What is Local Search?
If you have a smartphone, odds are you have done a local search. Whether you explicitly search “car wash near me” or simply search “car wash” and let Google do the rest, you’re adding to the 46% of all searches that are local. Yes, you read that correctly. A whopping 46% of searches are for local information.
When you search, your search engine results page (otherwise known as the SERP) will populate with nearby listings. End users don’t think a lot about how or why this happens, but business owners certainly should. Using your location, Google realizes that as you type “car wash,” you might want to find the closest car wash to your current location.
End users don’t think a lot about how or why this happens, but business owners certainly should. If you are the top car wash result for “Car wash near me,” more than 90 percent of users will click on your link, Search Engine Land reports.
Ranking at or near the top in local searches takes some SEO efforts. But the work is well worth the value a business stands to gain.
What are shoppers searching for?
What information do people seek in local searches? Product research, price comparison, coupons/deals, store hours and location. What business categories dominate local search? Food, (84 %), Entertainment (56). Banking (50%), Apparel (41%) and Personal Care (38%).
If you want to get a better idea of how consumers use local search results, Google’s consumer insights provides a lot of valuable information about mobile search habits. Here are a couple from a recent report:
“Near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over 500% over the last two years. These include things like “where can I buy stamps near me,” “places to buy scrubs near me,” or “where to buy vinyl records near me.”
There’s been over 200% growth in mobile searches for “open” + “now” + “near me” (for example, “restaurants near me open now,” “stores open near me right now,” and “pharmacy near me open now”)
Two important principles to follow
Here are two guiding principles to follow as you take steps to improve your business’s ranking in local search:
- Always include your business name (drop all the legal jargon like LLC and Inc.), physical address (no PO boxes, please) and contact information (no toll-free numbers) in every online listing.
- Keep this information updated and make sure it is consistent. Otherwise, Google will be confused. Google is smart, but its mind-reading capabilities only go so far. When it runs into conflicting information, it is going to just think yours is a disorganized business that doesn’t deserve a top ranking.
We recommend keeping track and documenting your online listings, any future changes or additions to your information can be easily changed in one fell swoop when you’ve kept track of all your listings.
Steps to take to get to the top of local search:
1. Complete your Google My Business Listing.
A Google Business Listing is what a user sees when they click on the link to your business that appears during a “near me” search. Google doesn’t compile listing information; that’s on you. Your listing can include the following:
- business name
- buttons for links to the website and directions
- a brief summary of your business’ product and services
- a physical address
- hours of operation
- a phone number
- a Google review star rating
- links to reviews from external sites, like Facebook and Yelp
- upcoming events — for example workshops or happy hours
A map shows the location of your business and nearby competitors that pop up in the local search results.
Fill out the business listing completely and accurately. Describe your business fully, but as concisely as possible. in as much detail as possible in a few words. For example, when I searched for “coffee shop near me,” my local Starbucks was top of the search list. Fully fleshed out with its address, hours of operation and even a link to order delivery, it describes itself as “Seattle-based coffeehouse chain known for its signature roasts, light bites and WiFi availability.”
2. Make your contact information easily accessible.
The best and easiest way to do this is to put the information in a footer that will automatically appear at the bottom of every page. Make sure it includes a physical address and phone number.
3. Add location in photo file info and tags.
Let’s say you run an Italian restaurant and your website includes photos of your dining room, favorite dishes, the bar and the restaurant’s exterior. Each photo has its own information file, where you can add your restaurant’s location.
4. Put your business address and contact information in as many online sources as possible.
These include local business directories like bing or the Yellow Pages, online publications that might include stories about your business, or articles and blogs that you or someone in your company write for online publications. For example, if you sell athletic shoes and a local online magazine interviews you about the latest in running shoes, ask to have your company’s address and phone number included. Make sure this information is on all of your company’s social media sites as well.
5. Allow Google reviews to be visible on your site–and reply to reviews.
The higher your business ranks in Google reviews, the better its local search results will be. Encourage customers to review your business and try to reply to as many of the comments as possible both positive and negative. Replies appeal to Google’s algorithms and show that you are engaged with customers and care about the service they receive and their satisfaction with the experience. Replies build your credibility and give customers–and Google–more confidence that yours is a business that merits being at the top of the list.
6. Make sure your website is mobile
Nearly 20 percent of businesses haven’t invested in making their website mobile friendly, a major mistake since at least half use mobile to shop and find places to shop. It can be worth the money to have a professional firm design your site for mobile; they’ll be versed in things like using large buttons for user ease and avoiding Flash or other graphics-heavy programs. They’ll also know how to make your mobile site as fast as possible.
If you’d like to talk more about how to improve your business’s ranking in local search, give us a call.
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