Local Search Engine Optimization: A Local Business Game Changer

As a local business owner, finding the most effective digital marketing channels can make all the difference between sustainable success and shutting your doors. According to a recent BrightLocal survey, it takes more than a few social media accounts and a website to gain quality leads and a solid return on investment. Below we’ll examine the findings of the survey, and what you can do to get the most out of your digital marketing dollars moving forward.


The objective of the BrightLocal Local Clicks & Calls survey was to determine exactly which digital channels produced the most engagement and ROI for local businesses. In the survey, engagement constitutes online traffic, calls, and offline visits to brick and mortar locations. These locations and businesses were not segmented by industry.

The need for this type of data comes from the lack of consolidated conversion data elsewhere. Google Analytics can only tell us so much, and without accurate call tracking numbers, offline conversions, and other setbacks, it can be difficult to gauge quality of leads, ROI, and other valuable information. With that in mind, BrightLocal set out to give us a better picture of consumer behavior that marketers can use to bolster local businesses.


477 respondents participated in the 2015 survey. These professionals worked to optimize over 8,200 local business locations throughout the past year, and ranged from local business owners (28%) to web designers (8%) and search agencies (38%) to search consultants (26%).

The survey prompted respondents to answer questions ranging from how much time they allocated to each channel to the effectiveness of leads produced through each channel, and below, we’ve dissected several of the results:


  1. Local and Organic Search Provide the Best ROIlocal-seo-1As can be seen in the chart above, local and organic search are able to deliver a better ROI than other channels, including social media optimization – which is currently a bit of a misconception in the industry. Small businesses and SEOs alike have been dedicating more and more time on social channels, when they are less likely to yield traffic and leads. Though, to be clear, a social media presence does do wonders for establishing brand legitimacy and recognition, it simply isn’t the conversion machine that many might have thought.Organic and local search engine optimization are effective – if done correctly – because they allow businesses to put themselves in front of a large audience of users who are actively searching for their particular services. Because of this, it’s no wonder that there has been no change since the 2014 survey – isn’t that the goal of all marketing channels anyway?
  2. Local and Organic Search are Most Effective at Providing the Highest Quality Leadslocal-seo-2Quality over quantity is absolutely essential when leads are concerned. Because marketers are looking for the right audience, rather than throwing dollars at the wall just to see what sticks, this metric speaks volumes to the effectiveness of your strategy.Above we see that local and organic search are more effective at generating high quality leads than any other channel, including direct traffic. This means that you are more likely to make a customer out of a user conducting a search for your locally optimized service rather than having said user type your URL into their web browser. And that, my friends, is huge.We also see that Google AdWords has seen an increase in effectiveness over the past 12 months, which is another fantastic opportunity for marketers to increase their high quality leads using a channel over which they can exercise more control than organic.Social media, on the other hand sits on the other end of the spectrum, providing lower quality leads.
  3. Local Search Generates the Most Callslocal-seo-3As far as key performance indicators go, phone calls are the KPIs that are most valued by local businesses. This is because phone calls provide fantastic leads. As compared to any other channel, local search has historically dominated.With that said, the advent of the new local “Snack Pack” is likely going to have a negative impact on calls generated by local search. Google has removed the click-to-call icon from the local results, prompting users to have to continue onto the company’s website, or navigate to the updated local results page to find the information they need.
  4. Local Search Generates the Most Site Trafficlocal-seo-4If you’re looking to increase site visits, local search optimization is your best bet. Some might think that it is surprising to see local search beating out organic search, but when you break it down, it makes sense. “Near me” and location specific searches have been consistently on the rise since the smartphone boom, and users continue to search for more specific, long-tail searches all the time.Because of this, ensuring that your business is optimized for your specific location is a must.


Local and organic search reign supreme as the most effective digital marketing channels across the board, with Google AdWords not far behind. Not only do these channels provide online engagement, but also prompt offline interaction, giving local businesses the best ROI when compared to channels like social media sites, email marketing, and display advertising.

For the staunch believers in the effectiveness of social media in providing a boost to businesses, you’re not wrong in some respects, but just keep in mind that a majority of the time users of social media are on the platform for reasons other than finding your product or service. When creating social media profiles and campaigns, it’s important to have realistic goals. If you’re using social media as your primary digital marketing channel, it may be time to reconsider.

If your local business is struggling to get patrons through the door, or if you’re looking for the uptick in business to allow your company to grow, the winner is clear: invest in local search.

To see more results from the BrightLocal survey you can find them here. If you’d like to learn more about how local and organic search optimization can help your business, click here.