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Local search: What’s important and how to get started

Provide accurate, consistent information to please search engines, optimize online marketing presence

SUSAN MALO RevLocal

If you are looking for customers locally, you need a local search marketing strategy. More than 70 percent of consumers who perform a local search on mobile devices engage with businesses within five miles from their search. Since consumer behavior has changed, it’s now more important than ever to have a strategy to capture these customers.

What is local search marketing?

Local search marketing is a localized approach to digital marketing. It involves showing up in searches, but more specifically, in the local pack (map section) on a search results page. This is the most crucial location for local businesses, since this is where consumers choose from when they want to find products and services near them.

How does local search marketing work?

To show up in more search results, you’ll need to optimize your business’ online presence by providing accurate and consistent information to please the search engines. One piece of the puzzle is submitting business information such as name, address, phone number and URL to important directories that provide data to applications and sites across the internet.

There are many reasons why your business may NOT show up in local search results for your products and services. It is the objective of the search engine to give users the “correct answer” to their search. To do that, the search engine cross references your information with data from all over the internet. If your information is incorrect or inconsistent across various sites or directories, it cannot trust that data. The search engine would rather NOT show your business in a search result, than give an “incorrect answer” to their user.

A great way to know if your business information needs to be corrected is to look your business up online. If any information is incorrect or inaccurate, that’s an indicator that it’s time to improve your online presence. The first five validation sites RevLocal recommends to start with are:

  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Yahoo!
  • Yelp
  • Facebook

The pages listed above have a substantial impact on local search rankings. Correcting listings on these pages is the first step towards improving your ranking.

In addition, there are 50 to 100-plus relevant sites that pull information from data aggregators such as Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual, so ensuring those have the correct information is important as well. These relevant sites get data from only a handful of sources, or you can update your information manually on all these sites one-by-one.

How to get started with local search marketing

If your business hasn’t been optimized for local search, there are a few things to do to get started.

Claim and verify Google My Business

To ensure your business has the best chance of showing in the local pack (map section), you must claim and verify your business listing. The GMB listing helps Google determine if the business is a fit for the searcher, including location and category matching. You, as the owner, have the most authority to edit and confirm correct information Google thinks they know about your business.

Create a link strategy

Search engines like it when quality websites link to other websites. This is referred to as inbound linking. The site should be relatable and relevant in some way (ie: same location, same category, etc.). High-quality inbound links prove that the site is trustworthy, and this has a positive impact on local rankings.

Build citations

Citations are mentions of a business online, from third party directories or industry-specific sites like Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, etc. Having enough citations will improve a business’s local ranking.

Improve your online reputation

Consumers aren’t the only ones who look at your reviews, search engines look at them, too. Local ranking can be dramatically improved by a steady stream of positive reviews. There are many platforms that can help a business ask for and collect reviews more effectively.

Make sure the location is accurate

Proximity has a lot to do with how well a business ranks in local search. This doesn’t always mean that the closest options show up in local pack (maps section). Make sure the location of the business is correct and looks correct on the map. Most search engines allow you to manually adjust where your business shows up on the map.

Getting started with a local search marketing strategy can be confusing and seem overwhelming, but in the end will be extremely beneficial to the online visibility of your business. Partnering with the right trusted agency can help alleviate some of the confusion and allow you to do what you do best, focus on running your business.

For more information about local search marketing and other digital marketing resources, check out www.RevLocal.com/learn.

Susan Malo is a digital marketing consultant with RevLocal. RevLocal provides personalized digital marketing solutions to numerous businesses across the U.S. and Canada. Malo can be contacted at smalo@revlocal.com.

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