What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation is the act of making a business more attractive to search engines so that it will appear at the top of search results. It sets up a business to be found by those who matter most: potential customers.
- Top 10 Reasons Local Businesses Need SEO
Top 10 Reasons Local Businesses Need SEO
1. Trustworthy and popular business- It’s what customers want
Everyone wants to be popular. It’s a sign that you’re doing something right, or have something valuable to offer! The best way for a local business to have large-scale success and become popular is to first thrive in its local area.
That leads us to an important fact: 53% of online traffic comes from organic search. This means that over half of your business’ online traffic comes from real people who are preparing or ready to buy your products and services! You need your business to rank well on search engines (especially Google, the most popular one) in order to consistently be found online by those customers and get more traffic.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the act of making a business more trustworthy to search engines so that it will appear at the top of search results. Directories can play a crucial role in helping your business be found, but we’ll talk more about this later.
Reliable repeat customers usually come from your own neighborhood, and they are your first step in supporting your business. Why? Because “repeat customers have a 60-70% chance of making another purchase on a future visit”. In other words, it’s the customers you already have who are going to give you the best chance of making sales before growing your business.
In the physical world, regular customers also see who is coming to you and can see how you care for your business. They might refer friends, family, or clients to your business, making your customer base grow organically. People tend to trust word of mouth, and you can have that same type of attention drummed up online.
Your online presence is an extension of how your business operates in the real world. With SEO you can show potential customers who haven’t had the chance to meet you yet that your business is organized and well-maintained. Consistently showing up in a customer’s search proves to them that your business is relevant, trustworthy, and popular enough for Google to promote!
Customers are smart - they know that only a successful business will be suggested to them by their favorite search engine.
2. Be what Google wants
Specific online qualities and attributes cause Google and other search engines to determine which businesses and domains should be shown to people first in search results. A good SEO strategy builds those qualities into a business’ online presence, making it more attractive to search engines. What search engines find appealing, search engines promote.
For example, a business with a consistently formatted phone number on its website, blog, and social media will probably rank better than a business whose phone number is written differently in every place it appears.
There are tons of qualities that Google looks through to rank a business, and SEO helps to determine which ones your business needs to focus on to achieve search success. Once a business ranks well and appears in those top search results, it is found by customers. From there, it’s the game of odds: The more people who see your business, the more likely it is that many of them will be interested and click.
Did you know?
Search engines can also penalize you for breaking SEO rules. This could lower your business’ online visibility and have other negative effects on your business.
Not only does ‘optimisation’ mean that your business will be using the top techniques to be noticed by search engines, but you’ll also be removing anything from your online presence that could cause you to be penalized.
3. Get a leg up on the competition
It should be pretty clear by now that SEO draws customers to your business. That in itself is a wonderful thing, and it gets better. Why? Because not everyone is doing it!
Traditional SEO takes a lot of time and effort, and for that reason, a lot of businesses don’t bother with it. So when you find a way to make SEO easy and fast (*ahem* like by teaming up with Locafy), you’re already getting a leg up on the competition. An optimised web presence can pull attention away from competing businesses.
And with an impressive-enough Google search ranking, your business may even be able to pull customers from far away neighborhoods to yours, increasing your local business’ influence.
The emerging voice search industry is also a compelling reason to take SEO seriously. All the way back in 2018, 72% of U.S. consumers were already engaging in voice search using devices such as Alexa and Siri. And those consumers are buying! From August 2019 and August 2021, over 8.9 million Americans bought health and beauty products with voice search and smart speakers. When you add voice search to your local business’ SEO strategy, you have a chance to reach a brand new group of customers that your competitors may not have even noticed.
4. Improve customer experience
Customers are attracted to businesses that are easy to work with and competent in what they do.
With SEO, your business is working toward online consistency, thoroughness, and trust. After all, a lot of customers’ first interactions with your business will be through online search. You want to make a good first impression and you need them to trust you.
Having a clean, thorough website appear at the top of search results is a huge step in making sure that your customers have a good experience. It’s a business’ responsibility to prove to customers that they’ve made the right choice, and good SEO can provide your customers with that proof.
There are a couple easy ways to showcase your business’ competencies and value, photographs being one of them. Search engines like to see original photography, not stock photos, on Google Business Profiles and websites. By uploading original photographs of your business and your products, you are streamlining brand recognition for your customers and for search engines. Having the same photo across your business’ web presence proves that you are organized, detail-oriented, and take your own business seriously. It also helps your customers to identify your business across the internet: When they see the same photograph, they can trust that they’re dealing with the same business.
5. To make a smooth business changes
Imagine this: a new customer is planning on coming to your business. They look you up with a search engine, find you, and see that you’re open! Then, they drive to your store and see that you have closed an hour earlier than your online listing said you would. Your new customer is disappointed, and may turn to another business to have their needs met.
When your hours of operation change, dine-in options become available again, or your business rebrands, your listings and overall SEO presence can be the first places that those details are truly visible to customers, both new and returning.
Good SEO gets your business’ information out there fast. You want updates in your business’ information to be consistent across the web and easily found, mitigating any confusion for your customers. With the right updated information out there, customers will be able to interact with your business seamlessly as it goes through changes.
Having an updated Google Business Profile is a great way to stay on top of your business’ transitions. Here we can see how easy it is to update your business’ hours of operation:
6. Reputation, Reviews, and Showing Off
You ought to know what people are saying about your local business. Through social media, directories, and a Google Business Profile, customers can post reviews and opinions about businesses.
