In the increasingly competitive digital marketing landscape, local businesses have a secret weapon – local search. Google and other search engines are always adapting to anticipate what we’re looking for. They know when we search for certain keywords, we’re probably looking for something that’s nearby. Google, in particular, recently released a major update focused on local search called Pigeon. So when someone down the street searches for ice cream, the local corner shop is likely to get credit – and visibility – where credit is due.
Local search presents a great opportunity for local businesses to rise above big brand competitors. But a local address doesn’t equal success. Optimizing for local search does. There are simple things that businesses can do to make sure they have a healthy and strong local search presence. The website plays an important role, but there are equally important off-site factors. To start, here are six tips for optimizing for local search success.
Optimizing for Local Search
1. Be consistent with NAPs.
Although I fully support grabbing a cat nap in a sunny spot every day, I’m actually talking about name, address, phone (NAP). This information – on your site and around the web – is a key local signal to search engines.
It’s also really important that this information is consistent – to the letter. Choose “Street” or “St.” and stick with it. If you list a suite in the address on your site, make sure you do the same everywhere else on the web – on social media, in directory listings, etc.
2. Make sure your listings are complete.
Make sure your listings on top sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp are complete and optimized. Add photos, choose categories (if available) and fill every available section appropriately. Include relevant keywords that apply to your products and services.
If you’re really trying to boost your rankings for one or two specific keywords – make sure they’re present in as many listings as possible.
3. Take advantage of online business directories.
Google’s latest update to its search algorithm appears to be placing emphasis on reputable and trusted directories. Make sure you have a listing on the ones that are benefiting from this change.
Do searches for the terms that you would like to show up for and see which directories are there. Make sure you’re listed on these directories and check to see that your listings are accurate and completely filled out with keywords. While this may not impact your rankings, it will help you maintain a presence on the sites that are ranking well in search results.
4. Be mobile-friendly for users on the go.
Local searchers are mobile. 79% of local searches are done on mobile phones. Make sure your site is optimized for the users that are one the go and on multiple devices. Not only will a positive user experience lead to conversions – search engines, like Google, base search rankings on mobile-usability.
5. Encourage and monitor reviews.
The service that you offer and the relationships that you’re building in the real world count for everything in the digital world – especially when it comes to local search. Offer great service in real life and you’ll shine online.
Curate examples of your great customer service through online reviews. Encourage customers to post reviews on their network of choice – Google+, Facebook, Yelp, etc. And pay close attention to what customers are saying. Don’t panic if you get a less than complimentary review. Bad reviews are ok if you respond to them in a helpful and authentic way.
6. Engage on social media.
Social media presence and engagement impacts your visibility in search results. A successful Facebook page that attracts followers and engagement is more likely to rank well in search results. Google and other engines also pay attention to social signals when it comes to determining the relevancy of your brand. Facebook is also the #2 place that people leave reviews.
Be active and engage with followers on the networks that your customers use most. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important fundamental of digital marketing.