Most businesses are aware of the benefits that SEO can bring them, but when it comes to small businesses SEO, it is Local SEO which can offer the most impressive benefits in terms of attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness in their local vicinity.
Despite this, many small businesses are still relying primarily on traditional marketing methods – print, broadcast, telephone- to get their name out there. In an era in which consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet to find products and services, these traditional paid marketing methods are out in favour of local SEO which can offer significantly lower costs, higher ROI, and access to highly engaged local consumers.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimising your online content and presence to make it easier for local consumers to find your business when searching for the services you offer.
Although local SEO incorporates many of the same principles as traditional SEO, its focus isn’t solely on improving the visibility of your website. Instead, it aims to increase the visibility of your business through a series of different online channels, include your website, social media pages and business listings.
Local SEO is a form of inbound marketing; it focuses on targeting consumers who are already looking for a business like yours. This makes it highly effective compared to many traditional outbound marketing methods, which try to advertise to consumers who are typically far less engaged.
Benefits of local SEO
1. It answers directly to consumer demand
What makes local SEO so valuable is that it allows you to expose your brand to consumers exactly at the time they’re in need of your services. Statistics show that when search engine users use localised search terms, they have a strong intent to buy. In fact, 72% of consumers who perform local search go on to visit a store within five miles of their current location, and 28% of local searches result in a purchase.
2. It’s mobile friendly
We’re in an era in which we can turn to our smartphones to find the businesses we need, whenever we need them. People are shunning traditional directories such as phone books and newspaper adverts, in favour of mobile search which offers fast, convenient results, even when we’re on the move. Local search leads 50% of mobile internet users to visit stores within just one day of conducting their search.
3. It understands changing attention spans
With traditional advertising, it’s harder than ever to cut through the noise of your competitors. Consumers don’t have the attention span they once did to read through flyers, listen to TV or radio ads. Recent research has found that:
– The average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to just 5 minutes within the last 10 years
– The average length of a TV commercial is 30 seconds, down from one minute in the 1950s and 60s
4. It has a wide range other benefits for your business
Local SEO incorporates many unique ranking signals relevant to a local audience, such as, a visitor’s proximity to a physical business location or referring links from local websites. However, it works best when also optimising for a wide variety of digital marketing and SEO tactics, including content marketing, link building and social media marketing. These strategies offer valuable benefits in their own right, so by focusing on local SEO you can work to generally boost your online presence, and improve your site and user experience. By investing in content marketing, you can also generate assets that can be reused time and time again and have a long-life value. Many traditional marketing efforts don’t offer this type of long-term investment – they simply focus on one-time exposure to consumers.
5. It can be easier to measure success
With the likes of Google Analytics and other tracking software, it can be much easier to measure the reach and success of your local SEO efforts than it is to measure the success of non-digital marketing methods. With methods such as flyer drops and broadcast advertising, which tend to require long-term campaigns to build brand recognition and trust, it’s particularly difficult to measure just how many people engaged with your advertising and converted into customers as a result. With local SEO you have a lot of data at your fingertips to help you better measure your ROI and CPA.
Local SEO vs traditional advertising – which is better?
Although traditional advertising can still play an important role in marketing, for small businesses with limited budgets, local SEO can be a highly effective, low-cost alternative to other paid marketing methods.
Local SEO vs paid advertising cost comparison chart
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Cost: Local SEO costs can vary greatly, you could hire an in-house expert or work with a reputable SEO agency. But expect to pay upwards of £500 P/M. It can even be “free” if you’re able to dedicate the time needed to learn key strategies and implement them. Extra costs will occur if you need to create content, but this can provide long-term value for your business too.
Reach: Google estimates that around 56% of mobile searches have local intent, and 50% of consumers who conduct local search on their phone visit a store on the same day. With local SEO you can showcase your business information directly to consumers who are actively looking for businesses like yours, and achieve an incredible reach throughout your local area.
CPA & ROI: CPA can vary greatly depending on your investment in local SEO, but is relatively low considering the low cost of local SEO. ROI can also be very high, since local SEO targets only consumers who need your services, which means you won’t waste money exposing your business to disinterested consumers.
Local SEO vs Print Advertising
Cost: Flyers and leaflets can be relatively inexpensive, but they don’t come for free – you have design and copywriting costs to consider, print costs, and distribution costs. You could be looking between £200 and £500 for 1000 leaflets.
Reach: 89% of consumers remember receiving door dropped flyers and leaflets, and 45% keep leaflets and flyers for future reference, but the average response rate is less than 1%.
