The days of big, fat yellow books being found in every corner of every office building, home, and commercial area is long behind us. While the iconic Yellow Pages still exist, they are often much smaller in size and less ubiquitous than they were 10 years ago and that trend is likely to continue into the future as the Internet has replaced much of the function in this space. Local SEO and the investment that companies like Google have made in local search is really what has driven down the need for physical directories on local businesses and services.
This is especially important for small businesses which are looking at optimizing their marketing strategies. No longer are Yellow Pages registrations as valuable as they once were and in turn, local SEO is more important than it ever has been. For those starting out with local search strategy, it is important to first make sure that your basic business information (such as phone number, name, address, and maybe a small description) is appropriately listed in the major local search engines: Google+, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local.
Beyond that simple first step, there are a number of tactics that need to be carried out and will result in essentially every part of your online strategy being centered around local success. From choosing the right keywords and keyphrases (“dry cleaner in Hoboken”) to building content and links around those search terms, it can be a large task to effectively target local results, but the payoff can also be equally large. This is because the most targeted visitors will be local, especially for brick-and-mortar small businesses. By increasing local traffic by even 10%, it can be a substantial change in sales and may even beat out a much higher increase in non-local traffic. At the end of the day, absolute traffic does not matter, but targeted traffic does.
As with general search, local search is all about relevancy so it is important to have the right content and online presence to support that. Reviews play an additional role in this so it is important to encourage your happy customers to leave reviews for you online whether it be on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or another site. A mix of reviews in a number of places is the most natural way to do it and Google and other search engines will notice.
We are quickly moving to a point (if we have not already passed it) where local SEO is more effective than Yellow Pages in terms of return on investment. It is a must-do for any business looking to really succeed in today’s marketplace and thankfully it does not have very high barriers to entry. So what are you waiting for? If you don’t have a local search strategy in place yet, it might be time to start doing some research on keywords and building your strategy and tactics around that to effectively get all of those people in your town searching for your service to actually come to your website or shop. Go get them!