Is local SEO right for every small business? Some experts say yes, and would be hard-pressed to allow you to think differently — particularly when they’re selling the service. For some businesses (i.e., those run exclusively online), implementing it can be tricky. But “tricky” does not mean you should necessarily “stay away.”
Here are three potential negatives you’ll want to consider when deciding if local SEO is right for your small business:
1. If your local SEO is done right, you’re going to get calls. Lots of them.
Whoa. Since when are “calls” a bad thing? Well, since not all of these calls will be from prospective clients.
Like any business, you’ll begin to receive calls from people soliciting donations, other, random businesses trying to sell you things, marketing companies trying to get you to invest in yet more local SEO (huh?), and everything else you can think of.
Are you prepared for that level of volume?
This is not to say that your phone will be ringing off the hook in the beginning… but it will definitely be ringing. If you don’t have staff in place to handle these calls or callbacks, this could potentially make you appear unprofessional, and you’ll end up losing business.
Solution: Consider a live answering service to ensure that your business is available 24/7 (or during whichever time periods you specify).
2. If your local SEO is done right, you WILL receive foot traffic.
Again, “a negative”? Possibly. In most cases, this is only a negative if your storefront doesn’t physically exist.
If you have a local business with a physical location at the address you use in your business listings, these humanoid visitors will be a wonderful perk — your company’s desired result. But if you’re a small business based exclusively online, your prospects could become jaded when they drive by only to encounter “UPS” … and not your smiling face inside your company’s doors, as they expect.
Solution: If you have no physical location, decide if local marketing is still a good idea to drive traffic to your business.
3. When using local SEO, your clients will, at some point, expect to confer with a human.
For the majority of small business owners reading this, this is not at all a bad thing. You already either have a brick and mortar storefront, deliver your services or products to your clients, or are at least around and willing to meet or speak by phone to them, so all is generally well. For certain types of companies, however — such as microbusinesses operating in satellite locations or virtually — this is something those business types will want to reconcile.
If a prospect has searched for “tax services Raleigh,” for instance, and your company comes up in Google for that search … then it’s very likely that a phone call or a visit will be their immediate intention. Is your business prepared for that?
It may not be. Not everyone is a social butterfly, and may not be comfortable interacting personally with prospects and clients. Woman and minority-owned small businesses especially may have reasons for shying away from networking, or the public eye. That is perfectly fine.
Solution: If you’re not big on interacting directly with your market, consider the answering service option; then, hire a quality virtual admin to do callbacks for you at a predetermined time each day. Train them well on the nuances of your business, so that they’re able to intelligently answer other product or service questions that may crop up.
When incorporating local SEO into your small business’ marketing strategy, be prepared to build a literal “local” presence — meaning to have someone ready to manage in-person or live contact with your market in some capacity. For many businesses, this is a no-brainer. But for many others, it will take some finagling, such as the use of business centers, coffee houses, virtual phone systems, and more. Local SEO can mean relatively rapid lead generation for your business, but having a representative lined up to manage the contacts you’ll surely receive will be integral to your marketing campaign’s success.