As consumers are directing their searches to focus on local (‘near me’) businesses, it is more important than ever that your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy reflects this growing trend. It is even more important that you have an SEO agency that understands how to optimize your SEO strategy. In this article, we explain why having a knowledgeable ad agency is critical to your success and how to find a reputable SEO agency that will meet your local SEO needs.
Searching Local is Becoming the New Norm
Whether your SEO strategy is ready or not, consumer habits have evolved to searching locally. Reluctance to invest in or ignoring local SEO means your small business is losing web traffic and potential new customers. Can your small business afford to miss out?
Lisa Gevelber, VP, Marketing for the Americas at Google says local is now embedded in search behavior and growing fast. In a post entitled Micro Moments Now: Why ‘near me’ intent is a ‘near you’ opportunity, she explains:
“In September 2015, we shared that “near me” or “nearby” searches on Google had grown 2X in the previous year. Now, just two years later, we see that behavior has continued to change. Make no mistake, people still use ‘near me’ to discover places of interest around them. But we’re now seeing a shift toward dropping location qualifiers (like zip codes, neighborhoods, and ‘near me’ phrasing) in local searches, because people know that the results will automatically be relevant to their location—thanks to their phone… In fact, this year, search volume for local places without the qualifier ‘near me’ has actually outgrown comparable searches that do include ‘near me.’ Over the last two years, comparable searches without ‘near me’ have grown by 150%.”
Local Search is Growing in Competition
Local search is also heavily linked to reputation management—a trend that few businesses can afford to ignore. A recent study indicated that 86% of consumers read online reviews for a local business in 2018. With 57% of consumers saying they only use a business if it has 4 or more stars, neglecting your local search presence simply isn’t an option if you want to be in the mix when your target market is making purchase decisions.
Why Choose an Agency That Does Local SEO?
Back in 2014, Google tapped into the power of local search. Google wanted to understand cross-device search behavior among consumers. So, they commissioned a study that unearthed some compelling habits:
- The studies discovered that 4 in 5 consumers turned to a search engine to find local information.
- 50% of consumers conducting a local search on a smartphone visited a store within one day. 34% of shoppers searching on a desktop or tablet did the same.
- Local searches were found to have a much higher purchase intent than non-local searches, with 18% of local searches from a smartphone leading to a purchase within one day, compared with just 7% of non-local searches.
What to Look for in a SEO Agency or Consultant
Make Sure They Are A Specialist
When you are looking for an SEO agency, it is best to have a specialist as they will be up on the latest Google My Business features: videos, Q&A, and posts. The SEO agency will know how to use these in a way that best suits your business and audience.
A local SEO consultant should be a master at review management, citation building, and structured data markup. These key factors can be the difference between converting a new customer or losing out to a competing business. Make sure that you ask your local SEO consultant if they have any tips when it comes to building local links.
Read Their Reviews
Reading reviews are a quick, easy, and honest way of checking up on your agency candidates. Try sources like Google Reviews and Facebook. It is also important to mention that just because they have a bad review or two, to not rule them out. See how they handle those reviews. Did they acknowledge the complaint? Was the comment posted promptly?
Check Their Blog
A talented local SEO agency should be creating relevant content once each month. Check out their articles. Are they providing detailed content? Are they taking the time to show their expertise? These are great questions to ask when looking at their blog.
What KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) Do They Recommend?
As you are interviewing local SEO agencies, make sure there is an understanding of what they consider a successful KPI (key performance indicator). Their response will give you a good indication of the local agency’s accountability.
KPI’s You Want your SEO Agency to Focus on:
- Conversion Rates
- AOV (Average Order Value)
Reporting and Communication
Let’s say you have two great agencies with a great record working with other clients. Now comes the time to see how they would work with you. When interviewing your potential SEO agency, it’s important to make sure that you are on the same wavelength. Do they have a similar communication style and willingness to be accountable? These are great things to feel out.
Do not be afraid to ask for a sample of the reports they send out to clients – This will help you understand how detailed they will be with their reporting system along with how much extra analysis they will give you. Be wary if they are simply sending you a report. Make sure they are going the extra step by breaking down exactly what the report means for your business. If they are simply sending a report – that communicates a lack of understanding and is, potentially, a report you could download for yourself.
Establishing a clear understanding of what communication will look like will be a big benefit when it comes to choosing an SEO agency. You will want to clarify what contact hours are included in the cost and how communication takes place. Will it be primarily over the phone? Email? Zoom? In-person? How often will you be hearing from your SEO Agency? This will help you understand if their communication style matches yours and if you will be a good fit.
Webster Digital Marketing is Here to Help
Getting found online can quickly become a difficult task. As consumers are directing their searches to focus on local businesses and the playing field continuing to grow in competition, it is important to have an SEO agency that understands how to optimize and succeed in your local SEO strategy. Webster Digital Marketing is here to help.
Contact us today to learn more about the importance of a knowledgeable SEO Agency and for a FREE internet marketing checkup, which includes a local SEO report.