When the term "local business" is thrown around, it doesn't mean the mom and pop shops in small town America. Local business is merely a term that means, if you search for a specific business in a specific area, you'll find a location close to you.
McDonald's is a local business. So is Verizon. These businesses are huge, but when searching for specific establishments in a specific area, it's all local search.
Local search is just what it sounds like, local customers (or potential customers) searching the Internet for products, services or stores near them.
Traditional SEO relies on Google's algorithm, which weighs factors such as social indicators (Tweets, Facebook shares, +1's, etc.) and incoming links. Local search is largely dependent on the optimization of your website, where it's listed and who's talking about it. We'll get into all of that in a moment.
Unlike traditional SEO, local search isn't at all complex. It all boils down to 3 essential ideas.
1.) Optimize your business website for mobile users and local search
2.) Utilize social networks wisely
3.) Get people talking
This is going to get more complex as the industry develops, and of course there's more to it than just these three things, but anything local search-related can be stuffed into one of these three headings.
With less than 50-percent of businesses even claiming their pages on Google Places or Facebook, you can see how even small steps can prove to be a powerful force in a world of business that refuses to adapt to changing times.
Local SEO isn't one of our product offerings at Spread Effect, so fear not; we aren't selling anything. This guide has the sole intention of providing you with actionable steps you can use to improve the visibility of your business with laser-targeted local traffic.
This guide isn't going to make you an expert in local search, but that isn't the intention. The intention is to get you started in this fast-growing field and to make you more recognizable than your competitors. The more you get noticed, the more money you make. It's that simple.
Local Is Mobile
With the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets, conservative estimates state that mobile web traffic is set to exceed desktop and laptop browsing by 2014.
Read that statement until you truly understand the importance of what's happening. You're witnessing a colossal shift in the way people browse the Internet; and it's happening as we speak.
We've all fallen prey to the "If I had just acted sooner" bug. This is your chance to take action and be ahead of the curve rather than watching your competitors pass you by. Remember, the statistic claiming 2014 is the year mobile reaches critical mass is a conservative statement. It could very well happen sooner. Time to act.
According to Bing, 53-percent of all mobile traffic is local search related. That's a lot of traffic for those smart enough to go out and get it. Google has a more conservative estimate at 40-percent, but no matter which number you believe, it's significant and growing each day.
Why is Local SEO Important?
So why is mobile blowing up like nothing we've ever seen online?
Have you heard that statistic that more people worldwide own smartphones than toothbrushes? I can't back this up with numbers (does anyone work at Oral B?), but it's been a pretty popular talking point lately when discussing the importance of local SEO and mobile optimization. True or not, the talking point is merely intended to show the significance of smartphones and the developing world.
Now, China and India aren't going to help your local business, so let's take a quick look at the numbers in the United States.
The smartphone has reached widespread adoption throughout North America, but the United States is the first country in this part of the world to break the 50-percent smartphone to non-smartphone ratio. Sitting at 55-percent, growth is expected to continue climbing as "dumb phones" are phased out. With a US-based business, this is a number that you need to pay attention to. Local and mobile are the two key sectors that could just determine the future of your business.
What Can Local SEO Do for My Business?
In the search industry we throw around the term "targeted traffic" all the time, but this is truly the holy grail of online traffic. These are the people that are looking for what you are offering.
In the United States, 90-percent of smartphone users use their phones to search for local businesses (comScore). With an estimated 55-percent (Nielsen) of all US mobile phone owners owning a smartphone, we've already reached the tipping point. In fact, 66-percent of all smartphone sales are to those 18-29 (Pew Internet Project), a chief buying demographic.
According to research by comScore, more than 4 out of 5 consumers that searched locally followed the online search with a visit to the store, a phone call, or a purchase. This means 80-percent of people who find your business online when looking for something specific are likely to visit you to follow up on their search.
In short, the tech savvy buying generation is looking for your business. Are you capitalizing on this opportunity?
If you aren't yet, you'll be playing catch up in the near future. Mark my words.