We have seen a substantial rise in demand for local services and products throughout the global pandemic. So much so that the new buzzword in digital marketing is Local SEO.
Google’s statistics are mindblowing and solidify the seismic shift toward people now wanting to shop and support local businesses that were there for them during the lockdowns. This shift in sentiment is a global trend not specific to the US, UK, Aus, NZ or Canada, but also to many developing countries.
You will see autocue on your browser [available near me] appear when you search.
- ‘Available near me’ searches had increased 100% in 2021
- ‘Near me’ searches had increased by 200% in 2021
- ‘Along my route’ searches hit the 1,000%mark back in 2020
Local businesses thrive if they use a local SEO service that correctly structures their online presence. Every business owner that is not up-to-speed with this needs to first register with Google Business Profile and start getting discovered for your services and products locally.
Getting Noticed in your Local Area
Here are some search examples that a local SEO service would perform on your behalf:
There are variants depending on what you search for or wherefrom, so let’s look at searching for:
- ‘Florist Canberra’ you will get a set of results
- ‘Florist near me’ you will receive a different set of results
- ‘Florist open now’ you will get yet another set of results
Using real estate as an example, the physical location of your business determines where you will appear in the SERPs.
The map accompanying Google My Business is 4 x likelier to convert into business than through other digital marketing sources.
Reviews are now a ranking factor with Google, so encourage them throughout your site. Feedback is essential to know what you are doing right and wrong.
Local SEO is a form of marketing that ensures your business appears precisely where customers are looking.
You get to this point by optimising your website traffic and measuring the results through Google analytics.
Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Research: Analyse keywords, competitor data and historical data; your local SEO agency gains vital information on growth using these.
- Analytics: Once they have analysed what needs to be kept track of, they will use analytics to keep tweaking your local SEO to enhance your results.
- Code Review: This is where a local SEO company would start to look inside your website, looking for possible malfunctions holding your rankings back, such as lousy coding, repetitive content, broken links, plus more.
- Website Optimisation: Get the site optimised to Google’s standards, grow your domain authority and add more helpful content.
Google’s Local Push
Use Google Business Profile by clicking on the link above in the article and make sure it is constantly updated. You may have heard of Google My Business, it is exactly the same but Google renamed it in the 2021 updates.
You go ahead and claim your location from Google search and maps. You control your opening hours, location, and contact information, including social media platforms. Plus, these can be updated in real-time.
To use this facility properly, you must ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date and follow Google Business Profiles guidelines.
Google’s algorithm views local intent searches differently from standard searches and looks at different ranking factors.
When the search engine identifies a local search, the results will be predominantly local results and maps, plus what Google refers to as a ‘Local 3 Pack’. A Local 3 Pack is the three most likely candidates that match the user’s search intent. If you appear in Google’s pack, you will get much more traffic and higher conversion rates.
Choose your primary category for your Google Business Page wisely, as that influences your pack ranking more than anything else.
For platforms such as Yelp, Nextdoor, Open Table and many others, online reviews can be an extra sales force you are not paying for. As always, put yourself in the shoes of the potential buyer. If you see a 3-star rating across several hundred reviews, you will likely move on to the next business on the SERPs.
It’s estimated that in 2022 over 50% of users won’t use a business with a company with anything less than a 4-star rating.
In addition to this, online users are becoming as trusting of ratings and reviews online as they are with verbal recommendations.
So understand reviews matter. Even if you are using a local SEO service or SEO agency to conduct your campaign, you need to take control of your reviews.
You have a management account and can answer positive and negative reviews so the user can see you interact. Remember never to be negative about a negative review; two wrongs don’t make a right!
Show people you care. Be pragmatic, sympathise and offer solutions, maybe even a discount on another purchase. Also, thank people for positive reviews; that’s good too.
Also, your response times are rated and ranked online, so ensure you enable notifications for reviews, so you don’t leave it more than 24-hours before you reply.
Local SEO has taken off dramatically in the last two years. Internet usage is up from Google having 5.5 billion searches per day in 2019 to 8.7 billion per day in January 2022. NOW is the time to get yourself noticed, as many of your competitors will have already implemented it. With local SEO starting to get a large chunk of those searches, make sure they find you first; Good luck.