If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, local SEO is one of the best ways to drive traffic into your business. While other digital marketing methods can work well, local SEO is going to be the most valuable because it affects people looking for brands like yours near them.
That said, although local SEO can be critical for success, it can also take a lot of time and energy to complete on your own. That’s why it makes sense to outsource the detail-oriented work to a professional marketing firm. However, picking the right provider can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the world of local SEO.
So, with that in mind, let’s go over the various elements to pay attention to when comparing service providers, so you can make sure your investment gives you an excellent return.
What Are Local SEO Services?
Local search results are based on a geographical location, not just a specific keyword. So, instead of “best Italian restaurants,” a user may search for “best Italian restaurants in Los Angeles.” So, if your business is in that city, you want to make sure you pop up as high as possible in the results. That’s where local SEO comes in.
One of the primary advantages of local SEO is that it uses a person’s current location to rank different businesses. So, the closer you are to the individual, the higher your ranking. However, other elements are part of the optimization process and can put you ahead of other similar businesses in the area.
Some of these components can include:
- Claiming a Google My Business Page – Google offers business listings for all companies, both big and small. Claiming your GMB listing allows you to provide accurate information and control what people find out about your business.
- Providing Relevant Content – If someone is searching for an Italian restaurant, you just need to show that you sell Italian food. However, if someone is searching for an affordable Italian restaurant with takeout, you want to create content that shows you have low prices and offer takeout services. The more relevant your pages, the higher your search results rank.
- Mobile Optimization – Most local searches are on mobile devices because users are trying to find businesses near them. So, you need to have a mobile-friendly website, especially if you want customers to order or buy products online. Plus, if your site isn’t optimized for smaller screens, you could get dinged by Google.
- Maintaining Third-Party Listings – Sites like Yellow Pages and Yelp list businesses within a geographic location, complete with information about their address, hours of operation, and more. You need to monitor these listings to ensure the details are accurate and up-to-date. Also, it would be best if you were proactive about reaching out to other sites and providing your contact information.
Overall, local SEO is an ongoing process, which is why it makes sense to hire a service provider to ensure your results are always ranked highly.
How to Compare Different Providers
With so many marketing firms and freelancers out there, it may be tempting to just choose the cheapest option and hope for the best. However, there are far more factors to consider, especially if you want to get a good return on your investment. Here’s a rundown of each element to pay attention to when comparing local SEO providers.
If you’re running a restaurant, you want to work with a marketing firm that has experience in helping restaurants succeed. Conversely, if you own a retailer, you want a firm that can promote your business for in-store and online sales.
Having the right industry experience is crucial because the provider will know exactly what it takes to help your brand rank higher. These components can include:
- Content Strategy – The right provider will know which types of content can drive traffic the best (i.e., blog posts, video clips, social media). They can also help create more engaging content that is both relevant and valuable for your target audience.
- Site Optimization – If someone is looking to order food online, their experience with a website will be much different than someone looking to compare prices on consumer electronics. A local SEO provider should know how to cater to your core demographic and make the user experience as enjoyable and seamless as possible.
- Industry Research – A big part of search engine optimization is understanding your competition and your audience. If a provider has experience in your industry, they can start building a marketing campaign without needing to conduct research. This way, you can get faster results and start building a stronger bottom line.
Competitive Pricing Plans
If you’re just getting started with local SEO, you may want an affordable SEO company that can give you the basic foundation to increase traffic. Alternatively, suppose you’re an established business with brand recognition. In that case, you may be looking to upgrade your customer base by expanding to new markets or using paid SEO to reach more people.
A local SEO provider should have various pricing plans to accommodate your needs. Those plans can include monthly, annual, or project-based pricing so you have flexibility with your budget.
Additionally, providers should be upfront about their pricing and what it includes, such as extra fees or add-ons. If you discover any surprise charges later on, it’s time to switch to a more honest and transparent marketing company.
Finally, the best provider will be able to scale up with your business as you increase traffic. This way, you don’t have to find a new provider once you reach your initial growth objectives.
One thing about digital marketing is that there’s often a disconnect between what you plan to do and what actually happens. For example, you may promote your business on multiple social media platforms, but only one or two actually generate leads. If you’re not analyzing your results, it’s impossible to tell what’s working and what isn’t.
