“Near Me” Searches: How Local SEO is transforming Small Business Marketing
“Is it going to rain today?”
I typed on Google as I got up early yesterday just to check whether taking my kid out today is a good idea or not!
Google told me it’s clear, and I planned my day accordingly.
For most of us, Google acts as a silent machinery powering our day to day tasks. Got to order a cake for my child’s birthday? “Bakeries near me.” Want to fill my car’s fuel tank while on my way to a meeting? “fuel stations near me.” The list is endless and so are the results.
For businesses, this statistic is a beacon indicating that it’s time to seize the opportunities. It’s time to go local on Google, or else, someone else steals the deal.
Take a look at this statistic for example:
If you are a car dealer or an apparel retailer in the US, and you are not present in the local searches, this is the magnitude of your missed opportunities, and it’s huge!
That was just two of the many industries. “Near me” searches are influencing businesses in every industry. Looking at the brighter side of the picture, they are a ticket for small businesses to outsmart the big boys in the town. The local nature of small businesses which used to be a drawback has been turned into an opportunity, thanks to Local SEO.
The Transition from Conventional Ways of Marketing to Local SEO
Small businesses rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing. While that still remains a powerful trigger, the rest of the efforts like newspaper listings, yellow pages, radio spots, pamphlets etc. can now be singularly applied to Local SEO.
In a time when 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online, it only makes sense to channelize your efforts towards online marketing instead of struggling to gain an audience offline. Of what use would your flashy LED sign board be if your customer has decided to go on a particular store he found online already?
With 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone ending up visiting a store within a day, Local SEO will not just improve your online visibility, but it will also guarantee an increase in footfall, especially when 20% to 25% of local organic traffic converts into a lead.
Creating a Robust Local SEO Strategy
From being visible in the 3-pack to building local links, let’s talk about it all.
1. Google My Business is Free
And if you still haven’t listed yourself in GMB, go do it right now.
Although 56% of local stores are yet to claim their local listing on Google, the competition is only going to get tougher, so you better start early.
This is the primary and the most important step in your quest towards Local SEO success and it also exposes you to the local 3 pack. Wonder what it is? Ever saw something like this appear in your searches when you searched for a local restaurant?
44% of people who performed a local search clicked on a local 3-pack listing, while only 8% chose to load “more local results.” Getting your business there should be your ultimate Local SEO goal and it’s only possible if you take care of the rest of points here too.
1. Optimize for local keywords
Terms like “footwear near me” and “physicians in San Diego” will do you more good than keywords like “buy footwear online.” Your choice of keywords defines the direction of your efforts, so choose them wisely. Once chosen, place them appropriately with the right density in the following texts of your website.
- Title tag
- Meta description
- H1 tag
- Body text
- URL structure
- Alt text on relevant images
Note: Make sure you have an SSL certificate to ensure your website is an https. It gives an indication to Google that your website is secure.
2. Build a presence across directories and citations
News Flash─ it’s free too. Getting your business listed correctly with a consistent NAP (name, address, and phone number) on top online business directories is as crucial as listing on Google my business. Take this as yellow page of yester years. People search for businesses on directories and your presence on them can give you an enormous exposure to an untapped audience.
Here are some of the top online business directories to eye on:
- Angie’s List
3. Make use of Schema Mark-up
Also known as structured data mark-up, Schema Markup is a code that is added to your website’s HTML to enable search bots to crawl your website and collect enough information about your business like your products, reviews, place of business etc.
With only 31.3% of websites using Schema Markup, there’s a high chance to make your website rank higher than your competitors.
While these are just some of the prerequisites to build a strong presence on local searches, there are more ways to establish search monopoly. A resilient Local SEO strategy including the tricks mentioned above along with the following can help your business outsmart competitors:
· Build Local Links on high authority sites.
· Get reviews from your customers.
· Have a Social Media strategy for local customers in place.
· Optimize your website for mobile users.
· Optimize your Maps and Contact page.
It’s important to be consistent with your SEO efforts to reap results that deliver real ROI. It is always best to have a dedicated person or team working on your SEO. If that sounds intimating to you, outsourcing is also an option, but it requires careful inspection of the SEO agency you plan to hire.
Local SEO is the only way ahead for local stores to rise above the noise, and “near me” searches open a floodgate of opportunities for small businesses to outfox the biggies in the industry. While the big shots can have a wider international presence, only you as a small business can have the human to human connection with your localites.