By: Mike Buckner
Local Search or Local SEO is quickly becoming one of the most popular digital marketing vehicles that can help businesses drive more leads. The goal of this post is to help you understand the importance of local search and outline a few items we can do to help you deliver more potential customers to your business from local search. Let’s get into it.
Google My Business is so powerful
Every business, no matter if you are a brick and mortar store or a service provider that travels to your customers can take advantage of Google My Business. This has often been called Google+, Google Places, or Google Maps. Recently, Google made some drastic changes to the platform in order to help consumers find better, local companies to do business with (ha. they actually changed it to open more paid search positions on the page. It’s all about the money). With these changes only 3 businesses are going to show in the newly named “Snack Pack” feature in the search results. If you see the image below you can see the results for a search I did for Mexican Restaurants in the Columbus, Ohio area.
The previous version of this local search section showed up to 7 results. There is now a lot more competition in showing in this local search section. So what do we do about it?
How do we rank in Local Search?
There are many reasons you will or won’t show in the first three results in local search so in order to make this post shorter than 4000 words let’s just focus on the top 3 things we need to do. I am going to assume you already have a page or have a general understanding of the Google My Business platform at this point. If you don’t, please give us a call. We can defiantly help you deliver a better search experience for your potential customers.
NAP Consistency is critical
First we need to discuss NAP consistency. What does NAP mean? It stands for Name, Address, Phone number and Google is looking for consistency across the web in order to view your business as an authority. If your business is listed on the web with various business names, different phone numbers and multiple addresses there is a good chance we will struggle to drive leads from local search. Remember, the goal of Google as a business is to give the searcher the best possible result from their search. Google won’t show your business if you aren’t able to prove to them you are a stable, authoritative business. Often times, a simple NAP audit will generate significant changes in local search results. It’s probably the most important part of developing a local search or local SEO strategy.
Google My Business Profile Information
Next on the importance list is going to be your profile. We need it to not only be 100% filled out but we need it to be filled out correctly. The first thing on the list is displaying the categories for which your business fits. A handyman for example could select many categories such as, electrical contractor, painting, drywall, plumbing and so on. It’s important to show Google through you profile everything that your business does. The other major part of the profile is filling out the description with as much detail as possible. We work with businesses that have one sentence in this section. This is not going to allow Google to determine if your business is a match for the searcher.
Reviews will bring better rankings!
Again, Google wants to give the searcher the best result. One way Google does this is by scanning reviews that businesses receive. If your business is providing great service or great products you should want people and Google to know about it. Once you reach more than 5 reviews they will be displayed by a star rating in the local search snack pack. You can see in the search below for running shoes, the business with the highest number of reviews is showing in the first position.
Reviews are something that Google has emphasized over the past 6 months. It’s very important for your business to determine how you are going to obtain reviews from your customers so they can be displayed for potential customers and Google. We have worked with many businesses over time to develop strategies towards getting reviews.
To close out this post we just want to explain that making these changes won’t jump you up to the top in local search. There are other factors that go into ranking in local search results that need to be considered. This is just the top 3 items that can be addressed to help develop a solid local SEO or local marketing strategy.