Local optimization is extremely important for businesses with an actual storefront, and the research proves it:

  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day
  • 34% of consumers who search from a desktop/tablet visit a store within a day
  • 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day
  • 60% of American adults use smartphones and tablets to search for local product and service information
  • 71% of people surveyed say they look up and confirm the location of a business before going to it for the first time
  • 86% of consumers look-up the location of a business on Google Maps

The list of stats goes on, but what's clear is that the overwhelming majority of users count on local search information to get pertinent business information. Even more compelling is the high purchase intent that comes with the territory of local optimization, making it a totally necessary and invaluable tool for businesses that depend on foot traffic.

As the head of an SEO agency, I encounter many business owners who seem to think that local optimization is a one-time endeavor, and that after you put a few bits of information into your Google My Business profile you're finished. On the contrary, local optimization is an ongoing effort that continuously provides the immediate information consumers need to get from point A, searching online, to point B, walking into your store. More often than not, it's the same set of problems holding back a business's local optimization, all of which are easy fixes.

4 Local Optimization Mistakes to Avoid

1. NAP Errors

This stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number for a local business listing. While it may seem like pretty standard stuff, there are a ton of businesses who mess up their NAP information. For example, if your business grows and switches locations, gets a new phone service and number, or rebrands, these are all things that will affect a NAP listing. NAP listings must be accurate and consistent across the web. Any discrepancies in NAP information can provide users a poor brand experience especially if they use incorrect contact information, ultimately leading to the loss of a sale.

2. Not Having Any or Neglecting Reviews

If there's one things consumers love and value, it's the opinion of other consumers. The value of customer reviews is enormous, especially since consumers are looking for them before making decisions about local businesses. For example, let's say I'm at the beach on vacation and I search for nearby seafood restaurants. If I'm not from the area, there's a good chance I'll look at the reviews and ratings of nearby businesses to make my decision. If there aren't any reviews, I'm more likely to go with a restaurant that has positive reviews. If there are a lot of bad reviews and no one from the business has taken the time to address any of them, I'm less likely to choose that business.

3. Not Being Mobile Friendly

As the stats above show, the number of consumers searching from mobile phones is continuing to grow. For the on-the-go consumer, quick mobile searches and/or voice searches for nearby businesses are an everyday occurrence. If your business website isn't mobile friendly or if your business doesn't have a call button, there's a good chance you'll lose potential customers simply by not ensuring your business is accessible across multiple devices.

4. Not Having Photos

Businesses should showcase their storefront, products, food, and location through high-quality photos that lure customers in. Back to the seafood restaurant example: if I'm trying to choose where to have dinner and two business listings have the same information but one of them has photos of their best dishes, then I'm more likely to select that restaurant. Photos are an opportunity to give potential customers a sneak peek at what your business has to offer them over another.

Key Takeaway

All in all, what businesses have to remember is that their online presence is their storefront for the web. You have to give consumers the complete picture and all relevant information in order to get them from the web into your store, hopefully making a purchase.