Before we dive in, let’s talk about “what is Local Search in Google, and how is it different from a normal search?”
This is best answered with an example. You’re out and about and start getting hungry, you pull out your phone and type in “restaurants” Whether or not you added near me and your phone has location services turned on then google will pinpoint your location and return geographically relevant results with a list of restaurants close to where you are. With reports being that over 46% of search in Google now has a local intent you can bet Google is getting pretty good at knowing what search is likely to be local and how to deliver results. Other search queries that trigger a local result and using the restaurant example are “restaurants” near me and “restaurants” LOCATION
How Are You Doing?
If you own a local, brick and mortar, business then there are some key things you can do and may have overlooked, to help you get discovered in Google Local searches and start beating your competition. When someone searches for a local business in Google they want what Google wants, to get the business with the right product or service for them the first time. If you have ever searched for what it is your business offers and found that your business does not feature in the top local searches then here are some things you can do to help fix that and start getting more inquiries online from people searching for what your business offers.
1: Manage Your Google My Business Listing Profile
You should have a Google My Business profile and this is often overlooked in terms of how much value this can provide your business when managed right.
Here are our top “quick wins” for making sure your Google Business profile starts working for you and featuring in local search.
- Make sure your listing is up to date, accurate, and complete. TIP: Go through every option and see if there is any information missing that can be added.
- Check your Questions and Answers and make sure to answer every question, TIP: You can go back and answer or edit old questions and these stay visible.
- Ask for reviews from your customers to show potential customers what others think about you.
- Post offers, upload photos and add posts to keep your listing fresh and vibrant.
- Download the Google Business app to your phone and turn on the messaging option. Note: this only works on mobile.
2: Make Sure Your Name Address and Phone Is Accurate in All Directory Listings (Citations)
A citation is simply a mention of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) online and is another critical component of local search optimization. Citations can be found all over the internet, from obvious sources such as online directories like Google Business and Yelp to social media platforms like Facebook and app providers like Open Table. Search Engines use the consistent accuracy of these citations to help determine trust signals, subsequently can help or hinder your ranking in search engines like Google.
There are a lot of online locations that can feature the NAP of your business and it takes time to create, manage and or fix these listings so having a strategic approach that makes sense to your business is key. My recommendation would be to list your business on all the ones that you have heard of, add any niche-specific ones to your industry, and then see how many you have at that point. Our recommendation would be 15-25 citations to help your local SEO.
Here are the top 50 local citation sites in the USA: https://www.brightlocal.com/citation-builder/us-citation-sites
3: Ask For, Monitor and Respond to all Reviews
82% of consumers read online reviews for local business and have a significant impact on local search optimization. Why? Because they help build trust by building “word of mouth”reputation from positive reviews!
There are three core components to Review Management. Ask, Monitor, and Respond.
Ask: Customers are getting a little review fatigued so now, even more than ever, its critical to have a system in place that asks people to leave you a review if they had a great experience and to give you feedback if they didn’t. This is a core management piece because if you do not actively manage this then you leave it up to people to post what they like, where they like. Asking for positive reviews and providing them with an ability to privately provide feedback if their experience wasn’t great is important.
Monitor: Hey do you know what your last review was and when you got it? Reviews are the heartbeat of your business’s online reputation so implement a plan to check for reviews regularly. Howe frequently really depends on the number of reviews you get. If you only get a few a week then weekly is fine, if you get a few a day then daily. This will help you to better understand your customer’s experiences.
Respond to Everything: Whenever we get a negative review w are always told to respond and a quick tip here is to respond in such a way that someone else reading it would be satisfied with the answer and resolution. BUT… what about positive reviews? These are just as important to respond to, just a simple thanks is often enough, its a recognition that you appreciate them taking time out of their day to say let you know they enjoyed their experience with your company. It also shows you care about your customers and your business.
4: Have a Fast, Mobile-Friendly, Easily Navigable, and Informative Website
Websites: Fast, Mobile-Friendly, Easily Navigable, and Informative
Having a website that is fast, informative, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly is critical. I’m confident that most people have heard about the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, but I know that so many still have a relatively slow site with a mobile experience that leaves a lot to be desired. A slow, hard-to-navigate website site can hurt your sales more than you think.
Let me put it into an analogy that’s easy to understand.
Image seeing an old, outdated store. You think it might have what you’re looking for, but it’s not very inviting. Let’s say you go inside anyway, and the staff ignore you until you’re right in front of them, but you have a question, so you carry on. Finally, the clerk acknowledges your existence, but when you ask them your question, they look puzzled and give you some vague answer that’s not even wholly related to your question. What would you do if you were that customer? Unfortunately, this is the exact thing many people experience when visiting the website of a local business! Do you wonder why your competitor is getting more inquiries than you are? It might just be your website.
So there you have it. Get your Google Business listing up to date and use it to promote your business, make sure your listing name address and phone details are consistently accurate, ask for, monitor and respond to all reviews and make your website is a conversion machine and you will significantly improve your local search optimization.