The internet has rendered phone books practically obsolete. Print copies of phone books are still distributed, but hardly anyone looks at them. When people want to find information, they go online. This is true for local brick and mortar businesses as well as online businesses. Local SEO makes your business visible to people searching on their desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Now that almost everyone has a mobile phone, it's common for people to search for businesses while driving around. So, let's face it --The phone book is dead: local SEO is what you need to make sure your customers find you.
Smartphones Have Changed Everything
Traditional phone books were rapidly declining since the early 2000s when the internet really took off. It's smartphones, however, that have truly revolutionized the world of search. People are more and more dependent on their phones, taking them everywhere. Smartphones are extremely useful for navigating the web, making them the simplest tool for finding the nearest oil change place, Italian restaurant, florist, dentist, or whatever type of business one is looking for.
Smartphones are not only used for searching, though. People are increasingly making purchases over the phone. In fact, mobile search spending is projected to rise by 62% over the next three years. As mobile apps and payment methods such as Apple Pay gain traction, people are getting more and more comfortable shopping and making payments with their phones.
Why Local SEO is Essential
How do businesses benefit from the smartphone revolution and avoid getting left behind? The answer is by leveraging local SEO. This is what makes your business easy for customers to find. It includes areas such as:
Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places is, for most businesses, the single most important local SEO factor, as these listings are at the top of the page when people search on Google. Other search engines have local listings as well. Yahoo Local and Bing Places for Business are both important for local SEO, as some people use these search engines.
Review sites such as Yelp, Angie's List and Trip Advisor. Customers widely use reviews when selecting businesses. In addition to Google's own reviews, there are many niche review sites that people use to help them make decisions. If you don't claim your business on Yelp and other such sites, people can still leave reviews but you can't respond.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Foursquare. Social sites are also relevant to local SEO. For example, Snapchat Geofilters let you connect your business with your physical location, which is a strong branding tool. People are also likely to look up local businesses on Facebook, making your Facebook page a local SEO tool.
Maps and navigation sites. When people are driving around or even planning a trip, they often consult Google Maps, Apple Maps or other navigation sites. First of all, you should realize that your Google Map Maker is not the same thing as Google My Business. Map Maker is specifically for helping people get directions to your business.
Local SEO is the wave of the future. It's the contemporary equivalent of the phone book. The more popular smartphones and apps become, the more critical it will be for businesses to effectively leverage local SEO. When people search, they're most likely to visit a business that appears near the top of the local listings. Whether they're searching on Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp, or another popular site, it's important to optimize your business for local search.