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Local search for small business

How Local Search Empowers Small Businesses to Compete

How can a small business like yours compete with big brands? Four words: Focus on local search. The fact that you operate on a local level can be your biggest strength in the battle against large corporations. Many big names rank nationally in organic search results; however, they don’t necessarily have the upper hand when it comes to local search. So if you leverage local search the right way, you can stay competitive with larger brands and come out on top. Here’s what you need to know.

Local Search May Be Replacing Organic

First of all, what do we mean by “organic search” and “local search”? Maybe you’ve seen these terms tossed around but you aren’t quite clear on what they mean. Here’s the gist, without putting you to sleep:

Organic search gives you results based solely on their relevance to your search terms. The opposite of organic search is paid search, which promotes paid advertisements that match your search terms. Learn more about organic vs. paid search here.

Local search, on the other hand, is a search that targets places in a specific location. On Google, you’ll see local results on the first search results page in what’s called a “local pack,” which shows a nearby map and several local businesses. Local searches can also be done on Google Maps itself.

Historically, organic search has been the cornerstone of search engine optimization (SEO). However, organic search rankings are now slipping in value. In 2016, the top two organic search results received, on average, only 25% of the clicks on search results pages, as compared to more than 50% in 2006. This trend is significant, and it makes sense. Typically, when people are on the hunt for a nearby store, restaurant, or service provider, they’re not looking at organic results. Instead, they’re perusing local Google listings to see which businesses fit their needs, have good reviews from past customers, and are closer in proximity. The days of people walking down the street and exploring their neighborhoods for good businesses are, by and large, over. Now, people do a quick search before they leave home so they know exactly where to go.

Mobile Devices Are a Strong Force in Local Search

The uptick in local searches applies to people who are looking for local businesses on the go, as well. Instead of wasting time driving around aimlessly when looking for the closest gas station or coffee shop, they search their phones to find the nearest one. As Jayson DeMers writes for Forbes,

In general, I suspect local search will rise in importance, and more local businesses will step up to take advantage of this. Mobile technology will become even more mobile with wearable devices and similar technologies, and cumulatively, user preference toward local results will grow. As most “local” businesses are small- to mid-sized businesses, these trends will work in their favor.

Here, DeMers draws a clear parallel between local and mobile. And it’s supported by Google’s own data, which shows that an entire one-third of all mobile searches are for local places. With more people using their mobile devices for local searches on the go, your small business’s Google Maps listing is increasingly likely to become visible.

Optimize Your Local Search Listings

Here’s the main takeaway for you: Corporations don’t have the monopoly on proximity anymore. Local search is a more democratic platform than organic search, giving small businesses a fair shot at appearing in local results—so long as your local listings are optimized. Here are some ideas for making your Google listing as strong as possible:

And if you need any guidance on local search strategies, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Prospect Genius is always happy to help. Good luck!