Local search is the future of SEO, especially for brick and mortar companies and small businesses. While local search is a different ballgame than traditional SEO, the basic principles are still the same. You want to provide useful information to your customers, make it easy for them to navigate to your company, and provide a high-quality online experience to represent your company.
Set Up Google My Business
One of the easiest ways to establish authority via local search is by taking the time to properly set up your Google My Business listing. This allows you to claim your business, upload professional photos of your store or products, and provide directions and hours for your company.
Among other things, you can upload your operating hours up to a year in advance and specify the category (or categories) of services your company provides.Providing detailed information, a variety of photos, and regular content makes a positive impact on your local rank.
GMB is free to set up, and enables your store to show up in relevant local queries. It’s a basic, yet essential way to drive traffic to your store, website, and phone number. Take the time to do it right and show people you’re open for business.
Never Underestimate the Power of Reviews
Although backlinks still matter, our data and testing are showing that Google reviews seem to hold the most power. We anticipate this continuing into the next year and growing as time goes on, because Google increasingly is looking at reviews as a signal of popularity, quality, and authority.
Many customers are turning to review sites to read up on a company before making a purchase. In fact, almost 70% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase.
For some perspective, calculate the number of new vs. returning customers that buy from you each month. Can you afford to lose 70 percent of them due to poor or minimal reviews?
To increase the number of reviews for your company, identify the top five places where your customers read reviews (from Yelp to Google Reviews) and brainstorm ways to encourage customers to share their experience. This could include call to actions from your front of house staff or links on your website.
As long as you’re offering a quality customer experience, you shouldn’t be afraid of reviews. Companies with good reviews and good engagement with the community also tend to get more backlinks, so all of these factors can work together to boost your site’s online visibility.
Utilize Structured Data for More Traffic
User experience is among the most important aspects upon which search engines tend to focus. The purpose of local search is to make it easier for customers to locate your store and understand your products.
Structured Data is the method of tagging your website with schema data so that search engines can pick up and display under your results.It highlights and categorizes the most relevant content related to the search query, and it assists search engines in understanding your web content.
Structured data is also an opportunity to take up more real estate in the SERPs and highlight your good reviews. Why would you just want a normal listing when you could have extra lines with store hours and customer reviews? This provides you with additional opportunities to get noticed and win clicks over your competitors.
Think About the Locations, Not Just the Brand
All of your locations are important. The purpose of local search is to bring customers into your stores, whether you have two locations or 2,000 franchises across the country.
Optimizing the Google My Business listing for each individual location will allow customers to find each location on Google maps and add reviews to the specific staff that they worked with. Locally relevant content, images, and engagement for each specific location will help send the correct signals to Google in that area.
Facebook essentially should be set up the same way. Along with Google My Business, Facebook is building a focus on local ads to drive traffic into stores and connect users locally. To ensure your customers are reviewing the appropriate staff members or teams, you’ll want to make sure reviews are info about each specific location is separated. Facebook allows you to do this by setting up a parent/child page structure.
By optimizing the images and hours for each individual location, you’re able to build authority and show customers that you’re invested in your brand. Local and branded SEO work together to drive traffic to your site, and eventually your stores.
Take Full Advantages of Local SEO for Your Business
Google has provided the tools to succeed in local search, but we’re seeing relatively few companies are taking advantage of them. If you follow these best practices, then your company — and stores — will soon reap the benefits in traffic and revenue.
Need help? As part of our comprehensive internet marketing plans, our team stays on top of all local SEO changes, and we’re constantly testing new strategies to ensure each client is utilizing the most current and relevant features for their vertical, region and business size. We’ll take care of the issues and confusion that can sometimes come along with Google verification and Facebook location management. We can monitor reviews with Powerlistings and take care of responding with our Active Response package.
Krystina Lisi is s Local Search Strategist at Mediagistic. She’s an Internet enthusiast with a passion for Google Maps, YouTube, and Social Media. She also is an amateur photographer and Netflix binge-watcher who enjoys 90s sitcoms and sketch comedy. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @krystinalisi.