As we enter a new year, most business owners are planning and putting strategies in place to make this year one that is defined by growth and increased profits. Many of those strategies will revolve around marketing and advertising.
For local businesses, very few things can bring about more clients, better retention and larger growth than being found in search engines for local searches. The statistics are clear: If you want to have success, you need to be found in the local search. For example:
97% of consumers use Internet when researching local products/services (BIA/Kelsey)
54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore)
98% of searchers choose a business that is on page 1 of the results they get (brightlocal)
88% of consumers consult online reviews before they purchase local services (BrightLocal , Local Consumer Review Survey 2014)
77% of smartphone users contact a business after looking for local Information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011)
59% of mobile users who look for local information visit the business on same day (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011)
So what can local business owners do to make sure they have success in 2015? Here are three simple things that can set your business apart and make sure that you are found when people are searching for the goods and services you offer.
Setup Your Local Profiles
When it comes to local search, it is essential to understand that the local results are not based on your website. Of course, your website can have an effect on how high you rank, and it is included in Google’s algorithm, but it isn’t the most important thing.
When you search on Google and see local results, those results are being pulled from Google+ business profiles. When searching on Bing, they are being pulled from Bing Business.
In order to be found in local search results, you need to set up or “claim” your local profile in the search engines. So, not only do you need to have a local profile, but you need to make sure it is optimized. Simple optimization techniques include making sure the name of your business, its address and phone numbers are consistent across the internet. Optimization also includes making sure your profile is filled out completely, including targeted keywords in your business description and selecting the proper categories.
Leverage Other Directories
Both Google and Bing use outside directories in their local algorithms. Therefore, it is essential for businesses that desire to rank well in the local search results to have profiles in outside directories. Directories like Yelp!, Merchant Circle, LinkedIn, YellowPages.com and CitySearch help the search engines to verify your business information and pass along authority to your business.
Businesses should also consider signing up for directories that are niche-specific for their industry. A simple search on Google or Bing will help reveal niche-specific directories that you will want to consider being included in.
One key factor in the local search algorithms are citations. Citations are simply other sources that the search engines can find to verify your information, address, phone number and areas of expertise. Directories are a great citation source and many of them are free and quite easy to sign up for.
If you don’t have the time to submit yourself to all the directories that will benefit you, many SEO and online marketing companies offer services to submit your information for you.
Create Valuable Content
The final easy thing that businesses can do is create relevant and valuable content. Whereas the previous two suggestions focus more on the search engines and the algorithms, this tip is focused on the searcher. Ultimately, you don’t simply want your business to be found — you want searchers to call, come in and become a customer. Creating content that showcases your business's skills and expertise can help searchers become clients or customers.
As a business owner, you most likely know the common questions and concerns that your customers have. You also know what sets you apart from your competitors and your competitive advantage. Create content that focuses on these areas. For instance, you can produce simple FAQ's or more in-depth items such as whitepapers or infographics.
You can host your content on your own website via a blog or dedicated FAQ page or, if you are focused on being found in Google, you can place this content directly on your business’s Google+ page. You may also want to find local sources, such as blogs or your local newspaper’s online version, and see if you can contribute and produce content for them.
Search engines love content and so do searchers. Creating valuable content will separate you from your competitors and give you a competitive advantage.
January is a great time to look back at the previous year and begin to create a plan for success moving forward. As more and more people continue to use the internet, via computers and mobile devices to find local businesses, it becomes increasingly crucial for businesses to be found in the local search results. By setting up local profiles in search engines, leveraging directories and creating valuable content, businesses can increase their visibility in local search in 2015.