Have you ever been searching for a local business and found that all of the results were for large corporations with huge market shares? You’re not alone. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 57% of consumers search for local businesses before making a purchase, but only 4% of search results are for small businesses. When it comes to marketing online, especially locally, smaller businesses often get left behind. Why isn’t the same care given to local search marketing (LSM) as it is given to broader, online marketing?
The fact is that there are significant differences between LSM and online marketing that make it more challenging for small businesses to succeed in this space. First, there’s the issue of geography. Second, there’s the lack of brand awareness. And finally, there’s the issue of consumer trust. We’ll discuss how you can overcome these challenges and become a successful small business in online marketing. Let’s get to it.
1. Local Search Is About Geography
If you’ve ever shopped at Nordstrom, you may have noticed that when you type in the search bar, results for that store pop up first, followed by nearby stores. Similarly, when you search for a restaurant, the results will list nearby restaurants first, with the most prominent ones at the top.
The reason why these large retail and restaurant brands rank so highly in local searches is quite simple: their physical locations have a clear correspondence with specific geography – they’re either located in a certain city or within a certain radius of that city. This is not the case for small businesses, which are generally located all over the place, making it more difficult to optimize for local searches.
2. Consumers Are Often Unaware Of The Brands Their Local Businesses Offer
You might be wondering how it is that brands that you’ve never heard of can beat you to the top of the search results when searching for your city. The answer is quite simple: your city may not be registered in the Google Directory, which means that it doesn’t have a listing for it in the Google Search Console. In the case of Burbank, California, for example, it would not show up in nearby cities like Los Angeles or Glendale because it’s not listed there. The issue is that when a consumer searches for a business in your city, the results will only list businesses that are already registered in the Google directory and have a physical location, or are known in the community.
If you register your business with the Google Search Console, the results will be much more promising – you’ll be able to see how many clicks each result gets, along with the referring website, and you can make further adjustments accordingly.
3. Consumers Trust What They See More Than What They Hear Or Read
Did you know that consumers believe that online reviews are more reliable than other forms of advertising? According to HubSpot Blogs research, 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust advertising, but only 7% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Why is that? It’s probably because we’ve all been there. We’ve all seen or heard of businesses that weren’t what they appeared to be, and we’ve all encountered friends and family members that didn’t deliver on what they promised. In those cases, we either stopped doing business with them or warned others not to either.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that your business’ online image is consistent, and preferably, it should match your overall branding strategy. If you want to succeed in local search, you’ll need to work on gaining credibility and trust with your users, which means that your website’s design and functionality need to be of a high standard.
4. Consumers Are More Interested In What’s Nearby Rather Than Far Away
Last but not least, let’s discuss the issue of local search’s preference for “nearby” results. If you’re a business that’s not based in one city, you’ll know that it’s quite challenging to rank highly in local searches for cities that you don’t serve immediately. For example, if you’re a coffee shop in Hartford, Connecticut, but you don’t have any other locations, it’ll be difficult for you to outrank coffee shops that are located in either Boston or New York City.
While it’s great that you don’t have to limit your search to your local area, the fact is that a significant number of searches still require a physical location. The solution is to expand your market by starting a blog that covers travel and food topics, for example, and include links to restaurants, hotels, and attractions in your area that your readers might enjoy. Not only will this help you gain credibility with your users, but it’ll also allow you to show up when their friends and family members are searching for things that they’re interested in.
If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our blog at https://blog.HubSpot.com or connect with us onTwitter at https://twitter.com/HubSpot. And for more information on how to succeed in local search, check out HubSpot’s blog posts at https://blog.HubSpot.com.