Google local search (GLS) is one of the most powerful tools available to business owners who sell to consumers from a brick-and-mortar location.
Whether you have one location or several, the local search platform will help you build your business in remarkable ways. The most amazing news is that, like many of Google’s products, setting up local search is free.
In the old days, customers grabbed the Yellow Pages if they needed to find a local business. As the internet grew and expanded, customers often tried to find a business online, but until the advent of GLS, it was a trial-and-error process many searchers found lacking.
Enter Google local search, and we now have a true online alternative to the phone book.
If you think it’s not important to use the GLS platform, consider this: Almost 95 percent of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. When consumers find you from a local search on their smartphone, they are highly likely to convert to customers within 24 hours.
It’s free to set your business up, and when you optimize your listing and strategies for maximum exposure, you may be amazed by how much traffic it drives to your door. Whether you are a small, family-owned business or a national chain, the benefits are virtually identical.
Start by setting up your Google My Business (GMB) account and profile. Be careful, because how you set up your GMB profile will influence how easy it is for your prospects to find you.
Choose a name, address and phone number (NAP) protocol and ensure that you follow it exactly in your GMB profile, on your website and every location your business is listed.
Ensure that your NAP is listed on every page of your site, including your Contact Us page. Use your NAP (or at least your business name, city and state) liberally in your on-site and off-site content.
If your business has multiple locations, it’s imperative you treat each as a unique entity — at least as far as Google is concerned.
If you don’t have a separate website for each location, you will need dedicated web pages for each location, each with a unique URL. Create a Google My Business profile for each location, and have each profile link to the appropriate web page.
Create original content for each location page and include social profiles and directory listings. When you encourage reviews, direct customers to the correct location’s profile.
Finally, run different AdWords campaigns for each location whenever possible. Your PPC ads will land in front of better-qualified searchers, and as a result, provide a better return on investment.
If you have multiple practitioners at your locations (doctors, lawyers, stylists, etc.), you also should optimize your website for multiple identities.
More than 90 percent of consumers actively read online reviews when choosing a business to patronize. In fact, 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
How many online reviews do you need? The research indicates that today, consumers prefer to read four to six reviews to make their choice. Although that’s the sweet spot, consumers say they want to read a minimum of two, but no more than 10 reviews.
So as you’re working on your GLS strategies, make sure that you accrue reviews. You’ll want reviews in other appropriate locations too, but focus on the Google platform for some of the best results.
These are the basic elements of Google local search, but the details are much more complex than we could ever hope to explain in a single blog post.
Be Locally SEO leverages this and many other strategies to help company owners and marketing managers build their business. Contact us today to learn more about how our comprehensive suite of services — including SEO optimization, web design, AdWords campaigns, social media and content marketing — can help fine-tune Google local search strategies to boost your website in the search results.