What do you do when you want to find a reliable mechanic to fix your vehicle? A restaurant when you’re craving sushi? A nearby store to grab a pair of hiking boots so you can hit the trails while on vacation - or, to back up a step, comfortable accommodations for that vacation? What if you just need to find a grocery store, gas station, or pharmacy? You go online.
Nearly half (46%) of all Google searches have “local intent.” Considering we can query anything in the entire world - and do so billions of times each day - this is quite telling. We’re doing an awful lot searching close to home (or close to where we are visiting). And we’re likely to go to the places we find through these simple search engine inquiries. In fact, 76% of us visit a store or service provider we searched for that very day.
The point: local search is huge. It is a potential game-changer when it comes to growing your business. Organic traffic online can, and does, translate into foot traffic into your location, calls to your office, or “Buy Now” clicks on your website.
So what do you need to know about local SEO ranking factors so you can climb to the top of the search engine results pages?
Your Local SEO Guide
Google is the world’s top search engine for a reason: its goal is to deliver the most relevant results to searchers, and it does so with stunning consistency. Local search is just like other searches. Google zooms through its massive index and spits out the best “answers” for the query. Local SEO is a bit different, however, in that Google uses different ranking factors.
Local SEO ranking factors include:
- Google My Business listing and keywords in your listing
- NAP (name, address, phone) citations
- Online reviews/rating keywords in reviews
- Check-ins at the location
- Social media shares
What do these local SEO ranking factors have in common? They depend on the customer experience. How easy is it to find you? How easy is it to interact with you? What was the customer experience like, and what did people have to say about it to their online peers?
Let’s look at each of these local SEO ranking factors so you can begin to grow your profile with the people who can really grow your business.
Google My Business
There are other search engines, of course, but Google owns the lion’s share of the market at this point. This means that your Google My Business profile is key. Your brand website is, of course, a critical asset and an important factor in your rankings. However, if you want to rise to the top of the competition, get your GMB game on point.
Some quick tips:
- Claim your profile. Now!
- Make sure every section is complete.
- Include, check, and double-check your contact information - especially your location!
- Select both primary and secondary categories. Google allows you to choose one primary category, such as “Personal Injury Law.” This carries the most weight in terms of ranking. You can then choose up to 10 secondary categories, such as “lawyer,” “law firm,” “trial attorney,” etc. It’s best to limit your selections to about four.
- Craft a descriptive, succinct “From the Business” section.
- Gather and respond to reviews.
- Create a complete list of products/services - and keep it updated.
- Set up messaging to stay connected.
- Answer questions posed on this platform.
- Post weekly, and be sure to upload photos/images.
- Keep your profile up to date.
Google is also looking for keywords. You want to incorporate keywords, terms, and phrases naturally into your text.
Name. Address. Phone Number.
These are the fundamentals. Ensure they are listed correctly across all of your online assets (e.g., website, social profiles, Google My Business, industry directories, etc.). This is important because it allows customers/clients to find you without feeling the frustration of an outdated phone number or location - and when Google sees that NAP citations are uniform and accurate, they place more confidence in you as a business.
Research shows that consumers trust their peers more than they trust brands, at least before they establish a relationship. Leverage that trust. Online reviews are not only a deciding factor for many potential customers/clients; they are a huge local SEO ranking factor.
Encourage customers/clients to leave a review and make it ultra-easy for them to do so. If they’re happy, they will. On the other hand, if they’re unhappy...they will. Be sure to respond to every review, positive or negative. Try to address problems quickly, sincerely, and without engaging in potentially viral sparring.
Keywords in these reviews can also raise your profile. NEVER tell customers/clients what to write. The chances are high that they’ll naturally include your target keywords (e.g., “I got married in South Beach and needed a great wedding photographer. Jose fit the bill perfectly!”).
Check-ins are another form of “social proof''.” Again, consumers place great value in the words and experiences of their peers. When someone checks in to your location, it raises your prominence in the search engine results pages. It gets the buzz going, so to speak. And this is something we want to encourage when it comes to local SEO.
Social Media Shares
Make the experience great; make it easy to share. Social media shares are a big local SEO ranking factor. Search engines are looking for context, for keywords…and for the most relevant results for searchers. When people talk about you and share with you on social platforms, it makes it easier for others to find you.
Is this a complete local SEO guide? Well, Google is notoriously cagey when it comes to exact algorithms and ranking factors. It’s their secret sauce, after all. But with an experienced team behind you, your business can grab its share of the local search pie. This can make the difference between surviving and thriving in this competitive business landscape.
Contact THAT Agency to learn how to improve your local SEO ranking - and reach the customers/clients searching for you.