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Levelling the playing field with SEO
IN the early years of this decade, small businesses were struggling to compete against large businesses with big budgets, in the online world.
A bigger budget always meant a higher ranking, and SME's could not keep up. Recent changes to Google's algorithm now allow small businesses to rank higher in Google using local search marketing strategies. 
With local search strategies, you don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to reach your target customers. Small businesses can take advantage of local SEO to increase their exposure to potential customers online without breaking the bank. 
What is Local Search
Before 2016, Page 1 of Google Search results was usually dominated by large companies that had large budgets to help them rank higher. 
However, when consumers were searching they weren't finding the answers they were looking for because search results were not tailored to their location. 
Then a change in the Google Algorithm increased Local Search results. This change was known as Google Possum. 
Google Possum filters search results based on where the consumer is located, or where they are searching from.
Local Search is an effective digital marketing strategy that targets specific geographic locations. It is viewed as the digital Yellow Pages, and any business, big or small, can utilize it. 
In the last 2 years, Google searches without the term ‘near me’ have grown by 150%, due to local search algorithm updates . 
With Google Possum, consumers no longer need to search for results using 'near me' or their suburb, because Google can automatically calculate where they are located and deliver more relevant search results. 
This is especially helpful in an increasingly mobile world where nearly one-third of mobile searches are related to location .
Optimising Local Search
More and more consumers are turning to search engines to find local businesses. A local search strategy will help your business connect with more qualified local leads, which in turn will increase your conversion rate. Small businesses should take advantage of local search strategies to increase their customer base. 
The first step to good local search is to create a Google ‘My Business Page’. It is free and helps consumers find your business in Google results. 
Once you have created an ‘My Business Page’ you need to focus on optimizing the content on your website for your target audience. 
Local SEO works through selected keywords and geographic targeting.  Creating fresh and informative content, around your keywords, regularly will help improve your websites overall search rankings. 
Customer reviews are also important in local search results, so it is vital for you to encourage your customers to leave feedback about your business on both Google and other online directories like Yelp and Foursquare.
Benefits of Local Search
1. Local Search is highly target and timely, you can position your business to reach potential consumers, when they need you. 
2. Local Search has a higher conversion rate, which can sometimes be as high as 50% meaning you could be getting 1 out of every 2 potential customers to come to your business.
3. Local Search is especially good for mobile searches, as more consumers turn to their mobile devices as a way of finding businesses to reach their needs.
Although Local Search is highly beneficial for businesses, it is important to remember that this type of strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. Once the strategy is implemented, it could take weeks, or even months for your business to see real results. 
But the benefits of local SEO are worth the wait. It is never too late to start becoming a digital business, and local search is the best way to begin taking advantage of potential consumer searching online. 
Annika Scott is an expert copywriter at Digital Presence. Visit www.digitalpresence.com.au


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.