Search engine optimization is one of the most valuable tools in any business’ online marketing tool chest. Ironically, the businesses that need it the most often aren’t using it, thanks to common SEO myths. To be fair, SEO and local brick-and-mortar business is not a connection most business owners make, probably because SEO is often thought of as an online marketing tool only large e-commerce companies use. The truth is that search engine optimization, especially local SEO, is a match made in heaven for businesses that rely on local customers—and local website traffic.
The ‘What’ of Local SEO
To start, here’s a clear definition of SEO: search engine optimization is the process of creating a website optimal for search engines. SEO is always evolving with technology and user behavior, but right now there are three general basics of optimizing your website (find other ways here):
- Creating regular, quality, user-friendly content users want to read.
- Using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing strong, accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
- Optimizing your website with content focused around keyword phrases your customers search for—-and with information they want to read.
Those are the generalizations of basic SEO (you can find more information about SEO terminology here). Generally, think of local SEO with this scenario: your pipe has burst. Water is flooding your house, and you need a local plumber NOW. So you go to the modern phone book, a search engine. And what do you expect? A list of local plumbers that can fix your pipe so your house isn’t flooded, right? Local SEO optimizes a plumber’s website so his or her business website is at the top of the listings.
The ‘Why’ of Local SEO
Believe it or not, a beautiful, mobile, and user-friendly website is not enough. “There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works—though there are ways to drive traffic to and optimize your website naturally. Customers have a ton of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online. That’s where local SEO comes in. Local SEO can get you at the top of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization is a smart marketing strategy because online is where people today are looking for products, services and information (and don’t get us started on the effect of mobile devices on search traffic). Statistics back this trend up:
- 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore)
- 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011).
- 32% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a website (BrightLocal Local business websites survey, January 2014)
- 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011)
- 50% of mobile users are most likely to visit a business after conducting a local search, while 34% of consumers on tablets or computers will go to a store.
- 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
More and more, American consumers are looking to the internet to find local solutions and information. If you’re not online, you’re not on their radar. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s (shameless self promotion here)—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using keywords your audience searches for.
The ‘Proof’ of Local SEO
Search engine optimization technology is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses looking to attract local customers. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location, including a major metropolitan area. They also invested in content marketing to keep their site content updated and give their customers value, yielding long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions.
Another client, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. If you want to tap into that same local search engine technology to get results for your company, read our blog post about SEO terminology or see it in action.
How to choose a reliable local SEO provider
We’re not going to lie to you: there are a lot of SEO providers who make promises they can’t back up. Choose a quality local SEO provider that meet these criteria:
- Years of experience in technology. A good SEO company keeps up-to-date with information about search engine ranking signals, such as page loading speed, links, etc. SEO is always evolving, and a quality company isn’t stuck in yesterday’s technology.
- Doesn’t use seedy SEO tactics. If you hear words like, “cloaking” or “keyword stuffing,” alarm bells should go off in your head. Black hat SEO tactics can get your website penalized so stay away from any company that even suggests it.
- Can back their promises up. Because search engines are always striving to personalize search results, you can’t just go to your computer and see the results of your SEO efforts. Choose a company that can give you reports detailing your local SEO results.
- Make online marketing recommendations beyond your website. A good SEO company can make online marketing recommendations beyond your website, such as content marketing and social media marketing.
If you need any more information about local SEO, don’t be afraid to contact us. Local SEO is our focus, and we can answer any questions you might have.