Engaging in local SEO is crucial in an era where mobile searches are skyrocketing and search engine algorithm changes are increasingly bringing users more accurate and relevant results for the search terms they enter.
So what is local SEO and why is it so important? At its heart, local SEO is the optimisation of a business website with the aim of gaining higher local rankings and it’s important because an increasingly high percentage of all search queries have local intent.
Rising Smartphone Ownership and Local SEO – What’s the Story?
Whilst that’s what local SEO is and why it’s important, why are rising smartphone ownership numbers frequently cited in articles about the need for local SEO?
They’re cited because people who use their smartphones to search for products and services are, more often than not, on the go, out and about, and they’re generally looking for local businesses when they search for products and services.
Whilst many people use their smartphones to search for products on Amazon and eBay or buy plane tickets, they’re more likely to use their smartphones to search for a local Thai restaurant or garage.
Furthermore, if you searched for a restaurant or garage using your smartphone, Google wouldn’t need to be told that you’re looking for one in your local area, it would automatically use your location and provide you with local results.
And how dramatically is smartphone ownership rising? According to Statista, there were 21.6 million smartphone users in the UK in 2011, 26.4 million in 2012, 30.9 in 2013 and a predicted 34.6 million by the end of this year, 2014.
This is a significant increase and it indicates just how important local search already is, not to mention how much more important it will become, with smartphone ownership figures for 2017 predicted at 43.4 million.
Smartphone User Behaviour – Important Trends That Can’t Be Ignored
But the importance of local search and SEO goes beyond smartphone ownership as it also extends to the behaviour of smartphone users when they search. In the US, according to Fresh Egg, in 2013 four out of five people searched for local information using their smartphones, two out of three took direct action and one out of three made a purchase.
What this means for you, as a local business owner, is that you need local SEO in a big way because without it your competitors are going to gain a competitive edge – don’t forget that although a high percentage of local searches begin without a specific business in mind, once they’ve found one and they’re happy with their products/services, they’re less likely to search again for the same product/service in the future.
Local SEO Strategies for 2014 – Move With the Times to Stay Ahead
In addition to creating a local business page for every search engine – that means Bing Places and Yahoo Local in addition to Google+ Places – you’ll also need to optimise your business website for local SEO.
If search engine optimisation isn’t one of your strong points, it’s highly advisable to have a local search engine optimisation agency optimise your website for you, though take note of what they’re doing because it’s important to gain an understanding of how SEO works and get involved – it’s your business after all and you should involve yourself in its promotion as much as possible.
- Use long-tail keywords to keep up with Hummingbird, i.e. keywords in the form of questions, for instance, ‘What’s the best Thai restaurant in …’
- Optimise your website for Google Maps and Google+ Local because of their strong correlation to local SEO
- Encourage online user reviews because they’re playing an increasingly major role in local SEO
- Upload quality photos to your local listing – make sure they’ll load quickly – because photos instil confidence and trust
Local SEO will only increase in importance as time goes by – move with the times to stay ahead.