Whether you’re running a small local business or heading an enterprise-level operation, your prospective customers are looking for your business online. To make that connection happen and outrank your competitors, you need to optimize your local search to bring in new website visitors, grow online sales, and keep customers coming back for more.
1. Have a Solid Online Marketing Strategy to Attract Customers via Local Search
It is absolutely undeniable that Google, Yahoo! and the other search engines have radically changed how we interact, collaborate and shop within our local communities. In fact, statistically, Google alone handles 100 billion searches per month around the world. Of these searches, 7 billion are unique local searches performed on Google per month in the United States.
So if you have a local business or one that targets audiences in a specific geographic location, you cannot under estimate the potential of local search as a form of marketing. Additionally, mobile search is absolutely exploding. According to a 2014 Google study, 4 out of 5 consumers use the search engines to find local information. Of that number, 88% search on their smartphone.
- 54% search for business hours
- 53% search for directions to a local store
- And 50% search for local store addresses
The study also concluded that 18% of local smartphone searches lead to a purchase within a day.
2. Dominate Local Listings
At the core of any local search marketing campaign is the creation of local business listings. Seven of the top local search directories include:
- Google My Business
- Yahoo! Local
- Bing Places for Business
- Yellow Pages
You can also, alternatively, take a few minutes to research what local directories are ranking high in the SERPs for the keywords that you are targeting as part of your SEO strategy. Identify the top 5 websites and directories and either create a new listing for your business, or if your business is already listed on them, claim your business listing.
Remember that each new listing you create or claim increases your chances of being found by customers. At the same time, local business indexes usually share data with each other so you need to ensure the accuracy of your business data including your business name, local phone number, dedicated physical street address, directions to your local store, business hours and so on.
3. Don’t Forget Reviews & Ratings
Once you’ve created or claimed your business listings on the most popular local search directories, the next important thing to boost your online reach and impact is to get customer reviews. The emergence of numerous review sites has created an unprecedented opportunity for ongoing online conversations about local businesses. To encourage customer reviews, consider implementing one or more of the following strategies.
- Link to your review profiles from your website
- Encourage reviews in store by creating and distributing a simple print material listing places where customers can review you
- Encourage reviews via emails upon completion of service
- Or you can simply ask your customers to leave a review at their review site of choice. People can sometimes surprise you in how readily they oblige when asked for a favor.
4. Optimize your Website to be Local Search-Friendly
Next, your website, blog and brand lie at the center of your overall digital presence. If you want to attract more visitors, grow online sales and outrank your competitors via local search, you need to make your website local search-friendly. Content is at the foundation of this process. You need to be the local authority for your industry by creating content that satisfies:
- Transactional searches: When potential customers try to identify a local business and make a purchase online or complete a task.
- Navigational searches: Performed with the intent of surfing directly to a specific website because maybe the customer doesn’t know the exact URL of a page.
- Informational searches: Involving a huge range of queries, from finding directions to a local store to learning how to make the perfect chocolate chip muffins.
Apart from content, you also need to organize your business website whereby each page immediately gives off a “scent” to both the search engines and users. If you have stores in multiple locations, each location should have its own dedicated page. Other considerations include making our website mobile-friendly, including your phone number and address information in the header and footer of every page and use headlines and sub-headlines to let people know they are in the right place.
5. Optimize your presence on social media
Last but not least, you need to build a social media following locally by understanding what kind of content to post, how to attract fans and followers and the nuances of the different social media networks. For example, on Facebook, you can optimize your Facebook Page by setting it up as a Local Business. You can also target updates by location and partner up with local charities and nonprofits. The latter is a great way to market your business and be philanthropic at the same time.