Local search is becoming increasingly important and relevant to consumers, and according to US-based inbound marketer Hubspot, 46 % of all Google searches are looking for local information. What’s more:

  • 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else
  • 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase
  • “Near me” type searches increased by 900% over 2 years.
  • 92% of searches will pick businesses on the first page of local search
  • 4 out of every 5 consumers use search engines to find local information

Many companies’ online marketing strategies include using paid advertising to position them on top of online searches so they can secure clicks to their websites. In the Search Engine world, this is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or paid search. There are different terms used to refer to SEM activities such as Pay-per-click (PPC), Paid search ads, Cost-per-click (CPC), and Cost-per-thousand impressions. Paid ads certainly have some advantages and can be highly targeted, and because of this they are encroaching on local search results. Many businesses use paid ads to generate local leads because:

  1. Their brand is positioned at the top of the page
  2. They have some control over the results they achieve
  3. It showcases their product or service
  4. They can control their budget
  5. They can display uber-targeted ads
  6. They can achieve measurable results
  7. They can get real-time feedback
  8. They can get more stability in your ranking (at a cost)

There’s little doubt that SEM in the form of localised paid ads are encroaching on local search, but there are plenty of tactics you can deploy to ensure you still rank highly in local search results. How? Through solid Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – it’s a strategy that does all it can to position you brand as high as possible on the first page of search results – organically. It’s the holy grail of search because when you’re optimised (which, by the way, is a continuous journey), you don’t have to pay to be at the top.

Both SEO and SEM have the same end result – more visitors to your website. But we believe that SEO is better than SEM for local search and here’s why:

Predictability

While admittedly, it’s impossible to guess what Google’s next move is, it is easy to predict its motives and that is to deliver the best possible search results. So, SEO professionals are improving their process while Google continues to polish its capabilities to deliver high-quality search results. What this means for small businesses is that if you work with a leading SEO provider such as Broadcast SEO, you’re working with a business who is up to date with all of Googles latest changes and who knows how to assess the impact that SEO tactics will have on your ranking.

Sustainable results

Without a doubt, SEM means a quick and easy win. Once you pay for an ad, it rises, and you get immediate ROI. But once you stop paying for that ad, your ROI also stops immediately. SEO does take continuous work, time, and effort but the result is more long term. Organic ranking results can last for months even after you have stopped working on your SEO strategy. It’s a long-term investment – a bit like planting the seeds now and harvesting the fruits of your labour for many years afterward. That means a more stable return of investment for you.

Earns more trust

Trust is earned, not paid – so, if you want your visitors to trust you, you have to earn it rather than trying to pay for it. Users are smart. They can tell if the results were earned or purchased. In fact, many searchers ignore ads without really even glancing at them. In the world of digital marketing, it’s called banner blindness which refers to the behaviour of avoiding promotional content. Organic searches earn trust from the users because they have earned their rankings and are in their appropriate positions, sitting proudly in Google SERPs. They have worked hard to get there and earn the right to be on the first page of a search result as one of the best.

Marketing priority

According to a Hubspot report, 61% of marketers say that improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. So, if you haven’t come to the same conclusion yet, maybe it’s time to do so. After all, the reason behind your marketing efforts is to generate leads and then convert those leads into paying ones.
Continuously improve your organic results
SEO is not just about getting noticed. It also improves your credibility, promotes your brand awareness, and generates leads. Appearing on top of search results is a great advantage over your competitors.

Cost-effective

While the cost for paid ads and other marketing strategies keep increasing, the cost to implement SEO still remains one of the lowest available. This is a great advantage to any business that wants exposure and to increase their sales and profitability. The more cost efficient your marketing strategy is, the more money that you will be making in the long run.

A few strategies

Whilst there are many, many strategies relating to gold standard SEO, here are a few you should be considering:

  • Content is king – Google loves fresh new content so make sure yours is being constantly updated with new blogs, articles, pages and videos.
  • Link building campaigns on your website will intensify your brand’s voice and personalise the connection with your target audience (and yes, websites are still important for local businesses).
  • Strategic partnerships with brand advocates tune in to the positive of your products and services.
  • Backlinking may provide you valuable referral traffic and conversions.
  • Social reach extends significantly when your campaigns are shared in social media platforms such as Twitter,
  • Pinterest, and Facebook.
  • Your brand becomes approachable and recognisable.

While many digital marketers argue as to which is better between SEO and SEM, long-term we firmly believe that SEO is still the best approach because the long-term value of traffic expands over time. You can do it yourself – or you can hire a team of professionals to do it for you. If you opt for the latter, Broadcast SEO has a team of experts who can help you set up your SEO campaign from beginning to end. Check out some of our works here or contact us for a chat about how we can get your business on the first page of local search results.