It is well known that Google’s “Pigeon” update in 2014 included an algorithm change that improved their location and distance ranking framework, leading many to focus more on local SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Even though that update was introduced several years ago, it still remains relevant and is an essential ranking factor in SEO work.
Especially for small businesses, local SEO work needs to be a priority. Many small businesses depend on their physical location to bring in revenue. They depend on consistent foot-traffic and the local market to pay the bills. As a small business owner, don’t discredit the potential of your local area to bring in revenue. Too many small businesses put all their resources into expanding their company that they overlook the importance of their local area and end up failing.
Don’t let that happen to your business. Focus on local SEO. Here’s why:
1. Google Loves Local
While Google greatly rewards big businesses with a strong, recognizable brand, their main goal is to give the searchers what they are looking for. The rising importance assigned to localized search is giving small, local businesses some ground to stand on, and being recognized as the solution to many searchers.
Google’s track record of making free tools, like Webmaster Tools and Analytics, available to help business owners improve their online visibility, also shows their desire to enable small-business owners. Of course Google makes these tools free as part of a greater business model, but the fact that they are indeed free certainly indicates Google’s aim to empower small business in the online marketplace.
There’s been a dramatic rise in localized searches with the increasing popularity of mobile search. Searches like “….near me” and queries that are location based show potential customers’ desire to find a local solution to their question or problem. Additionally, the importance of Google, local 3-pack results have remained prominent in SERPs (search engine result pages) for businesses who have their NAP (name, address, and phone number) listed.
2. Increased Individualization
Search results are becoming more and more tailored to the individual, and less to a specified “target audience”. Your history of searches, geographic location, social connections, saved website cookies, and previous online searches have been a part of Google’s search algorithm for years now. Personalization in search results is now the new norm.
In order to deliver the best search results possible, Google uses your personal, public data. No two people will have exactly the same search results. This is why it’s so important that small businesses optimize their website with their location and identifying information, so regardless of the searcher, the business will have a chance of appearing in the search results.
3. Popularity of Mobile Search
With the rise of mobile devices and smart phone use has come the inevitable growth of online, mobile searches.
As you might expect, the vast majority of these mobile searches are being done while on the go. Consequently, these location based searches have become more frequent and hyper-localized. When you do a search online, whether it’s from a desktop or a mobile device, the search engine can track your location and will bring up results that are based around your location.
The popularity and reliance on mobile tech increases the need for better, local SEO work for businesses.
4. Increased Competition
Believe it or not, there are millions of new websites being created every year. With more businesses saturating the online marketplace, competition for visibility is only going to increase. Along with the established big name brands you have to compete with, the addition of answer boxes to SERPs has caused even more competition in rankings.
All of this competition will require small business owners to narrow their focus and target a more niche market. There’s no use wasting valuable resources trying to out-rank a big business, and you shouldn’t want to either. As a small business with a local presence, you have the advantage to market in your local area, so use it! One of the most efficient and cost effective ways to achieve this is – you guessed it right – to optimize your site locally.
Local optimization needs to be a priority for any small business owner. Your local area needs to know that you’re there and available, and you’ll soon find that you’ll be reaping the benefits from it for years to come.