So, the best local SEO providers will be able to track your campaign progress and show you how they’re improving your traffic. They can also discuss plans and adjustments if your initial strategy isn’t working as projected. Plus, if you have any questions about the data, the provider should be able to digest it and explain it so there is no confusion about what’s going on.
Overall, you want to avoid working with a “black box” provider that does everything behind the scenes. Transparency is crucial so you can be sure your investment is paying off. Usually, providers that don’t offer details about how they’re helping your business aren’t making much progress, if any.
Your business is unique, as are your marketing goals. Perhaps you’re trying to increase your monthly sales, or you want to start promoting online shopping for your storefront. No matter what your objectives are, a local SEO provider should customize their strategy to fit those needs.
Subpar providers may take a “one-size-fits-all” approach, which doesn’t help you if you already have the basics covered. You want to work with a company that adapts to your brand and can accelerate growth in the direction you want.
For example, if you’re trying to expand to new markets, you want a provider that knows how to tailor local SEO for each new storefront. Otherwise, your content could get flagged as duplicate, lowering your rankings and reducing your traffic overall.
The Value of Local SEO Services
If you’re a small business, you may think that it’s easy enough to handle local SEO on your own. However, outsourcing these elements to a third-party provider makes sense for the following reasons:
- Faster Results – Marketers with experience in your industry know how long it takes to see results with local optimization techniques. If you do it on your own, you may lose momentum as you get caught up with other aspects of your business operations.
- Scalability – Even if you’re able to take on the responsibilities of local SEO right now, what about in the future when your sales numbers increase significantly? As your business grows, you won’t be able to maintain the same traction, meaning you could backslide. Using a service provider ensures you’re always moving forward.
- Extra Tools and Insights – While some SEO tools are free and easy to learn, others are more complex and require some expertise. Working with an SEO marketer ensures you have access to the best tools to promote your business across multiple channels.
Other Considerations to Make When Launching a Local SEO Plan
Choosing a provider is only one part of making local SEO work for you. Before even meeting with a marketing firm, you should also have some idea of what you’re trying to achieve, so make sure to answer these questions:
Which Channels Will You Use?
Most local searches happen on apps like Google Maps. However, you can also capitalize on other marketing channels like social media, email, PPC ads, and more. While you don’t need to know all the specific channels you’ll use right away, you should have a good idea of where you want to focus your attention when starting.
What are Your Goals?
When developing marketing goals, you have to make sure they are:
- Specific – Rather than “increase sales,” how much do you want to increase them by? Ten percent? Fifty percent?
- Measurable – If you’re trying to increase your sales by 20 percent, you need to know where you’re at right now so you can determine once you’ve reached that goal.
- Achievable – Doubling your sales sounds like a good goal, but how realistic is it? Start with smaller, bite-sized goals and work from there. You can start aiming higher if you’re blowing past your goals regularly.
- Relevant – Make sure your goals are relevant to your overall success. So, don’t focus on metrics that don’t move the needle. For example, getting more followers may sound nice, but it only matters how many followers you get if that translates to actual sales.
- Time-Based – Increasing your sales by 20 percent is a good goal, but what if it takes eight months to achieve? Instead, you want to set incremental goals with deadlines (i.e., 30 or 60 days) to ensure you’re on track.
Overall, having SMART goals ensures you know what to expect and can change direction as necessary. For example, if your provider isn’t moving the needle after two months, you can move on and work with a different marketer that can deliver results.
Who Are You Targeting?
Knowing your audience is a huge part of making any SEO campaign work. On the one hand, you need to make relevant and valuable content so search engines will rank your pages higher. On the other hand, speaking to your audience directly makes them more likely to come to your store and see what you have to offer.
When building an audience, you want to focus on how your products or services solve a specific problem. By addressing specific concerns or challenges, a person is far more likely to pay attention to your business and convert to a customer.
On the flip side, you also have to be aware of what your competition is offering so you know how to outshine them. Do you offer a better value? Are your prices lower? What is your unique value proposition that will resonate with your audience?
Get a Killer Local SEO Campaign With BizIQ!
Getting the most out of local SEO takes time, but success is inevitable with the right tools and experience. BizIQ has helped tons of local businesses find their audience and build more traffic in less time than you might think. We’re eager to help your business thrive, so contact us today to find out more!