During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals faced challenges that could have never been anticipated, forcing changes to be made in all areas of life. These unforeseeable challenges caused small and local business owners worldwide to be presented with a different kind of issue.
An increase of 43% of customers were transitioning from in-store shopping to online shopping, meaning a shift in marketing tactics needed to happen extremely quickly if businesses were going to stay afloat – allowing local SEO to claim its’ popularity.
While Local SEO has been around since 1991, the pandemic began shining a light on just how important it is to increase awareness and boost online business traffic, resulting in the interest in optimizing content to reach an all-time high.
SEO tactics will inevitably continue to improve over time; throughout the last two years, businesses have discovered significantly more about the ins and outs of leveraging local SEO rankings.
What is SEO?
The term SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization and has three key types: organic, technical, and local SEO.
The three types of SEO work together and are equally important to ensuring businesses generate consistent awareness by enhancing their website ranking on Google search result pages.
When a business’s target audience types a word, phrase, or question into Google, the goal of any business is to be one of the first websites that a potential customer will see, increasing the odds of their website generating traffic and making a sale.
While all types of SEO deserve recognition, we will focus on local SEO today. However, you can read about technical SEO and organic SEO in our past blog posts to learn how all three SEO types can benefit your business.
6 Local SEO Pros and Cons
Local SEO is the branch of SEO that focuses on increasing traffic, leads, and brand awareness from local searches.
Local SEO is beneficial for businesses to improve their local visibility, as local intent searches make up 46% of all Google searches, but it’s especially crucial for companies with a physical address location, such as brick-and-mortar businesses.
97% of users claim that they have used the internet to find local products, services, and businesses; over 10% use the internet for this purpose every single day. This statistic shows that customers rely more on local SEO to find the best places to shop than ever before.
While these statistics are shockingly high, there are scenarios in which local SEO might not be entirely the best option to place significant time and focus on for some businesses, which presents the question:
Is local SEO right for your business?
Local SEO Pros:
#1) Capitalizes on Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile provides ample opportunities for business engagement. In fact, it’s the MOST critical tool in local SEO strategy.
This platform encourages current customers to review products, services, and experiences obtained by doing business with specific businesses. Online reviews are nearly 90% as valuable as personal recommendations in increasing the trust of potential customers, which has been shown to significantly impact how customers make purchase decisions.
Google Business Profile also allows businesses to provide their target audiences with necessary business information, such as their hours, phone number, address, and pictures that immediately appear at the top of the Google search result page when the business is searched.
Readily available business information makes it significantly easier for audiences to find answers to their questions, driving them forward on their purchasing journey.
#2) Catering to Mobile Users
As of 2022, almost 55% of online traffic is generated by cellphone users. If businesses haven’t used local SEO to optimize their mobile search traffic, they’re missing out on a significant potential for converting searches into conversions.
#3) Budget Friendly
On average, small businesses spend $10,000 on paid advertising through Google advertisements every single month. After this expense, learning that local SEO is entirely free is all the more enticing.
Though search engines don’t charge anything for local SEO, it may be worth investing in an SEO expert to weed through vast and daunting competition.
Local SEO Cons:
#4) No Instant Results
We live in a world where instant gratification is preferred, especially when it comes to seeing improvements in the business world.
Unfortunately, local SEO can’t provide anywhere close to instant gratification. When choosing to focus on local SEO, results require patience. Since SEO practices and tactics are highly competitive, it’s necessary to wait, on average, at least six months, and even longer in many cases, to see improvements in SEO rankings.
It isn’t to say that it’s pointless to focus on ranking for local SEO simply because it takes time. On the contrary, it’s possible to use other marketing tactics to boost traffic, engagement, and sales in addition to local SEO tactics while waiting on ranking improvements.
#5) Continuous Efforts
Local SEO isn’t a one-and-done. Even after seeing improvements in Google rankings, the work is far from complete. Local SEO can be very time-consuming, as it’s necessary to continuously research competitors, create new content, implement new keywords, and monitor successful keywords to ensure they’re continuing to rank.
Local SEO takes consistency, which can be a deal breaker for some businesses because they don’t have the time to invest in ongoing research. If this is the case, hiring a professional local SEO company is wise because time is money.
#6) Online Reviews
Local SEO relies heavily on positive reviews from past and current customers and should never be undermined. This is especially true since 89% of customers turn to company reviews before deciding whether to purchase a product or service.
When an individual is offered a space to give their opinion in an anonymous setting, like a Google Business profile, they’re much less likely to hold anything back. Research shows that customers who have had a negative experience with a business are three times more likely to write a review than satisfied customers. On average, that one negative review will turn away 30 potential customers if there aren’t at least 12 positive reviews to cancel out the single negative review.
Choosing an SEO Agency
In the United States alone, roughly 30,000 SEO agencies offer services claiming to help businesses rank higher in Google’s search engine, making it extremely difficult to choose the best one for your business.
While this number seems overwhelming, there are quick ways to vet through SEO agencies to find a trustworthy company that offers local SEO services to help you rank higher than your competitors while staying within your budget.
We mentioned the importance of businesses that want to rank in local SEO to have positive reviews from customers who have purchased products or services. Reviews are an excellent resource for a quick and easy first impression, but when choosing an SEO agency to work with directly, it’s best to dig deeper.
Regarding reviews, people can be very vague and, at times, untruthful. Testimonials, on the other hand, are experiences had by verified customers that often include the outcome of using the product or service purchased, as well as a recommendation for future customers to use that specific business.
Another way to weed out local SEO agencies that might not be best for your business is through case studies.
Case studies not only provide potential customers with the outcome of using a business’s products and services but also provide specific details of how that product or service benefitted the customer. By reviewing the agency’s case studies, businesses can find similar scenarios and gain insight into the process taken to resolve those issues when working with that agency.
Specializes in Local SEO
Local SEO has a different process to yield results than the other two types of SEO, and not all SEO agencies have proven local SEO services. Therefore, to ensure that your business obtains the best services possible, it’s crucial to ensure that the agency specializes in local SEO rather than just SEO in general.
Denver is one of the most populous cities in the United States and accounts for over 20,000 businesses, all of which can greatly benefit from local SEO.
Firestarter SEO is an award-winning Denver SEO company specializing in local SEO, with testimonials and case studies to prove the impact we’ve made on local businesses’ search engine rankings, website traffic, website conversions, and business revenue.
If your business is interested in learning more about how Firestarter SEO can help your company improve, get in touch with us today and ask about our local website optimization services. We’d love to help!