We’re not psychic, but there’s a good chance you’re reading this on a mobile device – and it’s probably your smartphone. A recent study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found that the average user checks their smartphone up to an astounding 150 times per day. We will reach a point sometime this year where 60% of consumer traffic to leading websites will come from mobile devices. You might be thinking to yourself, “Thanks for the statistic, but what does that have to do with local search engine optimization?”

Like peanut butter and jelly, your smartphone and local search engine optimization were made for each other. Here’s what you need to know about local SEO, and why it’s the key to growing your business.

Your Own Backyard

There’s a more important reason why people search for businesses with their smartphone besides the fact that it probably never leaves their sight unless they’re taking a shower. People use their smartphones to look for local businesses so they can act on the results. They want instant gratification. That requires local results.

Don’t just take our word for it. A recent study by GE Capital Retail Bank showed that more than 80% of consumers go online to research before making a purchase from local businesses. The same study also revealed that 75% of consumers say they’ve decided to visit a local business after finding it in a search result.

If you want your business to show up in these search results, you have to make sure you make yourself known to the big search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The Right Time and Place

When you engage in local SEO practices, you promote your business to local customers exactly at the point when they’re expressing the desire to buy your product or service. They’re often literally right in your neighborhood. Current Google statistics show that:

  • 88% of their users search on a smartphone
  • 86% look the location of a local business using Google Maps
  • 50% are searching for a local business address
  • 53% want directions to local businesses
  • 54% want business hours
  • 50% of those who look for a local business with their smartphone will make a visit with a day
  • 51% are searching for local business information while they are on the go – meaning that they could be ready to buy for you right away
  • 80% want search results customized to their city, Zip Code, or their immediate surroundings
  • 72% who search for information on their smartphone end up visiting a local business that’s within 5 miles of them

Your Takeaway from These Stats?

You need to show up in local searches. How?

If you haven’t done it already, get active on Google My Business. It’s easy to use. Here are a few tips to crank up this local SEO monster:

  • Don’t skimp on photos. People want to see what you’re all about, and Google My Business lets you post as many as you like.
  • Be thorough. Fill in all the blanks.
  • Pay attention to what’s happening on the dashboard. Read the customer reviews and act on them, if necessary
  • Update the information there so it doesn’t get stale.

The ultimate goal with your Google My Business efforts is to land in what’s known as the “Google 3-Pack.” When you use google to search for a product or service, the search engine giant usually reserves the top result for three local businesses that match what you’re looking for. Preferences go to local businesses who have provided Google with the local SEO information it needs to generate relevant user results. Are you in the 3-Pack…or will customers see your competitor?

Speaking of competitors, Google is king of the mountain – but they’re not the only game in town. Bing is Google’s biggest competitor, and it offers Bing Places for Business. Make sure you’re listed here, too.

Get Your Directory Listings in Order

In fact, there are over 70 major directories online where it’s important you keep your information updated on a regular basis, as these directories “feed” each other with information. If you have inconsistent or incorrect information in a few of your directories, it can spread like wildfire creating a data nightmare for you to clean up.

Wondering how your business shows up in these directories now? We have a comprehensive list of these major directories and a free directory listing scan which will show you how your business stacks up – check out our free directory listing scan here!

You’ll see that many of these directories are also social media networks. Local shoppers want to buy from local businesses – and positive reviews from social networks make selling to them a slam dunk.

Top Local SEO Tips

Now that you have a better idea why it’s crucial to ensure that search engines have local information about you, here are ways you can make that happen.

  1. Match information on your website pages with keywords, and reference your keywords in the title of your page.
  2. Pick the right listings. Don’t try to spread your net too wide. People looking for a Chinese takeout restaurant will search for exactly that. They might miss you if you decided to list yourself in the more general restaurant
  3. Don’t neglect to complete your Schema markup. Not sure what that is? We can help.
  4. Be consistent with the format of your identification. This is more commonly known as “NAP,” which stands for name, address, and phone number. It’s a key ranking factor in local SEO. Pick a format and make it clear. Use our free directory listing scan to see how your “NAP” listings look across the web.
  5. Encourage customer reviews. Not only do listings with reviews stand out, they encourage others to participate. It builds your ranking.

Yes, Local SEO is a Lot of Work!

Keeping your local business out in front of customers who are looking for it is NOT a “set it and forget it” effort. We find this is the top reason why many small businesses shy away from engaging in local SEO.

No one argues that it takes constant work to keep it up. But, no one argues – and the statistics back it up – that local SEO creates a steady flow of customers to your doors. Our clients will happily attest to that. Care to hear a few success stories?