For any local business, getting more calls, or people through the doors is essential. While pretty much all businesses have some kind of website these days, many local business owners are still overlooking the importance of maximizing their visibility online. The result is that nobody is seeing their websites, or in other words, many people don’t even realize these businesses exist.
Recently, we completed a report of some of the most important SEO statistics relevant to local business owners (get the report here). In this article, we will cover three of the most important takeaways from that report.
Local Customers Start Their Search Online
At this point, it’s pretty well known that most consumers begin their buying research online. In fact, Google reports that 80% of consumers take to the internet to find information on products or services they require. But did you know that almost half of all Google searches are for local info? This means that businesses who aren’t maximizing their online visibility are missing out on so many potential customers.
Most small business owners are accustomed to having customers find them by their storefronts, local print ads, or rely on their name recognition from being part of the community for so many years. However, with the changing, cyclical nature of neighbourhood populations, combined with factors such as tourism, business travel, and even potential customers coming from adjacent towns and cities, it becomes quite clear how important it is to be seen on the web. At the very least every single business should claim and optimize their Google My Business page.
Mobile Device Use Drives Sales
Over the past twenty years we’ve seen the evolution of mobile device use grow. Nowadays pretty much everyone has a smartphone, and increasingly, we are using these devices to make purchases. In fact, by 2021 mobile devices will influence over $1.4 Trillion in local sales. Consumers are using their devices in a variety of ways that result in a purchase. For example, making purchases from mobile websites and apps are only one way. More and more people are actually using their phones at point of sale, with apps like Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Typically, it is larger, national outfits that tend to adopt these new technologies first, but local businesses can capitalize as well. Companies that integrate Shopify Plus websites can utilize this technology at point of sale as well.
Another important factor for local businesses to consider is targeting mobile devices in their marketing campaigns. How great would it be, if people who are located near your store at that very moment, can be notified of a flash sale, or presented with an exclusive offer? Well not only is this possible, it’s being done by small local businesses and large national enterprises alike. The ability to provide a timely offer to potential customers can make a real difference to your sales at the end of the year. Getting the attention of as many people as possible is a fundamental goal for local businesses. If they don’t know you exist, how can they give your business a chance? And afterall, you know that once they get through your door, those potential customers are going to be impressed, not only by your offering, but your overall customer experience. Which brings us to the last important statistic.
Reviews Can Make or Break Your Business
We’ve covered it alot on this blog. Reviews are the word-of-mouth referral of yesteryear. A recent study by BrightLocal found that 73% of consumers trust a business based on positive online reviews. What this means for local businesses, is that it is imperative to not only generate positive reviews, but to have as many as possible. It should also be noted that more recent reviews hold more weight. Not just in the eyes of potential customers, but as a ranking factor. Google now takes review scores into consideration when prioritizing search results in the Map Pack. Instituting an effective reputation management system is no longer negotiable for local businesses.
Does it have to be complicated? No, it doesn’t! While there are many different platforms for generating and managing reviews these days, many smaller businesses can benefit by simply having a sign on their storefront window, or even, gasp, asking their customers directly for a review. Remember, people simply want to feel heard and appreciated. By taking a proactive approach you will not only get those good reviews, but also be able to address any negative ones directly.
Nowadays, local customers find your business primarily online. In fact, many people are making it a point to discover businesses near them, and they are turning to search engines on their mobile devices to do so. Targeting mobile devices is essential in 2019. Obtaining positive reviews needs to be a priority for local businesses.