Why Small Businesses Need Local SEO

Posted on Jan 16, 2014 in Business Development

The search engines are constantly improving their algorithms in order to provide the most relevant results to their users, and one of the most important aspects of this is targeting results based on geographical location. For local businesses stepping into the highly competitive world of online marketing, making sure that your website shows up in local searches to a relevant audience is exactly what you should be striving to achieve. With mobile Internet use being rapidly on the rise, the emphasis on adapting the content and marketing strategy for local search engine optimisation is something which small, local businesses simply cannot afford to ignore.


How Search Engines Deliver Local Results

The search engines are getting considerably more advanced every year, and local search results are becoming more relevant. At the highest level, Google provides results based on the version of the website the user visits. For example, if you use google.co.uk, then the results are more likely to be orientated towards a British audience. However, Google also delivers results which are relevant to a specific locality based on the IP address of the user. Google, among other search engines, can determine your approximate location by using this data. However, people may also want to search for local businesses in an area where they aren’t located when they are actually searching. In this case, they may specify the name of a city or county, and this information will always override Google’s guesses based on IP address and other factors.


Who Needs Local SEO?

The answer to this is simple – if your business caters primarily towards a particular geographical area, you’re going to need to pay attention to local SEO. Only if your business caters to a nationwide or global audience will you not need to pay attention to local SEO. For businesses such as high-street stores, restaurants and other local services, shops and entertainment venues, tailoring your content and online marketing campaign so that you appear to a relevant audience is a must. For example, if someone in London searches for restaurants in Google, they’re likely going to be interest in restaurants in London rather than elsewhere in the country.


How Can Small Businesses Benefit from Local SEO?

SEO is not about trying to cheat the search engines into increasing your exposure. The most effective SEO techniques are also the most ethical – they help Google and other search engines to rank your content appropriately and ensure that your website appears in the most relevant search results. Needless to say, this is also very useful for your potential customers and website visitors. You may theoretically be able to attract more visitors to your website by focussing primarily on general SEO, but your conversion rate will be much lower. Remember, you are ultimately looking for customers for your business and not for website visitors. There is also less work involved in SEO, since you will only have to focus on a specific market. Additionally, there won’t be so much competition. If your online marketing campaign is focussed towards a local audience, your business’s website will rank higher in local searches than competitors based in other areas of the country.

Tools You Should Use

There is a whole range of online services which specifically cater towards local businesses. The first thing you’re going to want to do is ensure that your business is listed on Google Places. This doesn’t cost anything, and it enables your business to appear on Google Maps on both computers and mobile devices. Microsoft Bing and other search engines provide a similar functionality. Unless your business is very new, there will likely already be a listing, in which case you should start with that rather than create something new.

You’ll also want to get listed in relevant local directories online. Such listings are referred to as citations, and they will greatly help to increase your exposure. Citations are basically the new form of link building for local SEO campaigns. Another thing to pay attention to is location-based social media services. One of the most popular is Foursquare.com, and you should be sure to list your local business and set up a profile on this website.