More people are looking for local businesses than ever before.
It also means that local search has never been as competitive as it is today.
How can local companies stand out and rise in the rankings?
How can you make it easy for your customers to find your company and get in touch with you?
On June 9th, I hosted a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Podium’s Jared McKinney and Matt Boyce.
They shared tips on how to rank higher in search using lesser known local SEO tips.
Here is a summary of the webinar presentation.
Data from Google and other sources shows us that local searches always result in actual visits to physical locations.
But often, local businesses fail to pay attention to simple yet powerful tactics that can actually make a difference to their SEO.
Below are four tips that can help you improve your local SEO strategy and visibility and how to implement them.
Tip 1: Increase Your Local SEO With Google Reviews
This tip applies to any business that appears on a map.
To rank higher in local search, you need ratings and reviews that build trust in your brand.
It can be intimidating to pit yourself against Amazon and other big brands when searching.
But local businesses with physical locations have an advantage. Google shows users searching for things near them more local businesses in search results.
Those searchers are presented with a local map package that includes a map of business locations and listings for three companies that are relevant to their particular search.
If you think that just appearing on the card package is enough, think again.
There are many ways to tweak your own Google My Business (GMB) listing – especially when it comes to ratings – to outperform the competition.
While negative reviews can be inevitable for any business, the way you deal with them can either change things – or make you look worse.
Five star reviews are no longer what they used to be. A good online review presence involves more than an average star rating or the number of reviews you’ve received.
Make sure to keep an eye on the reviews on your GMB listing and act if necessary.
People everywhere are comfortable with reviews online, so it becomes a habit to compare, compare, and read carefully to decide whether to support a business.
At the same time, you also need to be proactive in soliciting reviews from your customers. Nowadays, you can even use tools to automate the process.
Often times, customers are ready to support your local business. But the big question is whether you give them this opportunity and make them comfortable.
Let’s take a look at how the card package is designed.
Where you fall in that card pack, and how deep down that list a searcher needs to go to find your business, will in many ways determine how much traffic and potential customers you will get from that GMB listing.
Google considers the following factors when determining the local search ranking:
- relevance: Does your listing match what the consumer is looking for?
- distance: How close is your company to the searcher?
- importance: Is your company known in the offline world? Is your company regularly audited?
A fully optimized GMB profile is a must if you want to sharpen relevance and be found more often.
Because if Google does not know everything about your company and your offer, it cannot match the search queries with your entry.
In addition, the quantity and quality of your reviews play a role.
Rating signals make up 16% of the decision-making process in search engines when it comes to local pack rankings.
How to collect high quality reviews
Follow these steps to collect high quality reviews.
- Provide quality customer service. When you focus on the customer experience, you can build an army of advocates ready to ride or die for your business.
- Timing is everything. Find the best time to send a review request invitation.
- Set expectations for reviews. The most successful companies have incorporated “the question” into several steps of the customer visit. Before leaving the customer, let them know when and how they will receive the invitation and why it is important for them to respond.
- Invite by SMS. Your customers are already on the phone, so it’s time to meet them where they are.
Tip 2: Make sure your name, address and telephone number (NAP) are easily visible on all online profiles
Your name, address, and telephone number (NAP) should be consistent and present on all of your profiles on the web.
Make all phone numbers clickable
Most browsers recognize and mark phone numbers, but often overlook them. It’s easy and quick to ensure that you enter just a tiny amount of code wherever your phone number appears on your website.
To make your phone number clickable, encode it by tagging each number, e.g. B .:
Some people fear that adding a Google trackable number will affect Google rankings, but as long as the actual number is listed as a secondary number in Google My Business, the other number shouldn’t affect your Google rankings.
Embed a map with your locations
Make it easier to find your place by embedding a Google map of your locations right on your website.
Tip 3: Get text-ready
Most people would rather write. Make it easy for yourself with a textable business line.
SEO pros are great at generating demand through organic search rankings, but they don’t always have experience at best tracking demand.
If you give your customers the option to text your business (either through the GMB profile or your website chat), a higher percentage of prospects will convert into customers.
If you rely on a form to collect leads, there is a better way.
In addition, your in-house team can answer ten times as many potential customers by SMS as they can by phone or email. That means less work for you and more sales for your company.
What else can you do with text?
- Make appointments
- Answering questions
- Optimize operations
- Capture leads
- Obtain reviews
- Send polls
- Run advertising campaigns
- Collect payments
Using text to collect reviews helps tremendously as people respond much more frequently. More answers mean more reviews, more hits and higher rankings.
In addition, you can use text instead of email for other standard SEO practices, such as: B. Look for links. Text the conversation and see more success and faster responses.
Tip 4: Claim every company profile
Make sure your customers and your search engines know you are open to business.
Claim every company profile and entry, on every website, and for every location you operate.
Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, Dealer.com – whatever industry review site or listing applies to you, make sure you’ve created an account, then make sure they’re up to date.
View your service information, hours of operation, addresses, contact methods, and numbers.
Also, make sure to spruce up your digital storefront.
The quantity and quality of local business profiles is increasing exponentially.
For a long time it was okay to only have an archive photo or a pixelated picture of your company on your GMB profile.
That is no longer the case. Pull out your smartphone and go outside for a high quality picture of your business. That is the baseline.
Take a few minutes to review your competitors’ GMB profiles.
It’s not just for vanity’s sake. Beautiful photos help search engines know that your listing is real, relevant, and well-cared for.
In addition to uploading high quality photos, make sure to update.
Make important local SEO tasks easier
The ultimate goal of search engine optimization is to get more and better leads so that you have more options to close the deal.
Getting more reviews, capturing website leads, and using your online profiles as your digital storefront can be a lot for some.
But smart companies have started to leverage comprehensive tools like Podium to aid these efforts as they become real conversations with customers.
With Podium’s rating tool, for example, it is easier to directly improve your company’s online presence and ranking, both in direct organic search results and in the results of local map packages.
Sending review invitations to customers via SMS means it’s more convenient to manage your reputation and your overall review landscape is more representative of each customer’s experience.
[Slides] 4 local SEO tips that even experts miss
Check out the SlideShare below.
Take part in our next webinar!
Are You Making These Big Mistakes With Your GMB Listing?
Join our next webinar on Wednesday, June 16 at 2:00 p.m. ET and learn how to avoid critical Google My Business stumbling blocks – whether you’re managing a single listing or thousands of them.
All screenshots taken by the author, June 2021