Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a procedure for optimizing your website to help it display more prominently in the local search results pages on Google and the other major search engines.
Local ranking might not be overly important for large national and international companies, but if your company has a local address and must attract customers to that address, then an effective local SEO strategy is absolutely essential for your business. To be clear, we are referring to organic search results, as is the non-paid search results. Organic SEO is not to be confused with the pay-per-click advertising, which is always on the right side of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), and most often at the very top of the search result pages. Pay-per-click or PPC ads are marked as ads or sponsored, usually in small print.
If you’re a dentist, plumber, car dealer, auto body shop, or any number small businesses that depend on a steady flow of local customers calling or walking through the front door, your business listing and website must appear at or near the top of local search results. Let’s take a look at how local SEO impacts your business, and how you can take control.
How Does Local SEO Benefit Your Business?
Local businesses are displayed for local search for U.S. cities and towns. Typically, there are ten first page listings for every type of local business. That’s ten hair salons, ten auto body shops, ten dentists, etc. Sure, some areas have less than ten, and others have more, but on average, most customer get dozens of local business listing result choices. These days, Google and the other search engines are displaying more local results. Yet, they are not only displaying your local competitors, but also competitors from the region.
Small local businesses must continue to work hard to get a good ranking on local search results. What’s great news is that the search engines can automatically detect the physical location of searchers are when they search, even if they don’t specifically type in the name of their city or town. For example, if someone in your geographic area searches for “dentist” without adding a location, the search results will include a list of local dentists. Your business listing and website may even be somewhere buried in those results. What’s not such great news is that getting to the top of local results won’t just happen automatically.
In fact, without a local SEO strategy in place, it’s highly unlikely you will appear on, or even near, the first page – and if your competitors ARE working on their local SEO, they are more likely to get those new customers instead of you. What’s at stake? If you own and operate a business without a local SEO plan, don’t expect to be popping up on the first page of Google for prime keywords. Without taking local SEO action, your business will only continue to be lost in the shuffle of page results. With the increasing trend of localized search results, combined with everyone searching before they buy, your lack of online visibility will eventually lead to a loss of potential business.
By the time you see your business volume dropping off it could be too late to salvage the situation. If your business has a local address and needs local customers, you must optimize for local search results.