Since Google reworked its search algorithms to place more emphasis on geographic locations, the internet has been abuzz with how great local SEO (search engine optimisation) is for businesses looking to draw in local customers.
Of course, it’s definitely a good thing to quickly use a mobile device to locate a local plumber, restaurant or hairdresser, for customers and for local businesses; but you’re a business-to-business company in Staffordshire, and what’s more, you operate nationally – so is there really any benefit to these ‘near me’ local search trends?
Different to standard (or organic) search results, local search is geographically based and uses the searchers location (automatic or typed) to return a list of useful services near to them with a helpful map, visualising the location to point them in the right direction.
Google* is good at deciding if search results should be returned as local or standard, based on the category you’ve used to search. For example, if I search ‘fish’ using my mobile device, I get a brief explanation on the wonders of this paraphyletic group of organisms (yes really). However, if I now write ‘fish restaurants’ I receive a list of swanky fish and chip shops near me in Staffordshire (curry sauce anyone?).
Interesting right? But pointless for your national B2B business?
Let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages local search plays in supporting your B2B Staffordshire business.
So I get what you’re thinking “Yes, we’re based in Staffordshire, but our potential customers are all over the UK – if they perform a local search, they’ll only receive results of businesses in their local area.”
Yes, that’s true. However, B2B customers aren’t making ‘local searches’ in order to conduct business with their local coffee shop or petrol station. They are making online searches to find answers and solutions; this is where local search could position your business for some interesting opportunities.
Collaborating with other reputable companies is a valuable strategy many B2B companies employ to increase the opportunity to compete in new markets, which would previously be out of reach.
Your business which is successfully established in Staffordshire and known for delivering high quality services in your industry could be the opportunity another business is looking for to promote their services in the area of Staffordshire and expand their market.
By identifying a suitable business in the right area and the right industry, businesses can collaborate on projects, promoting each other’s expertise to wider audiences. But first they need to find you.
Having the right processes in place to have your business appear in local search results may just provide you with an opportunity that could easily have been missed.
Staffordshire is an ideally located area, right in the middle of the UK with great access to transport links and events across the country.
As an ideally situated business, manufacturers may wish to use your services as a distribution channel in order to sell on their products to customers all over the country. But before they even come across your business, they may conduct a location based search in Staffordshire to find out if there are businesses there that suit their requirements.
If your business is expertly pointed out on a local search result map, it could again, open the way for negotiations to begin.
With your headquarters firmly set in Staffordshire and your customers dotted around the country, it’s obvious that if a customer conducts a ‘near me’ search, your services won’t appear. However, if you are already conducting business in that area you could set up specific city or county based landing pages based on the services you offer in that area, listing the client as the business location (seek permission first however).
Then when a location is added to search criteria, say, ‘Glasgow Engine Manufacturers’ or ‘Financial Services Liverpool’, your landing page with the right keywords could appear, proving that you support businesses in that area, even if your physical headquarters are in Staffordshire. The same could also work using the contact details of your remote or home-based employees in these areas.
Source: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/how-to/6-tactics-to-take-advantage [Please note we don’t totally agree with adding remote users as locations in Google. The rest of the article is good]
If as a Staffordshire business you offer a niche B2B service, you could make the assumption that you will only find customers sparingly across the UK, but let’s not forget that as new companies emerge, finding new clients in your local area is a definite possibility. Why ignore that?
Local businesses often like the security of dealing with service providers that are close by, so get those local search results working for you and make yourself available should new local opportunities arise.
Even if you still think local search is irrelevant for your nationally operating Staffordshire business, there’s no denying that the processes required in setting up and maintaining local search optimisation improves your national / organic search results, helping you rise to higher positions in general Google searches.
So even if you don’t receive new business opportunities directly from local search – you still can receive them, indirectly, from organic Google searches conducted by potential B2B customers looking for solutions and answers to concerns.
The key to getting the best success rates from online searches is an integrated approach using local search, organic search and paid-for search results; then you’ve covered every angle and no opportunity should pass you by.
As we’ve already mentioned, local ‘near me’ searches only return local results, therefore local search can’t be solely relied upon for success when your Staffordshire business operates nationally. Local search is good for covering every angle so that you don’t miss an opportunity for new business, but it must be used as a compliment to your existing search engine optimisation techniques.
If you have business locations other than your headquarters in Staffordshire it can be a pain to continually update landing pages and add content and recommendations in order to keep local search relevant. Of course, multi-location venues can be an advantage in gaining new business across the country… if you have the resources and time to make this tactic work to your advantage.
As a larger, established business you are accustomed to using resources for marketing and bringing in new business, however local search is putting all businesses, large and small on a level playing field as it returns results based on geographic location, not the money you’ve spent on a fancy new website.
This could mean an increase in online competition as potential customers don’t need to go further afield to find suitable businesses to deal with, when they can now find smaller ones in their local area. So it may be time to step up your game if you really want to get more business using online search.
As a tool that is rapidly growing in popularity, local search and local search engine optimisation will eventually need to feature in your B2B marketing tactics. Not only that, but as 78% of local searches are conducted on mobile devices, it’s important to ensure your website is responsive and easily accessed using mobile phones or tablets.
A crucial element with local search for your Staffordshire business, is making sure every contact detail is correct on your website and online listings (especially your name, address and phone number); this is to ensure Google will trust your details enough to present it to the searchers – and as over 50% of searches are seeking addresses and contact information, it’s vital to have this information up to date.
To get started with local search for Staffordshire, the first action is to claim and set up your Google My Business page and even though it may seem strange for a B2B industry – make sure you get some recommendations. Yes, it may be something you immediately connect with consumer businesses, but just as you would use a client testimonial to draw in other likeminded clients, recommendations on Google local search results can do exactly the same.
So although it may not quite have the same dramatic effect for promoting your B2B nationally operating Staffordshire business as it would for a B2C business, local search does have its advantages, so why not make make the most of implementing local SEO.
For more details on increasing your Local Search and Local SEO for your Staffordshire business, you can contact Cocoonfxmedia online or find out more about getting the best from local SEO here.
* We will be using Google as the search engine of choice for this blog based on the premise that the majority of people use Google for searches [Source:http://searchengineland.com/google-worlds-most-popular-search-engine-148089]