Local SEO is all over the place – and then it’s not. One minute it’s the flavor of the month, and the next, it seems like everybody has forgotten about it.
For that reason, you might be wondering:
Is local SEO still relevant?
The answer is a resounding YES – in fact, we’d argue that it’s more important than ever before. Let’s talk about why.
The State of Local SEO
Let’s start by reviewing some key statistics regarding local SEO. Here’s what you need to know:
- 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone – and 34% of those who search on a tablet – make a visit to a local business establishment in the next 24 hours.
- 18% of all mobile searches lead to a purchase within a day
- 93% of searches with local keywords return the coveted Google three-pack at the top of the search engine results page
- 60% of all adults use their mobile devices to research local businesses
These aren’t alternative facts – they’re the proof that local SEO still looms large for business.
What Happens If You Ignore Local SEO?
Maybe you’re not convinced. After all, optimizing your site for local search can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you need to hire someone to handle it for you.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you ignored local SEO? Here are some ways that it can hurt you.
- Inaccurate online listings, also known as NAP listings, can dilute your online presence and negatively impact your rank on Google.
- The lower your Google rank, the less organic traffic your website will get.
- You’ll likely miss out on a spot in the Google three-pack – which means your competitors will be there instead.
- Your competitors will get the lion’s share of traffic – and business.
In other words, skimping on local SEO can cost your business money and customers. Is that a risk you want to take?
Tips to Get Your Local SEO on Track
To avoid missing out on the benefits of local SEO, you’ve got to take the bull by the horns. You don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of time or money on local SEO, but you do have to make some effort.
With that in mind, here’s the best advice we can give you to help you get your local SEO to where it should be.
#1: Claim and Standardize Your Listings
We keep going on about this, but that’s because it’s important. Every time your business name and address appears online, the information must be A, accurate, and B, uniform.
Here’s why. Your NAP listings play a role in Google’s analysis of your company. Each time its robots see your business listing, they make a note of it. Even minute changes in your listing – such as an abbreviation in one place and a full word in another – dilutes your presence and can affect your rank.
#2: Include Local Terms in Tags and Descriptions
If we had a nickel for every time we saw a local business skip this step… we wouldn’t have to count nickels!
Tags and descriptions play an important role in telling Google (and the people who use it) who and where you are.
That’s why using your city and state (or other identifying local information, such as your service area) is essential.
When your company appears on Google’s SERP, users see your title and meta description. By including pertinent local information in both, you increase the chances that local users will click your link.
To make the best use of this tip, place the local information as close to the beginning of your tag and description as possible. That way, it won’t get cut off by Google.
#3: Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of mobile friendliness. As of 2015, mobile searches have outstripped desktop. You saw above that a huge percentage of local mobile searches result in store visits within one day.
If you’re not delivering a killer mobile performance for your customers, they you’re going to suffer the consequences. Your page needs to be optimized so it looks great on any mobile device from a tiny cell phone to a huge tablet.
Here are some other mobile optimization tips:
- Make sure content is in one column and can be read without scrolling horizontally
- Compress images as needed so they load quickly
- Make buttons large enough that users won’t hit them by mistake or be unable to hit them on the first try
You don’t want mobile users to abandon your site because they can’t use it, so don’t skip this step.
#4: Make the Most of Google My Business
No local business can afford to ignore Google My Business. Because of its association with Google, it can have a huge impact on your local SEO.
To get started, simply click the above link and verify your business. (You’ll have to wait to get a postcard in the mail.) Once it’s been verified, you can update your information, add photos and descriptions, and increase your profile on Google at the same time.
#5: Use Schema Markup
This last tip is the most technical of the bunch, but it can make a huge difference to your SEO.
Schema markup is code you add to your website. It provides Google with essential information about your business, including:
- Business hours
- Payment methods
There’s a huge list of things you can use Schema to highlight. You can find a complete run-down here. You don’t have to use Schema code for everything, but the things you want to highlight will appear on Google and help potential customers find you.
Local SEO Matters More Than Ever
Don’t let anybody fool you. No brick and mortar business can afford to ignore local SEO. It’s the bread and butter of online marketing. Failing to use it to your advantage can cost you time, money, and customers.