Every business needs to have its correct name, address, and phone number listed online. In fact, it almost goes without saying: anyone can see the consequences of directing customers to an incorrect address or providing the wrong phone number. These few points of data are relatively easy to manage for SMBs, but it becomes more and more difficult to handle as your business expands.
And while it is crucial to stop your online data from decaying, it’s only the first step in serving your online customers effectively: meeting the minimum requirements won’t be enough to keep you ahead of the competition. So what can you do to stay ahead in local search?
Add more value to your listings
Even at the most basic level, you can create content-rich listings with just a little effort. Optimizing descriptions for conversion, listing amenities, and—for those in the food business—posting your menus online will all boost your rankings. If your business is motivated, adding the ability to make reservations and bookings online will also help.
Even if these features don’t boost your SEO, they will still be of great value to your customers. For example, listing that your place of business is handicap accessible won’t just attract customers because you rank more highly—it will attract customers because you’ve made it clear they can easily access your business. This information might not be available on your competitors’ listings.
Google has many features which, if utilized, will boost your local SEO. They have been encouraging the use of their Google Posts feature and have been giving benefits to businesses that use their Q&A. Utilizing both of these products has been shown to not only boost SEO but also help users through the conversion funnel.
Posts can advertise events or what is happening in store, and Q&A is a wonderful place for customers to clarify their FAQs. But a word of warning about your Q&A: it must be monitored for spam and inaccurate information. Anyone may ask or answer a question and thus misinformation can be spread on your very own listing.
Every review deserves a response
Google has recently confirmed that responding to reviews does in fact boost your SEO. Beyond star ratings, a business that actively responds to all of its reviews (good or bad) can see an increase in their ranking. This ranking increase could mean the difference between a customer choosing you or your competitor with a similar review score.
The quantity, velocity, and quality of your locations reviews also have a major impact on overall rankings. How frequently and how quickly a business responds to reviews is the final piece of the puzzle in reputation management. This can be doable for some business with low review counts, but enterprise brands with hundreds of reviews would need to use a tool like DAC’s pre-populated review responses to remain competitive.
Get Google’s attention
Google looks for confirmation that their location data records are valid, which means your content on other directories and websites matter as well. Along with reaching new users by having your listings on Bing, Apple, and others, the corroborating information about your business will also make sure your listings rank better on Google. These content-rich listings and alternative review sites will make your business look far more legitimate to Google’s algorithm. For those concerned about their Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) due to Google’s Medic update, these citations to other websites are especially important.
Just as Google monitors other directories, it monitors a business’s own website. There are many SEO best practices that go into a site such as:
- Keyword usage within on-page copy and meta tags
- Image anchor text and alt tags
- H1’s, titles, and URLs
- Various technical backend components
In terms of local search, however, it’s relatively easy to run your own store locator and local pages. Google cares about local and seeks to direct users to something that is relevant to them. That’s where your local pages come in—Google would much rather send a customer to their closest location page than a broad brand page. The easiest way to appease Google in this regard is to have each of your locations linked to your store locator and give them each a unique page.
Making a separate page for every single location can be a daunting task but with our Store Locator & Pages product, you can assign each location its own page without needing to create one from scratch every time. Using the information that is already unique to each location, each page can be altered to be a true representation of that location in its specific geography and this will be rewarded by Google with increased rankings.
Do more than the bare minimum
The ecosystem of local search continues to change so it is important to look at different ways you can improve rather than simply throwing your listings out there and hoping someone notices. Doing the bare minimum will get you some customers but you will be missing out on a lot of quality leads.
Content-rich listings, citations, activity on social media, new Google My Business features, and your business’s own websites all affect local search. In the future, it is also looking as if voice search will be playing a major role. We’re already considering how that and other future factors will affect ranking.
Is your business doing everything it can to succeed in local both now and in the future? Let’s talk! Get in touch with DAC to find out more about how we can help your business.