Local SEO vs Telephone Marketing
Cost: The cost of telemarketing depends on whether you handle it in-house or choose to outsource – agencies can charge up to £350 per day, and you have to consider the cost of developing a script, too.
Reach: Telephone marketing could allow you to reach hundreds of consumers within a single campaign, but when cold calling you need to be prepared for high levels of rejection – it takes on average 80 calls before an opportunity arises with an engaged consumer. Telemarketing tends to be most effective for B2B, with 68% of B2B sales involving some form of human interaction such as telemarketing.
CPA & ROI: The cost of each sale achieved by telemarketing depends on the number of calls you can make per day, and the length of time it takes to make each call, but with a typical rate of 1 opportunity per 80 calls, CPA can be high. The rate of return for telemarketing can differ dramatically between industries, but if you’re a B2B organisation you may see a higher return than B2C companies.
Local SEO vs Broadcast Advertising
Cost: A 30 second TV ad can cost anywhere from £10 to £1million – it all depends on the time of day you choose to advertise at. For a week-long radio campaign which uses a 30-second ad, you can expect to pay £500 for a local station, £2,500 for a regional station and in excess of £10,000 for a national station. You also need to have a good budget for scripting and production costs, which could run from a few hundred to several thousand pounds.
Reach: The more you pay for a TV or radio ad, the wider your reach will be, but not all of these consumers will be engaged with the services of products you advertise. If you have the budget it might be possible to reach a highly targeted demographic which will engage best with your ads, but be prepared to pay big bucks for this kind of prime TV airtime.
CPA & ROI: Measuring the success of broadcast advertising can be tough, as it can be difficult to track sales which have occurred as a result of the ads. This makes it notoriously difficult to calculate accurate CPA and ROI unless you choose to include specific discount codes in your ads to track sales.
10 Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses
With its low costs and a strong ROI potential, local SEO is clearly a highly effective marketing technique for small businesses. So – how do you get started? Here are our top tips for a successful local SEO strategy.
1. Optimise your website with local terms
If possible, choose a domain name which includes your local area, and structure URLs to include relevant geographical terms where possible. Create content which talks about your local area, but be sure to make it engaging and relevant to provide a good user experience. Include your business NAP (name, address and phone number) on every page of your website – not just your home page or contact page.
2. Create a Google My Business Account
To rank locally it is critical to set up a Google My Business Account. Once you have signed up and submitted your business details you will be sent a post card in order to verify the account. You should be selective and ensure you pick the most relevant categories to your business, add photos and write up a unique description. You will also have the opportunity to add your business opening hours, which will then be visible for visitors to see.
3. Include a map on your website
Not only does inclusion of a map have some minor ranking benefits, but it will also be of genuine use to consumers, particularly if you’re a shop, bar, restaurant, café or other bricks and mortar establishment that relies on passing trade.
4. Build your listings on local directories
The aim of the game with local SEO is to make your business information as widely available as possible, so take the time to secure listings on relevant business directories such as , Yelp and Yell. Make your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistent across all listings too.
5. Make sure your business categories are accurate in directories
Business directories usually have a huge, detailed range of categories for you to choose from when listing your business, so think carefully about where you fit in to ensure consumers can find you. Be consistent about this across all your business listings too.
6. Get active on social media
Business listings on social media sites, particularly Facebook, are another important way to boost your visibility. It’s also a chance for you to build your audience, engage with consumers and promote your products and services.
7. Encourage reviews
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so once you’re up and running on various business directories, encourage your existing customers to review your business. Get engaged with the reviews too, even the negative ones – it’s a great opportunity to show off your customer service skills and demonstrate how you value customer feedback.
8. Conduct keyword research for local terms
If you’re familiar with SEO, you’ll already know the importance of keyword research – it ensures that you’re targeting terms that searchers genuinely use when looking for businesses like yours. Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner is a great free tool to get started with, but be sure to use a range of other tools too such as Keyword.io to develop a broad list of local keywords.
9. Invest in content marketing
A great way to incorporate all those valuable local keywords into your website is to create valuable content. Fresh, unique content has great SEO benefits, but it will also help to establish you as a reputable, reliable and knowledgeable business. Plus, you can use it for link-building efforts and share it on social media to widen your reach there, too.
10. Connect with other local businesses
Inbound link-building is an important SEO strategy, and a great way to do this is to make friends with other relevant, local businesses so that you can share links and promote one another. Perhaps you could organise a community event together or work out some kind mutually beneficial offer for customers that will give you the opportunity to create links on your sites?
Now go forth and go Digital….