A sign in the window of a business that says "yes, we're open," signifying the importance of knowing local SEO myths

Local SEO is an often underestimated aspect of digital marketing. The internet has opened up a global marketplace where companies can sell to just about anywhere (and has also opened up to many local SEO myths). While that’s had an incredibly positive impact on how brands do business, it’s easy to view the bigger picture while forgetting all about the smaller one.

From the kind of small company that serves the surrounding area to a national brand that considers everyone a potential customer, the importance of local SEO shouldn’t be underestimated. As search engines, notably Google, seek to provide more and more information as part of their listings, this specialized form of search engine optimization is a fantastic opportunity to capture a larger local market and showcase the brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Perhaps the biggest reason to get local SEO in order is that people love to make a difference in their local surroundings. For example, 57 percent of people support local businesses to keep their money close to home. At the same time, the same survey suggests that 38 percent of people do so for a greater connection with the local community.

In short, a company’s target audience wants to shop locally wherever possible. Physical location matters, whether it’s a crucial component of the primary digital marketing strategy or not. The rules of search marketing still matter, and it’s better to be on top than anywhere else. It’s also vital not to fall for some of the more prevalent myths of local SEO, such as these ones.

1. Businesses Only Need Their NAP

The NAP, or name, address, and phone number, might have been enough in the days of phone books and local print listings. However, search engines are about so much more, and while contact information should be the first port of call for any listing, they’re a starting point, not an end.

With these three pieces of information, potential customers understand how to contact a business but have very little to convince them of why. Sure, some customers will love the name, and others will appreciate a short travel distance. For the most part, however, brands need to convince them further, not least because that’s what the competition does.

A business’s NAP was sufficient when listings lacked space and functionality. However, neither is true of search engines. Great listings incorporate compelling descriptions, special offers, and images that showcase a business in its best light, and Vervology can help make those listings pop!

2. Reviews Don’t Matter

Many businesses shy away from the fact that they cannot control all aspects of their marketing strategies. However, great brands get people talking. Bad ones do the same, but not in ways that help those businesses do better.

Naturally, bad reviews are never ideal, although even they can represent an opportunity. Either calmly dispute the claims made, or talk about the steps taken to address specific issues, and that’s one more way to demonstrate that a business cares.

For brands that consistently do a great job, reviews can make all the difference in attracting new customers. Over 90 percent of consumers read and consider reviews, but only around 10 percent of customers leave them unprompted. A typical small business requires approximately 40 reviews before people become inclined to trust the star rating. So, what can a company do?

They just need to ask. 70 percent of people will leave a review when asked to do so. Requesting that they specifically do so on a Google Business Profile listing can build buzz, prove quality, and significantly boost local search factors.

3. Customers Will Flock to a Business Immediately

Creating an SEO strategy is famously a time-consuming process. Typically, it requires significant up-front time and development and then plenty of patience while the results reflect in the rankings. While not an identical approach, the same broadly applies to local SEO. Adding great pictures, fantastic descriptions, and outstanding reviews are all worthwhile, but they won’t transform a business overnight.

Many brands with little SEO experience are often surprised at how long they can expect to wait to see results. Typically, any SEO campaign takes six to 12 months to start seeing demonstrable results. Of course, there are other factors. A business may already have a robust SEO profile in Google, which may positively impact local rankings. In addition, there may be little local competition and therefore won’t take much to get noticed.

Nevertheless, a local SEO strategy should be measured in months, not days, and as part of an ongoing process. Businesses that lack the resources and expertise for such a commitment can always turn to a search specialist to assist. Local SEO is one of those marketing tasks where the best time to start is right away, even if that means utilizing the talents of a dedicated creative agency.

4. Local and Full Search Rankings are Unrelated

If resources are indeed at a premium, it can be tempting to decide to focus on local search in the near term and a broader SEO strategy in the future. However, while specialized skills are associated with both disciplines, it is rarely correct to treat them independently.

With that said, in cases where resources must be distributed somewhat separately, some SEO work is better than none. Local rankings thrive on excellent on-page optimization and backlinks, just as organic ones do. Pages that perform well in one type of search will often rank highly in others, as they’ve received the specialized treatment required for them to perform.

Ideally, local SEO will form a part of a broader strategy. However, if it does come down to one or the other, efforts made in one area will often directly reflect in another. Alternatively, that work will at least make life easier when the focus shifts to other techniques.

5. Brands Have Full Control Over What Google Displays

Finally, the concept of control returns. It’s a reflection on SEO as a whole that as Google becomes smarter and its algorithms advance, the less reliant it is on the information given to it. Just as the likes of spammy backlinks and exact match domains have fallen in relevance in SEO, Google has become more adept at determining relevant ranking factors.

One relatively recent Google experiment saw the search engine rewriting page titles or at least how they were displayed to searchers. The H1 tag, so often a critical tool in the optimization kit, suddenly became less important.

It’s an example of Google showing searchers what they feel they should see, and the same can happen to local search listings. That doesn’t necessarily mean that business owners and their SEO teams shouldn’t put time and effort into optimizing their listings. More information is almost always better. However, it’s vital to understand that Google regularly updates listings not only with information submitted by the listing owner but also other websites and third parties.

In effect, the best local SEO strategies often come down not to attempting to game the system but showcasing a business based on its qualities and what matters to those searching for it. If a company can spread the word elsewhere and focus on keeping information up to date, all the better.

Staying On Top of Local SEO Myths

The passion and community spirit surrounding local businesses cannot be ignored, even by those that sell far beyond their immediate region. One of the key differences between local and general SEO is that many prospective customers are inclined to use a local business simply due to its location.

In marketing terms, that means they’re already heading toward the “warm lead” segment of the funnel. The opportunity to market to warm leads is impossible to ignore, which is why local SEO should be a priority. Get in touch with Vervology today to discover how local SEO can boost your business and how the right strategy can guarantee that your brand and website stand out from the crowd.