The advent of internet, flourishing of smart phone culture and the increasing dependence of people on online resources, has redefined the way customers and businesses find each other. More and more businesses are going online hoping to tap the increasing number of online surfers and shoppers. However in the sheer expanse of the internet, having a website isn’t enough for a business to grow online.
Statistics show that over 100 billion searches are made on search engines every month. One question that hovers over many small business owners is “how will my local store be found in the great cyber ocean, when there are numerous other businesses providing similar services?” Take for example, there are over 500 restaurants serving Chinese food in the city of Dubai. How could a new start-up Chinese restaurant hope to outdo the 500 to be found online? Local SEO is the answer to such challenges faced by most small businesses.
People are becoming more and more specific in their searches, as it saves time and fetches relevant results. Someone looking for a particular service in a locality would frame their search with specific mention of that geographical area, than looking in the general search. The search engines also have mechanisms to figure out the user’s location and provide relevant results based on the search location. Local SEO makes smart use of these search-specific mechanisms to drive customers to a business.
As the name suggests, Local SEO is all about making your website visible to customers and prospects who are searching for certain products or services in a particular locality. The starting point of making your small business findable online is by proving to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing that you’re a real business, existing in real locations and catering to customers in that area. Just like a newspaper reach out to various sources to confirm the authenticity of a news before publishing, search engines also look at multiple sources to make sure your location data is accurate. Every place that your business information appears online is considered a citation – an additional data point that search engines use to confirm your business services and location. Pairing your business name and address in as many trusted websites as possible, is key to effective citations.
The next important and one of the easiest way to market your business online is getting your business listed on online local directories, a must for businesses who wish to make drive sales online. Local directories are trusted listing sites and communities specialized in indexing businesses according to category and geography. Getting your business listed in such directories help potential customers get your business contact information including address, phone number and website.
Though an often overlooked category, Video Marketing can be highly rewarding if the video content is smartly created and optimized. One of the least expensive ways to market your video online is by creating a channel for your business in YouTube channel, one of the most trafficked video site. This can add a lot of value to your local SEO efforts, even if not many videos are uploaded. For local business establishments, what makes the real difference is not creating tons of videos, but creating videos with business-specific keywords transcribed to it and making it found in search engines with smartly written keyword based titles and descriptions. The fact that not many local businesses have online videos, makes it easier for search engines to find yours and place it on top of search results ensuring better visibility and traffic.
Improving the popularity and credibility of your local business through link building and reviews also helps businesses drive sales online. The more popular and trustworthy a site is, the more links from it matter. That explains the need for businesses to have trusted link partners. A site like Wikipedia has 1000’s of sites linking to it, which shows its popularity and credibility. Local SEO makes use of various link building tactics such as article submission, blog posts, forum discussions and social media bookmarking to boost your website’s visibility. Getting customer reviews should be a priority for every business, as it directly correlates to search ranking. Higher number of reviews and better customer rating ensures greater visibility and ranking.
Having a website isn’t enough for a business to grow online. It require additional spurs that drive people to the business. For small businesses who wish to drive sales online, Local SEO is the saviour! It is the simplest way for a local business to be found online without getting into the complex rat chase of search engine ranking.