If your business offers services in a particular location and you have a physical business address that is local to that target audience then you need to be doing local organic SEO. If you aren’t then your prospects are becoming your competitor’s customers. Read on to see why its such a massive opportunity and its only going to get bigger.

There are currently 3.5 billion searches on Google every day a number that continues to rise as more of the world’s population comes online.

The vast majority of clicks from search go to organic results 41% on mobile and 62% on desktop with less than 3% going to paid clicks.

Organic optimisation has ~20X more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop plus nearly one third of all mobile search traffic is related to location.

Organic search traffic is the most sought after traffic to a website. Why? Apart from it being the biggest source of new traffic its also free, durable, relevant and broad, capturing the long tail of search at every stage of the buying process.

So what can you do to have the best chance of ranking for these local search opportunities?

First it helps to understand the context of what is changing.

Evolving search behaviours

Location matters more yet its becoming less stated in search queries. Search behaviour is changing and user expectation is that you know what they want without them having to ask. When people search for plumbers they increasingly realise that they don’t need to include ‘near me’ or ‘in Bristol’ in their search query. They expect the results to be local to their actual location.

If you simply relied on keyword research you may assume that demand for your services in a particular location are decreasing however the opposite is true. Smart marketers are taking notice of these changing trends and are inferring and interpreting these critical signals to ensure they offer even better personalisation, relevance and accuracy with their content .

Google knows what we want better than we do

Continuous improvements in Google’s algorithms, ever more effective machine learning and evolving search behaviour mean that Google is learning faster and understanding better what results we want to see. Advances in data processing and conversational search are at the core of understanding searcher intent. By knowing what we want from our search results even when we haven’t constructed the perfect search query means Google can deliver satisfaction by proving the shortest route to the desired information.

There is no silver bullet or quick win when it comes to achieving sustained rankings, local or otherwise. These results are hard earned by sites that provide a superior user experience, load quickly and deliver highly relevant content. They earn their positions by providing the right signals to Google and they have to work hard to keep them.

Make local search part of your strategy

With so much opportunity in local search there is a good chance that investing time and effort in developing your local digital strategy could capture valuable local traffic. But you need to make an informed decision as to whether your business truly deserves to rank for local phrases.

For example a consultancy based in London may be able to service clients in Edinburgh but unless they have an office local to Edinburgh then Google will give higher rankings for location based terms to other consultancies who are physically closer. Likewise if you are Dental Practice in Birmingham you wouldn’t target people in Newcastle.

Here are 4 essential tactics to include in your local strategy:

  1. Google My Business Listing – a free and easy way to help Google list your business more accurately in local search results. Plus it provides an enhanced listing when searching for your brand name.
  2. Reviews – are so important to improving rankings in local search, this cannot be over emphasised. It provides social proof for prospects which aides conversions, as long as your reviews are generally positive of course.
  3. On-page optimisation – which basically means you have pages that are optimised for the location you want to rank for with quality content that is relevant to delivering services in that location. These would be the landing pages that you would expect to rank if you were targeting multiple locations from the one site.
  4. Consistent NAP (name, address, postcode) across all the places that are mentioned. It sounds easy but its surprising how many times there are inconsistencies with business listings

Its generally easier for single location businesses to rank higher for target phrases in their own location. That is what they do, it’s the focus of their business and there is no dilution of effort. But what if yours is a national business (ie one website) with a local focus such as a franchise or service provider offering local delivery?

A national company is faced with the challenge of managing a resource intensive strategy that not only competes with other national firms but also the hyper-local businesses.

Long gone are the days of creating multiple pages on a website for each location you cover with just the name of the town changing. An effective local strategy requires continuous effort, monitoring and improvement but the opportunities are there.

Google wants to deliver the best results, so be the best result!

What are the options for getting this work done?

  • Do it yourself – it depends on the size of the challenge, resources available and expertise to know what to do.
  • Pay someone else to do it for you – options here include:
    1. A consultant like myself could help you to develop a strategy and tactical plan if that would be more helpful than tackling the learning curve. You could implement the plan yourself if you have the resources and if not I could help with that too.
    2. Use a digital marketing agency – if you already work with a digital marketing agency then they ought to be handling your local search strategy too. If you need help appointing the right agency I can help with that too!
    3. Use a lead generation agency – they focus on getting you leads through local search.

Whatever approach you take be sure that its the right solution for you and if you just want a chat about what might seem like a minefield just give me a call.

I'm a digital marketing strategy consultant working with agencies and businesses to help them grow. Having built a successful digital agency from 2 to 50 people over 12 years I can share my experiences and help avoid some of the inevitable mistakes that come with the pace of change in the digital marketing industry.

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