Most people research products or services online before they contact a company. The search engine results page is a competitive battlefield for companies that do most of their business in their geographical area. Improving a company’s local online presence is an ongoing mission for local businesses, and a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is the key to win your potential prospects.
Local citation and local listing optimization are the two main factors in improving your local search results. While citation is the first step for new business and the basis for local SEO, your Google listing is often the very first thing a potential customer sees when they search online.
List Management And Optimization
Keeping your business info up to date is the foundation of a high-quality profile. It is important to manage your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing as part of your frequent SEO routine.
Here’s why: Anyone can edit your Google Business Profile listing and make changes through the “suggest an edit” tool. These user-suggested changes have the potential to change your listing without you being notified. Google also makes changes to your business listing when its algorithm finds new information about your business. Imagine if your address or was changed by a random Google user.
Not only can your business info be edited, but people can also upload photos to your profile. That’s another reason you should manage your profile on a regular basis. As a business owner, you should refresh your content with ongoing photo and video uploads.
Adding photos and videos of your business is a great way for customers to visualize your brand and attract them to your store. Remember, though, Google Business Profile is not the place for stock photos or promotional videos. Make sure your photos and videos are taken at the place of business and are of people who work at your business. Google can remove the videos if the primary subject of the content is not related to the business location.
Enhance Customer Relationship And Manage Your Online Reputation
To engage your audience, you can leverage Google Posts within GBP to create an ad. In a Google search, these ads will show up in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps. You can use banner or text ads to promote events, seasonal offers, new products, new services and new content to drive traffic to your website.
Tip: Always keep mobile-optimized content in mind when using an image asset.
Another way to enhance your customer relationship is to monitor your Q&A. The Q&A section allows prospects who are interested in your business to ask questions, and you can share more information about your business by answering those questions. It’s an opportunity to collect firsthand target audience insights. Keep in mind that anyone can answer the questions people ask about your business, so make sure someone is monitoring this.
Online reviews are one of the top factors that contribute to your ranking in Google Maps, and these are visible both in your Google Maps listing as well as in the search results. Reviews are part of your online reputation and impact consumer trust. They build social proof for your brand, separate you from the competition, and help sell your product or service before you even get in touch with your customer.
It’s important to include a strong review generation strategy as part of your digital marketing plan. The first step is asking your customers to write a review for your company. Earn your reviews; don’t bribe! Also, note that according to Google’s policy, current and former employees should not post reviews. This rule prohibits any disgruntled or ex-employees from writing negative reviews, and it also prevents business owners from asking their own employees to post positive reviews. Follow the guidelines!
Tip: Just like the question that I get from so many marketers — “When is a good time to trigger a cart abandonment email to a customer?” — it’s important to find the right timing to ask for a review. You should let your customers experience your products or services first. Don’t ask for a review too early.
When it comes to local SEO optimization, fight against spammy tactics, such as keyword stuffing, multiple listings, fake addresses and fake reviews. At the end of the day, business owners need to keep a close eye on their search results and GBP profiles. The higher the quality of your listing, the better your chances of ranking higher in the local organic rankings. That means you need to keep optimizing your Google Business Profile listing.
All of these tactics and tips may seem like a lot of work to simply move a company’s visibility higher in the list of search engine results. However, this process allows people to see that a company can compete with others. By focusing on local SEO, a business can create greater awareness of its existence in its community. A company with a strong local presence online will have a greater ability to expand to a wider market. To compete in SEO and gain a better local search result, start with your Google listing management today.
Jessica Wong is a digital expert & founder of Valux, LLC, a digital marketing company that helps businesses complete the digital transformation