Do you really need local SEO? Believe it or not, most American small businesses don’t have a website. However, 2014 is officially the year we went mobile—more people are hunched over mobile devices than desktop PCs. The idea of the “small business” has changed. It’s no longer just relegated to mom and pop shops, local diners or neighborhood boutiques. Even small businesses are happy to ship internationally, so their market can extend from Utah to Uzbekistan. That’s great news for growing their business, but there’s a big issue: They’re overlooking the real estate that’s right outside.
It doesn’t matter if your small business is a brick and mortar establishment or not. With national or global marketing at the helm, it’s making more and more small business owners get geo-target blindness. When you cater to local interests, you have an innate advantage: People like to support local establishments. They like to shop local. And if you do have a brick and mortar setup (even if you ship globally), you need to spend time coddling your storefront best practices.
How can you do this? With local SEO (LSEO).
I am Small Business, Hear Me Roar
It’s not just your neighbors who want to see clear evidence you exist—the big search engines like Google and Bing want to see it, too. If you offer LSEO, search engines will give you extra points because you’re helping match local consumers with what they want. Search engines and SEO (or LSEO) algorithms aren’t out to get you. The point is to best connect people who are searching on Google (or any other search engine) with the best results. When you optimize locally, you’re making that process easier. Why would someone Googling “live edge dining tables” want to get directed to a site in London when they live in Napa Valley?
LSEO also helps you make the most of your time and optimize content marketing. A lot of small businesses waste time trying to optimize their content for search visibility. Catch a break and aim for readability via local demographics. You can blog about local news pieces that complement your business, post about local events in your field, and stop worrying about semantics, connectivity, or keyword co-occurrence. Basically, you can write organically—and that’s what search engines want to see (as do your customers).
Improve Your Rep
Every website needs to prove its validity. This is done with transparency (and having contact information that’s easy to find), testimonials—and address verification that’s done via mapping. It’s one of the best reasons to embrace local instead of having tunnel vision for worldwide optimization. If you’re a salon, spa, oil change specialist, or other truly local business, chances are customers might give you a call to make an appointment after finding you online. Plus, nobody’s going to drive 400 miles for a massage, so a local approach just makes sense.
Also remember that since we’re in the thick of a mobile-ready world, localization helps to naturally grow your business. The tech giants (hello, Apple) take note of permission-based locations when users are on their mobile devices. This means someone who’s driving through your hometown and gets a craving for Philly cheesesteaks is going to search on their phone for “Philly cheesesteak Tampa” (or wherever you’re located). If you’ve done LSEO targeting, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting to the first page of search results—and that hungry passerby gets the feel-good rush of supporting a local business. Just wait for the great review to roll in.
LSEO is a win-win for everyone, from you to the consumer. Why wouldn’t you pursue it?