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A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO: What It Is & Why You Need It

If you have a local business, there are essentially two things you need to do to be successful:

  1. Make sure people in your local area know about you and/or can find you easily, and
  2. Serve your local community so well they will return to you again and/or tell their friends and family about you.

The second part of that equation should be something you build into your business so you and your team can wow your ideal clients every time you work with them. The former, however, can be much more difficult. The days of listing yourself in the yellow pages and waiting for the phone to ring are long gone. Today, everything is online, and so you need to ensure your business shows up when people in your local area search for what you offer. This is where local SEO comes into play.

What is Local SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, which describes the process of making changes and using best practices on your website to get your site to show up as high up on the search engine rankings as possible. Local SEO simply means the focus is on optimising so your site shows up for the 46% of searches on Google that have local intent.

There are many aspects that go into local SEO, many of which we’ll cover later in this article. At its simplest local SEO means you’ll target a keyword like, “Croydon plumber,” instead of just “plumber.” Local SEO allows you to be the big fish in a small pond, instead of competing on a national and even international stage before you’re established.

Why is Local SEO Important?

Imagine this scenario: you’ve just moved to a new area, and you decide to head out to the local supermarket. When you get to your car, you see you have a flat tyre, and you don’t have a spare. Fortunately, you can take your partner’s car, so you put your car on a jack and take off the wheel so you can drop it somewhere to get the tyre repaired or replaced.

You don’t know where to go, so you grab your phone and Google, “tyre repair [town name].” You look at the results on the first page, see the first result has good reviews, are open, and are not far from your route to the supermarket, so you head over there and drop your tyre off.

The company at the top of the page got your business. If they had been closed, the businesses lower down the page would have had your consideration. As far as you’re concerned, any business that doesn’t show up on those results doesn’t exist.

If You Aren’t on the First Pages, You Won’t Get Considered

That’s why local SEO is so important. Our real world has an ever-increasing reliance on the digital world, especially after the pandemic, so if you don’t have an easy-to-find presence there, you’ll struggle to find customers.

You’ll Lose Customers to the Competition

76% of consumers that make a local search are looking to visit a store that day – so if you’re not showing up on the first page, you’re going to miss out.

It’s also important to make sure that the information online is detailed and up-to-date. If a potential customer has any doubts about your opening times, you can’t trust them to call or message you to see if you’re open. They may simply decide to go to a competitor or wait a few days and order online instead.

In today’s market, you often need to provide the most immediate and convenient option for customers, otherwise they’ll simply order what they want elsewhere.

It’s Much Easier to Rank Locally Than Nationally

Local SEO isn’t just important for businesses who solely serve the local community – it’s also important for those who want to serve a national customer base. The problem if you want to target a national audience is, you’ll suddenly be competing with hundreds of other businesses for those first few slots on the search results.

When you focus on local SEO, you can increase your local customer base and start establishing your SEO so you can then go on to tackle bigger, more competitive keywords in the future.

What Should You Focus on to Rank Locally?

While general SEO and local SEO share many of the same principles, local SEO includes added findability through the “local pack” or “map pack.” You will have noticed that when you search for a local business on search engines, the map appears to show local businesses that may be applicable for your keywords. On Google, this is called Google My Business, and it allows you to list your business as a local business so you can appear on the map.

This listing can be optimised so you appear high on the list, and offer potential customers more information, such as:

  • your opening times
  • reviews
  • button to call you
  • information to get directions (Google maps)
  • button to redirect to your website
  • book an appointment
  • request a quote
  • send a message
  • and more.

This means that optimising your Google My Business is just as important (if not more so) as optimising your website.

You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of encouraging your customers to leave reviews for your business, especially on your Google My Business page. 85% of customers trust online reviews just as much as they would hearing the words from a friend, so it’s important to have at least a few. If a customer compares your business to another, a large number of positive reviews will often encourage them to travel further to you over a closer business with little-to-no reviews.

Local SEO provides an exciting opportunity for local and national businesses to see great results quickly from their SEO efforts, especially in smaller areas or underserved communities. While general SEO efforts usually take 9-12 months to see good results, local can be much faster, but that doesn’t mean it takes any less time to implement. If anything, you have even more to do, and that is often overwhelming for small business owners juggling marketing, serving their clients, admin, and all the other tasks that go into establishing and growing a small business.

A solid SEO strategy will ensure you have a steady stream of new leads while you focus on growing your business. If you know you simply don’t have the time to learn how to do SEO and implement it on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, don’t worry – we’re here to help. We make SEO accessible so you can build up your site’s authority so it continues to generate traffic and leads for you month after month. If you’re thinking of going the DIY route or want to learn more, you can find essential resources on our blog. Alternatively, to find out how we can support you with your SEO, get in touch via the form below. We offer different levels of service to suit all businesses.

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