Why Every Brick-and-Mortar Business Needs Local SEO for Traffic

Do you have a brick-and-mortar business that relies on local foot traffic to generate sales? Maybe it’s a restaurant, retail shop, bookstore, spa or jewelry store? If so, you need to embrace local SEO within your marketing strategy.

In fact, every type of brick-and-mortar business can benefit from using local search engine optimization. It has the potential to make or break your business over the long term, especially if you don’t have a broader and more extensive marketing strategy.

In the digital age, online visibility is crucial for brick-and-mortar small business owners. And in this article, I’ll explain how you can use local SEO to improve your visibility and drive more traffic to your location.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is when you adjust and optimize your small business website in order to increase its visibility within location-based searches. In this context, a “location-based search” occurs when someone uses a search engine to find a local business.

For example, if I do a search for “clothing stores in Healdsburg” where I live, I’ve conducted a location-based search. Here’s what the actual results would look like, when viewed on a desktop computer:

local SEO example
Image: Example of local search results in Google

Local SEO involves a variety of tactics that can make your brick-and-mortar business website rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries. The goal of local SEO is to attract more traffic to your website, increase foot traffic to your physical location, and improve your overall online reputation and credibility.

At a Glance: How to Improve Your Local SEO

  • Conduct keyword research to identify relevant local keywords for your business.
  • Optimize your website for local SEO, by including location-specific content and optimizing meta descriptions, title tags, and header tags.
  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing by providing accurate and complete information, including photos, business hours, and customer reviews.
  • Optimize your other local listings and directories by ensuring consistent and accurate information across all platforms.
  • Encourage and manage online reviews by responding to both positive and negative reviews and providing excellent customer service.

Brick-and-mortar businesses that rely on foot traffic need to have a strong local presence to attract customers, and that includes their web presence as well. With more people using their mobile devices to search for businesses nearby, optimizing for local SEO is more important than ever.

Benefits for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

You probably already understand the benefits of local SEO for brick-and-mortar businesses, based on the definition above. But let’s go over it anyway, just so we are all on the same pageā€¦

If you optimize your small business website for local searches, you can attract more customers and increase foot traffic, thereby driving more sales. You can also capitalize on the large number of people who use their phones and mobile devices to conduct local searches.

If you optimize your brick-and-mortar business website for local searches, people can find you when they are out and about and “on the go,” just by using their phones. If you integrate local SEO strategies, your business will appear in localized search results, maps, and other types of results. This can greatly improve your visibility and help you drive more traffic to your brick-and-mortar business.

So those are the nuts-and-bolts benefits of using local SEO. The bigger and broader benefit is that it helps you sustain and grow your business over time. If you have a brick-and-mortar type operation (like a retail shop, restaurant, salon, etc.), you need to be visible online in both the organic and local search engine results.

After all, people look for these types of businesses through localized searches. They append the name of the city or town to their Google searches. This tells Google that they are looking for local results only, while allowing it to filter out irrelevant results.

If you want to be included in those local results, you have to take certain steps to achieve local search engine visibility. So let’s talk about how you would do that.

Google, Online Listings, and Customer Reviews

When you get down to it, local SEO for brick-and-mortar small business owners really comes down to three things. Google My Business, local listings, and online reviews.

Google My Business is arguably the most important of these three strategies, so we will mainly focus on that subject for the rest of this article. But local listings and online reviews can also help you drive more traffic to your business.

1. Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool that allows brick-and-mortar type businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including maps. If you want to appear within local search results (which is the centerpiece of a local SEO strategy), you should start by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing. See the next section for step-by-step instructions.

2. Online Listings

Brick-and-mortar businesses can also benefit from local listings, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and business directories. So this is another aspect of local SEO worth pursuing. At a minimum, you want to make sure you have consistent and accurate business information across these listings.

3. Customer Reviews

Finally, online reviews can also impact local SEO. Positive reviews from customers can improve a business’s ranking in local search results and attract more customers. For example, a report by the Harvard Business School showed that an increase in ranking on Yelp by just one star can lead to a 5% – 9% increase in sales.

We will examine local listings and online reviews in a separate article. For the rest of this article, I want to focus on how a brick-and-mortar small business can benefit from using Google My Business, as part of a local SEO strategy.

Getting Started with Google My Business

Pick up here When it comes to improving your online visibility, you can’t deny the power and potential of Google. The nation’s most dominant search engine can help you attract more customers to your local brick-and-mortar business. I refer to it as the “centerpiece” for a local SEO strategy.

As mentioned earlier, Google My Business is a free tool that helps you manage your online appearance within Google Search and Maps. Specifically, it allows you to create a listing for your small business with basic information including the name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and reviews.

If you don’t have a Google My Business listing for your brick-and-mortar operation, now is the time to start. And even if you do have one, it never hurts to review it once in a while, to make sure everything still accurate and relevant.

Here are the steps to take:

  • Visit the Google My Business website at https://www.google.com/business/.
  • Click on the “Start Now” button (or “Manage” or whatever they call it these days).
  • Sign in to your Google account, or create one if you don’t already have it.
  • Enter your business information including name and address.
  • If your business already appears on Google Maps, you may be able to claim an existing listing. If not, you’ll need to create a new one.
  • Choose the category that best describes your company. This helps Google understand the nature of your business so it can be included within relevant searches.
  • Add your business phone number and website address to help customers find and contact you.
  • Once you’ve entered the above information, Google will send you a verification code by mail or phone. They do this to make sure that you are in fact the owner of the business.
  • You can optimize and improve your listing by adding photos, hours of operation, and other relevant information.

Local SEO can help brick-and-mortar business owners attract new customers, improve their reputations, and increase sales. There are several strategies you can use to improve your visibility within local search results, including the three identified in this article. At a minimum, brick-and-mortar businesses should create and claim their listings on Google My Business.

I hope this article helps you improve your online presence, and I wish you well in all of your business ventures. Now, go get started … you’ve got work to do!

Brandon Cornett

Brandon Cornett is a real estate market analyst, blogger, and creator of the Home Buying Institute. He also provides blogging services for mortgage professionals across the U.S.

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