Online searches to find local businesses are now more common than ever before. Search Engine Land’s Local Consumer Review Survey, representative of a wide range of ages and races, revealed that users are now just as likely to search the internet when looking for a local business as they are to seek out personal recommendations. In addition, 72% of users said that they give an online review by a stranger the same weight as a personal recommendation. In a hyper-competitive market like Los Angeles, web design that maximizes local searchability can be crucial to the success of a local business.
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Not everyone uses local modifiers, like town, neighborhood, street name, or zipcode, in their search, but most still do. The difference between those who include local modifiers and those who don’t may depend on age demographic. According to the same Search Engine Land survey, one-fifth of users never include a local modifier in their search, with users between the ages of 19 and 35 including local modifiers even less often. In the 55+ crowd, however, 63% of searchers reported always including a local modifier. Overall, 38% of users said that they expect localization in their search without adding local search terms of any kind, and this percentage will likely increase as digital competence continues to increase across all demographics.
So what exactly do potential customers include in their search terms? The same survey found that internet users who do include local terms usually add the town or city name or zipcode. Interestingly, women were more likely to use the city name, while male searchers more often included the zip code. If your business targets one gender more than the other, it might be wise to focus your location SEO on that group’s search term preference.
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Users who already knew which business they were seeking tended to include the street name in their search, so street name SEO may help increase repeat customers. Only 6% of users surveyed included a neighborhood name in their searches, but because Google can detect a user’s exact location, neighborhood names in a local business’s SEO can still be worthwhile, though arguably not essential.
A business’s Yelp presence is also of increasing importance when it comes to online searches. Users look for up-to-date and complete “About this business” sections, and timely response to reviews, both good and bad, can increase search traffic. According to a Deluxe web team survey, half of searchers visit the local business they’ve searched for within 24 hours, so it is extremely important that all online content, from open hours to promotions and deals, be current in order to satisfy both new and returning customers. In addition, 60% of users reported that a local listing accompanied by a photo grabbed their attention more than non-photo listings, so putting your business’s best photograph forward is crucial for attracting new customers.