Discovering a great local business right around the corner is one of life’s unsung joys—which is probably why when a new local coffee shop, taco joint, etc. opens up, it seems like the entire neighborhood turns out in those first few weeks to give it a try.
With local businesses, search engine visibility is critical
But after a while, the excitement dies down, the crowd thins out, and, all too often, businesses that seemed promising are soon vacant storefronts. And many times, local businesses don’t close up shop because the product wasn’t great but because not enough people even knew the business existed in the first place.
As more and more potential customers begin to use smartphones and other connected devices as a guide for finding the best local businesses close to home, local search engine marketing (SEM), has become incredibly important both for attracting new customers and cultivating neighborhood loyalty.
According to local search marketing blog Social Media Today, 46 percent of all Google searches on Google seek local information, and 29 percent of searchers use their devices to find local businesses at least once a week. And as more and more searchers become comfortable with voice search, local SEM is set to become even more critical. According to Campaign, another local search marketing blog, 50 percent of all searches will be conducted via voice search this year.
If your business isn’t ranking as highly in local searches as you’d like, here are a few local search marketing tips to give your brand a boost.
Claim your Google My Business page
Focusing on Google search marketing is an important first step towards boosting local search rankings. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page, it’s an easy (and free) way to make a local business instantly more visible.
To get started, simply click “Manage Now” on the Google My Business homepage to find and claim your business online. Once you’ve gotten through the verification process, make sure your page is filled out in its entirety, complete with great, high-quality images and keyword-heavy descriptions.
An important factor for effective Google search marketing is to make sure you’re using localized keywords in your Google My Business listing. In the “About Me” section, imagine what customers might be searching for when they’re nearby and looking for a business just like yours.
For example, if you own a small cheese store focusing on locally sourced dairy products and homemade jams in Portland, you’re going to want to make sure all those keywords appear somewhere in your Google My Business listing.
Don’t forget about other local search marketing hotspots
And while Google is absolutely the place to begin your local SEM efforts, it certainly shouldn’t be the end. Another important local search marketing tip is to be mindful of other search engines, like Bing, which also has a section for local business owners to provide information for searchers called Bing Places for Business.
Facebook has also become a powerful local search engine in its own right. In fact, Facebook sees around 1.5 billion searches every single day, and many of those are for local businesses.
In order to make sure your business is showing up for potential customers via Facebook create a Facebook Business Page complete with photos, location information, business hours, and any other information local searchers might need to plan a visit to your storefront.
Ask (nicely) for reviews
Reviews matter, not just to help potential customers decide if your business is worth the trip, but also for search engine rankings. Make sure you’re politely asking customers to let the world know about their (hopefully stellar) experiences with the business.
There are myriad ways to ask customers for reviews, but the best involves very little effort on the customer’s part. If your business collects telephone numbers, send a follow-up text message that easily links visitors to Google, Yelp, or Facebook, where they can leave reviews. Or, if customers sign up for email, contact them that way. And if even if your business doesn’t necessarily stay connected via phone or email, there’s always good old-fashioned signage that can indicate where you’d like customers to leave reviews.
And, of course, not all reviews are positive.
Make sure you’re constantly monitoring any public forums listing your business in order to constantly keep tabs on feedback. If you get a bad review, answer quickly and courteously, offering solutions for any problems customers have had. Proving that your customers matter and that your business listens to the bad reviews along with the good can actually show potential visitors how much your business cares about its customers and the community.
How intelligent is your local search marketing?
Intelligent local marketing begins with becoming visible to as many local searchers as possible, so make sure your business has taken all the critical first online steps towards becoming more discoverable.
As part of your organic local search marketing strategy, having a complimentary local paid search advertising program is a way to maximize the channel. Check out Skai Local to manage multi-location local search and social campaigns in one unified platform.