As reported by Search Engine Watch, a new study of local search optimization companies should redefine the way both marketers and their clients think about this segment of SEO services. Eighty-four percent of SEO marketing companies that responded to the study had five or fewer SEO employees working for them. What does this mean for the local SEO industry? In short, local search optimization isn’t an industry defined by huge SEO companies, but by small businesses looking to help out other small businesses.

More Local Search Optimization as Local SEO Becomes the Name of the Game
Ninety-three percent of all online experiences still begin with a search engine, but the type of searches that kick off those experiences have changed radically within the last few years. Now local SEO is the name of the game, with 645 million views of localized content recorded each week in the United States.

This uptick in localized searches is having a direct impact on the sales of American small businesses. When compared against the generalized SEO tactics of the past, local search optimization yields far greater results; in fact, a recent report from Search Engine Land shows that 78% of people who view a local business page on their mobile devices will make a purchase from that business. Understanding this paradigm shift, an increasing number of marketers are striking out on their own to focus on local search engine optimization.

Study Marks Likely Shift Toward Higher Prices
Beyond the make up of the local SEO industry, the study also found something troubling: looking to edge out their competition and stay competitive, a huge number of local search optimization companies are actually undercharging their clients. Thirty-seven percent say they pull in less than $30,000 a year from their local SEO services. Needless to say, the low revenue numbers, even for small businesses, aren’t cutting it.

The study’s authors feel that with increased understanding of the huge benefits of localized SEO, SEO company services should now find themselves in a place where they can get away with higher prices. The current environment, experts say, effectively devalues local SEO as a whole. Commensurate fees for high quality localized SEO sends the message that local is hugely important — of course, it also helps ensure small businesses actually have functioning local SEO marketers to turn to.

Are you surprised by who makes up the local SEO industry? Would you pay more for your localized SEO services? Share your thoughts in the comments below.