If you have a locally based business, you could be at risk for undervaluing one of the primary means by which customers—new and existing ones—find you. In today’s world, online search is just as important to local brick-and-mortar companies as it is to e-commerce companies. That means you need to have a robust website and make sure that it can be found.
Don’t believe us? That’s ok. Read on a bit and then see what you think:
A Good Website is a Must
A January 2014 BrightLocal survey showed that 36% of people felt a well-structured and informative website gave a business more credibility. In addition, 32% of folks said they were more likely to contact a company if it had a website.
A Good Website is Not Enough
Your website can do nothing for you if people can’t find it. Imagine if you had a shoe store with no signage and no window displays. The lion’s share of online searchers—98%, in fact—select businesses that are returned on the first page of a search result. Being buried down on subsequent pages is virtually akin to not being there at all.
Local Search is Growing
According to BIA/Kelsey, the total number of local searches in 2014 is predicted to hit 140 billion and that 97% of people looking for local products or services do so online. What happened to phone books, you ask? comScore tells us that they been given up in lieu of online search by 84% of consumers.
It’s Not Just About New Business
If you think that the only people who might find you online are new customers, think again. Data from comScore shows clearly that the most common reason people perform local searches is to get the address of businesses they are already familiar with. This can be of particular importance to mobile users who may be looking for you while actively on the way to your place of business—or to your competitors if they can’t find you.
The World is Speeding Up
It is not just data transmission rates which are getting faster. Consumers are making their purchasing decisions with increasing speed as well. A Mobile Movement Study co-conducted by Google found that 59% of mobile searchers actually visited the companies they found on the very day they searched for them. Do you really think you have time to waste?
Don’t Be Shy
Even introverts can no longer ignore the importance of social media marketing. comScore reports that 70% of consumers are more likely to patronize a local business if it has an active social presence.
Watch What Others Say
Contrary to the oft-quoted refrain, you should be far more wary of words than of sticks and stones. In a 2014 survey, BrightLocal learned that a whopping 88% of consumers do not purchase until they have read online reviews. They also give more credence to those online reviews than they do to in-person, word-of-mouth references.
So Now What Do You Think?
If you were hesitant to believe that your small, local business really needed to spend time on improving local search results, hopefully we have shown you otherwise. With a plethora of potential customers literally at your fingertips, a little effort here can go a long way toward boosting your profits.
They also predict that the total number of local searches in 2014 will hit 140 billion. What are you waiting for. Stop wasting money on yellow page advertising and door hangars. Be where your next customers are looking.