It is a fact that some businesses are more relevant to web searchers than others based simply on location. As a result, there has been much recent innovation with sites and platforms that connect web searchers to local information regarding businesses and other opportunities. These innovations have come in the form of review sites, foursquare, and online business directories, among others. Additionally, the movement of Google and other search engines to act on this has been focused and steady for some time now to deliver the most relevant, location-specific results.
Geo-targeting is a large example of this, where a number of different elements influence location information. Country-specific top-level domains are one way Google establishes which region the site relates most closely to as well as site administrators supplying Google with information regarding the site in Webmaster Tools. In addition, there are several other methods involving SEO principles, including optimizing both on-site and off-site content with location-specific terms and phrases.
These innovations are significant too when you consider that Foursquare has recently reached 1 billion check-ins affirming its widespread use and consumer interest in location-specific online activity. According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review study, every star rating added on a Yelp.com review included in the research gave a positive revenue impact of 5-9%. We already know that people visit these review sites in great numbers, but now we can track data associated with them, and it is clear they offer valuable return for businesses. Granted, the value may vary greatly depending on the review site that is used as some receive far greater traffic than others. That coupled with the fact that 20% of all searches are for local information, according to Google, tells us that local is a central and immensely important dimension of search, and there is great SEO opportunity to optimize for these searches.
Further, with 40% of all search queries from smartphones having local intent, the smartphone only extends the opportunity to maximize local online marketing. With smartphone penetration in the US continually growing, more and more people will be using smartphones and performing local searches. Companies can take advantage of apps specifically geared toward connecting consumers with local opportunities.
A business looking to maximize their local capabilities can partner with an SEO company to analyze specifically how they can optimize their web presence for local organic search and pay per click advertising. Integrating social media into the online marketing strategy is one method. This offers many benefits, among them being dynamic engagement with customers. According to recent research by VenueLabs, most companies are blind to up to 80% of social chatter regarding their locations, which is obviously problematic. Those partnering with an SEO company can track social commentary as part of social media and online reputation management campaigns with great success. Doing so allows companies to capitalize on local search as part of a more comprehensive strategy.