More and more consumers are turning to their smartphones and mobile devices to help them find nearby businesses and make purchases. In fact, 50 percent of people who make local searches on a smartphone visit a store within a day, according to a report from Google.
The report, which broke down consumers' local search behavior, also found that 34 percent of tablet and desktop searchers will also visit a business within a day of searching, and 18 percent of people conducting local searches on a smartphone will make a purchase within a day.
So how can your business take advantage of the local-search trend? Search engine optimization holds the key.
"Local searchers are often looking for products and services that they need relatively quickly compared to nonlocal searchers," said Russell Wallace, CEO of small business online marketing company 29 Prime. "[This] means that your business must have not just a general online presence, but priority positioning in the local sphere." [10 SEO Tools for Small Business ]
With many of these local searches taking place on smartphones and tablets, it's also imperative that your website is properly formatted for mobile devices, Wallace said.
While online shopping may be more convenient, Google's report showed that one in three consumers would make their purchases in-store instead of online if they knew they were close to the store, could get the product faster or could buy it for a better price.
"Consumers still recognize advantages to shopping in-store as opposed to online," Wallace said. "In order for potential customers to know that you even offer such values, however, they first have to know your business is an option by seeing its information in their search results. That's where SEO comes in and makes sure that consumers know that your local business provides benefits that matter to them."
And customers don't just conduct local searches before they buy. According to the report, 66 percent of consumers searching on a tablet or computer search locally to find inspiration for future purchases, 83 percent conduct active research on products and services, 64 percent search to make a purchase, and 40 percent search even after they've made a purchase. This means that customers take advantage of local search throughout their entire buying process.
"Online local searching undeniably plays a big role in assisting the consumer's decision-making process, leading them to buy products and choose one business over another," Wallace said. "It's not only smart to lead the pack when it comes to SEO for local searches, it's a modern-day requirement for business growth."
Originally published on Business News Daily