Why Does Local Search Marketing Take So Long?

Google Strategy, Local SEO, Online Marketing

Whether you’re trying to do your local search marketing yourself or you’ve partnered with an agency, the process of elevating your local search ranking can seem lengthy.

If you’ve been working on your Practice’s local SEO for a while and you aren’t seeing results yet, you’re probably wondering what is taking so long.

It’s easy to lose patience when you’re putting precious time and/or resources toward improving your digital presence, but there is a light at the tunnel. Let’s talk about why local search marketing seems to take so long.

What is local search marketing?

Local search marketing involves telling search engines exactly what they need to know about your business. We commonly refer to this info as your business’s NAP (name, address, phone number).

When this data is structured together, it’s commonly referred to as an online citation.

But, it goes further than that. Search engines also need to know your business’s website URL, hours, service area if applicable and anything a consumer might need to know when searching for a business online. Think services, business descriptions, photos, customer reviews, etc.

Why aren’t you seeing results yet with your local search marketing?

Some digital marketing agencies might promise to immediately get you to the top of the local search results.

We’d love to tell you that local SEO works that way, but it doesn’t! You can think of local search marketing as building trust with search engines. You don’t build trust overnight, so you shouldn’t expect to improve your search ranking overnight.

If you hired a digital marketing agency and they’ve promised you overnight results, you probably shouldn’t believe them, unless they’re talking about paid advertising.

Let’s answer your main question… Here are three reasons you might not see instant results:

  1. Your business is new and/or there’s no information about you online.

Local search marketing is complicated, and this is especially true when a business is brand new or has no information online. In order to get businesses listed online, marketers will have to create and optimize the following:

  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Google My Business
  • Bing Local for Business
  • Yelp
  • Industry-specific listings

It’s not as simple as plugging a little information into local listings.

You also need to add images, a bio and links back to your website (and if your practice is brand new with no website, then you will also need a website that’s optimized for local searches).

And, once you’ve created all these local listing pages, you will need to either engage in manual citation building or find an agency to do this for you (which is just a whole lot easier).

This is just a small piece of the local search pie, though. There’s a lot involved in local search rankings. Some of the top categories that affect your business’s local search ranking are:

  1. Google My Business signals
  2. Proximity
  3. Link signals
  4. Review signals
  5. Keyword usage
  6. Behavioral signals
  7. Mobile-friendly website

And those categories are broken down into many more signals search engines take into account when they rank your business in local searches.

Your industry also plays a role in how long it will take to see results from your local search marketing efforts. If your practice is in a highly competitive industry, it could take even longer to rank in local searches.

This is because your competitors are likely already established online and will show up before your business in search results until you can prove to search engines that your business is trustworthy.

Building trust with search engines involves building your online presence with the aforementioned profiles and citations as well as acquiring patient reviews.

And, while those factors have a positive effect on your local search ranking, there are a number of factors that will have a negative impact on your local search ranking (like incorrect or incomplete citation information).

  1. Your practice is established, but there’s a lot of incorrect or incomplete information online about you.

Let’s talk about the negative factors.

If your business has been around for a while, but you’re still having trouble making it to the top of the local search results page, some of these negative factors are probably affecting your business.

One of the most common problems local businesses face when trying to rank higher in local searches is incorrect citation information. And guess what. Incorrect NAPU (name, address, phone number, and website URL) across the web is one of those negative factors.

Ever changed your business name, moved locations or updated phone numbers? You probably have incorrect information floating around. Cleaning up inaccurate and inconsistent business information online takes time.

Here’s what’s involved:

  • Searching for your business in Google, Bing and directories to find the incorrect information
  • Working your way through the incorrect listings and correcting the information when possible
  • Sending correct information to data aggregators, which feed information to search engines

There isn’t just one place search engines get all their information about your practice.

They take information from all over the Internet. This can be a problem because if a search engine finds conflicting information about your business on different websites, it becomes confused and doesn’t know what to tell searchers.

Because search engines are really only interested in giving searchers the best, most relevant search results, they penalize businesses that have conflicting information online.

  1. Search engines take a while to catch up.

Once the information has been cleaned up and listings have been optimized, search engines have to catch up.

Google and Bing are smart, but they don’t change (or display) your local information the second it’s updated in a few directories. Search engines have to do something called “crawling and indexing” (finding and processing) web pages before they use and display new information from those pages in searches.

Even when you submit new information to directories, those directories have to be crawled and indexed before the changes appear in search results.

The same goes for your website, and it can take anywhere from days to months for search engines to crawl new pages. You can, however, submit your sitemap to be crawled in order to speed up the process.

Even Google My Business takes time. Once you’ve verified your page, it can take a few days before the information you added about your practice shows up online.

And, don’t forget that once your information is showing up and you’re being found online, the work still isn’t done. You’ll need to keep an eye on your rankings to make sure they don’t slip because of new, conflicting citations.

So, why are you still paying for local search marketing once all this is done?

Local search marketing is not something you can do once and reap the rewards.

Even after all this information is cleaned up, search engines might still find new, incorrect information about your business. And, as I mentioned before, this conflicting information can cause your local search rankings to drop.

Remember, something as simple as an apostrophe in the wrong place can cause citations to be incorrect.

That’s why it’s helpful to have a digital marketing agency to have your back when things like incorrect NAPUs and negative reviews happen.

Not only do you have to continually check that your citation information is correct, but you need to consistently ask patients for reviews (since reviews are a local search ranking factor as well) and make sure your business has a social presence.

Final Thoughts

Local search marketing takes commitment! It’s important to understand the benefits that come with having a local search presence and the obstacles that come with it.

But if you find that your local search marketing is taking too long, you can always try paid advertising to get your presence started.

Either way, keep working on your local search ranking, and remember that it will be worth the wait!