Businesses need to optimize their websites to rank well on search engines. However, for businesses that target markets in particular regions, local search optimization is even more important.
The rise of mobile search has made local search even more important. According to a ComScore report, 20 percent of people who search anything online have a local intent. This means they are looking for businesses that are in a particular ZIP code, city, state, neighborhood, etc. Microsoft indicates that more than 50 percent of mobile search behavior is local. But does local search matter for your business?
When users type various key terms on search engines to get information, Google and other search engines try to provide the most relevant results to the users. Therefore, the results shown to various users for the same key term searched may vary based on location. For instance, a user searching for hairdressers in Denver, Colorado may not see the same results that a user in Boulder, Colorado will get even though both may have searched the exact keyword phrase.
If you are targeting a market is a well defined region, you should optimize your website to rank well in local search to get targeted traffic from leads that are in market and likely to buy. If you are operating a laundry business in your neighborhood, you don’t have to compete with other laundry marts serving the whole city. The more laser targeted your market is, the greater the chances of getting qualified leads that will convert.
To optimize your website for local search, you should use your state, ZIP code, city or neighborhood together with your key terms. For example, garage owners in Denver can optimize their websites to rank for keywords such as “garage Denver” “auto mechanic Denver” and other related terms. Including the city term in the main key phrase will improve the chances of your site being ranked high on when users in your geographic region search for your services.
Apart from using location specific keywords in your website, there are other steps you need to take to take full advantage of local search. These include:
1. Set up local profiles
Claim and optimize your business profile on major local search engines and directories. There are at least 50 directories that you should consider, but for example, you should get your business on YellowPages website, Google Places, Yelp, Angies List and so on. Include as much information as possible on your profile. Use the same company information across all local web properties; this will improve your credibility among search engines.
2. Encourage customer reviews
Consumers buy from those that they trust. Studies show that consumers first research businesses before they buy from them. The best endorsement you can get is from your satisfied customers. Encourage customers to rate your products or services on local sites like Google Plus Local and Yelp.
Consumer reviews improve click through rates and lead to better conversions. User generated content also helps in local search engine rankings and validates your business as genuine and trusted.
3. Include photos and videos
Use visuals such as photos and videos on your profile. This will not only make your profile more appealing, but can influence where your website appears on local search results. Google has started showing photos in local search results; use this to your advantage.
Visuals also help to drive conversions and act as an online storefront for your business. Product or service demonstrations and customer testimonials can help drive conversions.
Local search offers businesses a way to reach targeted customers in a defined geographic region. Mom-and-pop stores and businesses with regional consumers should take advantage of local search to drive targeted traffic and leads to their websites.