You may remember a time when an ad in the Yellow Pages was THE best way to get local customers for a small business. It may have been expensive, but it worked. Then came the internet.
Now you’re trying to compete for the attention of people who search for “Home Remodeling in Austin” or “Plumbers near me.”
This is where Local SEO happens. If done right, you’ll appear in those search results. But it’s not easy and it’s only going to get harder.
Why is it going to get tougher? Because Google is slowly closing the window on free opportunities in local search.
So if you haven’t talked to a business like ours about local SEO services, in Austin or elsewhere, now is the time to get started.
First, What is Local SEO?
Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) is a way to fine-tune your online presence so Google is happy to show your business to local prospects.
For example, when someone searches for your type of service and sees a map with a local 3-pack (or 3 business listings), you want yours to be there so you can get that call or click.
Local SEO also includes getting in online directories, managing reviews, building links and optimizing all of your online properties, including your website.
Why is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses Right Now?
There are 3 main reasons:
- It makes it easy for prospects to find you when they’re looking for your service.
- We expect less opportunities as Google continues to shrink space for organic (or free) listings vs. paid ones.
- You still have an opportunity now, as there are many businesses (possibly even competitors) that aren’t taking full advantage of local SEO (see audit results below).
Let’s start with potential customers.
Where Are Your Potential Customers?
They’re mostly online. The reality is…
- Only 20% of adults under 65 turn to print newspapers anymore
- 92% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in 2018
(Sources: Pew Research, BrightLocal)
Google has been the new Yellow Pages for more than a decade now, so if you want a good spot on its pages, you’ll have to play by its rules.
Google: Forever Changing
Over time, we’ve seen Google search results pages change to include more ads, bigger ads and smaller listings.
Remember that Google map with 3-pack listing we mentioned? It first started as a 10-pack, then it went to 7 and 5. Now it’s down to 3 and it often includes a paid ad at the top.
Such is life with Google. It’s forever changing in its quest for more business. And we can’t blame it for doing so.
But this means free opportunities may continue to shrink as well. This will make it harder for you to reach your customer with organic (or free) listings or rankings.
The Great News About Local SEO
While Google is constantly changing, there are still many great benefits to using local SEO.
- Local search still has the best conversion rates of all local channels.
- You can appear in front of prospects at the exact time they’re searching for your service.
- Many of the best opportunities are still free.
- It’s not hard to see progress once you get started.
We’re often surprised by how many businesses aren’t taking advantage of all local search has to offer.
Have You Claimed Your Free Listing?
The Google My Business listing is a perfect example. This is a free listing that tells a reader (and Google) what your business is about, where you’re located, when you’re open and how to reach you.
It also appears in Google Maps, but it’s unclaimed or incomplete in MANY instances.
By many, we mean one-third (and in some industries more). An audit of 9,392 listings for home service businesses found that 32% were never claimed by the business.
And of the ones claimed, 27% didn’t have a website link. Some of them were even appearing in the local 3-pack. That’s like having a free ad with no website or phone number.
Have you claimed your Google My Business listing? Here are some tips from Moz.com.
So How Much Does Local SEO Cost?
At this point, you might be wondering about cost. There’s no cost for Google listings, but there is a fee to get help from someone like us.
First, is your website optimized at all? Are we starting from scratch or is there a bit of foundation? These questions are important, because it might range from a few hundred to a few thousand over the course of the project, depending on your needs. Visit our page on local SEO services for an idea of our costs.
What’s Coming Ahead?
While today’s leads from local SEO are mostly free, we don’t expect it to remain that way forever.
Start building your foundation in local search now, so you’ll be in a better place in the future. Because there’s no predicting Google’s next move and Generation Z (your future customer) is fully immersed in the online world.
Have any questions? Let us know below or send an email.