Local SEO Opportunities for Small Business

10 03 2011

Each month our agency holds a free search engine marketing seminar geared towards small business owners in the Portland, OR area. Last night our seminar was on Local SEO. I wanted to provide an overview at the beginning of the presentation regarding the number of small businesses in the US (and globally) and compare that to the number of businesses that have actually claimed/verified their Google Place page. The numbers are scary. Small business owners aren’t focusing on local SEO as much as they should. I feel this could be for a couple of reasons:

  • Google isn’t putting enough effort to market this to small business owners, and they are doing even less in terms of support – Google has gotten better at trying to cater to small businesses and give them resources for local SEO, but it obviously isn’t enough as the lack of claimed Google Place pages clearly shows
  • SMBs don’t have the resources/time to put forth the effort it can take to claim and manage their local online presence

So, to the numbers.

  • I’ve seen reported that anywhere from 20%-40% of all searches have local intent
  • Back in June 2010 the Big 3 search engines tallied about 15 Billion searches per month
    • Google – 10.1 Billion
    • Yahoo – 2.9 Billion
    • Bing – 1.9 Billion
  • If 20% of these searches had local intent, that would mean roughly 3 Billion searches each month

Folks, that’s a lot of searches where users are looking to purchase a product/service in the very near future. At a very broad level, roughly one-third of searchers will walk into a brick and mortar location after performing a local search. That’s a huge opportunity for sales.

Now I want to lay out the landscape of small businesses in the US. Most SMBs are not taking advantage of local search, so based on the info above, they’re also missing out on a lot of potential sales.

  • There are roughly 25 Million small businesses in the US
  • About 2 Million have actually claimed their Google Place page

You can do the math on this one. There is huge opportunity for SMBs to take advantage of Local SEO. Now, there are some industries that have jumped all over this, such as locksmiths, plumbers, hotels, restaurants and some others, but the majority of these are all in major cities. If you’re an SMB in a less populous region, you may have the opportunity to claim your page and receive excellent visibility/traffic due to the lack of competition.

If you’re looking to claim your Place page and increase your local visibility, there are some resources that you can utilize to get started, like Google Place help and David Mihm’s local ranking factors. These resources should help you understand what is important in local SEO, as well as how to get started. Additionally, you can view the Formic Media Local SEO presentation (yes, self promotion alert).

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