Can Your Local Business Succeed Without SEO in 2018?
As a small business owner, you have probably been cold contacted and approached about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, SEO is the process of getting your website and business ranked higher in Google so that when people search for a something related to your business (plumber, lawyer, etc.), your business will be one of the first search results, increasing organic customer growth.
SEO’s popularity has increased tremendously over the last several years and so a question that you have probably asked yourself is “Do I really need SEO?” or “Is SEO something that I even need to worry about?” If you are a local business owner, I will attempt to answer these questions for you.
Proximity to Searcher
When somebody searches for something on Google, the proximity of their approximate location in relation to your business matters. I will continue with the plumber example. Imagine that your sink starts linking, or that your septic tank is overflowing. When you search for “plumber” on Google, you’re going to want somebody to be able to come by ASAP to get the problems fixed. Most likely, a plumber who is close by you, rather than on the other side of town or in another city, will be able to respond to your issue quicker.
Google wants to be able to deliver the best search results and it recognizes that location is extremely relevant to your Google searches. So if you’re a plumber and somebody a within a few miles of your business searches for “plumber” or something similar, the likelihood that your business will come up in the search results or the map pack is pretty high, even if you haven’t done any sort of SEO.
“Okay, sweet, so I really don’t need SEO then. Right?”
If you’re just looking to serve people within a stone’s throw of your business and you’re not interested in reaching anybody else, then you may not need SEO to get a few calls every now and again. But what business wouldn’t want more than just a few calls every now and again?
Herein lies the rub: if you are wanting to expand your business, grow your customer base, reach more people online, become more competitive with other similar businesses, etc., SEO is absolutely necessary to be able to accomplish any and all of those things.
Although proximity is an important ranking factor, think about how many customers you miss out on that are further away from your business. Not only that, but if you’re not located within directly within a major metro, without SEO, you may not get any business at all. People are usually looking for the best business, not the closest business.
This is the case with Morningdove Marketing, a digital marketing company located outside of Boise, Idaho. The population of the little town that Morningdove is actually located in is approximately 150. Without SEO, hardly anybody would actually be able to find this company unless you were in the boonies of Melba, Idaho.
Local SEO is all about giving your business the visibility and reach it needs to be able to be found by a whole slew of potential customers.
What Can You Do Right Now?
Now that you’re convinced that your local business will benefit from SEO, where do you start? Hands down the best way to benefit from SEO is to hire an agency, but if you’re not quite to that point yet, here are some things you can do to help increase your business’s visibility on Google.
Google My Business (GMB)
If you haven’t done so already, claiming and verifying your local business listing on GMB is super important. Getting listed on GMB can increase the chances of showing up on Google Maps or in the map pack on a Google search. The best part about getting your business listed with GMB is its free. All you have to do is go on the GMB website and fill out your business information. Usually they send a postcard to your business address to verify. Make sure to fill out all of your business information as thoroughly as you can.
Social Media Pages
If you’re not on social media, you are missing a huge opportunity to get your business noticed. People, young and old, are increasingly using social media like Facebook and Twitter. Simply creating a page or a profile on the many social media sites out there can help out twofold: social media users will notice your business and can give you reviews and Google will recognize that the social media activity is related to your business, helping your Google rankings slightly.
Often overlooked by local businesses, citations are extremely helpful to increasing the visibility of your business. A citation is when your business info is listed or mentioned on another website. Yelp, YellowPages, Yahoo, MapQuest and Foursquare are just a few to get you started. Generally, the more websites that you can list your business on, the better. Some of the websites require you to pay to get listed, but I recommend biting the bullet and paying to list it.
The picture that I hope I have painted for you is that is that as a local business, you might be able get by without SEO. For a local business without SEO, the road to acquiring customers is a long and tough one, but it can be done. But why wouldn’t you want to be able to scale your business and be able to acquire customers more easily? Isn’t that what business is all about?
Author Bio: Spencer Teuscher is Operations Manager at Morningdove Marketing, which does SEO and marketing in the Boise area. When he’s not on his computer, he’s geeking out at tech conferences and watching re-runs of “Lost”