Local search results are more important than ever—and will continue to become increasingly important as mobile technology develops. A decade ago cellphones were a novelty. Now smartphones are a necessity. We carry them everywhere we go (and even wear some of them on our sleeves). We depend on them for connectivity, entertainment, and finding great local businesses wherever we are.
How Important is Local Search to Your Business?
Data collected by Online Promotion Success, a marketing agency, shows that every month there are over 10 billion (with a “B”) unique internet searches performed in The United States. 30% of those searches have what analytics experts call “local intent,” meaning the user is trying to find something nearby. In fact, 30% of those searches include 1) a city 2) a state 3) a zip code.
That’s massive volume of searches, to be sure. But how much of that actually translates to dollars spent in your brick and mortar business? More than you might think—a lot more.
Marketing data shows that 82% of local searches result in some sort of offline action. Either the potential customer contacts the business for more information or comes into the establishment to browse or shop. But that’s not the impressive part.
A whopping 50% of in-store retail purchases are the direct result of an internet search!
Can you really afford to overlook that sort of potential revenue?
What Can You Do to Improve Your Website’s Local Search Results?
- Claim Your Citations –Citations from sites like Yelp! And TripAdvisor carry a ton of weight with search engines like Google (and thus propel businesses higher up the search rankings). But you don’t earn those citations without doing anything. You have to go to these websites, create a business listing, and fill in essential information like location, contact info, hours of operation, and add multimedia like photos of your establishment, your menu, or your team of employees.
- Create a Google+ My Business Listing–What it Google+ My Business? It’s essentially an online business listing that’s hosted by Google—one of the world’s largest search engines. Of course businesses with such a listing are going to enjoy perks like better search result rankings, improved visibility, and more attractive presentations. But, again, you have to go out and create these accounts.
- Get Involved with Your Community–you can also improve your local search results by creating locally-oriented content on your website. Even something as simple as blog post about an event in your town (such as Fright at the Fort in Prospect or the Stonington Lobster Boat Races can trip Google’s sensors. Plus that content is much more likely to be shared on social media—which brings us to the next point . . .
- Localize Your Social Media Platforms–Social media (specifically the links from social media sites) can also improve your local search results. Creating an inclusive community atmosphere on your Facebook or Twitter page can have a dramatic effect on your visibility.
- Ask for Feedback–Remember those citation pages? They’re fueled by actual user feedback (Yelp reviews, etc.). But how often do you go out of your way to write reviews for the businesses you frequent? I would be willing to bet that most of the time it’s after you’ve had a bad experience. However, you don’t want your citation to be negative. Ask your satisfied customers to leave reviews. Offer them incentives to do so (coupons, freebies, or contest prizes). The more reviews you have on these sites, the stronger your local Search SEO will be.
- Create Mutually Beneficial Partnerships–One of the ways Google ranks a site is by measuring the backlinks to that site. You can earn backlinks from respected sources by contacting other webmasters and asking them to either mention your website on theirs or offer to provide a guest blog post or two on a subject their viewers would be interested in. You can also offer to return the favor and help improve their business as well. The key to earning backlinks the right way is searching out businesses that are complimentary to yours. For instance, if you own a hotel you could partner with a local restaurant, a whale watching tour guide, a transportation service, or even local entertainers.
- Keep Your Contact Info Consistent–>In the search business your contact info is usually referred to as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). It’s important that you have all three of these (in addition to email addresses or contact forms) on at least one page of your website. (It’s often better to have them on every page—either in the header, footer, or a sidebar widget.) However, it’s also essential that you keep your NAP consistent across all the websites your business is featured on. This includes:
- Your own site
- Your citations
- Any directories you use (such as yellowpages.com)
- Your social media profiles
- And any print media or local marketing you use.
Bonus Tip: Use Your Blog to Boost Your Local Search Results
Great blog content that smartly uses local keywords can also have a tremendous effect on your local search results. While Google uses these other resources (online directories, citation sites, etc.) to help create your website’s ranking, it still relies on “spiders” that crawl your site’s content for keywords. Finding the right keywords to target can be hard. Working them into the content so it sounds natural can be harder. For nearly a decade I’ve been providing professional writing services in Maine and beyond. Let me help you optimize your blog’s content so you too can improve your business’s local search performance.