first places to leave your mark are your local institutions - The local Chamber of Commerce, the licensing bureaus, vendors, resellers, district improvement offices, trade association, tax administration - thank God for bureaucracy.
Another brilliant way to hit an authoritative backlink to your website is to guest post on a local website with a high SEO score. All you need is great content, and they will gladly share a backlink or two to your website for it.
You can also sponsor a local event or a webinar, but that costs money, and we are not here to spend any of yours. So stick with the great content and earn some backlinks through friendships, collaboration, and using the local authorities as a vessel.
Frustrating or not, Google is going local, and everyone who wants to stay on the market should follow in its footsteps. Mainly because they mirror the customer's trends, and the fact is that the whole society is going local. That's great news for you since local SEO is much easier, especially since it's so early in the game. Local SEO gives you unlimited access to better CTR, more clients, and better ranking with less competition. It's a dream come true when done correctly. All you need is a GMB account optimized efficiently, of course, a mobile-friendly website, a lot of customer reviews, being part of your community and not just mooching from it, and a few local backlinks.
If that sounds more complicated than we claim it to be, you better leave it to the professionals. The professionals, being us. As one of the top 10 Dallas search engine optimization agency we are fully capable of making your business local-friendly faster than you can say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Well, yes, it does take some effort after all.