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Local SEO: An essential strategy for impacting online and offline sales 

Photo illustration demonstrating the impact of local SEO

If you’re not optimizing your local online presence, you’re invisible — at least you’re invisible to local customers searching online for you or what you offer. When they’re looking for something “near me,” they’re close to a purchasing decision and eager to connect, whether that’s a phone call or an in-store visit. It’s critical for you to capture their attention.

So how do you ensure you’ll show up at the top of their search results? With quality local listings, positive reviews, and relevant local content — all of which influences search rankings. If you’re not winning in local search, you’re giving away money to your competitors.

Think of it like this: Branded search is your new homepage. It’s someone’s first online encounter with you, so make it count.

Why does local search engine optimization (SEO) matter?

If you need more evidence to care about local SEO, consider these statistics:

  • 46% of all Google searches have local intent
  • “Near me” searches have grown 150% faster than traditional local searches
  • 29% of all Google search engine results pages (SERPs) contain a local pack in the results
  • 74% of consumers search for something local on their phone to visit a store that day
  • 81% of consumers go online to search for products and services to make local buying decisions
  • 86% of consumers look up the location of a business on Google Maps
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 61% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision
  • Reviews can increase conversions by 270%

What does all of this mean? Essentially, if your local listings on sites such as Google or Bing are incorrect or inadequate — wrong phone number, out-of-date address, inaccurate store hours — you risk losing visibility in search, which hinders online and in-store traffic and sales. Not only that, it turns off buyers, as do few or bad reviews.

Google Maps Pack is the place to be

With more than 80% of market share, Google is by far the most popular search engine, which is why everyone is so focused on Google (but its dominance also makes it the most competitive environment for SEO). The Google Maps pack — aka the “3-pack” or “local pack” — is the group of three listings displayed on a SERP for a local search.

Due to the rise of searches with local intent, the map pack now takes up a huge amount of real estate on local search results — especially on mobile — pushing more traditional search results further down the page. So how you rank in the map pack determines where you show up on the SERP. In other words, ranking No. 1 in local search means ranking No. 1 in the map pack.

So if you’re a local business, and your goal is to rank well in search, then you need to be in the local pack.

Tips for improving your local SEO

Whether you’re a small business with only a few locations or a national brand with hundreds of storefronts, you need to pay attention to your local search rankings. If you don’t, you’re missing out on sales.

Here’s a checklist for ensuring you’re doing all the right things to influence local SEO:

  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listings. Because Google is the top search engine in the world, its listings count the most. Once you claim your GMB profiles, you can control how your business information appears online. Plus, you can enhance your listings with Google Posts or Google Shopping. Perhaps most important, the better your GMB listing is, the better shot you have at ranking in the coveted local map pack.
  • Claim and optimize your other local listings. In addition to GMB, you want to own your listings on other sites, such as Bing, Apple Maps, and Yelp. The more accurate and comprehensive your business information is across the local ecosystem, the better. You can ensure your customers see accurate data no matter where they’re looking or when. Plus, more accurate citations from key websites can improve your local map pack visibility.
  • Manage your online reputation. Buyers consume and trust online reviews. So if your business doesn’t have any — or, worse, people are saying negative things about you online — it dampers sales and consumer confidence. In addition to responding to reviews — and, equally important, taking a hard look at the issues being raised by your customers — you can solicit additional reviews in an effort to change sentiment and boost your position in search. Search engines love reviews because consumers do, so they play a big role in how your listings get ranked.
  • Build local webpages. If all of your storefronts have landing pages, then you not only increase your brand’s local visibility, but you also enhance your brand’s overall SEO. Better still, local landing pages improve the experience for your customers: Beyond the usual NAP (name, address, phone), you can develop relevant content tailored to the market, add features such as Google Maps or click to call, and make purchasing possible without someone having to visit your main site.

How to best manage your brand’s local presence

The more locations you have, the more you have to worry about. Thankfully, there are solutions out there for managing such things — listings, reputation, local landing pages — and we offer one of them. Our software-as-a-service platform, combined with active involvement from our SEO whizzes, takes the guesswork and anxiety out of your local presence management, so you can operate more efficiently and preserve hard-earned brand equity. With us, you can optimize your local listings across all sites, review and respond to every review from every source and analyze buyer sentiment, develop user- and SEO-friendly local pages, and get detailed reporting on all of it. We’re ready when you are.

Andrew Dutcher
Andrew Dutcher
Andrew specializes in enterprise technical SEO and content strategy, with more than a decade of experience working with retail brands such as Carter’s, Banana Republic, and Athleta and B2B brands such as Insight. A lover of food and music, he likes to travel, go to concerts, and seek out new experiences.