Local Search Drives Results
Rob Seas Content Strategist/Copywriter
You’ve heard the saying “All politics is local.” Thanks to Google, almost half of search is also now local (46 percent and growing).
If you greet customers at a physical location or predominantly serve a geographic area, local SEO should be a top priority for your business. The effort is minimal and the payoff substantial. Without local SEO, your business will likely lose out on a significant amount of traffic.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of applying search engine optimization tactics to specifically target valuable local customers. Local audiences are easier to target and reach versus national audiences. They’re also more loyal, which means repeat business and word of mouth referrals.
Local SEO aims to boost the visibility of a website or page in a search engine’s unpaid results (SERP – search engine results page) often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.”
Who should prioritize Local SEO?
Brick-and-mortar businesses that should focus on local SEO include restaurants, bars, laundromats, doctor offices and grocery stores. Service-oriented businesses that operate within a specific geographic area (e.g., plumbers, construction workers, locksmiths, etc.) should also prioritize local SEO.
Local search goes hand in hand with consumers’ increasing reliance on mobile phones. The majority of searches (63 percent and counting) now take place on a mobile device. Almost 90 percent of people use a mobile device to search for a local business once a week or more.
The bonus: people who perform local intent searches have a much higher intent to purchase, boosting conversion rates. According to Google, 88 percent of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week.
Here’s the catch, all those searches won’t help you if your local SEO is poor. Focus on these critical local SEO action items to level the playing field with larger, national brands that optimize for broad keywords and leverage their brand recognition.
1. Set up and maintain your Google Business Profile
Not surprisingly, much of this local foot traffic is driven by your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). One in three customers will perform a local search on a mobile device before they visit a business. These customers are often looking for critical information to help guide their purchase decisions.
The Google Business Profile (GBP) offers the best opportunity to deliver this vital information, including your hours, address, photos and website. Customers can also leave reviews, which help to establish the credibility of your business. Use vibrant, engaging photos and encourage customers to leave reviews. Keeping your GBP profile compelling and up-to-date will help ensure that your business ranks near the top of local search results.
2. Mind your NAP
Don’t stop with your GBP. Once you have done the initial work of gathering information for your Google Business Profile page, the next step in your local SEO strategy is to submit the same information to other online business directories such as Yelp, HubSpot, TripAdvisor, etc.
Make sure that your name, address and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all platforms. Anywhere this information might be entered, such as various local listings, social media and web properties should contain the same information. This will help Google link your listings together, understand your reach and display accurate information to your customers
3. Get in the pack
The goal of your local SEO efforts is to appear in the Google three pack, the top three results for local search. Once your GBP is claimed and optimized, visit your listing periodically to check reviews and ensure accuracy.
Optimize your listings for local search by including your town or city name and zip code in content, building links from other local websites and getting more online reviews.
4. Check your reviews
An online review is a powerful personal recommendation. Encourage your customers to rate their experience with your products and services.
Make sure to monitor and respond to all your reviews, especially if you operate in a local area.
Send post-purchase emails asking your best customers to leave reviews and promptly respond to positive reviews. Address negative reviews immediately and consider issuing refunds to unhappy customers. How you handle your reviews determines your local brand image.
When you reply to negative reviews, keep the following in mind:
- You’re responding on a public forum that all your customers can see. Make sure your comments are respectful and professional.
- Take the difficult discussions offline to resolve disputes privately.
- When you make a mistake, acknowledge and apologize.
5. Optimize for voice search
The increasing reliance of consumers on voice search offers an opportunity to gain on your competition by considering natural language / wording that will work with spoken search queries. Searching with your voice differs from typing a query on your desktop. Consider the following:
- Target your question keywords: voice search typically contains more question words like how, what, when, why, where. When you add keywords for voice search, include these words.
- Use long-tail keywords (specific phrases made of 3 to 5 words): they are most often how people use voice search.
- Include filler words, which make the query more conversational and human. Examples include “I, the, of the, on the, to and for.”
Reap the rewards
Implementing these critical local SEO action items will help your business land in the Google three pack and stay there, keeping your business relevant and in front of the customers you need most.
If you want to increase foot traffic to your business, invest in optimizing your local search presence today. People can only enjoy your products and services if they know you exist! If you need help optimizing for local, go ahead and contact us today.
It all began with a father-son fly-fishing trip at 16 years old, and Rob was hooked on Montana. Growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, it took a little while for him to make his way here for good. But in the meantime, he graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Magazine Journalism, held a variety of editorial positions across the country and worked as a freelance web developer for companies large and small, ranging from startups to international corporations like Visa, The Nature Conservancy, and Levi Strauss & Co.
He still loves to fish – and hunt, work magic in the kitchen… and he’s an artist. All of this experience, worldliness and creativity means that Rob is an incredible Kinetic talent and invaluable asset to the team and our clients.Read more about Rob