It’s important for small businesses to know that local SEO is a start, not a solution.
Big companies typically aren’t more nimble than small ones. But there’s one area in particular where the big guys are speedier. It is in reaching the large and growing number of consumers who use digital resources, such as mobile search, mobile websites, and social media to find businesses to secure a product or service.
Large companies have an almost automatic edge because they have the robust technology ecosystems to take advantage of this new marketing landscape. However, small business owners and entrepreneurs can’t access them. Many businesses can’t afford the same tools or lack the SEO expertise to employ enterprise-level solutions to address their digital marketing needs. They are often forced to turn to local vendors that typically offer a disparate set of narrow solutions that address only a limited set of the challenges that face local businesses.
An example of this is a new bar/grill opened near me. They chose a “local SEO” company that got them on Google Maps alright, but that company also created a webpage that not only fails the Google “mobile-friendly” test, but doesn’t format correctly and is unreadable on my Samsung Galaxy.
This, when the most common mobile search is for “restaurants” and the 4th most common mobile search is “bars”. Great…they show on maps, but when you touch the map to go to the website, epic fail at the exact moment they were likely to be your next customer.
Challenges and opportunities for small businesses
This dynamic is making it harder day by day for small businesses. And with consumers adapting to new technologies at an ever-faster pace, smaller businesses risk falling further behind in the future. Consider these startling statistics:
- Half of small companies do not even have a website, according to a study by Research Now.
- Ninety percent of small businesses have not optimized their site for mobile, according to the same research.
- While 78% of consumers’ purchases start with a web search, most small businesses have little to no web presence.
To compete successfully, small businesses need to achieve five marketing musts:
- Build a website that works well on both desktops and mobile devices
- Claim local directory listings on sites like Google and Bing (maps)
- Use relevant keywords for map searches
- Establish a strong social media presence
- Continually add new web content with SEO for long-tail and “near-me” searches
Even small marketing steps can have big payoffs. One of our clients, received two large orders from government agencies (VA and FPS) in just days after launching a new “mobile-friendly” site. Both credited “your new site”, when placing the orders.
All is not lost for small businesses
This evolution is illustrated by how small businesses used to turn to the Yellow Page marketing, where they paid for the number of directories published. As a consultant back then, I remember how expensive a business card ad (called 1/8 page) that ran hundreds a month (in 90’s dollars no less), then easily doubled or tripled with colors, even in a middle market like Rochester NY.
Over, in the last 15 years we’ve migrated to Google for information. The big difference? Yellow page ads were placed by size, then seniority. Google placement is the right combination of SEO and relevant content to the query. A new website with new content and the correct SEO can sail past established search return listings with older information and no recent SEO . There is no “seniority placement” on Google.
Then about 10 years ago, Facebook hit, then LinkedIn, and now social media has evolved, becoming a valued conduit for inbound/content marketing. Recently, the big change is the conversion to mobile for searches and this has caused the recent explosion in “local SEO marketing services” that offer prepackaged solutions.
But being on Google Maps is just the beginning, and the success of internet marketing platforms for small businesses will lie in delivering flexible digital marketing solutions that combines content marketing with extensive SEO, a strong social media presence, a responsive website that works well on all devices, along with “local SEO”.
Because Local SEO only works if everything else is in place.
Check out this Infographic on Local SEO by SEOReseller‘s Itamar Gero