Effective local search, local SEO that puts you on top local rankings, can make or break your business. Getting it right takes enormous attention to detail and constant effort. The changing landscape in this highly competitive and high stakes endeavor challenges you be on your game all of the time
What Is Local Search?
Local search is a process for increasing the visibility of your business to people who are looking for goods or services nearby. This article explains what it takes to make it top the “near me” searches of your potential customers.
How Leading in Local Rankings Helps Your Business
The power of local search comes from attracting people who want what you’ve got right now. High interest and high immediacy equals a ready buyer. Appearing at the top of listings with strong ratings and reviews immediately establishes the trust that converts a potential customer to an actual customer, and eventually an advocate for your business.
How important is local SEO for your business? Somewhere between 30 and 50% of all Google queries are for local information (Source: Search Engine Land). 72% of local searchers actually visited a store (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics). Google’s Mobile Movement Study found 88% of local mobile searchers visit or call a business within 24 hours.(Source: Think with Google) With 92% of consumers picking businesses on the first page local search results (Source: SEO Expert), it is easy to see how local search can impact your profitability.
How to Win in Local Search
How can you rank? First your business must be verified and trusted by search engines. It must be prominent and perceived as a well-known leader. Your online presence must be relevant to the needs and intent of the searcher. Lastly, information about your company must be consistent everywhere. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. The devil is in the details—and the details are huge and hugely important:
Have a solid online presence.
With an old website, mediocre social media, or unmanaged reviews, you are unlikely to be on the first page. Invest in professional support in the following three areas:
- Website: Well-constructed to load fast, with a clear structure that works on mobile. Work with a resource that can produce content that is fresh, dynamic, with good SEO. Voice search is gaining traction, so working with a few keywords is no longer adequate. Work with a professional who understands the intricacies of modern search.
- Social Media: Profiles must be consistent and complete across platforms, and be active and engaging. Here again, mastery of modern SEO is a must.
- Directories and Reviews: Professionally managed listings have rich, consistent information with multimedia. Ratings, questions, complaints, and compliments must be managed. SEO is also important here.
Claim and manage citations:
Where your business name, address, and phone number appear is a citation, including websites, social media, directories, and online platforms that post business data. Each one must have the most complete and up-to-date information possible, with no duplicate or old listings. Your citation has to be built with a thorough understanding of voice search and AI-empowered search engine algorithms. Some sites allow videos, white papers, photos, and more.The importance of consistency across so many sites and the degree of detail, it is almost impossible to get it right with a do-it-yourself approach. The following sites are the tip of the iceberg,; important because they feed information to so many other citation sites:
Then you must have exceptional listings on general platforms and those specific to your industry, such as:
To the above sampling, add in local and industry-specific platforms like the local visitor’s bureau, chamber of commerce, and association listings. Frankly, just knowing where your company name, address and phone number appear is challenging. Click here to see how your business currently appears.
It is easy to see how the task can overwhelm the average small business. Because ranking for local searches is so important, hiring professionals can be a cost-effective way to get the work done right.
Google My Business and the “Pack:”
Those three boxed companies on local search results are the “pack.” Getting included has enormous impact on your business. You need an exceptional listing in Google My Business. Google’s algorithm looks at relevance, requiring a consistent, complete, fresh and active listing that isn’t duplicated. The big kicker is “prominence;” how well your business is known and regarded. Your company must maintain an ongoing program for impeccable citations, quality inbound links, and a steady flow of positive reviews.
Positive reviews propel your business to the top of the pack. Getting any reviews, much less positive ones, requires strategic effort. No reviews or poor reviews are lethal to any hope of a top ranking. Work with an agency that understands the policies and processes of each review site to avoid being penalized. Algorithms can flag fishy review patterns, like suddenly getting a bunch of five star reviews, followed by nothing. A professionally managed program will generate steady, genuine public reviews.
Citations and social media posts are types of links. Others include press mentions, blog mentions, and being tagged as a source, boost prominence. A good marketing partner can make this process easy and productive