For starters, you need to care because that’s where your prospective clients are identifying their next product or service provider. When someone does a search, the results that come up are:
1. Paid advertising. Companies pay to have their ad show up when certain terms are searched for and visitors click on the ad. They are currently at the top and right side of the search results. While it does work as a way to buy targeted traffic, it doesn’t yield cost-effective results as well as organic or local.
2. Organic results. These arewhere websites or listings show up because they address the subject entered in the search box. They’ve long been the coveted way to get traffic to your website, but in most cases small business have been shut out by larger ones who also pay for search engine optimization on their websites. Until recently, organic results used to come at the top of the page – right after the paid results – but the major search engines now often display local results above organic results.
3. Local results. Geographically specific, local results are based on the actual location of the person doing the search or a location that is in the search term, such as “San Diego Car Repair.” This is something the search engines have started giving a higher priority to delivering, since you’re not likely to look for a dentist, for example, that isn’t located near your home or office. Local results tend to show up above organic results, making them very important to businesses who want new clients, patients, customers.
That leads directly to why you should care. Local search is currently one of the best ways to be found when a prospective client is trying to find someone who does what you do. In fact, if they do the search using their smart phone, it’s extremely likely they will get local search results since, according to Google, 76% of all searches done using a smart phone are local in nature.
Take a moment and think about your current clientele. How many of them live within 5 miles of your business? In most cases it’s often as high as 80% of your clients are in that 5 mile radius. While there are exceptions to the rule, it’s highly likely that the bulk of your clients live fairly close to your place of business.
That’s why the search engines made the changes to how they deliver results. It’s their way of providing a better “search experience”. This is good news for businesses, because now you have a chance to show up in the local results and capture new business.
If you’re a service business and you travel all over the county, local results are still going to make a big difference for you. In most cases, you can define your service area and, if you correctly do the many things that score ranking points on Google, Yahoo and Bing, you’ll show up well online.
A major benefit of showing up on the first page of search results is that people tend to associate high search ranking with expertise. Another benefit is a much greater likelihood of your listing actually getting clicked on. Studies show that over 90% of all clicks happen on the first page, suggesting that firms on the second or later pages are not going to fare well.
Today, it is no longer a matter of “if you have an online presence”. It’s a matter of “how well you rank when people search”. If you look like an expert in your area of business, rank well and have online reviews from satisfied customers saying you do great work, you’re well on your way to landing new accounts.
If, however, someone searches and you don’t show up, you know what happens – they do business with one of your competitors.
That’s why we built a team to focus on local search. It’s the first (and easiest) step you can take to growing your business today.