There’s one major downside when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO): Any given keyword only provides space for 10 pages to rank on the first page of Google.
As a general rule, we’re not good at giving the second page a chance when searching, and only the top five results really get noticed. In fact, more than 67% of clicks go to the websites in these first five positions – despite the fact that there are thousands of websites below them.
When you realize just how much competition there is for those spots, it can be a bit disheartening for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The top rankings for popular search terms usually go to large companies or organizations, so it can seem impossible to compete in the world of SEO.
There’s one type of SEO, however, that small businesses can leverage for success: local SEO.
But what is local SEO, and does it matter for your small business?
What is Local SEO?
At its core, local SEO is just SEO—but it’s focused on a specific geographic area, using location data to give users local results.
Instead of trying to rank for industry keywords, businesses that go after local SEO target people in a specific geographic area.
Small businesses can often get better results using local SEO because they’re not competing with businesses all over the internet (and all over the world); they’re only competing with other businesses in the same area.
Local SEO gives searchers more relevant results because they’re shown options near where they’re searching. It’s become much more important over the last few years, thanks to changes in Google’s algorithm and changes in how we search.
For example, if you’re searching for a bike shop, Google can take your location into consideration, showing only bike shops that are within a few-mile radius.
This is extremely helpful for small businesses, as prior search results before local search would be overloaded with major corporations with a larger advertising budget than small businesses.
Should You Use Local SEO?
Local SEO isn’t a good fit for every small business. It works best for businesses that operate brick-and-mortar locations or serve a specific geographic area.
For example, if you run an e-commerce business, local SEO won’t help you much because your customers could be all over the country or the world – you’re better off focusing on global SEO.
If, however, you have a couple of retail locations and also sell merchandise online, local SEO could be helpful because driving foot traffic to your locations is key for your business’s success.
It takes a bit of effort to optimize your site for local SEO, so it’s important to evaluate your business carefully and see if it’s realistically worth investing in local SEO.
In addition, local SEO can be tricky for businesses that operate in multiple areas or internationally. It’s important to make sure your customers know where and how they can use your services.
In cases like these, it’s often better to focus on industry terms and stay away from emphasizing location and operating hours.
One reason local SEO has become more important for small businesses recently is how we now use and seek information.
The number of mobile devices in the average American household has jumped, and by 2022, it’s estimated that each family will have an average of 50 mobile devices, up from 10 in 2013.
We often use our phones to look up local businesses when we’re out, and local SEO is important in allowing us to find the most relevant results quickly.
If you have multiple locations, your customers will usually be directed to the location nearest to them, thanks to how many devices now use GPS location services.
Local SEO is a great way for small businesses to leverage the mobile boom and compete with larger retailers and service providers.
Tips for Getting Started With Local SEO
If you think local SEO could help your small business grow, how do you get started?
1. List Your Site on Online Directory Services
Your first step should be ensuring that you’re listed in as many online directories as possible, especially the most popular sites such as Google My Business (which can get you featured in searches and on Google Maps) and Yelp.
Of course, the reviews on these sites will affect the business you receive, so make sure to monitor these and respond to reviewers when necessary.
2. Optimize Your Site for Local Search
Next, you’ll want to make sure your site is optimized for local searches.
Use your title and meta descriptions as a mini advertisement to give more information about your business.
Source: CPR Media
If you focus on what’s important – making sure your business is visible and focusing on earning great reviews – local SEO could soon be bringing a lot more business to your door.
Maintain a Strong Local SEO Presence
Local SEO can be a great solution for small businesses that aren’t able to keep up with the SEO success of its industry’s biggest players.
Not every business is as well-suited to local SEO as others, but most companies with a physical location can use it to their advantage.
Maintaining a strong local SEO presence means keeping up with the new trends and inevitable changes to Google’s algorithms.
If you want to invest in local SEO, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by following best practices and staying on top of the reviewers who will help you stand out.
About the Author
Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.