Simplicity Is Key To Converting Local Consumers To Customers

As more local consumers turn to search engines and IYPs to locate good businesses in their area, it’s surprising how many local businesses have not updated their websites or, worse still, don’t have a website at all!

Ugly local website

You'd have to be it's mother to love this website!

The majority of local SEO activities focus on reaching new, potential customers via Google Places, local directories, social media etc…

But not enough consideration is given to what happens when you get a local consumer to your website.

Conversion Rate Optimization (aka CRO) is an essential aspect of good SEO but it tends to be the bigger guys – with bigger budgets – who invest in it and reap the rewards.

It’s common for local business owners to obsess too much about outward promotion and search rankings.

The visible significance of page 1 rankings is very appealing to local business owners – “hey look we’re on page 1 of google – great!”

But it’s the ability to turn this flurry of website visits into actual customers which generates additional revenue which is ultimately what counts.

I’ve seen really effective Google Places campaigns undermined by the fact that a client’s website is trash and additional website traffic does not convert into actual, paying customers.

Ultimately, the budget is wasted and the business owner gives up on SEO and retreats to ‘tired and tested’ offline marketing.

I’m not saying that you need to switch your focus away from improving your Google Places ranking to Conversion Optimization.

But by assigning just 5-10% of effort and budget to enhance & improve your website you can multiply the success of your SEO campaigns.

Boosting Conversion Through Simple Website Improvements

We ran a short survey with our local consumer panel and asked them for their opinion on 4 questions relating to local business websites.

Our local consumer panel consists of 1,790 ‘local consumers’ based in the US (broad mix of ages, gender & location). We received 1,212 responses to this survey and here are the answers we got back:

28% of consumers believe that a smart website gives a local business more credibility

Q #1 – Which of these statements best reflects your attitude to local business websites?

Local SEO - Local Business Websites - Credibility

 

Actually having a website is the first rung on the trust-ladder; but local businesses can really enhance their credibility and boost website conversion if they make their website clean, clear and professional.

Keeping the site updated with news making it look active can provide an additional boost to conversion.

Consumers want key information upfront – Services, Prices & Contact Details

Q #2 – What information is MOST valuable to you on a local business website?*

(note – respondents were asked to select 3 answers from those provided)

Local SEO - Local Business Websites - Local consumers looking for ;ist of prices & services

 

Local consumers have simple needs – they want to know what you offer, what it costs and how to contact you!

Give them this information upfront; don’t make them dig around your site looking for it. Your website visitors have a need – i.e. the service you provide - and the sooner you demonstrate that you can satisfy that need, the better.

Clear Prices and a ‘Special Offer’ will entice more consumers to contact a business

Q. #3 – Which of the following is most likely to encourage you to contact & use a local business?

Local SEO - Local Business Websites - clear prices and good value offer improve conversion

 

Lack of a Physical Address on a website puts off 40% of website visitors

Qu. 3 – Which of the following is most likely to stop you from contacting & using a local business?

Local SEO - Local Business Websites - physical address is important to local consumers

It’s obvious that for businesses with walk-in trade, showing your address on your site is essential. But for home services businesses and others that don’t, it’s important to demonstrate your local-ness by showing your address on your site.

As well as being an important factor for Google Places ranking, it gives consumers confidence that you are a genuine, local, bonefide business.

Jason, 36, from Oregon (BrightLocal consumer panel member) sums this up nicely: “I think it’s odd when a local business doesn’t have their physical address on their website. It seems suspicious to me; are they not really ‘local’ to me or what have they got to hide?”

 8 Point Checklist For Your Local Business Website

If you can answer yes to the following 8 questions then you’re doing a good job. If the answer is no, then you have some work to do – but the rewards will be all yours.

  1. Do you have your physical address on every page of your website?
  2. Are your contact details – i.e. phone number &/0r email address – displayed near the top of your website?
  3. Do you have a full list of services & prices on your site and is there a clear link to them from your homepage?
  4. Do you have a special offer on your website and is it clearly visible on the homepage?
  5. Was your homepage updated in the last 7 days?
  6. Do you have a blog or ‘latest news’ section on your homepage?
  7. Does your website look better or worse than your top search competitors? (be honest here)
  8. Do you have at least 1 positive quote/testimonial from a customer on every page of your website?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column

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About The Author: is Founder & CEO of BrightLocal.com. BrightLocal provides local SEO tools for local businesses; see their research section for the latest findings about the local search market.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter



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  • http://www.freebookings.com Magnus Hultberg

    Great article. Main take away in my opinion is that improving on site SEO (the details you control yourself on your website) isn’t any black art. They are all simple and natural things: put yourself in the shoes of your customer and try to imagine what they need. Make sure those things are prominent on your website, and added to your website following the best practice guidelines (which your web developer should be knowledgable about) and Google will love you for it.

    The conversion part is important. Working with restaurants a lot (I work with Freebookings, which is a free online reservations service for independent restaurants) I often see restaurants doing a decent job on off and on site SEO and social media, but forgetting completely about how to get the web visitor to actually come to the restaurant. Obviously, for restaurants, taking online reservations is a must to get the most out of website and SEO investments. And with mobile usage booming, a system capable of converting visitors to customers on multiple devices (such as OpenTable, Livebookings or Freebookings) is increasingly important.

  • http://www.chatmeter.com C.M.

    This is a great article Myles. It makes me sad when I see a great local business with a less then par site. I think this that most SMBs do not necessarily take their site seriously which could really hurt them in the long run. Another thing for SMBs to remember is that their contact information can be everywhere on the web and they should do their best to make sure it is consistent across the web.

  • http://www.giftsspace.com/blog M.M.

    There is a psychological aspect of simplicity that aids good conversion. A web site designed with easy navigation and with no room for ambiguity is the one that is best converting all the time. All famous e-commerce sites are built on this aspect and people who visit there are easily becomes customers by virtue of this principle of simplicity.

  • http://www.EffectiveMarketingStrategies.com MBrophy

    Its good to see data from a local business survey. The 8 point checklist is helpful, except for one item, the one suggesting businesses show a full price list. When the purpose of a website is for e-commerce, prices are necessary, however, the websites of most local businesses are not made for transactions. Local business owners usually want website visitors to call on the phone, visit the store or request a quote. Just because customers want something doesn’t mean it should given. For example, if asked, most customers want lower prices, or want more giveaways, but it does not mean the business owner should comply. Putting a price list on many local website encourages premature price comparisons, and short circuits their selling process.

 

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