Local Search: Why You Have to Have It for Better SEO

The pizza shop down the street. The bicycle shop that you always walk by. That cute little park that you drive by every morning. What do they all have in common? They’re local. Your customers like to see and do things that are local. They also like to buy from people who are local. Call it a “locovore” fad, but it’s what’s making money right now.

For years, Google, and many other search engines, have been shifting focus to local search, dropping keyword research tools’ effectiveness, and trying to get businesses to let Google take care of the ranking.

In a way, we’re going back to the way things used to be – albeit with better technology. Remember when you opened the Yellow Pages to find local plumbers? That’s the trend online right now, and that’s what you have to prepare for.

People Use Mobile More Than Ever

More and more people are using mobile these days. You probably use mobile yourself to find places to eat, bars to hop on a Friday night – even for reviews for things like flower shops or theaters.

A comScore study found that the total number of U.S. searchers using mobile devices to access the Internet rose 26 percent between March 2012 and December 2012. Search on tablet devices also shot up an incredible 19 percent between April and December of the same year.

But, surely people are still using desktop computers to search, right? Sure, but searches went down by 6 percent between November 2011 and November 2012. According to Google, about 40 percent of the people using search for mobile have local intent. That means they’re looking for something near them – they want to do business with you if you’re nearby.

What’s really weird is that 77 percent of searches aren’t actually “out there” on the road. They’re done at home or work, while only 17 percent of searches are done while users are out and about. That means people are using mobile devices as primary search devices.

It’s Still Easy To Rank

While many businesses have claimed their local spot on Google+ Local, there are many who still haven’t taken the time to do this one simple thing. If you’re in an industry where there aren’t a lot of national chains, or the national chains are actually online stores, you have an amazing opportunity right now to capture the market.

Google Local dominates so much of the first page results that you often have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to get non-local results. When in doubt, Google always favors local results. If customers search directly through a maps program like Google or Apple maps, the local listings are even more dominant. And, guess what? When they search local, it means they don’t know what, exactly is in the area, but they want to know. Odds are they’re going to use maps at some point.

How To Make A Huge Impact On Your Local Search Rank

Companies like Yodle recommend you get involved in your neighborhood. Get involved with community affairs. Let’s say there’s a charity organization putting together a basketball game to benefit a cause that you believe in. Sponsor the game. Get involved.

Help organize it, and put together a team. Guess what? There’s a good chance that your company will end up being listed in the local paper, the online version of that paper, and also on the charity’s website as a sponsor. When Google continuously sees you being mentioned on websites whose address is near yours, it will think you’re a major influence in that community. BAM – your rankings will see an immediate improvement.

There Are More Local Directories Than Ever Before

If Google was the only game in town, it would still be a good reason to shift your focus to local search. But, they’re not, and there are more directories on the Internet now than ever before. Of course, big G has something to do with the rise in popularity of local directories, but a huge reason for the surge in the popularity of sites like Yelp and BOTW is social media.

People love doing business with people they know and trust. And, these directories, like Yelp, combine elements of social media and traditional directories. So, it’s like getting a referral from a friend (or even a really trustworthy stranger) along with the usual hum-drum directory listing – potential customers get to see what you have to say about yourself, which isn’t nearly as interesting as what others say about you.

When the two voices (yours and other peoples’) line up, something magical happens – you get more customers. And, that’s something that should really motivate you.

John Childs is a web marketing whiz. He enjoys finding innovative and effective strategies to improve businesses’ online presence.

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Prime Aque is the back-end guy of Self-Help. He is a blogger and WordPress front-end designer. Importantly, he is a husband and a father of three wonderful kids. His firstborn are twin girls. He loves writing and sharing.

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