How to Turn Local Searches Into Customers for Free
Do you know where your customers are coming from? With more and more people using their smartphones to find local businesses, chances are the next person who walks through your door has already looked up your business online.
A recent analysis of local searches showed that mobile searches that include the term “near me” are 565% higher than desktop searches, but the rate of conversion is much lower. That means potential customers are looking for a place to make a purchase, and they aren’t buying online—they are looking up information then going to the store. A study by Google found that half of consumers who conduct a search for a local business visit a store within a day.
So how do you give your business the best chance of ranking high on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) to make sure those local searchers can find you? Follow these steps.
Claim your business.
When a business is opened, Google creates a business listing including name, address, map, hours, and other details. When you claim your Google My Business page you take control of that profile, so you can verify that all the information is correct, make updates when needed, respond to reviews, answer questions, and add interesting content to get the attention of your customers.
Why does My Business matter? Because whenever someone searches for a local business, Google displays results using information it has in its database of local businesses. Google used to show seven local business listings in its search results. A year ago it reduced that number to three, and soon in will be down to two listings, with the third spot reserved for a paid ad. So if you’re a local business it’s more important than ever to have a robust My Business page to increase your chances of appearing. For easy instructions, visit GYBO (Get Your Business Online), which offers step-by-step instructions on how to claim and optimize your Google My Business page. And don’t stop at Google—claim your business on other sites with business listings, including Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp. For details on how to claim your business for local search and a links to claim-your-business pages, see our blog post Hey Siri: Find My Business.
Add great photos.
According to a study by BrightLocal, 60% of consumers said local results with images get their attention and influence their decision to visit the business. If you don’t upload your own photos to your business profile in Google, Bing, YellowPages.com and other listing sites, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to showcase your business.
Add localized content to your site.
If you want local customers, you need to sound like you’re local. Create blog posts that mention local news, events, and activities, as well as special deals or promotions at your location. Make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) appears on every page of your site, and that it exactly matches your NAP info on your local business listings.
According to a recent study by BrightLocal, 92% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and positive reviews increase clickthrough by 22%. Good reviews also make a huge difference in search rankings. Use social media or email campaigns to encourage customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp or add a link to your website that will take customers to your review page. Always monitor your reviews and respond courteously and quickly to any negative reviews.
Make sure your business is included in local directories such as TripAdvisor, InfoUSA, and Angie’s List. (For more, see this list of 50 Online Local Business Directories.) There are a lot of them, including many that are focused on a specific region, state, city, or topic, so if you don’t have time to update your listing on all of them you can use an aggregator service like Factual, Localeze or Infogroup, which will take your business information and push it out to many other sites.
Using these tactics for local search optimization will vastly improve your chances of being one of the select local business that appears on the screen the next time a potential customer looks for a business “near me.”