4 High-Impact Local SEO Tactics to Implement Now
80% of consumers are using search engines to discover local information.
It’s no secret that Google prefers locally focused listings to more general, broadly targeted listings. That’s because Google wants what their customers want: relevant results. According to a 2014 study completed by Google and Ipsos, 4 of 5 consumers want their ads and information tailored to their city, zip codes or immediate surroundings.
This means that if you are marketing a business with a local presence or locally focused service area, you should be doing all you can to ensure your information is surfaced when (and where) your customers are looking for it. And, based on the study, 80% of consumers are using search engines to discover local information.
The team here at Wheelhouse has seen similar results in our own research. Google has started to place more and more emphasis on location pages in search results—even for non-branded, solution- or service-related queries. Historically, Google ranked high-level service pages, providing users with logical landing spots to evaluate both service offerings and locations. Now, we tend to see Google serving up multiple local listings for the searcher, prioritized by their location. Proximity to the user tends to be the key sort, but both search engines and users prefer listings with comprehensive details.
So, what does this mean for businesses with a local focus (regardless of whether the business has a distinct address)? Well, we’ve put together four local optimization techniques to keep in mind:
1. Provide accurate, verified information for every location
Focus on the essentials. It’s a no-brainer, but we see a significant number of local businesses who have either skipped this step or neglected to make proper updates to their business locations.
One of the easiest things to do is ensure you have accurate Name, Address & Phone (sometimes referred to as NAP) information for each one of your location pages—and ensure that they are verified. At a minimum, your business should be verified through Google.com/MyBusiness and BingPlaces.com.
Verified information is an important step in the process to ensure that Google (and Bing) believe who you say you are and that you’re able to officially claim and control your local listings. Google and Bing provide detailed instructions for claiming your listings throughout the process.
2. Include hours, reviews and special directions
This is the information users most often seek—the more relevant details that you make readily available to search engines (and your customers) the better. Be sure hours (particularly for holidays) and any special access directions are clear to search engines and to users.
During SERP testing by Ipsos in 2014, individuals who saw a more complete listing for a business location were twice as likely to say that business was reliable versus those shown unverified, minimal listings for the same business. Users who viewed more complete listings were about 30% more likely to report an intention to visit a store or make a purchase.
Additionally, Google and Ipsos have found that the addition of information like hours and photos could yield an additional 30% in click through (Ipsos MORI (August, 2014) Impact of Search Listings for Local Businesses).
Which brings us to an underutilized approach:
3. Add photos to your location pages
This is your secret weapon for improving local engagement. Wheelhouse research aligns with the Google/Ipsos study, as we’ve seen engagement (clicks, click through and calls) increase by 38% when photos were added to listings with accurate, verified location details.
The reason for this increase may be partially revealed by the Ipsos study, which found that users tend to equate the completeness of a listing with the reliability of the business. High-quality images convey a sense of transparency and provide visual clues about the area in which the business is located, plus other important factors like cleanliness, accessibility, etc.
4. Set service areas to increase local visibility
What if you’re a business that doesn’t have a specific brick and mortar location? You can still capitalize on local benefits for your overall service area. It’s as easy as making a switch on your Google My Business listing. By logging in and choosing “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations”, you become eligible for a service area which can be set based on zip codes you serve or by targeting a range around your physical location. Either way, you’re ensuring that you’re treated as a local business for customers in your service area.
Local may be one of the most rapidly changing areas of search. Search engines and platforms are serving more and more targeted, local content to meet the needs of your customers. Local SEO is a great opportunity to be there for your customers when your product or service and proximity align.