Whether you’re looking for an amazing coffee place in the heart of Manhattan, or you need to have your hair cut, what is the first thing that you do to begin your quest? You Google it, most likely, or you ask a friend via social media, and you check out your nearest, most alluring option. Moreover, this behavior is moving to the world of mobile searches more than ever, so it’s no longer just your desktop optimization that plays the only major part of the equation, but taking into account the fastest, most convenient ways people can reach your store.
Add to that the fact that 50% of potential customers who search for a product or service on their smartphones actually visit the store during the same day, while 18% of those searches result in a purchase, and you have completed your “pros” list of all the reasons to start focusing more on your localized SEO efforts.
Nowadays, increasing your brand visibility and engagement on a local level means as much as going international. This is particularly essential for markets that are experiencing a boom of business development, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and of course, Silicon Valley. Companies popping up in these competitive environments are facing greater challenges to stay visible locally, rather than globally, hence working with experts in the game paired with an in-house SEO strategy emerges as the route to local ranking success.
For the longest time, marketers focused only on adding and distributing relevant keywords across a brand’s website, but Google and other engines have adapted and grown further into the game. Now, the priority for SEO professionals is no longer just around the content, but also about actual data on your business that can be verified, and that helps establish your authenticity and reliability.
Google My Business makes for a great start to gain greater authority in your region of choice, although other directories to consider such as Yelp, Bing, Trip Advisor, and so many others, depending on your industry. That way, with consistently presented basic information all over the Web, you’ll be perceived as a verifiable business entity, and earn more points with search engines.
Although your customers may differentiate between a typo and an actual different address, search engines do not appreciate inconsistency even in its slightest forms. You need to make sure that listing your NAP (name, address, phone number) is in the same format all over the Internet, across all directories, and all mentions of your business on other websites, even without a link back to your site.
Track down any inaccuracies and inconsistency in your NAP listings and make corrections as soon as possible, since they qualify as the third most damaging factor in plummeting your rankings. To sum up, always update your listings and keep your details consistent across the Web.
How well have you done so far with creating linkable content on your website? The type of keyword-balanced content that is especially relevant for your local audience, and that organically gets linked to by other reputable sources? Many companies fail to address this issue in the early stages of their development, but it’s nonetheless a crucial one for earning links that will improve your reputation. What a growing company needs is an ongoing relationship with digital experts for tailoring a local SEO strategy that will yield results in your own industry.
It’s not just the value of your content that makes your website appealing to the eyes of the Internet, but your other actions in the community play a major role, as well. Taking part in local events, charity or otherwise, supporting a movement, sponsoring a team, or organizing a product launch party where you’ll invite the local newspapers – these are all continuous efforts to get your brand name out there.
As we mentioned earlier, the significance of what our friends and family have to say about a local service is growing for your search engine success and that final shopping decision. Among so many ways to obtain reviews, the most relevant ones include Google+ reviews, Yelp, numerous search apps, and your social media pages. When you reach more than five reviews on Google, those famous golden stars will be another indicator to pop up alongside your website to indicate your customers’ views.
Despite the fact that we now live in a digitally-savvy era, certain customers aren’t familiar with the process just yet, so you wouldn’t be amiss to encourage them to do so, and even give them instructions on the procedure. As for your loyal customers who still haven’t given you feedback, you can offer them a discount or a gift certificate in exchange for sharing their impressions with the world.
Where do “kids” nowadays spend most of their time? Business folk and their customers as well? On their Instagram feeds, Facebook timeline, and tweeting away. YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and other digital hotspots aren’t too far behind, either, and their relevance grows in terms of your brand recognition, and ultimately, your search engine rankings.
When your customers are on the prowl for the next best pizza place, or they are in desperate need for a massage, they will likely go straight to your Facebook page. There, they will see how many of their friends follow and like your business, and then they will move to reviews.
Social media networks are places where brands come alive more than anywhere else online, and they are still the main engagement hubs for brands to make some noise. Despite the fact that search engines might not rely on social signals directly as much as they potentially could, they are still an essential piece of every local SEO puzzle.
Google and other engines keep changing the rules to the game with their algorithm updates, making it more difficult for false businesses to survive, even in terms of local recognition. For those among you who are chasing after hard-earned glory, this is good news, as you can always tweak your moves.
However, if there is a single element of the equation that will never change, that is the need to build your brand reputation – through a notable social media presence, becoming an active part of your local community, and creating content that resonates with your audience. Only then will your ranking reflect your reputation – through consistent effort to stay trustworthy and engaged with your customers.