Why local businesses are losing out on internet search

Why local businesses are losing out on internet search
Is your business coming up in local search results based on key words your customers might use? A surprising number of Lewes businesses are not! Use your smartphone or tablet to check and test this – don’t just use your desktop as smartphones give a different search result for the reasons outlined below. 

Mobile search search is rapidly becoming the new Yellow Pages with a third of online traffic coming from mobile devices. Yet many Lewes  businesseses may be missing from local search results because they have failed to take the minimum basic steps to be found.  Even those with a website may have incomplete or out of date contact details – or no contact details at all.

“60% of local businesses don’t have their phone number on their website “. That’s  according to the  Local Vox,  an American based  social and mobile marketing platform – and while it may be different in the UK,  an earlier report published a year ago  revealed that 60% of UK small businesses have yet to even get online.

Why does this matter? Because Lewes depends on visitor trade, not just local trade. And bear in mind there will be a continual stream of new residents to the  Lewes area who may not be as familiar with what is available in Lewes compared to local townies.  

The key message is: whether you are an existing resident or a visitor, people are increasingly turning to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets  to search for local businesses, not Yellow Pages. That said,  “39 percent of all searchers are frequently unable to find a specific local business on the internet – even when they know it exists”  according to SiteProNews.

When I tested this out for myself, I found the same result. Using my smartphone to look for cafes, restaurants, pubs and clothes stores in Lewes,  I was surprised at the number of businesses that did not show up on the first page – in a good few  cases, not at all.

Some reasons why your business may not be coming up in search results

A trawl of some of the websites and blogs by digital marketeers, cited the following common failings:

  • Old, incomplete or inconsistent contact details. When a user does a search, Google cross references contact details or NAP’s – Name, Address, Phone Number – contained on your website  with any contact details on independent online directories such as Google Places for Business, Yelp and Tripadvisor. Where discrepancies are found such as different phone numbers, 0800 phone numbers (not local) or old addresses,   Google marks the local search results down
  • Not registered on Online directories such as Google Places for Business or Bing Places for Business – the former is particularly vital
  • Social media profiles contain no reference to any location or no link to website which does have location details
  • Website content contains no reference to your locality. You may be a baker or solicitor in Lewes but if the products and services listed on your website contains no  reference to your location in any of your page titles text or photos,  it weakens your chances of being returned to the first page of local search results
  • There are no reviews of your business, too few of them, or strongly negative reviews. Search is becoming increasingly ‘social’  – what people say about your business affects search rank.  It is not just ‘backlinks’ to your website  from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it is  review sites such as Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and Yelp that are becoming critical to search ranking.

It is really important that local businesses take this on board.   According to Ofcom over half the UK population now own smartphones and a third of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. While many use them to browse and buy from e-commerce sites, local search is also on the increase: a recent study by Brightlocal shows that 29% of people regularly use a mobile device to find local businesses (as opposed to 15% of people who use their desktop computer) – a twofold increase from 2012.

Google knows mobile devices are more often used for local search and because your mobile device is geo-tagged ( your location is known at the time of search), the location of local businesses figure prominently in search results – assuming you have taken the necessary steps to be found.

The introduction of voice activated search on mobile phones is only going to enhance the trend to local search. Think about it: it is much easier to speak a command into a smartphone than type out a search query while  walking – or worse, wait until you get home to heave out a heavy Yellow Pages tome. When I tried voice activated search I found search results on my smartphone were far more accurate than typed local search queries on my desktop – try it yourself.

To help others on their way and ensure they are found on local search results  I have created a simple worksheet, See notes and link to worksheet on this post, then download>>>

For those who want more detail on local search, I have created this slideshow. Good luck  and I hope you find these useful!

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