It might be intimidating to look at customer feedback, but it’s actually very helpful, whether positive or negative. When you know what people are saying, you know how to proceed. Are customers raving about your services? Perfect- you know what’s working in your business. Have a less-than-flattering review or blog post written about you? Now you know where your business’ weaknesses lie and you can work to make your business stronger in those areas. Consumers want to have good experiences, and a negative review can be a great opportunity for your business. In fact, 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews, proving that your local business’ interactions online can have a big positive impact.
Reviews are proof that your local business deserves its reputation, and customers take notice of them. Conversions (when a customer completes a desired action online) can increase 270% when a business has reviews available to be read. Feedback from one customer makes another customer more eager to engage with your business.
Pictured: Lorna Davies Florist in Perth, Australia, has received over 30 Google reviews and responded to several of them, proving that their florist business is active, reliable, and cares about customer satisfaction.
7. Branding your business
Keywords, tags, labels, signature colors, alt text, and repeated images are the context that search engines use to define what your business is. If these images and phrases associated with your business match the words that someone puts into a search bar, then a search engine can confidently suggest your business to them. By referring to your business with specific language across your web presence, you are telling search engines and customers that your business has a strong identity, and that certain phrases shoul always be tied to you.
All of these branding techniques are important to use if you want your business to stand out. Pam Moore states that it will usually take five to seven brand impressions before a person will remember or take notice of your brand. So, the more you use your keywords and images, the more likely it is that your business will not only be remembered by search engines, but also by the customers you’re looking to attract.
A great SEO strategy is to use long-tail keywords,which are phrases or questions that are at least 4 words long. These phrases are descriptive and incredibly specific to a subject. By effectively using all of the long-tail keywords associated with your business, you will be able to carve out a niche for yourself in your local industry, taking up valuable online real estate and further cementing your brand.
While fewer people will be searching for long-tail keywords, the ones that do will have a stronger search intent, and will be more likely to turn a casual searcher on your website into a customer. We’ll talk more about search intent later.
8. Breaking news: SEO can be cost effective
It makes sense to assume that making a big splash with a huge marketing campaign, or trying to pull in customers from far and wide will help a local business meet the bottom line. Sure, that may have worked once for one business or another, but our experience tells us that it’s better to start small when you are small, and build from the bottom up. This saves time, money, and a lot of headaches.
It’s easier to simply design your business’ web-presence properly the first time around than to spend months fixing and updating it later. In the United States, design agencies can charge $15,000 or more for a simple website, so if you’re not in a place to design your website by yourself, it’s going to be very costly to make updates, and it’s not something your small local business will want to do more than once. In this way, starting SEO for your local business early will help you invest in websites and other platforms that will benefit your business from the get-go.
Other ways of driving traffic can be effective for a local business, but also costly if not done in conjunction with SEO. For example, paid-advertising is a common way to promote a business, but only 2.8% of consumers click on paid advertisements, and the ones that do often cost you money. Intergrowth shows that with Google Ads, if a business has to pay USD $6 per click on their paid advertisement, and 1% of online viewers become paying customers, then the advertisement is costing the business $600 per customer.
That’s quite the cost.
Compared to that model of paid advertising, SEO offers a much higher return on investment (ROI), as seen in this Intergrowth graph:
Once the SEO ball gets rolling, there are no limits to the online visibility that your local business can achieve.
9. Turn web surfers into customers
Customers take to search engines with a goal, a search intent, and search engines comb the internet to provide search results that satisfy that intent. With proper SEO, the people landing on your website will be there on purpose, with the intent to buy your specific product or use your service.. This will happen because your keywords and branding will match what they are putting into the search bar.
Customers trust the internet to guide them when making investments or purchases, and 66% of customers will conduct research online before making a large purchase. If your local business is found during that research, you’re more likely to clinch that sale before your competitor.
And here’s a statistic to prove that online shoppers know what they’re looking for: According to Hubspot, 72% of online customers who did local search went on to visit a physical store within five miles of their location.
The meaning of these statistics is easy to see. SEO gets your local business found online, and brings customers through your door.
10. We all love measurable results
Just in case all of the other reasons to do SEO haven’t yet convinced you, here’s the last and most important one: SEO delivers measurable and quantifiable results.
In the graph below, titled ‘Visualizing Search’s Dominant Channel Share’, BrightEdge Research showcases the effectiveness of SEO in comparison to other modes of online marketing.
According to the BrightEdge study , social media and paid search only contribute 1/3 and 1/11 of the traffic that organic search did, respectively. This all boils down to the fact that customers trust their own research abilities and the results that their favorite search engines provide, rather than advertisements shown to them. It pays off to have your local business appear on top of a search results page!
Here’s a more detailed view of how a proper SEO strategy can impact a business…
After using Locafy’s Proximity Booster technology, the local chiropractic business in this case study saw a :
- 20% rise in GMB search views
- 115% increase in map views
- 239% jump in website referrals
Those numbers speak for themselves.
There’s no denying it: SEO works for local businesses.
Customers know what they’re looking for when they turn to online search, and it’s important that your local business is ready to be found. An optimised web presence proves to search engines and customers alike that your business is active and reliable, and that you are trustworthy as a business owner. After all, how you build your online presence says a lot about how you run your real-world business.
Remember: The internet is still a relatively new resource for local businesses to use, and not everyone has quite got the grasp of it yet. By using an SEO strategy that is tailored to your local business, you can beat out the competition that isn’t yet using it, all while improving the experience that your customers have with your business online. SEO allows you to get the right information out across the web in a consistent manner, showing off just how dependable (and cool!) your business is, and creating a strong brand identity for your customers to identify with.
SEO is a cost-effective way to turn online web surfers into satisfied, repeat customers. And with results that you can measure, there’s more than enough reason to start your local business’ SEO journey today.