- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 9, 2016
It seems to me that local SEO is a big opportunity right now for many local business owners.
Right now is the time to grab your share of the “Google pie”. Later may be too late.
Google’s search engine has been around 15 years now. It’s old news. It’s almost ancient in terms of today’s world of technology where changes occur overnight. Many opportunities in search have been fenced off by others at this point. But not so true for local search. And it’s these opportunities you should care about as a local business owner.
You see Google’s search engine has gradually become more local. Now when you type a search into Google you often see maps popping up and Google + Local business listings.
Google’s search engine even localizes your search results when you don’t type in the name of a town or county. So for example if you just type “landscaper” you still see local businesses coming up in the area where you are searching. A couple of years ago you had to type “landscaper Bergen County” or landscaper “Ridgewood, NJ” to get this effect.
Data from Chikita shows that 24% of all Google searches have “local intent”, meaning that people are searching for local resources like local businesses. This number is much higher when you consider just mobile searchers (those using their smartphones and tablets), Google says this number is closer to 50%.
Also, the searches with “local intent” tend to have a lot of “buying intent”. Research from Ipsos MediaCT found that 18% of local searches made on a smartphone resulted in a purchase within a day of the search being made (vs. 7% when the search did not have “local intent”). 50% of the consumers that conducted a local search on their smartphone showed up in a store within the next day.
Time to stake your claim?
But these local search opportunities are not a secret and they are becoming more widely known by the day. In other words this is a competitive arena.
If you’re in a competitive business category, now may just be the time to make sure your business ranks well. If you don’t, your competitors probably will.
Ranking well in search is now a geographic game. You can think of it much like a military campaign: Rural areas are the easiest to capture, suburban areas are harder and densely populated urban areas (like New York City) are very tough. This is because of competition. As the area you compete in becomes more urbanized there will be many more businesses competing for the attention of consumers.
There are only 10 organic (free) spots on the first page of a Google search results page. Since 92% of the search clicks go to page 1 results (source: Chitika via Search Engine Watch) it’s really important that you show up on that page for those valuable local searches. (Those searches that bring 50% of the searchers to your store!)
But 10 spots is not much if you are in a competitive market. For example, a very popular cosmetic procedure search these days might contain the word “Botox”. In wealthy suburbs around New York City it’s not going to be easy to rank for this search unless you have carried out some form of search engine optimization. You will be competing with many doctors, dentists and medispas.
You can of course buy your way into ranking for these keywords using pay-per-click advertising. That’s a good short-term strategy, if you manage your campaigns and spend carefully. But long-term you will want to “fence off” your part of the country for your most critical keywords in organic search; otherwise your competitors will show up for free for your keywords for many years to come.
It feels like the time is now for you to capture your local search market. If you’d like some help please drop me a line.