These days, in many kiosks, the post office and other places, the telephone directories and the Yellow Pages can be found again. It wasn’t so long ago that these little catalogs helped in the search for local service providers, craftsmen and businesses. In the age of the Internet, of course, this is now a thing of the past, and most of these books eke out an existence as paperweights or directly in the waste paper.
For a long time, direct searches in the surrounding area were not really Google’s strength. Users tended to find nationally active companies and only with a little luck – and the right optimization with suitable long-tail keywords – actually found a service provider in their own area. Recently, however, the search engine shifted more and more in the direction of local and regional search. For companies from the SME sector and for those with direct public traffic, this opens up completely new opportunities for online marketing.
Local SEO as a new and lucrative trend in online marketing
In general, of course, it’s not true that Google didn’t really care about proximity search until a few years ago. As far back as 2007, there have always been small updates that made it easier to find listings in the immediate area as well. However, it was only with the widespread use of mobile devices and thus a greater shift to local markets that Google also increased its activities in this regard. The result is a significant adjustment in the search algorithm and the revision of its own business presences with the help of Google My Business.
But what is actually the goal?
Why should a regionally active company that has at most worked minimally in the area of search engine optimization now suddenly rely more heavily on the power of the search engine? The advantages resulting from the trend of Local SEO appeal to both SMEs and local craftsmen:
- Increased visibility when searching for products or services in the area.
- Easy contact and control of your own image by means of Google My Business
- Easy communication of important data such as opening hours and contact addresses through prominent placement in the SERPs
- Goodies like an automatic route calculation with the help of Google Maps
Google has done quite a bit in recent years to integrate local events more strongly into its own search. The basis for this nowadays is the Google My Business entry. With just a few clicks, your own company can be placed on the map or taken over if it has already been created. Shortly thereafter, there is a verification and the profile can already be edited. Of course, this is not the end of the optimization for better regional results.
Increase awareness and sales via local search
One third of all search queries on Google are said to have a regional connection. This means that you don’t have to compete with the global players because customers aren’t even looking for them. Instead, they want to use Google to find a good craftsman, a local company, a specific service provider or simply a store that meets their needs. In doing so, the search engine is already relying on users’ default location. For example, anyone who enters “workshop Hamburg” on their cell phone and has activated the location feature will prominently find workshops in the immediate vicinity. In times when people are increasingly working via mobile devices, this opens up many new potentials.
In order to succeed, it really only takes a few steps to get started. The following areas are especially important when it comes to success with Local SEO:
- Maintained and updated Google My Business listing with all important data.
- A well-optimized page on the Internet, which already has SEO measures and is present in the ranking.
- High quality backlinks to your own site to increase general relevance.
- Optional activities in the field of social marketing. Twitter, Facebook and Co help generate visibility and traffic.
- Entries in digital business directories.
Local SEO works in principle therefore not much different than the classic optimization for search engines. The important thing is that there is a good website that picks up the visitors in doubt and also provides further content and required information. With good backlinks and a listing in the digital business directories, the local reference can be increased even further, which can play a high role for Google’s algorithm. Active presences in the social networks are not mandatory, but strongly recommended in this day and age, especially with the background of actively managed online marketing.
The interplay of integrity, interaction and communication
Although it is now clear which aspects the algorithm focuses on and how it weights different factors in the evaluation, optimization with a local reference is still quite new. Google is still re-sorting and it can always happen that you have to assert yourself against new competition in your own area. There are some measures that can be used to establish the local reference in particular. For example, the “NAP” plays a role: Name, Address, Phone – name, address and phone number. These should be the same everywhere in the network in order to achieve the highest possible number of connections and thus relevance.
Lastly, Google is of course working more and more with interaction in this day and age. One example is the possibility that visitors can rate the companies that are active in Google My Business. In addition, ratings from other sites are also included. So active interaction with customers is just as important as a well-managed presence on the web. In general, interaction and communication should be at the top of the list when it comes to being successful in today’s online marketing.
The potential for success through regional and local optimization is there. However, many companies shy away from the work that lies behind a well-groomed presence on the web. It can be advisable to look for a good partner for the tasks around search engine optimization or even the entire online marketing. This partner will ensure that the company’s own business benefits from developments on the Internet and that the owner can continue to concentrate on his core business. A synergy in which the successes are visible on the net – without tying up too many company resources.