Local SEO: The Importance of Optimization Through Local Listings

If you've been neglecting your local SEO in favor of other marketing methods, we've got bad news: you're falling behind.

Don't believe it? Try this on for size: local searches lead 50 percent of mobile searchers to stores within a day.

If you're not rocking those listings, you're missing low-hanging fruit. But if you're new to the game, let's break down the basics.

What Is Local SEO?

First, let's cover the most basic of questions.

Local SEO is an increasingly important facet of digital marketing, in large part thanks to smartphone usage. Basically, it's the processes of optimizing your site for local search listings.

For example, let's say you searched "coffee near me". You'd get a list of results along with a map and pins with locations, reviews, and directions. You click on one, and that brings you to the Google listing with details.

That is local-level SEO at work. It's what allows customers in your neighborhood to find you at the push of a button.

How Is It Different from Regular SEO?

You might be wondering: how is it different from regular SEO?

Not as much as you might think.

Once upon a time, things (the Google algorithm) conspired to make it seem like the two types of SEO were as different as night and day. This was mostly due to the paid vs. organic dichotomy inherited from the PPC vs. SEO debate.

Lucky for you, the forces that be (specifically, Google's Pigeon update) helped close the gap between local and organic algorithms, bringing localized SEO into the fold.

Truth be told, local-level SEO tasks help boost your regular SEO ranking. So it isn't a question of whether you can fit it into your schedule - it's how you're going to fit it into your schedule.

How Important Are Local vs. Organic Listings?

Ultimately? It depends. Think of it this way.

In case you're a company that sells online to pretty much anyone, then you don't need to worry as much about your local rankings.

On the other hand, if you're an electrician based out of Nashville, then you need people in your specific area to know who you are and how to get in touch with you.

Remember: while they're similar in many ways, the key difference between local SEO and regular SEO is that local is location-based.

Why You Need Local SEO

Why do you need local-level SEO if you're already doing your regular SEO?

Because it does things that regular SEO just can't do.

The big thing to keep in mind here is location, location, location. It doesn't do you any good to attract visitors from Miami if your goal is to attract customers to your storefront in Omaha.

Let's break it down.

Targeted and Timely

Why do people do a local search?

To find a local business. Or to find a product or service in their neighborhood.

For you, this is a gold mine. Most searchers don't have a business in mind when they begin their hunt, which means your company has a fighting chance to impress them.

Local search tactics are what position you to take the lead. They're why you show up in local rankings and they're what allows you to show off what your business does best.

High Conversion Levels

Picture a local directory. Not the phone book -- we're talking Yelp and Foursquare.

What do you see when you look at a business page on Yelp?

Their name, address, contact information, business hours, and sometimes even extras like a menu or description.

Why do these listings matter?

Because they get more conversions than many traditional advertising channels.

A Chance to Stomp the Competition

Let's look at one directory in particular: Google My Business.

You know the box that shows up in Google when you type in a business name with all of their information, such as a website, phone number, operating hours, etc.?

That's part of Google My Business, which is a free directory service. First of all, you're going straight to the source itself (Google, king of all search engines) and second, most businesses aren't taking advantage of it.

In fact, only 44 percent of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing.

When you claim your listing and start using it to your advantage, you're leaving 66 percent of the competition in the dust.

First Steps

If you're not sure where to get started, the first steps of local SEO are simpler than you might think.

It all starts with claiming your business.

Claim Your Business Online

Remember: more than half of businesses haven't claimed their Google My Business listing. Don't be part of that half.

Like most search engines, Google will start by asking if you're already part of their index. There's a fair chance you're already in there, even if you didn't create a listing yourself. You can check if you're part of the index by typing in your business name or phone number.

From here, you should review all information and make sure it's correct. If you're claiming your listings, it's a good idea to do this all at once, because you want your information to be identical across listings.

Once this is completed, you'll go through the verification process, which usually involves one of three options:

  1. An email with a verification link
  2. A phone call, during which you'll verify a PIN
  3. Snail mail and PIN verification

How fast verification happens depends on the search engine. Some will have your listing active and claimed within a few days, while others are more thorough with their manual verification process.

Make the Most of Online Reviews

What's the best way to get a great review from your customers? Ask for one.

Two places to focus on are your Google My Business page and your Facebook page. Getting a range of quality reviews in a few places is better than a scattering of iffy reviews, so take your time with this one.

Let's Rock Your Local SEO

Ready to rock your local SEO? We're ready to help.

We took off thanks to the power of localized SEO. Now, we're here to help you build and maintain your web presence, including high-powered Adwords campaigns, custom web systems, and more.

For a closer look at what we offer, head to our services page. If you're ready to get started, contact us. We can't wait to hear from you!