Google My Business Optimization: 7 Key Benefits of Local SEO in 2020

January 6, 2020 by in category SEO tagged as , , with 0 and 3
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Local SEO is essentially about optimizing your website and your content to get more search engine presence in local search queries (local keywords).

Most digital marketing channels offer the opportunity to target the national audience or even the whole world. However, some businesses will get more benefit in focusing on targeting the local audience. For example, brick and mortar businesses like a restaurant or car repair shop, or an online business servicing a specific local area.

With the search engines and especially Google are now the main way we learn about new businesses and especially local businesses, local SEO should be a very important element in any local marketing strategy.

So, how exactly can working with local SEO services benefit your business? Below, we will learn some of the key benefits. Before we begin, however, let us first learn about what local SEO actually is.

 

What Actually Is Local SEO?

Local SEO, back in the earlier days of the internet when Google SERP used to be plain and simple, local SEO simply means SEO that is targeting local keywords. The “local keyword” back then is also simpler than what it is today, which mainly involves the “business type+location name” formula: restaurants (business type) in New York (location name) and similar ones.

Nowadays, however, there are two major changes in how Google functions that changed the essence of local SEO as a whole. They are:

  • “Near me” search queries enabled by Google Maps and geotagging. Google can now properly recognizes a searcher’s location and so when the searcher is located in (to use the same example as the above) New York, the query “restaurants near me” will produce the same results as “restaurants in New York”.
  • The inclusion of Google Maps results as a form of featured snippets. For local keywords and “near me” keywords, Google will display Google Maps results (to be exact, the top 3 results from Google Maps) above the organic results, as illustrated with the image below.

As a result of these changes, local SEO today can be divided into two things:

  • Ranking on Google Maps results. To be more specific, ranking on the top-3 spots, often called the Google Maps 3-pack or just “local 3 pack”.
  • The traditional form of organic SEO in Toronto: optimizing your website and your content to rank for local keywords in Google SERP’s organic spots.

Both require very different approaches from each other. Traditional local SEO is in most ways, very similar to traditional SEO, with just the target keywords being the difference. However, aiming to rank on Google Maps ranking requires a very different approach, as it is based on your Google My Business listing.

7 Reasons Your Business Needs Local SEO

Now that we are on the same page about the concept of local SEO in general, we can finally discuss the key benefits of getting local SEO services.

Let’s start with the first one.

 

1. Local SEO is Cost-Effective and Can Be 100% Free

If you are a local business targeting mainly local customers, local SEO and especially Google Maps SEO are some of, if not the most affordable digital marketing channel to focus on. In fact, if you are willing to do everything by yourself, it can be 100% free.

Another good thing to learn is that local SEO is not rocket science, and anyone can actually do it. Optimizing for Google Maps ranking will—in essence—, only involves four main steps:

  • Add or claim your Google My Business listing, and make sure your listing is verified.
  • Optimizing your Google My Business listing. The main focus is to provide accurate and up-to-date information that is attractive and valuable for your target audience.
  • Build more local citations. A local citation is any online mention of your brand’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). We can mainly achieve this by listing our business in various online directories according to your niche and your location.
  • Get more positive reviews, mainly on your Google Maps/Google My Business listing, but also on other major third-party sites that are relevant for your niche (for example, if you are a restaurant, getting reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp will help your Google Maps performance).

That’s it.

As you can see, the key activities required to rank on Google Maps are technically not that difficult, but they do demand consistency and hard work, mainly in building citations and getting more positive reviews.

 

2. Google Maps Is The Main Way People Find Local Businesses

Ask yourself, how do we often find local businesses these days? Unless you are living under a rock or are totally off the grid, probably there are two main answers: recommendations by friends/family members/influencers on social media or you proactively look for them on Google.

A study has suggested that 46% of total Google searches are about finding local information, while at the same time, 97% of surveyed users have searched online to find local businesses. Also, more and more people are searching for local businesses directly on the Google Maps app.

So, if you don’t make yourself available on Google Maps and optimize your presence, you are going to miss out on a lot of potential prospects and customers.

 

3. The Rise of Mobile Browsing and Voice Search

It’s no secret that in the past few years, more and more people are using their mobile devices to browse and search the internet. Paired with the rising popularity of voice search, “near me” or “close by” search queries grew by 900% throughout 2018 and 2019.

As we have established further above, these “close by” and “near me” queries will feature Google Maps results in its ESRP. Also, customers have twice as many brand interactions on mobile nowadays compared to anywhere else.

Mobile search will continue to be the future of the internet, so again, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity and embrace the fact that local search for mobile devices should be the main way in ensuring your local brand’s visibility. By 2021 according to Forrester, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales in the US.

This will also mean that you need to have a mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive site to capture these visitors. According to HubSpot, more than 80% of consumers expect local businesses to have mobile-friendly sites.

 

4. The interactivity of Google Maps Results

According to Google’s own statement, its mission is to provide the audience with the most reliable and relevant results. So, year by year, Google is continuously improving the user experience aspects of the SERP.

One of the key improvements they’ve made in recent years is how they made some of the featured snippets clickable and interactive to provide more relevant information for the users or give an easier time for the visitors to take specific actions.

This includes the Google Maps results featured as rich snippets, where you can ask for driving/walking direction, check menus and book reservations (for restaurants), call the business premise, or visit the website with just a single click, straight from the SERP.

As a result of this interactivity, we can get more conversions from these Google Maps results, as we will discuss on this next point.

 

5. High Conversion Rate of Local Search

Right above, we have discussed how the interactivity of Google Maps results as rich snippets can significantly improve the conversion rate from store visitations to phone calls to sales revenue.

According to WordStream, 72% of prospects who performed a local search will make a visit to a store located within 5 miles. And 88% of customers who made a local business search will either visit or call the store within the 24-hour period.

So, not only local SEO is very important in improving your local business’s online presence, but it can also significantly help in closing the deal.

 

6. More Local Citations=More Traffic and Awareness

A key aspect of boosting your Google Maps ranking and also organic SERP ranking for local keywords is to get more local citations (as well as backlinks from local authoritative sites).

Besides the benefit of boosting your Google Maps ranking, these citations and backlinks are also valuable sources of traffic to your website, as well as to your offline store.

A proper local citation must mention accurate information about your brand name, phone number, complete address (NAP), and nowadays, your website’s URL. So, those who saw these citations can be aware of your business’s existence and take the necessary action.

 

7. More Positive Reviews=More Conversions

Similar to the above, another key factor in improving Google Maps ranking is getting more positive reviews from existing customers.

In this matured digital environment, however, a positive review is far more valuable than simply being a Google Maps ranking signal. 73% of surveyed consumers admitted that they only trust businesses after checking that a particular business has averagely positive reviews. Another study mentioned that 97% of surveyed costumers say that reviews influence their buying decision.

Since a key aspect of local SEO is to encourage more (positive) reviews from more costumers, this practice can indirectly affect our overall online reputation, which in turn, will affect the conversion rate.

 

Conclusion

If you are a business that targets your local community as your main prospect, investing in local SEO is a must.

Local SEO is a very affordable digital marketing channel that is also very effective due to one main reason: Google Maps results are now one of the main ways people learn about local businesses, with a high CTR and conversion rate.

Above, we have discussed 7 key benefits of implementing local SEO, and if you are a local business, these reasons should be enough to convince you that local SEO is indeed a valuable digital marketing investment in 2020 and onwards.

 

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