In 2017, over 40% of consumers used local search to find nearby businesses at least once a week and 12% used it daily. While customers have begun to view local search as the go-to tool for discovering local businesses, many of the businesses themselves have yet to place the emphasis on local that is necessary for turning it into a profitable, traffic driving system.
When it comes to driving traffic to physical locations, there’s a number of different SEO, advertising, promotional and social media strategies that businesses can invest in, so why is 2018 the year that brick-and-mortar businesses should commit to developing or enhancing their local SEO strategy?
Below is a list of 6 reasons why 2018 is the year for Local SEO:1. It’s easy and highly relevant to people’s lives - This is where it all starts. The reason that 20% of people use local search multiple times a week to find nearby businesses is because it’s a functional tool that is relevant across multiple areas of their lives, it’s easy to use and simplifies the entire search and discovery process.
The local search trend has caught on for people who are searching for new apartments, family physicians, hotels, as well as service based businesses like carpet cleaners and plumbers. And because local search has become relevant for so many different aspects of people’s lives, they are quickly becoming more comfortable using it and turning to it time and time again.
This means that Local SEO isn’t just limited to retailers and what you would traditionally consider a “brick-and-mortar” business. Local search has become relevant to any type of business that is looking to earn revenue from in-store customers, patients, residents etc.
2. It’s actionable and helps people decide “where” - Local search is a tool for action and decisions. It enables customers to make faster and more confident decisions on things like where to shop, where to live, where to eat and which doctor’s office to visit. Pretty much all the research about what the customer wants (if any was needed) has already been done. All that is left is for them to find where they can get it.
At that point, Local search provides everything they need to make their decision. Reviews, which are seen more like personal recommendation, tell them what the experience is like, what was good and what was bad. Photos show them visually, what they are getting themselves into and what they can expect in terms of ambiance and vibe. Maps, directions and store hours let them know how to find you and if you’re open for business.
They can get all this information from one location. What else do they need to make their decision?
3. Greater Competition Online - Ecommerce as a whole is growing 23% year-over-year and it’s easier than ever for businesses to set up and establish a digital presence. Factor in the tremendous growth and expansion of Amazon and competing in the online space is becoming increasingly more difficult.
Given that nearly 90% of all sales are still made in-store, brick-and-mortar businesses who leverage their physical location have the ability to compete and succeed where online retailers can’t. The ability to “see, touch, feel and try out items” is the top reason why people prefer shopping in-store. Businesses with physical locations must take advantage of their ability to deliver a more compelling and tangible in-store shopping experience.
4. Growth in hyperlocal trends - There’s a reason that proximity is the number one influencing factor for the local search results: Nearly 90% of customers refuse to drive further than 15 minutes to make a normal purchase. This means that there is a relatively small geographic area from which brick-and-mortar businesses will acquire most of their customers.
While marketing your business on a national, regional and even the state level is great, when it comes to actually driving customers to your locations, you need to target customers on a hyperlocal level. That's who is looking for you, that is who is going to find you and that is who will ultimately be making a purchase from you.
Local SEO improves your visibility in your hyperlocal area and helps you get found by the customers most likely to visit your store.
5. The world is Going Mobile - Nearly 80% of all Americans have a mobile phone and they are on it every chance they get. You can hardly peel them away from it. It’s no surprise then that when it comes to searching for something, they default to their mobile devices over tablets, laptops and desktop computers. In fact, more than 60% of all searches are made on mobile devices and 70% of all local searches are mobile.
The growth in mobile goes hand-in-hand with the growth of local search. It is the perfect combination to how people like to search. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s becoming more reliable every day. No matter where they are in the world, if their on-the-go or hanging around, a quick search on Google Maps, Yelp or Facebook Places can get them to any local business of their choosing.
However, for businesses, this means that ranking in the local search results just got a little more competitive. As screen sizes shrink from desktops to tablets to mobile phones, so too do the number of local search results. Local SEO helps businesses rank higher and get found in the mobile local search results.6. Voice Enabled - Voice search has seen a massive boom in 2017 and it’s only going to expand through 2018 and beyond. Amazon alone was said to have sold “millions” of their new Alexa devices just over Black Friday weekend. And by 2020, 75% of homes are predicted to have voice assistants and nearly 50% of all searches will be done by voice.
Here’s the kicker with voice enabled local searches however - Where with regular local search you had the benefit of people reading your reviews and looking at your photos to show them how good they are, with voice search your only objective is to show Alexa and Siri you are the number 1 option.
This is how a local search goes down when it comes to voice search:
Mike: “Hey Siri, Where is the best Italian restaurant that is open tonight and accepts credit cards?”
Siri: “What was that Mike? I didn’t understand your question”
Siri: “Don’t get short with me”
Mike: “Please find me an Italian restaurant that is open tonight and accepts credit cards”
Siri: “Ok, I found de’Medici Italian Classics. Shall I make reservations for 7 pm?”
Mike: “Fine…Yes, thank you Siri you’re the best”
Siri: “You’re welcome”
If you aren’t the number one result for these specific, conversational type voice searches, Siri and Alexa won’t pick you, and therefore, neither will the customer. A holistic Local SEO strategy helps to ensure that you will be voice search ready in 2018 and the many years to come.
While customers may be shopping and making purchases in store, their searches begin online. Local SEO is essential for businesses from all industries looking to build their online presence and drive traffic to a physical location. Start the new year off right and schedule your FREE demo with Chatmeter to learn how we help businesses manage their online presence and drive more traffic to their locations.