If you’re a small business that’s already invested in digital marketing, you will be well aware of the benefits of SEO. However, it’s also become a highly competitive space as more and more businesses are investing time and money in marketing online.
Local SEO for small businesses is something that offers even greater potential for driving more business to your stores. It can be competitively vital for businesses to increase awareness, customers, and sales they can generate from their local area.
If you’re not convinced and think that you’re just fine sticking with what you’re doing now, read on to learn the 7 benefits of local SEO.
Importance of SEO for Small Businesses
First, it’s good to remember why SEO is so important for small businesses. Traditional marketing can be very expensive and offers a declining return on your investment. This is because digital marketing has exploded in use.
SEO allows you to generate a massive amount of awareness online as people search for words and topics related to your business. With that awareness, you can get them to visit your website and become a customer. All for very little investment in money required.
This can allow a small business to stay competitive among larger companies, especially in their local area. Here are some local SEO stats that show just how important it is to optimize your business for local searches:
- 97% of all online searches are from people trying to find a local business
- 88% of people searching for a local business will call or visit the business within 24 hours
- 58% of American adults have used voice search to find a local business
SEO is always changing, and it’s been changing for small, local businesses towards marketing specifically in one local area. People who are close to you and actively searching for your type of business represent a highly desirable group of people you want to find you.
Benefits of Local SEO for Small Businesses
With that reminder done, let’s look at the specific benefits that a small business can get from investing in local SEO.
#1 Attract More Potential Customers for Little Cost
Local SEO has so much potential for your small business mostly because of the audience it attracts — people who are close to your store, and who are actively searching for your type of business. That group of people is extremely likely to become a customer of your business.
Optimizing your website for local searches can be time-consuming, just like regular SEO, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you do it well and rank high in relevant local searches, you are putting your business right in front of those local audiences who are ready to buy.
That means a concerted local SEO campaign can lead to a huge return on investment. So think about all the cost and work that goes into planning and launching a newspaper, direct mail, or radio campaign, and ask yourself if that’s the best use of your time and resources.
#2 Improve Your Online Visibility
Converting customers is the main goal, but making people in your area aware that your business exists is also important. Think about all the times that you yourself search for a restaurant, hardware store, or dental clinic in your area. Now multiply that by the population of your area.
Whenever someone searches for your type of business in the area, you are putting your business name and information in front of their eyes — if you rank at the top, that is. Even if they don’t choose your business that time, they will be aware of you and might choose you in the future.
If you do it right, you can even put your small business on top of competitors that belong to large corporations. Throwing money or size around doesn’t get them any further than what you can do. That is the power of SEO for small businesses.
#3 Reach More People on Other Platforms
One of the great things about local SEO is that there are many avenues you can access beyond just Google. Websites or apps like Yelp, Yellowpages, Waze, TripAdvisor, and Apple Maps are all becoming increasingly-sophisticated local marketing platforms for businesses.
If there is a large retail chain near you that’s a competitor and dominates the rankings on Google, you can still turn to all of those other platforms. They might not individually be as large as Google, but altogether there are a lot of people using them to search for local businesses.
Yelp, Waze, and others also allow you to create ads and enhanced listings to generate even more customers and awareness. They can message you directly, or you can set up links that drive them to an appointment booking form, a menu, or your online store.
#4 Generate More Leads & Sales
If you put all of the above together, you can start seeing the potential for attracting customers to your small business. Because the audience you can reach is highly interested, and because you can get in front of so many customers, the potential you have to generate more business is massive.
A study by HubSpot found that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. You can check your own website’s performance in Google Analytics to know how many visits you get from organic and local search sources. You can also calculate the conversion rate.
You can also figure out, on average, how much a conversion is worth to your business. The amount will depend on what product or service you sell. From that you can start forecasting how much more traffic, conversions and sales you will get once you start ranking higher in local searches.
#5 Gain a Competitive Edge
While SEO and digital marketing have become much more competitive than even a few years ago, that’s not yet the case with local SEO. If your SEO efforts have plateaued despite all your efforts, you can look to local search to make up the difference.
One of the reasons for the low amount of competition has to do with the new and emerging technology that’s driving local SEO. Things like Google Maps, Waze, Yelp, online reviews and voice search are all relatively new and not as commonly used by small businesses.
However, that has been changing and changing fast. Google Maps isn’t just for directions, it also gives you tons of information and the opportunity to directly message or engage with a business. The same holds true for Yelp, Waze, and all those other platforms we mentioned above.
Voice search in particular is exploding in use thanks to the increased popularity for things like Amazon Echo or Google Home. People are using them, and voice searches on their smartphones, to ask for the nearest store that’s still open to go out for dinner.
A lot of your competitors have likely not have realized the potential that all of this new technology holds. If you get into the local SEO game before them, you will gain a major competitive edge while they’re playing catch-up.
#6 Increase Your Trustworthiness & Authority
One of the main strategies in a local SEO campaign is to create good quality and locally relevant content. It helps attract more of a local audience and tells search engines what your geographic focus is, which helps you appear in more searches in your area.
What the local content also does is help establish your business as trustworthy and authoritative to people in your area. When you get more people finding your website and your content for information, many of them will view you as a worthy source in that niche.
Another core strategy for local SEO is generating online reviews. Having a good amount of reviews and a good average review score is one of the main local rank factors. The reason why is because 97% of consumers surveyed said that reviews do influence their purchases.
People are more likely to choose your small business over a competitor if you have better reviews. Having a good score and a lot of reviews is another way to gain the trust of potential new customers that find you through a local search.
#7 Grow a Local Following
Social media is another part of local SEO, and not just to help you stay aware of local events, news, and trends. It also helps you engage with a local audience. If you do it well you can create a good-sized and loyal following.
This is true for other local SEO platforms. On Google Maps or Yelp you can search for a type of business, view their menu or services, send them a message within the platform, and even make a purchase or book an appointment.
People can ask questions about the business, answer questions or comments that another customer left, and write a review. That level of engagement can build on itself until you have established an entire local online community, which can be invaluable for your future marketing.
Get Local SEO Help for Small Business
Local SEO has the potential to be a great tool for small businesses. It allows them to not only be competitive in their area but to be ahead of their competition. From other small or medium-sized businesses to large corporations with locations in your market, you can use local SEO to stay on top of them all.
It helps generate more visibility online, more customers, more leads and sales, more engagement with prospective customers, more trust and authority, and so on. What’s more, local SEO is still growing fast and its reach will only get bigger.
If you want to know what you can do to get started for your small business, you can use our small business SEO checklist.