Conquering search is a powerful digital victory, but mastering the targeted search is invaluable. Google and other digital media giants don’t stop upgrading features for local companies and businesses, making local search a new important tool you simply can’t miss on.
Over 40% of internet searches are now local searches.
This means that more and more, people are turning to the internet to find addresses and phone numbers when they need goods or services in their area. As a business owner, you have to make sure that the information your potential customers are finding for you is correct! You can’t trust that mailers and the phone book are going to get your information into your customer’s hands, and you can't trust that search engines automatically have accurate data either. If they aren’t finding you when they search, they’re finding your competitors!
While Google is by far the most important search engine for local searches, Google, Yahoo and Bing all provide local listings for businesses.
Not only that, they are constantly making changes to their algorithms, meaning that it is a constant challenge to keep abreast of updates. Google Places and Google Plus Local pages act like the yellow pages, providing a list of companies for the specific goods and services that people are searching for by specific keyword phrases. Often, these listings are automatically listed first on Google. If your business is not properly listed in Google’s local services, your #1 ranked site might be pushed to the bottom of the page, no matter how hard you’ve worked to achieve first place.
It doesn't end with the search engines.
There are many, many other directory listings that people use to find contact information for local businesses. These are important to be aware of for 2 reasons:
1. Many of these directories pull aggregate data from other directories.
This means that if you have a 10-year-old listing somewhere out there with an address and phone number that are no longer accurate, this listing could still be the source that 5 other directories are using for your contact information.
2. The search engines require consistency.
If Google sees that your business has 12 directory listings with 2 or 5 or 7 different Name/Address/Phone combinations, they will not rank you well in the search engine results.
Think reviews don't matter? Think again!
Local listings include not only contact information, but ratings and reviews, which are becoming an important factor for customer decision. Good and bad reviews alike will be listed next to a company’s name. You can't afford for potential customers to see bad reviews!
Also, reviews are yet another factor in the ranking algorithm. For the last couple of years, Google has been on a campaign to make sure that the businesses who rank well deserve to. This means that if you have bad reviews, or even no reviews, your business is not going to rank as well as a business with lots of happy customers.
Oh, and don't forget about social media!
If you think that social media is only for killing time, or maybe paid advertising, you are making a serious mistake. The search engines get more integrated with social media all the time. If your brother-in-law tweets that he loves Ron's Plumbing Company, there's a good chance that Ron's Plumbing Company is going to show up near the top of your next internet search for a local plumber. As a business owner, can you afford to be left out of that potential market?
You need a strategy, and a team.
Local Search is a multi-faceted branch of SEO that requires a lot of time and attention. You need someone who knows your business, knows where to look for old listings, and can take the time to claim and correct these listings. You need someone watching review sites so you can be alerted in the case of a bad review. You need someone who knows what social profiles are appropriate and most beneficial for your business and how to set those up properly. And you need someone who is making sure that your name, address, and phone number appear consistently across the web.
There is plenty of fish in the sea, but be careful which one you choose, not to end up with a piranja. Follow your common sense and the standard guidelines for picking a digital marketing agency you can trust.
At Waypost Marketing, we spend a lot of our time performing exactly these tasks for our clients. We are here to partner with you to develop a digital strategy which integrates SEO, local search, social media marketing, and anything else that your business needs. Schedule a free consultation with us to have a more “local” conversation about your rankings.