The combination of mobile devices and advances in internet technology has given us a very effective way of making local searches.
Local search is where someone identifies a specific location and the search includes results for it and nearby places. Google and other search engines process geographical information to do this.
The most commonly searched information includes directions to a store or business, operating hours, services provided and which products are in stock.
For business operators the potential to attract new customers through local searches is too good to pass up. That could be in any geographic area, for instance, a major city or just one suburb. Or it might be a wider regional area like the Latrobe Valley, where I am based.
In this article I am going to show you how to improve local search results even if you don’t have website technical skills.
Studies (see endnotes) are showing that local searches trigger more bricks-and-mortar store traffic. They reveal:
· much higher rates of sales where people were searching locally
· extremely high sales rates where the store was close by
· a high emphasis on the convenience of getting a product quickly.
If you wish to make your website more visible on local searches, the good news is that there are several simple things that you can do which don’t require technical expertise. When you do them, you will present information snippets to Google that emphasise the higher value of your website.
I have listed here the simple steps that you can do in a relatively short time.
1. Put business details on Google My Business
Google’s My Business allows business owners to manage their information across different Google products, including Search and Maps.
This free tool can help your visitors find you more easily and allow you to tell your company’s story.
In order to get the most benefits from this tool and make your website more visible on local searches, make sure that you provide detailed and correct information about your business, particularly the address, phone number, operating hours and category.
It also helps to add appealing good-quality photos of your business.
Updating is particularly important if there have been any recent changes.
2. Ensure that NAP (name, address and phone) data are correct and consistent everywhere
On your website and social media pages, as well as review sites and directory listings, it is important that you provide correct and consistent information. Specifically, you should ensure that the NAP information is the same everywhere.
3. Take advantage of Facebook Local Business
Facebook can help you target consumers in your area and extend brand awareness in your location through its “Promote Your Local Business” option.
4. Make sure that images have helpful image tags
Adding images into content pieces will make them more interesting to readers. When using images, ensure that you add an alt tag to every image. You might also add a title tag, which creates a heading above the image, or a caption below.
Some writers prefer to keep their images “clean” and not have the reader’s attention diverted by headings or captions. On the other hand, page visitors might appreciate these cues to give them a snapshot of the main ideas and help them select the choice parts to read.
5. Arrange listings in the 2 or 3 most prominent directories
Listings in online directories are crucial components of the ranking algorithms used by search engines. The higher the quality and quantity of your company’s citations, the better your website’s rankings in local searches.
Whether you are a professional or a tradie, you will need listings in the most important online business directories as they are an important tool for promoting and reinforcing your NAP details with the search engines. Listings are especially important for highly competitive industries.
Be aware that some directories have a an excellent standing with Google, but there are others that are out of favour. Do a search for directories in your industry and your area and focus getting your NAP and individualised versions of your profile in just the best two or three.
6. Encourage your customers to leave you reviews
Search engines use online customer reviews as another in determining the ranking of websites. Additionally, good reviews can help attract new customers.
Encourage your satisfied customers to leave you a review. Give them your Google My Business or any directory addresses where reviews are easy to do. You can also ask for reviews for inclusion on your website.
Is there anything else?
There is, but from here on any steps have increasing technical difficulty. To get further gains you may need to enlist the support of a web designer who has SEO experience. They should have an armoury of ideas to help improve local site searches.
The first thing they will do is run a check on your site, but in fact that’s something you can do yourself. If you link your website into Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) you can check for any errors or discrepancies that Google has found.
This will certainly give you an idea of how your site measures up, and the Search Console may even reveal some further simple fixes that you can do yourself.
The other thing a web designer will do is is add a local search module to your website. If you have it already you can check the settings, but you still might need their guidance to get the best from it.
All of these strategies can make a significant difference in Google’s local search results. For business operators that means an enhanced visibility to potentially new customers.