Whether you are a single location store or a large company with thousands of branches, these 5 practices are key to getting noticed by customers searching for products or services near them.
1) Google My Business
Claiming and verifying your local business is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your ranking on Google’s local search results. And it’s free.
With Google’s recent removal of right side ads and prominent display of Google Local Listings, regular organic results are getting pushed to the bottom of the search page. Your best chance to be seen is to appear on the “Local Pack” (aka Snack Pack) - Google’s top 3 local results and their mapped location.
By claiming and verifying your Google My Business account, you can take control of your listing, protect it from manipulation and add rich content.
Thoroughly completing your Google My Business profile makes a big difference. The more detailed and relevant the content you offer, the better Google can match your business with different search queries. An up-to-date address and phone number are an absolute must. Other details your listing should definitely include are:
- Hours of Operations: More and more customers are relying on businesses’ opening hours information on Google. Having up-to-date business hours, even during special occasions, is important to increase customer’s trust in your business. Nothing will frustrate a customer more than seeing online that you are open and arriving at your location to find you are actually closed.
- Photos: Images are powerful indicators of what your location looks like or what kind of products you offer. They are also incredibly important to get potential customers to want to know more about your business. Google states that businesses that add photos to their profiles get 42% more requests for directions and 35% more clicks through to their website than those which don’t have photos.
- Reviews: Customer reviews are a great way to get valuable feedback about your business. They are also an important factor that helps influence other potential customers with their buying decision. The key is to encourage reviews and respond to them appropriately. Replying and thanking people for the feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, actually helps to increase your reputation. Google also rewards positive reviews with better ranking on its local search results.
2) Multiple citations & Consistent NAP across directories
Building citations is one of the building blocks of local SEO. Having your business appear on all relevant directories and platforms with consistent data is crucial to optimize your local search results. The more data you have the better, but your consistent NAP info (Name, Address and Phone number) is imperative.
Google My Business is arguably the most important channel for local businesses, but there are dozens of other important directories, which will vary depending on your geographic location. If your business operates in more than one region, or even internationally, it’s important that you know which are the relevant directories for each region.
3) Clean up old listings
Delete old listings and make sure everything is always up-to-date. Allowing customers to find old info about your business across the internet is obviously not a good idea. As expected, this also impacts your Google search results. Google likes tidiness, and having double or outdated listings for your location on any given directory is only going to harm your SEO efforts.
4) Local Landing Pages
This applies specifically to businesses with more than one branch. Google wants to find all the important location details about your business in one spot, and these details need to match your Google My Business profiles and those across the web. To make this easy for Google, and your customers you should be creating a separate landing page for each of your locations.
Some businesses will go as far as having different websites for each geographic location, but this is usually overkill. Investing in individual landing pages for each of your branches however will go a long way in improving your presence in local search results.
5) Mobile Friendliness
By now it should be clear that mobile optimization needs to be a default strategy for any other website. According to Google, mobile makes up 88% of all “near me” searches, so if you want customers to have a great experience once they find your business, then it makes sense to be mobile-friendly.
Because of the accelerating trend towards mobile, however, adapting your website for smartphone users goes beyond consumer experience. Google actually rewards mobile friendliness. Yes, your local search ranking, even on a desktop, is actually dependent on your site’s responsiveness to different screen sizes.
You’ll notice a pattern in these tips: what is good for your customers, is a good practice for local SEO. This is no coincidence, as Google keeps customer experience as a key focus in its developments. This makes your job easier - when in doubt about how to proceed, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
This blog post was originally posted on MarketingBitz.com
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