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According to Google, nearly 1/3rd of all mobile searches are related to location (as of 2016 data). Most local search terms tend to be along the lines of “restaurants near me” or “restaurants in the Heights” for example, indicating most likely the searcher is planning where to eat soon or has an immediate need. Sending the right signals to clients, prospects and search engines is crucial to connecting with people at the right time.
These statistics from Google make it clear that local SEO should be taken seriously.
- 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer did the same.
- Local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches. 18 percent of local searches on smartphone lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7 percent of non-local searches.
Building links, page optimizations and content writing should all be focused on localized intent, so that it’s clear to site visitors that they have found what they are looking for and that it matches up with their geographical location.
Don’t Be That Guy!
Be sure that all published business contact information includes the same information so there isn’t any conflicting information to help search engines provide searchers with the most accurate information. Imagine how frustrating it is to arrive at a location where the business has moved. Would patrons want to do business with a company that didn’t take the time to update their address?
Verify that the business name, logos, phone numbers, addresses and descriptions match throughout websites, social media profiles, business directory listings, review sites and especially Google My Business. Don’t overlook Chambers of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and the Yellow Pages. This is one of those times where it’s a good idea to Google the business and the leadership.
How Does Local SEO Benefit the Business?
Local search engine optimization (SEO) works best for brick-and-mortar businesses whose primary focus involves working directly with people. For instance, consider a visitor to a new city with a little time between meetings? If hungry, they’ll likely rely on a smartphone to search for restaurants very near to their current location.
Lawyers and Law Firms
Optimizing for localized search results has great benefits for attorneys. For example, when searching for “probate attorney” on a smartphone, Google displays the top three ads followed by a map showing probate attorneys near my location on a map. The buttons below the map allow filtering by distance, whether the business is open now, top rated and sort by distance.
Below the map and buttons, a paid ad is shown with organic search results below the paid ad. Each listing contains the business name, distance from the current address, address and whether the law firm is open, closing soon or closed. Notice the blue phone icon with the word “CALL” to the right of each listing? That icon is automatically included by Google and it’s linked to the business phone number. Law firms that have done a great job optimizing for local searchers will achieve a top listing that makes contacting them literally a click away.
Medical Professionals, Plumbers and Restaurants
Any business with a physical location that deals directly with customers can benefit greatly from optimizing for local searches. Beyond the basic business listings, local search optimization can help visitors choose one business over another.
- People looking for a new doctor or dentist might search for one nearby, who is open now and accepts walk-ins.
- A person who is working on a home remodeling project might need the help of a plumber to reroute some pipes for example.
- Someone who is in an unfamiliar with a particular city may want to order takeout food on the way back to the hotel.
There are countless scenarios where someone may search for a product or service that is available locally. We’ll explore more of these in future articles.
Keyword research for general and local SEO is basically the same for both; however, local SEO brings with it the localized component, allowing you to be more specific when targeting your ideal customer base. Here are five examples of phrases people might search for related to Mediterranean food in Houston.
- Mediterranean food Houston Westheimer
- Mediterranean food Houston Heights
- Mediterranean food Houston tunnels
- Mediterranean food Houston catering
- Mediterranean food Houston Galleria
Don’t forget to optimize for zip codes as well. Some clients came to us specifically in need of a professional writer, graphic designer, PR specialist or web designer close to them. For these clients, it was very important to offer convenient meeting locations and times. Working with a local franchisee has led to us working with other franchisees across the country. Some of these clients have moved businesses to other states and still rely on the same marketing agency because of the relationship built.
Google’s Local Packs
The Local Packs display at the top of search results when a visitor searches for location-specific information such as “Thai food Houston”. Google wants to show more truly local businesses in each part of a local search engine results page, making it easier to compete with large directories such as Yelp by building content, links and reviews. The goal is always to provide highly relevant and useful information to searchers, so be sure to include as much high-quality information as each business listing service allows.
This is a rapidly growing area as smartphones, Amazon Echo and Google Home devices get smarter. Typing “Mediterranean food near me” is literally easier said than done. With voice searches, people tend to be more specific and descriptive when talking to devices. They might say “Alexa, where’s the best Mediterranean food that is mid-priced and near me?”, but when it comes to typing they might enter “Mediterranean food near me”. This area of search optimization is evolving rapidly as the artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that power them become more advanced. Upcoming articles will focus on optimizing for specific devices, so be sure to stay tuned.
In the next article in this series, the focus will be on one industry and show examples of good local SEO practices. In the meantime, explore the Additional Resources list below to get a jumpstart on the competition.