If you run a local business, you may think that the Internet isn’t well-suited to market your business. After all, one of the biggest complaints we hear is that “We don’t want to target the Internet because 90% of our clicks aren’t local and will never shop here.”
It’s a pragmatic assessment of targeted traffic – you want your message to reach people who have the opportunity to take advantage of it, like local customers, but it is short-sighted.
Advantages of Local Search
Evidence compiled has suggested that local search listings now serve local customers as a business’ online “anchor identity.” It’s a hub for disseminating various bits of important information about your business, like your website, telephone number, reviews, photographs, coupons, and hours of operations.
According to a 2012 study conducted by comScore, respondents have a very favorable opinion of local search results. When customers search for local business information, they viewed organic local search results to be the most relevant and most trusted results. In fact, 58% of polled users indicated that local search provided the most trustworthy results, and 61% indicated that it provided the most relevant results. By comparison, only 9% of users indicated that they found paid search results as the most trustworthy results, and only 10% indicated that they were the most relevant.
And what’s better – local search provides listings that any local business can capitalize on. National advertisers dominate paid search results, and marketing teams dominate natural search results, but local businesses can easily rank locally for their targeted keyword phrases when a city location is included as a SEO keyword term.
The typical advice for ranking locally is to create a Google Places listing for your business. It’s a free platform where you can add information your customers are seeking, like your business photos and website URL, and it tends to rank highly on the search engine result pages. You should also consider including targeted landing pages for local visitors on your website – for example, creating a website to rank for “Chicago Web Design” rather than simply “Web Design.”
Search is more specific today than it was in the past, and location and device used are major determinants of what shows up in a user’s search listings. Paid advertising and SEO traffic schemes can get companies ranking high in national algorithmic searches, but the organic local results section is still respected as relevant and trustworthy.