If you are a business that’s invested in search engine optimization (SEO), you’re already ahead of the game and have seen the benefits it can bring. Your website has more traffic, more pages visited per session, more time spent on your website—All the other metrics that point to being highly optimized.
Now it’s time to take your web presence to a whole new level using one of the fastest-growing and most impactful types of digital marketing: local SEO. Why is local SEO important? Because while the basics of general SEO can help generate more website traffic, local SEO helps generate more calls, contacts, store visits, and sales.
Local SEO Is a Business’ Best Friend
General SEO is great for generating more awareness for your brand and your business online. It does this by making sure you appear at the top of search results whenever someone searches for a topic or keyword related to your business.
The problem is that general SEO will attract all website traffic, regardless of its geographic relevance for your business. If you write a great blog article that goes viral, a large chunk of the traffic will be from all around the world. It’s great to have, but that won’t lead to more sales for a local business.
That’s where local SEO comes in. Take an organic keyword related to your business and make it a localized keyword by adding the name of a city or region, or phrases like “near me”. These are the most valuable keywords for a local business because they’re being used by people who are in your area. People who are actively looking for a product or service that you sell.
So Why Is Local SEO Important?
Optimizing your business for local SEO allows you to promote your products and services to an audience of interested buyers—people who are close to your business and are actively searching for a product or service that you sell.
Let’s look at some specific reasons, backed by data.
Reason #1: People Are Using Local Keywords More Than Ever
There is a common fear among local businesses that online retailers are taking all or most of the potential business, but that’s not actually the case. 46% of all searches on Google are local searches, and the number of localized searches has grown by 900% over the past two years alone.
Think about it. If you just need or want something quickly, the fastest and easiest way is to go to a store near you and buy it there. If you order online, you have to wait for it to be shipped. There are also different kinds of products you might want to see or test out for yourself before buying — specific clothes, shoes, furniture, cars, and so on. Some things you can’t even order online.
Same thing for services. When you search for a restaurant, plumber, roofer, or any business you need to do something for you, you likely want one that’s in your area specifically so you know they’ll be able to help you.
That’s why 97% of searches online are done with the purpose of finding a local business (source: HubSpot).
Reason #2: Local Searches Lead to Sales.
So a lot of people are doing local searches to find businesses like yours that are close to them, but the real value of local SEO goes deeper than that. The truth is that local searches are coming from people who are very likely to lead to more sales for your business.
One study has shown that 78% of local searches on mobile devices result in the person making an offline purchase. According to another study, 88% of people who search for a local business on a smartphone will call or physically go to the store within 24 hours.
If you’ve ever looked for a local business near you through Google, think about your mindset. You were looking up local businesses close to you because you wanted something, and you were an active shopper.
As soon as you found a business that had what you wanted, you were going to their store or calling them to book an appointment for their service. That’s the power of local searches. They represent people who are actively shopping around for what your business is selling.
Reason #3: Local SEO Puts Your Business Front and Center
It’s great that so many people are searching online for a local business or that they’re very likely to turn into a sale, but if your business is not optimized for local searches none of it will do you any good. That’s where local SEO comes in.
If you can beat your competition and rank at the top of any relevant local search, you are making sure that people see your business first and foremost. That has a major impact on how much business you get from local searches.
Put yourself back in your local shopping shoes. When you search for a good restaurant or store near you, what makes you choose the business you wind up calling or visiting? The stats say you will mainly look at the top local results and compare their reviews and review scores.
44% of people who do a local search will click on one of the first three locations in the local 3-pack, while only 8% will click to load more local results. That means that most people will not look at any business beyond the top results, which highlights the importance of being at or at least among the top.
Once people are looking at the top three results, how do they choose between then? Some people might just click on the top result and go with them unless they don’t have what they’re looking for. A lot of people, however, will pick the top result that has the most reviews or the highest review score.
In fact, 95% of shoppers read reviews before they make a buying decision, while 88% of consumers trust online business reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.
Reason #4: Local SEO Will Give You A Competitive Edge
Digital marketing and SEO, in general, have become highly competitive, as more and more businesses are realizing its potential and trying to get an edge on their competition. However, local SEO is still something that a lot of businesses have yet to tap into.
That means it will not be that difficult to outrank your local competitors in local searches to get all of that business. In fact, only 44% of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing, which is one of the absolute first steps in any local SEO optimization checklist.
That’s why local SEO is so important for businesses. Local searches growing at a huge rate and leading to more sales. By focusing on optimizing your local SEO rankings you can gain a huge competitive edge in your market.
Make sure you thoroughly research the best practices and stay on top of the new trends to maintain that edge. Sources such as Moz, Bright Local, and HubSpot are great for reading informative blogs or even signing up for educational resources specifically on local SEO.