What is local search engine optimization?

    Local search engine optimization (local SEO) is the art and science of creating, optimizing, testing, and managing online content with a primary goal of organically ranking it on page one of search engines like Google for targeted search phrases and topics to generate more clicks, visitors, and leads.

    Ultimately, the goal of local SEO for contractors is creating a long-term organic LEAD GENERATION system through increased brand visibility, value, reputation, traffic, and conversion.

    Local SEO has three (3) distinct but interrelated components:

    1. your online reputation on customer review sites, your own website, social media, etc.
    2. your business and industry directory listings like Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Places, Apple Maps, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, etc.
    3. your website’s SEO structure, coding, content, links, etc.

    If your business wants to grow more leads and sales then you’ll have to develop and manage a game plan for each of these three major local SEO components.

    Why should I care about SEO for my contracting business?

    Because your business always needs new customers.

    And the digital world is where your prospects and customers are now.

    “86% of consumers use the Internet to find local products and services.” – BrightLocal 2018

    Smart businesses always adapt to where their prospects and customers are.

    People can’t do business with you if they don’t see you.

    Where do your prospects search to find local service businesses?

    If you know this, then you also know where to concentrate your efforts to be seen and grow business.

    Where do people go online to search for a local plumber, roofer, or solar company?

    The numbers are quite staggering actually. 

    As you can see by the chart below, Google gets over 85% of all online searches in the U.S.A.

     

    Moz chart on local search results page distribution 2018

    Google dominates, it’s where your customers are and so it’s within Google where your business must dominate first.

    Now let’s look at what happens when someone searches Google for a plumber, solar contractor, or any local business.

    Let’s examine Google’s local search engine results pages (SERPs).

    The image below shows the different parts of a local SERP in Google and what percentage of total clicks each section gets on average (with and without Local Service Ads present).

    Google logo of colored letters

    You can see that between 74 to 85% of all clicks and traffic goes to the top three Local Pack Maps listings and the top three Organic Website listings, all of which are free listings.

    There are no charges for each click from the map or organic listings to your site or for calls to your phone, directions to your location, etc.

    The MOST clicked on search results are:

    1. Organic position #1 (25.5% of clicks with LSAs present, 27.4% without LSAs)
    2. Local Map Pack position one (16.1% / 17.3%)
    3. Local Map Pack position two (10.4% / 12%)
    4. Pay Per Click Ad (PPC) top position 1 (8.5% / 10.5%)
    5. Local Service Ad (LSA) position one (7.4%)

    It’s as clear as day that investing time and resources into ranking for key search terms in Google Maps and organically with your website are wise choices in the digital age.

    Google is where the traffic is, organic listings and maps are where most people click, and unlike ads, organic rankings in Google can last for months or years and consistently generate FREE traffic and leads.

    A nice little side benefit is that every time a competitor clicks on your map or organic website listings they’re actually helping your rankings a little bit instead of costing you money when they do that to your PPC ads.

    SEO vs Advertising

    This is not a one or the other game. Both inbound and outbound marketing can serve you well when they’re planned, implemented, measured, and optimized.

    You could choose to try and dominate specific search terms and topics with a Google Local Service ad, a PPC ad underneath that, efforts to rank in the local pack in the map, and an organic listing ranking in a top position.

    Online and offline advertising can bring in immediate results while investment in SEO efforts to rank well in Google Maps and the organic listings will take time to develop.

    Leads from your website organic SEO efforts will usually be of a much higher quality than those from ads because they’ve consumed your content and have come to know, like, and trust your company.

    Advertising should work in concert with your website, sending prospects to custom landing pages to inform, motivate, and get them to take action.

    Both ads and SEO are subject to getting the headlines, copy, graphics, layout, and user experience dialed-in. Constant split-testing helps improve conversions for each.

    Advertising, especially online ads in Google and Facebook are vulnerable long-term because of rising ad prices in an auction ad market.

    SEO is vulnerable to constant Google algorithm updates and design changes to the search engine results pages (SERPs).

    SEO certainly does have the distinct advantage of longer shelf-life. Your ads are done the minute you stop paying for them, while your top SEO organic rankings can remain in those positions for months or years.

    In summary, advertising and search engine optimization serve two different marketing functions and each has its place in the growth plans for your business.

    Mark Ambrose
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