Why local search is the best marketing option for your business?
It all started in the year 2010. This year marked the beginning when Google actually started playing its hidden cards and continued to surprise the webmasters.
April 2010 was the era of sudden surprises given by Google. Let’s have a quick go through of each of them on a year wise basis:
Google Places Update With this update Google’s Business Centre became “Google Places”. The update included a way of integrating Places pages more effectively with local search results along with some additional features like providing customized QR codes, business photography etc.
The year 2012 saw 3 back to back updates. The first one was the Venice Update which further tightened the screw to organic local search results. Now every keyword query returned with results based on location which had never happened before. Then was the March 50-Pack included amongst other updates, better handling of navigational and local intent queries. August 65-Pack included similar changes in quality of local searches.
2014 was a major blow to the local SEO world. Google shook the industry with the Google Pigeon Update . This update along with the Google Pigeon Expands Update altogether changed the algorithm of local search results.
If these reasons still won’t convince you about the relevance of local search results, I have some more that might interest you:
1. CUSTOMERS PREFER LOCAL RESULTS MORE THAN NATIONAL CHAIN RESULTS:
Let’s just talk numbers here
These findings are based on the survey conducted by Yodle which said that
82% of the U.S. Consumers reported that they used local business results in the last year and in the overall picture, Local business accounted for 56% of total business and national chain results were 44%.
The picture below justifies our explanation:
It clearly shows that customers prefer local businesses in terms of every service, may it be personalizing service, delivering quality work or any other.
And it’s logical and practical too. I mean would you not prefer direct information (in the form of phone numbers, reviews, address etc) right in front of your face or would you like to drill down the URLs and then struggle to find the right place and the right price for you?
The above results are of “Hotels in Manchester”. To understand customers, you need to get into their shoes and then think.
Supposedly you are in Manchester and you urgently need to book a hotel. You open Google and type in your query and the following results shows up. What would you prefer to click on? These local listings are showing the options of hotels along with their prices, address and reviews. This information may directly speed up the customer’s decision making and analysis (probably on the basis of price) process. I guess now you would be able to understand the importance of local listings in a better way. The same example can be extended if you need to book a table for dinner and you have the phone numbers right in front of your face. I mean, just saying, when was the last time you Googled restaurants instead of just “Yelp-ing” it?
2.EVERY KIND OF BUSINESS CATEGORY IS AFFECTED BY IT:
Google spares no one. NO ONE! It has been constantly working towards improving the user experience each time the customers come back. This is the reason why Google is working on localizing, actually speaking hyper- localizing its search results. The “near me” queries are enormously increasing which is affecting almost every business categories you can think of. So if you are not cited on local listings or Google+, you stand a very good chance of losing on customers. Like in the above section, it has been mentioned that local businesses have a more competitive edge over the already established “big brands” (in the eyes of customers) so increasing your online local visibility could do wonders for your business.
Think of the weirdest of all examples- DOG WALKERS IN CHICAGO
Even the business of Dog walkers is affected. Could it get any worse?
Well, i have another good example for you
KITCHEN REMODELING LOS ANGELES CA
Customers use delivery quality as the basis for evaluating a business so, it is high time that you accept that even your business is affected or you can say, a victim to this and start working on increasing your online local visibility.
3. YOU DON’T EVEN NEED A WEBSITE FOR THAT:
Yes you heard that right. Even if you are just a Mom and Pop Store or to be more precise a Brick and Mortar store with no website, you can still figure out a way to reach out to your customers who might be looking for you online. You just need to look out for the good local directories and create your profile at all these respective places with consistent NAPs (Name, Address and Phone Numbers). Providing photos, directions, prices (if applies) would always be a plus point. This way you can even save the costs associated with building as well as maintaining the websites.
To top that, getting listed on them is free of cost.
Below are some of the suggestions where you could get yourself listed for free
So the bottom line is that even if you have no website, you can still build up your online presence by getting cited on local listings and directories at free of cost.
4. INCREASES THE OUTREACH FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS:
You need to understand that Local SEO is not about being on Google but being present at every possible place, the customer might be looking for you. The example below will justify this explanation
When you search for a hotel in California, the following result comes up:
The box in red shows the local listings. This is the place where you really need to be in order to earn the prospective customer. Let’s dissect the result page a bit
The above screenshot shows what websites appear just below the local listings. If you take a closer look at them (as i have marked the boxes in red), the first website is tripadvisor.com. The second is hotels.com. Then comes expedia.com. All these websites are local directories, so if you want your business to be noticed in the marketplace, you need to be cited here too. This leaves you no option but to start optimizing your website for localised and hyper-localized results because if the customers don’t find their results in the local listings, they will go for directories (Which is often preferred more than the local listing results sometimes)
5. SOCIAL MEDIA AND LOCAL RESULTS:
Fortunately or unfortunately, not many people are aware of it. Social media can help boost up your online presence. The local directories provide the users with the option of linking their accounts (while writing reviews) with their social media profiles so every time a good review for your business is written, the same is notified in the respective social media platform as well.
Secondly, these local listing directories have now become a platform for social media engagement. Below is a screenshot from yelp
As you can see in the screenshot- Find friends, Messages and Talk has been highlighted in yellow which provide a platform for people to interact amongst each other.
Similar example can be cited for Foursquare, which was basically designed as a social media platform but is now mainly used for the purpose of getting local search results
source: Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foursquare)
Niche Specific Citation VS General Directory Citation
Given the idea that how Local SEO is beneficial and how it could help your business grow, once you start building your business citations you come across websites which list all kinds of businesses, and some websites that enlist businesses of single or a limited category. For example, a lawyer won’t build up a citation at OpenTable, but would do at FindLaw. The tough part however, is to find out what places you can have niche specific citations.
The citation finding process has been simplified by tools like Yext, BrightLocal, LocalRankwatch, GeoRanker out of which, you can find niche specific citations using LocalRankWatch. These niche specific citations are strong and dominant even for Google as they are more visited by users who are trying to find a business that serves their need. Building up your citations at your niche specific citations is as important as building up your business citations at websites like Foursquare Yelp and others.