Importance Of Local SEO For A Small Business In Toronto | 2016
Local SEO is one of the most cost effective online marketing approaches that a Toronto based small business can leverage to improve its online presence within the local community. This strategic marketing approach is effective in helping prospective customers find information about local goods and services. Furthermore, local optimization can help a local business drive these potential customers to its brick and mortar locations where consumers can find what they are looking for. As search engines continue to become more focused on proximity searches and locally targeted content, the true value of localized SEO is growing.
The 2016 definition | What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business website that wants to target potential customers in specific geographical locations. More specifically, Local SEO is about helping potential customers to find trusted brick and mortar locations, that offer local goods and services, by helping “Google to provide relevant information to local users,” when they search. Ultimately, Google loves businesses that make an effort to build relationships with their communities.
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Which businesses can benefit from Local SEO?
How search engines determine page rankings changes in response to how users are accessing and engaging them. As search engines adapt to mobile usage, their search rankings have increased the value of user location. While this functionality benefits the consumer with increasingly individualized results, it also gives local businesses a better opportunity to compete with larger enterprises. A large business with lots of authority online can retain their web presence on SERPs without adopting local SEO practices. However, any smaller business with at least one physical location stands to benefit from Local SEO by having an increased chance of showing up in search results around that location.
Why Should a small business use Local SEO?
Optimizing a website for local search can help a business break through the clutter. There are many small and medium sized businesses in Toronto. Local SEO builds better engagement with the surrounding region and consumer base around a brick mortar location. Google is increasing the importance that proximity has on page rankings. Local SEO makes small businesses more competitive by switching the focus from worldwide to local. For a small business in Toronto, with a brick and mortar location, this means that visibility of its products or services among its most likely customers is significantly higher.
Mobile use continues to overtake other devices. With mobile use still on the rise, it is crucial to ensure mobile is taken into account when developing SEO strategy.
Mobile users are easier to target directly with Local SEO. On mobile, the average consumer is more likely to search thinking locally with 50 percent of mobile searches being used for local queries, 61 percent of these mobile searches convert into sales. Furthermore, 71% of respondents reported searching for a business’ information prior to the first visit. In April of 2015, Google introduced the mobile friendly algorithm. This update places much more importance on the usability of a website on mobile. Websites that are not well optimized for mobile usage will not rank as well those that are. You can check if your site is mobile friendly by running Google’s free “mobile friendly test“.
As the trend of mobile dominance continues to grow the value of local search is poised to increase. Wearable technology will push this trend further, making location a crucial factor in search and engagement.
Ultimately the value of Local SEO for small businesses is about visibility and relevance online to their target audience. The geographic focus of Local SEO enables you to become more visible in the places your consumers are already looking.
The highest overall ranking factors for local SEO are illustrated in the chart below.
Among the highest-ranking factors for SERP from Google’s latest upgrade include GMB (Google my business), physical address, citations from local domains, and proximity to point of search. The focus on link building is reduced, with more emphasis placed on location, consistency, local reviews and relevance.
One more important factor is making sure to retain consistency for NAP (Name, Address, Phone) across all platforms. Anywhere your name, address, and phone number are listed they must always be presented in the same format in order to maximize their SERP impact.
Social Media & Local Directories
Social media & local directories are great tools to build your presence and search ranking. They are free and/or affordable ways to greatly extend your reach. Here are a few of the most common:
Google My Business is an online integrated business interface that is designed to increase your Google+ customer base. What makes it most valuable, however, is that Google gives GMB preference, so it will improve your page ranking on this search engine and it takes location into consideration. As an added bonus, Google My Business is free to create and maintain.
Yelp allows for companies to receive genuine reviews from customers. It ranks highly on search engines and is an excellent opportunity for building links from a locally dominant domain. While Yelp is the most recognized review site, you should seek out others as well. Review sites and forums that cater directly to a location or a category are great for reaching a niche target. A good example of this would be a restaurant having reviews on Trip Advisor. They benefit both from proximity and category interest. It is well worth incentivizing customers to leave reviews, considering the impact it can have.
Local business directories are another great opportunity for building your local relevance. They provide another platform for your business to be found by those searching locally, as well as building links with a locally dominant domain. Both of these factors will have a direct influence on your SERP.
Optimize Content and Links for Local Relevance
Content and links can be optimized for local relevance by adding the name of the city or region as well as local keyword data into landing pages, titles, and links. Longer content is considered to be an effective ranking factor. The average word count of pages that rank amongst the top ten results on Google is at least 2,000 words.
Getting involved in the community both online and offline creates opportunities for Local SEO. Attending, running, and sponsoring relevant community events ups your value in the community as well as creating openings to have event groups and communities, such as MeetUps, allows for local link building.
Involvement in your community gives more opportunity for press coverage. You can request interviews with local news or relevant online bloggers and social influencers, creating an affordable and effective way to build your online presence and increase your reach. Entering local awards ups your value as well as creating more inbound local links.
A Local SEO Strategy is one of the most powerful tactics a small business in Toronto can leverage to grow their revenue. Google recommends hiring a professional SEO service sooner rather than later. To get the best SEO service, retaining a Toronto based digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO is the best way to ensure all your bases are covered–the result would be a business website that is effectively optimized for Local SEO.
A well rounded digital agency has a team of experienced search engine optimization specialists and strategists working together to leverage all possible avenues that will grow your business. SEO specialists will take a deep dive into your business category and create a bespoke SEO program that is aligned with your business objectives. Local SEO will attract traffic to your website, and can drive consumers into your brick and mortar location, leading to an increase in both sales and ROI.
To learn more about how a local SEO marketing strategy can help grow your Toronto based small business, contact DSM.