Local search is an increasingly important aspect when optimizing a website. If you need to promote a physical store, you’ll need to emphasize a variety of local qualities throughout your internet marketing strategy.
Google Maps is an important tool here. If your business isn’t listed on Google Maps, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. Roughly 84% of consumers use a smart device to search for a local business. If your business is on Google Maps, those customers are more likely to find you.
Local search results in Google will automatically display a map in the Snack Pack. Clicking takes the users to a Google map-based results page. The easier a customer can find directions to your physical store, the more likely they are to visit your business in person.
Interested in learning how Google Maps can help improve your local search position? Check out these quick tips:
Claim Listing Profiles
Don’t forget about third-party sites. Google uses this info to help determine your site’s position in the search results.
Third-party sites are basically any type of review or other listing. Some common third-party sites for businesses include TripAdvisor, Yelp and similar.
Here’s the key part many business owners don’t realize. You can have a presence on a third-party site without having an official profile. For instance, someone can review your business on Yelp even if you’ve never set up a Yelp page.
You want to set up official profiles for your business on every review site you can find. An official profile gives you more tools to manage your online presence. You can ensure your address, phone and other contact information is properly displayed. Plus, you can fill out your profile with detailed info about your products and services.
Consistency is key. Use appropriate keywords in each profile page. Also, use the same exact format each time you display your contact info. Uniformity with street names, numbers and so on will help boost your presence in the SERP.
Stay Active on Facebook
If your business is already well-established, this isn’t too important. But if your business is new, you want an active presence on social media. Regular engagement on Facebook shows Google your business is both relevant and interesting to potential customers.
What constitutes frequent posting? In the beginning, at least once a day. Offer a daily deal, event or interesting tidbit related to your business. Also, be sure and interact with as many comments as possible.
As your business grows, you can dial your postings back a bit. Once or twice a week is usually enough to stay engaged with your customer base. But in the beginning, stick to daily postings to help build your brand.
Don’t forget you’re a local business. Emphasize your connection to the community. This is especially important if you’re a brand with multiple locations. Each one needs to be promoted according to their specifics.
You understand how your business fits into your community. Use local terms and nicknames throughout your content. Connect your business to local events. When possible, use the local media to help promote your brand.
For instance, suppose your business is located in Paris. Within your content, you’ll refer to your location as “Paris, ” but you’ll also want to use other common terms for the city such as “City of Lights” and “City of Love.” You can include references to common landmarks for the city too. The general idea is to weave as many area-specific terms as possible into your content.
Be Media Friendly
Local media sources, such as local newspapers and TV stations, can dramatically increase brand awareness around town. Plus, mentions in local media can increase your position in the search results. The more you’re mentioned in legitimate news stories, the more search engines will consider you to be a reputable expert in your industry.
So, how do you get noticed by your local media? First, you have to find the right places. Local media will often cover stories relevant to the community even if they’re not particularly newsworthy to the world at large.
You’ll need to find outlets related to your type of business. For instance, if you’re promoting a restaurant, you’ll want to contact local restaurant reviewers.
Writers, editors and other members of the media will respond favorably when you make their lives easy. This means pitching ideas, providing content and otherwise making yourself available for a story. People who work in the media have busy lives. The more you can help them with a story, the better.
Be Customer Friendly
You’ve likely noticed that review sites have a fairly significant connection to local search. After all, word-of-mouth advertising often has a big impact on any local business. Online reviews are simply a digital extension of a timeless form of marketing.
Except there’s a key difference between online and in-person reviews. Online reviews can be unusually harsh and critical. People will write something online they wouldn’t dare dream of saying directly.
Regardless of the fairness of any complaints you receive on social media, you must always respond in a professional manner. Other potential customers will be watching. They want to see that your brand is willing to help, or at least try to help, even in the face of unwarranted criticism.
Deepen Your Local Presence
You can’t fake a deep connection to your community. Google can tell if your connection to your local community is extensive or only superficial.
Building an online connection to your community isn’t just one action. Instead, it’s the culmination of many small actions. Some third-party options include listings in the chamber of commerce, local government, blogs, local guides, coupon books and more.
One way to find third-party options is to check out where your competitors are mentioned. Simple searches for your competitors should put you on the right track.
Measure and Analyze the Results
You don’t want to make marketing decisions based on guesswork. Instead, you’ll need to analyze your strategies and make decisions based on data. One of the best tools for this is Google’s Dashboard. Simple but powerful, the Dashboard shows you a variety of useful info including:
- Impressions – How often your business is searched for by users
- Actions – How often users click through for more information
The data gathered will show you which categories are popular among people who visit your site. This lets you tweak your site to correct underperforming categories as well as emphasize popular ones.
Note that search analytics show results for the past 30 days with a 48-hour delay. So you’ll never be able to see immediate data, just data from the long-term. That’s plenty of information for strategic decisions, but this data shouldn’t be used to make quick judgments.
When developing a local presence online, you want to work quickly to make your brand known. Boost your SERP with the use of Google Maps. That’s the most effective way to optimize your site for local search.