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