It’s easy to assume with businesses becoming more digital, that the physical location of a business has become less important. Well for some businesses this may be true, but for many there is significant evidence to show that where you are matters for which customers you attract and which businesses are able to thrive.
And as a digital marketing specialist, I can tell you that your physical address has an effect on which people see you, who your competitors are, and how you interact digitally with potential customers.
How have local searches changed post-Covid?
We have seen local SEO become more relevant because of changes to where users are and which signals Google receives.
Digital searches are affected by real world changes in users’ lives, what people need now and how much more ‘local’ our lives have been during this time. While this has been a formidable challenge, there are opportunities for businesses to use local SEO to become more competitive in the new landscape.
Businesses with Local SEO have an advantage on Search
Local SEO is a name for search engine optimisation tactics which help local businesses to connect with local users. Though the methods have changed over the years, the fundamentals remain the same, even in 2021. Is important to make sure that your business name, address, and phone number are consistent wherever they are shown – website, social media, and Google My Business. That your business has a presence in local directories. And that your website is correctly structured to show this information where it matters the most.
Search Engines and Social Media Filter by Location
Results for Google, Facebook, Twitter and other digital channels are filtered based on the location of the content creators as well as where the person is conducting search. Users geotag photos and videos to give real-time results for experiences. Google Maps searches allow people to browse businesses by geography. And all these factors combine to make the location of your business it’s significant factor in your digital visibility.
Google’s Local Pack
Google does not have one set search results. Google tailors it’s search results depending upon what device you’re on, where you’re searching from, what language your phone is set to, where your phone was purchased, what you searched for in the past, and many other factors to create something called ‘local pack‘. So when people talk about being on ‘page 1 of Google’ what they don’t often realise is that there is a multiverse of pages 1s for the same search query.
And if your business serves local customers, this can work in your favour.
When your business has a clearly confirmed location or servicing area, you’re telling Google which local pack you need to be on. For instance if you were an auto mechanic based in Plymouth, local SEO allows you to show in search results for users based in Plymouth. This increases the likelihood of showing in the top results because there is less competition than on the national scale. Without local SEO your pages will go into the national results, so that you’re competing for clicks with every mechanic in the UK, and you will have a much lower chance of being on the front page.
What are the best Local SEO Tactics for Business Right Now?
Connect with Near Me Searches
Data suggests that net local searches have actually increased during the pandemic. As I write the start of the second lockdown in the UK and as in the spring, many people are leading extremely local lives at this time. As a result, since the start of the financial year, local searches for terms like ‘near me’, which rely on user location data, have seen a net increase in popularity.
By making your location more clear in your web copy and structure, you make it easier for Google, and therefore for users to find you in these searches.
Post Business Updates on Google My Business
Businesses and services that people can walk to, or receive next day delivery from, have taken on new importance. Businesses that are aware of local circumstances, can respond to local people and display latest info both on site and in SERP via Google My Business.
Use More Efficient Location Targeted PPC
Businesses looking to advertise to customers who live locally to their business premises will see increased efficiency with geo-targeted PPC. With users spending more time in fixed locations, you are less likely to spend money on clicks from customers who are not genuinely local but are visiting temporarily. Not only does this mean that you will have better qualified leads, but getting them should also be cheaper.
Get a Presence on Social Media
Even if you are not able to post everyday on a social media profile, it is good practice to have a business page, with name, address and phone number, listed on the main social media platforms. Google uses these to cross the reviews for your business and, increasingly, users are turning to the platforms to get the latest updates on what your business is doing right now.
Getting local reviews on Google, Facebook, Tripadvisor, or Trustpilot or other platforms, can support your business now and in the future. If you are experiencing less footfall than normal, that doesn’t mean that your most loyal customers cannot still support your team. A review can be a great way for regular customers to show support now, and improve the performance of your business in the future.
Looking Forward to Google’s Mobile Index
Finally, ensuring that you have clear and consistent local business details on your site will help to prepare you for Google’s Spring 2021 Mobile Indexing update. In a world where the majority of websites see the majority of their traffic coming from mobile users, Google is working to ensure that why can serve the best information to users wherever they are at the time of search. Businesses who have strong digital location signals will be best placed to compete in this landscape in the years to come.