What is Local Search?
Local Search, or “Local SEO,” is a set of information management techniques that works across a multitude of on-line and off-line sources to ensure that properly optimized information surfaces in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), for queries related to what a business offers. In easier terms, local SEO is your business’s ability to rank in a search engine when someone is seeking services or products your business might offer, within a specific geographical area.
How does local SEO look in action?
You have just arrived in Portland, Maine with your family. Unsure of what to eat, you, like 50% of local-mobile searchers, turn to your phone. “Best place to eat in Portland.”
As users of Google, we know and expect the search engine will recognize you’re in Portland, Maine. You expect that the results returned will be relevant to your query. You know you will have a list of options to choose from and those options will be tied to online reviews that you can peruse, menus that you can preview, and pictures of food items you will want to eat. Needing to determine who has the best value, a kid’s menu, and a great patio, so you can soak up the ocean air, you look at your phone. The results on your phone reflect all of this information, and you choose the restaurant that best suits your needs. Your family is nourished, the kids got awesome chicken fingers, and you and your partner drank a great locally crafted beer. Success!
How did that local information get into the SERP?
Search Engines like Google and Bing perform what we call a “crawl” of every web page on the internet. During this crawl, they capture and store information related to hundreds of complex data points. Among this data is information about local businesses and the services they offer, be it cooking food, pouring drinks, or fixing roofs. This data crawl also includes, but is not limited to, gathering business address, business hours, phone number, associated online presence (think Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and written reviews of those services or products. The data is then stored in gargantuan computers and called forward to be displayed when related searches are made. This display in local SEO is known as the map pack or the snack pack.
With so many local choices, what business does a Search Engine choose?
A great user experience is what search engines are after. They want to return the best possible results for a given query in order to increase the likelihood that a person will continue to use their service. Location data is crucial in providing a good consumer “journey.” If a user searches for “best place to eat near me,” the results need to surface relevant locations near them, and not on the other side of town. But, how about results in a place like Portland, with so many great restaurants in such a condensed area?
This is where local search optimization efforts come into play. If you own a business, and you want that business to appear more often, and more frequently above your competition, then you must be sure that the information you are presenting to a Search Engine best fits the searchers intent. You must ensure that your website, social media pages, and other online presence answer users’ questions. If not, they will return to the search results and pick one that does, and your business will suffer the expense of a lost transaction.
Why does Local Search Optimization help your business?
Let’s do a test. Yes, really. Open your phone, or open a new tab in your browser. Search for “Best donut near me.” Review the results, read the reviews, and really, truly explore which result you would select. We will wait.
Now, answer this question: How far into those results did you dig before you made a selection? Was it in the top 3 results? The top 10? Did you push further into the maps, or just stay on the map pack? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the value of local optimization explains itself. With so many opportunities happening so often, it is vital to your bottom dollar that you capture as much of that searcher intent as possible. If you don’t capture the attention of those searching for your products, you can be assured your competitors are.
How can we help with your Local SEO?
We get it! We really do. You want to perform better in local search results, and you want to better serve potential customers when they are searching for the services you offer. The big problem is time. If everyone had all the time they wanted, no one would need to hire anyone to do anything, as they could learn and manage it on their own. In reality, though, a business owner has so many other tasks that demand their attention that something like local search performance is low on the day-to-day list of priorities.
This is where we come in. At Portland Website Co. we have highly-trained specialists that concentrate on developing and maintaining a business’s local search presence. We have the added bonus of being local residents who truly care about the communities we live in, the economies we participate in, and the businesses we represent. If you, or someone you know, need some help attracting customers to your business, give us a call at 207-887-2219 and see how we might be able to help you!