local search

More than ever people are performing searches on their mobile devices. Over 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone will visit a store within a day. And 18% of those mobile searches will lead to a sale within the same day. Proximity-based searches are becoming more popular among people on the go. Mobile devices are becoming more sophisticated, making search results more hyper-specific location-wise.

Because competition is increasing, finding smaller, target niches are vital for your business to maintain relevance and increase visibility. One of the ways to market around your niche is by optimizing search locally. Take for example the results you get when ‘language schools’ is googled in Orlando.

The listings show the addresses and phone numbers of these language schools, a convenience factor for many consumers. Because many of these searches are being done via mobile, consumers can click and connect directly with the business. Optimizing location-based search connects you directly to your customers.

Google My Business

One of the first ways that your business can take charge of its local SEO is by using Google My Business. Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows businesses to appear in local search results for searches specific to their product. With a GMB profile, your business can create an address listing or claim an existing one. You can also make sure information in all listings is accurate and complete. Although Google My Business is attached to defunct social media site Google+, GMB still feeds information to Maps and Knowledge Box, making it a vital part of search engine optimization. Without GMB, a business would not appear in any local map listings in Google search.

Citations

Beyond Google, there are other places on the web that can mention your business’ name, phone number, and address. This information, called citations, is of extreme importance to SEO. If a searcher finds multiple addresses or phone numbers for your business, he or she may assume the company is not in existence anymore, or be unable to locate the building. The information in a citation should match the information on the company’s official website. If the information is uniform everywhere, Google will be more confident in showing the result to searchers, thus increasing the business’ ranking and visibility. 

If a searcher finds multiple addresses or phone numbers for your business, he or she may assume the company is not in existence anymore, or be unable to locate the building. 

Businesses can keep track of citations manually by keeping a spreadsheet of URLs and listing names. From there, businesses can choose to update these listings on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. For companies with a bit more money and less time, tools like Whitespark (www.whitespark.ca) can help them keep track of citations. In addition to verifying information, your company should keep up-to-date pictures on citation links, and make sure all photos are uniform across all links.

Companies can use resources such as Get Listed (www.getlisted.com) to check for duplicate and outdated information. It is important for your business to correct or remove these citations to avoid confusing searchers.

Barnacle SEO

There is a danger of developing tunnel-vision when it comes to local search. Beyond Google, businesses should push to get listings on other major search engine sites. Although it may be difficult for a small business to rank highly on Google, it can rank on other sites using Barnacle SEO. Barnacle SEO is the process of leveraging other sites’ rankings. If googling your business’ keywords returns results for Yelp or Facebook pages, it would be advantageous for your business to rank highly on those pages, create content for those pages or buy advertising space on them.

If googling your business’ keywords returns results for Yelp or Facebook pages, it would be advantageous for your business to rank highly on those pages, create content for those pages or buy advertising space on them. 

Reviews

Customer reviews are one of the first things consumers encounter via local search. It is then imperative that reviews do not cause a consumer to skip over your business listing. Having poor reviews, or no reviews reflects poorly on your business. Over 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust reviews from a personal friend. And 70% of consumers will leave a review if asked to by a business. Your business should court reviews from its satisfied customers, and also respond to reviews that buyers leave. By responding to reviews, businesses will show that they care about their customers, and build trust with existing and potential clients. Tools businesses can use to track, monitor and proactively get reviews include Reputation Loop, Trust Pilot, and Vendasta. High quality, favorable reviews also increase your business’ visibility and ranking on Google.

Conclusion

If your company conducts much of its business using brick-and-mortar centers, local SEO is of supreme importance to your business’ continued success. If your business has more than one location, it is imperative that all citations on the company are accurate and up-to-date. If your small business hopes to continue to expand into new areas, with new clients, services, and products only good local SEO will help connect the company to those people.

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