From time to time Google shifts focus giving marketers a window of opportunity to streak ahead of competitors that are slow on the uptake. Local search is one of these areas.
For certain keyword searches, Google has a big maps panel at the top of organic listings on page one, pushing all other organic listings down the page. Yet businesses are not optimising their listings to get into that top 3.
First and foremost, when customers search for your business online, they expect a high level of accuracy. This is good UX, so without accuracy (and consistency) perhaps they will never find you at all.
“Near me” searches have seen a huge increase in the past couple of years. An estimated 118k-300k in the UK search “Restaurants near me” every month.
How can you be sure to be listed in those maps listings that Google is pushing above all other organic listings?
Location – You are relevant if you are local. Businesses with bricks and mortar have an opportunity to be top of Google for just one location, and this is without paying (… at the moment!)
SEO – Optimise your ‘store pages’ / location pages on your website.
Offsite keyword optimisation – Your business location listed across the web provide an eco-system signalling Google. Consider keyword optimisation for non-brand searches on every local listing, not just Google.
Reviews – Reviews provide opportunity for richer keyword visibility, as this matures you will benefit from more long-tail searches. Look at how to increase the volume of reviews written about each location.
Sentiment – Reviews affect likelihood to purchase, so respond to negative reviews to neutralise any detrimental effect
Google My Business (GMB) landing page – Your profile should look good for each location with official images, accurate descriptions and relevant and consistent categories. Same goes for other main platforms – local listings on Facebook, Apple Maps etc.
Updated information – When your opening times change (e.g. bank holidays), be sure to make sure the web reflects the true information for that day at that time. Advance onto promotional messages for set time periods on each GMB listing.
Verify locations – Accurate and confirmed pins on maps and other directories. Claim all those listings out there representing your brand not currently under your control. If you haven’t recently done this as an exercise, be prepared to find more than you think.
The more data you have about your business in a structured manner, consistent across the web, the more chances for ranking higher. You will find more commentary and a wider perspective on the ranking factors for local search from this survey conducted by Moz (https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors)
DAC can provide an audit of your locations so you can see current status and where to improve. Send me a message if that’s of interest, or you would like to hear more on this subject.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!