If you are in Ala Moana you should expected results pointing to the mall, while if in Waikiki, those results will be different, directing you Marukame, Gyu-Kaku or to the International Market Place. That is Local SEO in action.

Can Local SEO help your business get ahead of the competition? Not only it can, but Local SEO must be implemented in every business strategy for long term growth and success.

What exactly is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a category within search engine optimization (SEO) that aims to improve the visibility of businesses, in a local level, within search engine results. For example, the results from conducting a Google search using a “near me” intended question translates as a consumer who is searching for something within the local environment (e.g. Honolulu)—either that or Google has understood that there were geographic constraints to the custom search.

Businesses improve their visibility in local search results for terms related to their business and their products or services when using local search optimization strategies.

Why should business owners care about Local SEO?
Did you know that about 50% of all Google searches are local queries? Even if a person conducts a typical daily search, the chances that Google will show a local business nearby as the result is very high.

Why would this be important for mom-and-pop businesses? Statistics show that in the last 2 years, search engines reported a 900% increase in searches that involved the words “near me today/tonight.” Because of this phenomenon and in order to best meet the needs of its users, search engines started delivering more results for geographically-related searches based on proximity, prominence and relevance.

In other words, if your store is close to where a person is running a search for the products or services you offer, your website is optimized as a local business and you have enough supporting NAP Citations, then you’re likely to be found by these potential customers.

What benefits do Local SEO bring to the table?

Adding Local SEO to the marketing strategy brings many advantages for small businesses and renders better visibility within Google results pages. The following are among the most important benefits of adopting a local approach to search engine optimization:

Better Quality Search Traffic

Searching locally help weed out people who aren’t likely to call or email your business. This is not because Google is trying their best to shield businesses from consumers, but rather because they wish to deliver more relevant local results based on intent and proximity. For instance, a person who is Wahiawa probably won’t see an ABC Store pop up in the search results page, but an alternative convenient store just 3 miles away is likely to come up.

A Smart & Cost-Effective Marketing Option

Although managing business information in online directories and incorporating meta-data on a business website will require time and know-how, one can kick-off their Local SEO implementation by setting up free local business listings within platforms like Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook, making localized search engine optimization more cost-efficient than paid social media advertising and pay-per-click (AdWords) campaigns.

Helps Local Customers Find You

Over 70% of the people searching for a local business will visit a store within 5 miles. If your business is found in local search results within Google Maps, there’s an increased chance you will be generating a new lead from your brand's visibility.

Reach Consumers That Are Ready to Buy

Did you know that over 80% of local searches conducted from a personal phone will convert into sales? This is in part because Local SEO puts your company in front of purchase-ready consumers at the exact time they are seeking your product or service, making them much more likely to make a purchase decision. For instance, if an UH student wants to gift his girlfriend with flowers on a Valentine's dinner night, by searching for the terms "flower shop" alone he'd find Le Flowers at the corner of University Ave and S. King St.

How can businesses use Local SEO in Hawaii?

The initial actions you can perform to increase your brand visibility in local search engine results are easier than you might imagine. These are some tips on how to improve your Local SEO:

Create & Maintain an Accurate Google My Business Profile

By setting up the Google My Business profile for your small business, you can have control over your business information directly into the Search and Maps categories. Claiming or creating your own Google My Business also allows you to keep an eye on consumer reviews in Google, make quick updates to your open hours and let your consumers know of last minute updates through Google Posts.

Respond to Reviews (both good & bad)

Receiving business reviews may take some time and effort, but once the business starts receiving them, as the owner, you should be ready to respond—regardless of whether the reviews are positive or negative. Taking the time to do this shows that you care and this is often a positive signal for local search rankings, even when the feedback is not too positive.

Write Accurate Local Citations

As explained in more context on our post "Why NAP Citations Are So Important For Businesses in Hawaii" local citations are listings or mentions where your company name, address, and phone number are listed online—for example, a Yelp listing of a body shop in Waipahu. No matter where the local citations are added on the web, you need to be sure the information is correct and used in a consistent format every time. This is very important because having numerous sources listing the same contact information gives credibility to your business.

Make Sure Your Business is Listed in Local Directories

Adding your business listing to major online platforms like Yelp, Yext, Bing Places, Google My Business and Facebook will make it easier for Google to confirm the legitimacy of your business and that your contact information is accurate, but don't forget the smaller listing hubs like local classifieds and local business directories as they will also make great sources for NAP Citations.

Have your SEO Webmaster Add Hyperlocal Content to Your Website

Adding strategic local keywords to your website meta-data will have a big impact. For example, having business identifiers like “malasadas in Honolulu, HI” built write into the page content will help Google better understand not just what you do, but also where you offer your product. After a well developed keyword research and if implemented correctly, the business is likely to show up if someone in your Honolulu searches for “malasadas near me.”

Mahalo for reading.