As we rely on search engines more than ever, we’ve looked into the role that local SEO is playing during the coronavirus pandemic and why it’s never been more important to establish a search presence in your area.
With so many businesses struggling to weather the storm of the pandemic, communities are looking to support their local shops, restaurants and takeaways in order to keep them afloat and see them through this difficult time. Teamed with on-going travel restrictions, people have been forced to ditch the big city chains and explore what their towns and villages have to offer.
Businesses are adapting wherever possible – restaurants operating as takeaways, shops experimenting with local delivery services and cafes serving coffee through the window. They need local custom more than ever, and the demand is certainly there… this is where local SEO becomes an essential marketing channel.
The graph below shows a clear trend for “open near me” related search terms – search volume increased dramatically during the first lockdown, and tailed off as restrictions were eased. In line with the more recently introduced tier 4 and yet another full lockdown, local searches have one again shot up in the UK.
If you’re a local business looking to improve your search presence, we can help, but the below tips are a good place to start.
Google My Business
One of the most sure fire ways you can increase your local search presence is a verified Google My Business Listing. If you don’t have one set up, it’s quick, easy and instantly means you can appear within the local map listings. If you already have one, now is the time to review your listing and ensure it is fully optimised and providing people with the most up to date information in terms of operational changes.
In addition to this, there are simple changes and additions you can make to your website to ensure it is optimised for local search terms. If you don’t have a website, now is the time to invest – it provides your business with another means of being found online is one of the best ways to showcases your products / service.
Make sure it’s full of valuable content, and keep your blog updated with both topical and evergreen articles.
My business is unable to open…
If your local business has been unable to open during lockdown, making sure SEO fundamentals are in place is still recommended. This means you’ll be in the best possible position organically when you are able to open. You can also use your website / local listing to keep people up to date with your plans – any online services on the horizon, important information etc. This will keep your business at the forefront of people’s minds even if you’ve been forced to close.
Utilising other channels
Social media is another great channel to connect with and engage local consumers. With hashtags like #supportlocal doing the rounds it’s evident that people are willing to spread the word, and highlights why an active social presence is so important at the moment. It’s a quick, easy and free way to let your followers know what you’re offering and what’s on the horizon. What’s more, it’s the best way to feel close to your customers when you need it the most.
Paid advertising budgets may well not be a priority at the moment, but small geo-targeted campaigns don’t have to cost much, and are another way to get your service in front of the right audience – be it on social media or Google pay per click.
If you’d like to chat about maximising your local businesses search presence during this difficult time through digital marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.