If your business has a website, it’s likely that you’re at least a bit familiar with Search Engine Optimization. In short, SEO is the practice of writing and structuring a website’s content for the best possible search engine rankings. Are you familiar with local SEO, though? More often than ever, people use their computers and mobile devices to search for businesses nearby — even when they don’t plan to buy products online. If you aren’t optimizing your business’s website for local searches, you may be leaving a lot of potential business on the table. Keep reading to learn more.

User Intent for Search Queries

One of Google’s recent initiatives in improving search quality has been to do more than simply provide keyword-focused results for search queries. Today, Google tries to enhance the value of search results by determining the intent of queries. For example, suppose someone searches for the word “crafts” on a computer. She might be searching for craft ideas or pictures. What if the same person searches on a mobile phone? In this case, she may want the location and phone number of a nearby craft store. Google takes the keywords into account along with the user’s device and location to determine whether she wants a local result. More than ever, local results appear in a wide variety of Google searches.

The Benefit of Local SEO

At least 68 percent of adults in the United States own smartphones, which means that they have Internet access everywhere they go. People aren’t just searching the web with the intent of buying online. In fact, 78 percent of local searches on mobile devices result in offline purchases. Even if your business sells nothing on the web, investing in local SEO will result in more sales. In fact, about half of the people who look for local businesses on their smartphones don’t know the name of the businesses they’re looking for. Instead, they conduct general searches within categories such as restaurants and services. You can attract traffic from category-based searches by creating content that matches the relevant keywords.

Improving Your Website’s Local SEO

The primary goal of local SEO is to create pages describing the products and services that you offer and explaining where you offer them. Including the city and state in on-page elements such as page titles and meta descriptions is a good idea, too. Lastly, every page should contain your business’s address and phone number — Google crawls the contact information on pages to make it easy for mobile device users to contact businesses.

To provide an example, let’s suppose that you have a plumbing business in Hanover, New Hampshire. The title of your most important article for local SEO purposes might be “Plumber in Hanover, NH.” However, you can enhance your efforts by thinking of related keywords and writing articles for those as well. Think about some of the tasks that you typically perform or the problems that your customers often have, and you’ll come up with ideas. Here are a few article titles that might fit:

  • Toilet Replacement in Hanover, NH
  • Leaky Sink in Hanover, NH
  • Fix Water Heater in Hanover, NH

As your keyword list grows, so will your traffic.

Would you like to read a bit more about the most recent trends and best practices in local SEO? These are a few of our favorite resources: