Opinions & Insights

Local SEO: is it worth the effort?

As a business owner, you may be wondering if it’s really worth focusing on local SEO in addition to the time, money and resources you already dedicate to SEO, content marketing, paid search and social media marketing. While it might seem that local SEO is just an offshoot of your regular SEO work and therefore, not something that warrants a strategy of its own, we’re here to say – it does!

Almost half of Google searches are for a local business

Local SEO specifically focuses on capturing search users who are explicitly looking for a local business. This accounts for many more searches than you might think, with Google figures suggesting that nearly half of all queries it handles have a local intent. That’s a massive amount of traffic potentially looking for your business right now. At some point or another, almost 100% of search engine users turn to Google or other search engine precisely because they need to find a local business.

A third of searches on mobile devices are looking for a local business

There’s more too. Google says that one third of searches made on a mobile device are location-related. That means that a huge number of us turn to our mobiles when we’re out to find a business close to our location. Local SEO gives you the chance to be visible to those potential customers at exactly the moment they’re looking for a business just like yours in their immediate vicinity.

Google is working harder than ever to understand context

Many Google advances over the last three years have related to context and intent. The search engine deployed BERT, has made greater use of AI and has refined its algorithms in order to better understand the context and real need behind a search query.

This is important because search users may no longer add ‘near me’ to their search queries – even though that’s exactly what they’re looking for in their search results.

Google says …we’re now seeing a shift toward dropping location qualifiers (like zip codes, neighbourhoods, and “near me” phrasing) in local searches, because people know that the results will automatically be relevant to their location—thanks to their phone. It’s kind of magical. In fact, this year, search volume for local places without the qualifier “near me” has actually outgrown comparable searches that do include “near me.” Over the last two years, comparable searches without “near me” have grown by 150%.

This is significant. While you may not see any location-specific phrases in your analytics, the intent behind those searches could well have been locally driven so you need to have a local presence to be in with a chance of winning any of that search traffic.

Local SEO gives you a better shot at search visibility in your local area

We know that plenty of people turn to Google because they want to find a local product, business or service. Traditional SEO tactics are focused on general search visibility, so you could be missing out on local visibility if you don’t have a local SEO strategy too.

Local search is based on factors such as location, relevance and prominence. Your standard SEO activity might not include much work on Google My Business for example, but a local SEO strategy will. Your GMB profile tells Google all sorts of information about your local business, such as where you’re located, what your opening hours are and what your business offers. Right away, that means it has the info it needs to decide whether your business could be right for someone searching for that exact solution close to their physical location. And that means you’re back in contention to win that customer.

Local SEO puts you in contention for mobile and voice search traffic from new-to-you customers

Whether you’re driving and find yourself in an unfamiliar area in need of a petrol station, food shop or mechanic, or are close to home but need suggestions for a place to go or someone to help you due to an emergency such as a leak or power cut, you’re very likely to turn to your mobile device. Most people do (that’s one reason mobile search is now more popular than desktop searches).

Focusing on local SEO means you’ll build citations (mentions of your business name and location in directories and similar), your Google My Business listing, create local links and have location details across your site. These activities mean it’s very obvious to Google and to those searching on mobile or using voice search just how close you are and exactly how you can help, making you well placed to win some of that traffic and drive more sales for your business.

Want to optimise your local business listing? Read our article 5 tips for optimising your website for local search for more information. If you need help to get your local SEO strategy underway, get in touch with us today.

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