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Why SEO is the Best Form of Marketing for a Local Business

Most local businesses fall into the small business category. Even if your goal is to eventually become a multinational corporation, right now you are focusing on drawing in customers from your local area. Maybe you’ve placed an advertisement in the local newspaper. Maybe you’ve placed one in the local yellow pages. While these are all good places to start, they don’t take into account the mindset of today’s consumer.

Even when looking for a business in their local area, most consumers will get online and use a search engine, rather than looking in local yellow pages or in the local newspaper, they search the internet. And while you might have a webpage, if you are not making use of local SEO, you are not going to be easily found by potential customers.

The truth is that the vast majority of customers, even if you sell nothing online, will find you through a listing on a search engine. Having a website is not enough. If people in your area cannot find that website, if it is not readily available, they will not be able to learn about and decide to visit your business. Many local businesses make the mistake of believing that posting a few ads on local forums will do the trick—but that will only bring in a small fraction of the people that will find you as the result of an aggressive local SEO campaign.

Some people do not think of SEO as marketing. Unlike other forms of marketing that require you to come up with specific advertisements to place on webpages or in print media, it requires on-site and off-site optimization efforts that are centered around keyword-rich content, high-quality backlinks, metadata, etc. What makes SEO marketing? Just like any advertising campaign, it endeavors to raise the profile of your business, to help you bring more customers through your doors.

While plenty can be done by a business owner who is a little internet savvy, an aggressive SEO campaign is best carried out by a firm that understands the intricacies of both SEO and crafting a campaign that focuses on local searches. Having a top spot in national search might look great, but it won’t do much for customers looking to purchase specifically from a business in their local area.

Why is SEO the best form of marketing for a local business? Here are five reasons why every local business should have SEO as the foundation of all other marketing endeavors:

  1. SEO requires you to produce higher-quality content, which is more valuable for your page visitors. Gone are the days when you could fill a webpage full of a single keyword and top the search results. Web crawlers are now so sophisticated that they can actually determine the “value” of a piece of content and give high-value content a boost, while lowering the ranking of gibberish content. With searchers looking for valuable content that answers their questions, local businesses have an opportunity to become a local information hub.
  1. Local SEO ensures all online listings have the most accurate information. Local online directories and listings on review websites are a big part of local SEO, but local SEO also demands that those listing be properly maintained. Luckily, most services allow you to “claim” your listing and change the name, address, contact, and operating hours information so that it is always accurate.
  1. Local SEO gives you an impetus to improve your social media campaign. Functioning and active social media pages are another big part of a local SEO. One advantage local businesses have over mega-corporations is the ability to be part of a community. Your local customers are more likely to friend or follow you on social media, which gives you a forum to share your latest blog post, or connect directly with people that like your business.
  1. Gives you a forum to address complaints or negative reviews. Only a small fraction of businesses seem to understand that you can respond to negative reviews on websites like Yelp or Urbanspoon (or the equivalent for your industry). Not only do these responses improve your search engine optimization (by allowing you to include a link back to your website, provide valuable content, etc.), they also allow you to directly address complaints and negative reviews in a way that makes the experience more positive. A polite, courteous apology or explanation can slash the effect of a negative review.
  1. Encourages you to develop relationships with local media outlets and bloggers. You need media attention in order to be successful, even in a small town. Local SEO demands that you build a relationship with local newspapers and bloggers who will be willing to spend a little time sending some attention your way.