Local markets are no more about mom-and-pop shops. Today, 4 out of every 5 consumers are visiting search engines to know about local businesses, service providers and products. Interestingly, 18% of searches don through smart phones lead to a purchase in the same day. Local searches engage in a higher conversion rate wherein 50% of leads from mobile phones and 34% from a desktop/tablet visit the store in the next 24 hours. Google updates like Pegion and the Mobilegeddon has ensured that local search rises in importance. However, the ride for local SEO isn’t over yet. Over the next couple of decades local SEO will become even more important for both businesses and customers.
Google is the most widely used search engine compared to alternatives. Over the past couple of years, Google has been favoring smaller, newer and more agile businesses. The ranking is based on the popularity, the authority of the website and the brands history. Google has been a customer centric organization from the first days. Today, when more numbers of visitors are turning to mobile devices, Google is offering a better platform to search for exact products and services in questions.
For businesses, Google has come up with several free and paid tools including Webmaster, Analytics, etc focusing on the sole idea of helping businesses increase online visibility and internet exposure.
Modern customers have become increasingly demanding. They no more need to worry about the quality of products but are searching for brands that really integrate a personalized buying experience. Customized search features generate specific results based on the age, location, interests and even the previous buying behavior of the customer. Google as a search engine has got more sophisticated in terms of search results but for the end user, it has grown into a more simplistic and intuitive platform. Tools like mapping, language, age, gender, region etc are playing a crucial role in bringing up individualized results.
Every year, the number of searches done through mobile devices has increased exponentially. Mobiles provide the advantage of “searching on the go”. For both locals and tourists, this acts as a platform to find shops and local services at any place without fooling around and asking people for directions. Wearable like Apple watch guide you straight to shops that you are looking for.
Proximity based searches have also initiated the era of mobile applications. These applications, apart from providing utilities, help advertise local businesses and act as a marketing tool for businesses. Technologies exist that ensure that the moment you pass through a local street, users receive discount coupon codes from local shops in the proximity. For a local business, this form of digital marketing becomes a competitive advantage.
Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have also brought a huge change in the way local markets operate. Before a tourist visits a destination, he/she ensures to note down all the possible local shops and service he would be requiring. The implication of social platform is not just limited to searches. Visitors even consider going through reviews and feedback about local services and products and settling with first hand information from reliable sources.
Social networks have also evolved to be an important platform for marketing. Social pages and groups of businesses spread the word among consumers and keep them engaged to create positive brand awareness. It can in fact be comfortably said that if a local brand isn’t present on social network, it loses out on a huge opportunity to win leads.
Today, no business, howsoever small, is immune to the digital marketing revolution. Competition is increasing and every day, thousands of new businesses are added to the online marketplace. 80% of modern consumers turn to Google for finding products and the best deals. Even chain stores get the opportunity to use local SEO tactics to rope in the maximum amount of traffic to their website.
Transactions are done more online than by being physically present at shops today. Unless a business is able to establish a dominant standing on search engine, the battle is as good as lost.