How to Use Strategic Content to Improve Your Local Business Listings
Having your business listed online is one thing. Knowing how to make the best use of that listing is another.
The era of the Yellow Pages is behind us. These days, having an online listing isn’t just a nice bonus, it’s an expectation. If you’re not on Google Maps, you might as well not exist in the eyes of a customer.
Your local listing is your digital storefront—possibly more important than having a sign on your physical storefront. (The underground thing is trendy. And Google maps will get you there, right?)
Any friction to that expectation of quick, easy, reliable answers will lose you business. Polishing that shiny gateway draws more people in. It’s a great place to pre-qualify users, to give them all the information they need to convert right up front.
At this point, Google being tuned into local intent in search is nothing new. It’s here to stay. And while managing your listings may seem like a lot of work, we’ve found that it pays off long term. Not only does it pay off, it makes all the other work you do even more effective.
We’ve got tips on how to make better strategic use of your listings and turn a quick search into a customer.
In this post, we’ll go over:
- Content Strategy — what to focus on in your content
- Feature Overview — a breakdown of the features currently available and how you can use them to guide each stage of the user’s journey
- Follow Through — what to land users on once you’ve pulled them through
1. Content Strategy
Focus on user needs
Never forget this one rule: focus on the needs of the user.
Sexy new features are great and all, but there has to be a point in using them. Features are fickle–they come and go. But do everything you can to create a great user experience and that’s where you get the long term value.
Let’s not forget that giving users what they’re looking for is what Google cares about. Show that you care about the same thing and you can ride the surf of all those algorithm shifts without a fall.
Focus on content that gives the key information a user needs in order to be interested in converting. Do some competitor research and look at what questions people are asking on similar listings. Do some keyword analysis to find out what users are most interested in.
Your local listing is often your first touch with a customer and it provides a great opportunity to answer their questions before they even have to ask them. Show that your business has the thing they want in the first second they lay eyes on you. The shorter and smoother you can make the journey from wanting a thing and getting that thing the better.
2. Feature Overview
Get Attention. Inform. Convert.
There are features available in GMB to support each of these stages. Let’s break them down.
Stage 1 – Get Attention
Photos, Videos, Posts — Catch the user’s eye and draw them in with compelling, quality visuals. Never underestimate the power of that first image.
Stage 2 – Inform
Descriptions, service menus, the products beta, posts, attributes, and Q&A are all great for planting key information. We’ll take a deeper dive into these first two stages below. The final stage, of course, is to Convert.
Stage 3 – Convert
Now that they know you’ve got what they want, pull them in for more. You can move users along to the next step of the journey through your website landing page, a menu URL, appointment URL, or delivery service.
Where these show up is industry-dependent. For restaurants they show up at the top. For others like the medical field is shows up at the bottom of the listing like a short blurb “From the Owner.” Don’t underestimate what you can with just a sentence or two! Any information that a user really cares about could be worth mentioning (like whether you have free wifi) or it’s a great place to provide helpful landmarks for driving directions.
No one wants to go to the effort of diving into your website or driving to your store only to find out that you don’t have the thing they’re looking for. This feature only shows up on mobile and is list-style. It includes a section name and then a list of items under that section. Each section will show up in its own tab. And each item can have a name, price, and short description. No photos of click through calls to action. For the medical field we’ve used it for insurances accepted, services, conditions treated, types of screenings and tests available at a location.
This is a feature still in beta that’s available to small to medium-sized businesses. Its similar to menus except that you can include a photo or video of each item, can highlight featured products, and can add optional call to action buttons. Options include: “Order online,” “Buy,” “Learn more,” and “Get offer.”
Posts are photos or videos accompanied by a short description and call to action button. These are archived after seven days, but a user can see all past posts by clicking into the archive. There are a number of types available: you can post about an upcoming event, a current offer or sale, post about one of your products, or just about “What’s New” at your business. Call to action buttons include: Book, order online, buy, learn more, sign up, and call now.
This features allows you to share certain highlights about your business (women-led!) and amenities available at your location. (Parking, free-wifi, pet-friendly, etc) These show up with cute little icons that sit on your listing like special badges, so why would you not want some?
Back to anticipating questions and answering them before they’re even asked. Q&A is a great place to do that. You can easily use this section like an FAQ: seed major questions and provide the answers right there! Responding to questions other users have posted is also advisable.
3. Follow Through
Carry users to the next stage
Now that you’ve pulled them in, make sure you don’t let them down on the next stage. Optimize your website landing page to receive that traffic, and make sure you’re giving users what they need next. It could be:
- More information
- Further product browsing
- A great booking system
Understand what that next step may be. Don’t let them down by not having more to offer where they land or making them dig for it on another page.
1) Focus on user experience
Add the key things a user needs to know right up front in your listing
Utilize conversion-oriented content
2) Use the features available to move users through each stage of their journey