If you grab your phone right now and write something like “best sushi restaurants” in Google Search, chances are you’ll see a list of sushi places near you rather than top sushi franchises around the world. That’s because almost 50% of all Google searches are local, and more than half of “near me” searches typically end up as physical store visits. Google knows that very well, which is why local searches are becoming more and more important for small businesses as time goes by.

Naturally, every small business would like a piece of the action, but not all businesses benefit equally from local SEO.

Who doesn’t benefit from local SEO?

Despite Google’s efforts to support all local businesses, there are certain limitations to what can be done. E-commerce shops, private online sellers, local authors, and basically all companies that refuse to share their info are far less likely to reap local SEO benefits.

So, who does?

Generally, there isn’t a specific business that benefits more from local SEO, but rather specific services that are simply more suitable for users to search for and make decisions on the go. Typically, this includes small local businesses that grab top positions through strong local SEO. That is done through Google My Business, a well-optimized website, or a combination of both.

  • Local Services

This includes florists, plumbers, electricians, hair salons, accountants, fitness centers, real-estate agencies, etc.  

  • Hospitality industry 

Which includes hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, etc.

  • Law firms 

Mainly solicitors, barristers, attorneys, etc.

  • Medical practices 

Mostly doctors, dentists, clinics, hospitals, etc.

So, if a business falls into any of these categories, local SEO could prove very beneficial for acquiring more foot traffic. And there’s a couple of reasons why.

4 reasons why it’s crucial for SMBs 

1. It doesn’t cost a thing

While aiming for exposure through tools like Google Ads might cost you a lot, local SEO will provide it for free. A Google My Business account alone will put you in front of relevant searchers in no time. It’s easy to set up, and it only takes around 15-20 minutes to do so. Combine that with an optimized listing, a website, and a Facebook page, and you’ll get more visitors without spending a dime on ads.

2. Attracts more local customers

Mobile searches need more information on the go, which is why providing them with the solution they’re looking for almost always leads to more in-store visits. That is where local SEO comes into play. A study in the UK has shown that 34% of local businesses are seen in more than 1,000 discovery searches per month. That goes to prove that having your business listed at the very top of the results makes sure it’s taken into consideration before a decision is made. In most cases, this leads to in-store visits, calls, inquiries, and reviews.

3. Builds trust and expands customer base

Studies have shown that 97% of consumers learn more about a business by checking out their internet presence. And when they do, they’re far more likely to visit a company they see on top of the results than the ones on the bottom. It might sound unfair, but it’s just how it is. People expect information instantly and mostly see the first page results as a potential solution to their problem. That is why they usually get 92% of consumer traffic.

At that point, it all dials down to how well the listing they see is optimized (name, address, phone, images) and how many positive reviews it has. Either way, the first page results still gain their trust, no matter what choice was made. That is a very hefty trick for businesses looking to expand their local customer base, gain trust, and stay on top of their competitors.

4. Increases sales

Global stats show that local SEO drives purchases 28% of the time. That is because standing out in the local searches increases the number of calls, inquiries, and actual foot traffic. In most cases, this corresponds to a significant increase in sales.

How to start off with local SEO

Create a Google My Business account

Google My Business profile is the most effective way to rank higher on Google Maps and Google Search. Creating an account and submitting necessary info takes about 15-20 minutes. After a quick verification process, your business profile becomes eligible in Google Search local results, maps, and knowledge panel.

Encourage customers to leave reviews

Getting more positive reviews from customers doesn’t just optimize your Google My Business presence. It also builds trust, increases retention, and encourages new local customers to stop by and buy. Asking for a review in person after closing the sale might not do the trick nowadays, but a post-purchase email might just help you boost your reviews. 

Consider including a well-optimized website

Including a mobile-friendly website with relevant content increases the chances of gaining the upper hand against your competitors. A well-optimized website should explain how your business solves your potential customer’s problem, and why it’s the most convenient option for them.

Submit website to local directories

Having a well-optimized website sounds good in theory. Right? But, without relevant links pointing to it, it won’t get a lot of online authority that’s needed for it to appear on the first page of relevant search results. An easy way to start things off is to submit your website to local directories and leave your link wherever it’s possible to do so. 

Although links from local directories alone won’t be enough to reach the first page, it’s a good place to start. Later on, you can consider engaging in link-building strategies if you wish to take your online presence and authority to the next level. 

To sum it up, basic local SEO is practically hassle-free and very rewarding. But taking it a bit further requires a carefully planned, comprehensive approach. If you’re not sure how to start it off, but you want those top local results, let’s talk about it.