The short answer is yes, but here’s a quick bullet list of why it’s important. Then we can dive straight into each topic.
- Your local customers need to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and accurately when they search.
- The search engines like Google want to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.
- Your competition isn’t paying attention. This can be a ’secret sauce’ if you take advantage of it.
- Location + a question is one major way Google and other search engines identify the best answers to show people asking them for answers.
Now that you know local SEO is important for small local business websites, hopefully like your own, we can get into the why and the what to do areas for your local business website.
Let’s first define SEO, or search engine optimization, as it relates to local businesses. You are a business in a physical location that sells to local customers, B2B or B2C doesn’t matter. Your primary customer base lives in or operates out of your state, city, town, or zip code.
So, local SEO can be thought of in these terms:
- website content written specifically for a location centric audience that has needs your business fulfills
- keywords relevant to both the problems you solve or solutions you provide
- valuable information on problems & solutions that are MOST relevant to your local area and local customers
That’s a quick breakdown for the everyday ordinary local business owner. If that doesn’t quite make sense to you, here’s an example…
A real world local business SEO example
You own a hardware store in Phoenix, AZ, specifically the area known as Arcadia. The majority of your customers live within the Arcadia area of Phoenix and mostly come to you when they need home improvement or lawn care solutions.
As a way to help more local customers find your hardware store online, you could focus your attention on the areas of home improvement and lawn care, targeted specifically to Arcadia residents by using location data, local topics, common problems, etc. These types of specific content topics are perfect for anyone serving a local audience with their business.
The above example should give you a pretty good idea of what local SEO is and how you can use it to your advantage for your local, physical brick and mortar business.
Your local customers need answers quickly and accurately
Your local customers need to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and accurately when they search. That’s what they tell us, that’s what Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines want to provide, and that’s what we need to get better at doing!
The internet has been looked over and seen as a fad by brick and mortar business owners for far too long. Instead, and if this sounds like you keep reading, they focus on a quick burst of customers by jumping straight into advertising… right??
Like you, nearly all of our clients get approached by Yelp, someone doing Facebook ads, and others offering to run ads on Google. Let’s get one thing straight here. I believe 100% in direct response advertising and running ads on the internet.
There is no animosity towards paying to acquire customers. It’s the quickest way to make a dent and see progress.
That said, stop playing the short game. Local business owners like you and me have thrived or fallen in the past due to one thing, reputation. You don’t build a reputation overnight.
As such, running ads alone will never make your business thrive day in and day out! When you start thinking about the long game, SEO is a perfect fit.
There are a few reasons for that, so let’s dive into them.
Local SEO takes time.
Plain and simple, this is not a “do this, then immediate result” focus area. Unlike putting $1 into an advertisement and getting $2 out immediately, search engine optimization is more like putting $1 in and over the next 6 – 12 months you’ll see a steady increase in return on your investment… hence, the long game.
Now, that $1 investment into SEO could easily net you $12,000 in returns over that 6-12 month period. However, instant and immediate gratification equals 0. This is why so many people look past SEO as a viable option for growth for their local business.
It’s just not fast enough.
Next is the element of, “I don’t know how to do SEO… do I have to hire someone to do it?” This coupled with the long term investment style above really puts a lot of business owners off the idea.
There are, of course, programs that teach local SEO.
There are tools that cost $99 – $999 per month that can help you do this.
And, yes, there are even professionals (not unlike Get Quirked!) that can be hired to run these local SEO programs for you so you can focus on running the business and making all these new customers happy.
One thing we need to be clear on is this… paying someone to give you back your time AND deliver on their promises is a necessity for every business owner. You cannot do all the work, all the time and expect to be successful.
Ok, so now that we are all on the same page let us get back to the Local SEO.
Local SEO is crucial to helping your customers find you online, trust that the business information they find is accurate and up-to-date, and getting people to contact you by phone, your website, and getting directions to visit your business.
Search engines want to provide the most accurate & up-to-date information possible.
Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and more have made it their mission to scour the internet on our behalf. The catalog and store as much information as they can and they LOVE it all.
We’ve covered a bit of why they want it, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Local searches are more impactful for users of search engines because they provide clear and distinct boundaries of results the search engine should be providing.
When a user of Google types in, “Mexican restaurant”, that user might see all the Mexican restaurants in a 50 mile radius plus recipes for cooking Mexican food plus videos about Mexican food and so on.
Seems a little ridiculous, but with only the 2 words “Mexican” and “restaurant”, Google is doing its best.
Now, if we add some geographic parameters to that same search, Google will have an easier time of providing search results that match the users intent mo-bettah. “Mexican restaurant Phoenix Arizona”, will return results that match our intent more closely! This is one form of local search that every local business owner needs to be paying attention to and building for.
The intent behind “Mexican restaurant” is a little vague. Some things Google or another search engine can infer from this users search might be location, time of day, restaurant ratings and reviews just to name a few… these might be good things for it to consider.
The intent behind “Mexican restaurant Phoenix Arizona” is much more clear. The user wanted to see the Mexican restaurants in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Google doesn’t have to guess what the user wanted.
When we think about this from a local business information standpoint, all we have to do is reverse engineer this strategy and provide Google and other search engines with the best information possible for searches like these.
Your competition isn’t paying attention
Likely, your competition isn’t paying attention too much to the internet.
This can be your ’secret sauce’ if you take advantage of it.
So how do you get the most out of the internet without taking all your time to do it?
It’s really simple to get started.
Step 1: Make sure your local business is listed correctly with the top, most used places for local search
- Yahoo Local
- Yellow Pages
Step 2: Put a monthly update plan in place for those top sites that allow “posts” and updates.
Google, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook all allow you to “post” to your business profile and share updates with anyone searching. Use this to your advantage.
What did we say about new, relevant, and accurate?
Got a new menu for your restaurant? Share it and make sure each listing has it.
Holding an event? Share it and make sure people know all the details.
If you’re one of those people that just want the bullets, here’s they are again:
Follow these steps and you’ll be golden:
- Local customers need to find what they’re searching for quickly and accurately when they search.
- Google and other search engines want to provide the most accurate and recent information possible.
- Your competition is likely ignoring the internet, use this to your advantage.
- Location + a question is one major way Google and other search engines can provide the best answers to users asking them for answers.
If you’re interested in getting help with your digital marketing efforts for your local business, apply to work with Get Quirked! today.