Winning in Local Search
How often do you visit a local business in a month? How often do you search for something local-related? More often than you think. Search engines are changing the game to give you better search results when you are looking for local business.
Local Search optimization is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by ranking high for specific locality-based keyword phrases in search engines. Mobile phone owners are the ones who use geographical keywords when searching.
They are the ones who call local businesses and visit their locations after searching on their phones. Therefore, if you are a local business, local optimization, together with organic promotion and social strategy completes your strategy for dominating search results.
Factors impacting local search
1. Optimizing Local Profile on Google+, Bing Local, Yahoo Local
2. Inclusion in Internet Yellow Pages and Data aggregators that ensure NAP consistency and citation volume
3. Social and Hyperlocal Signals – Google+, Facebook likes, Mobile Click to calls
4. Relevant, local website content
5. Removal of all duplicate listings
Local search is changing, however. Google recently released a new algorithm called Hummingbird to deliver better search results based on searcher’s location.
In order to prepare for the local search changes, there are a couple of things that matter if you are a local business.
- Consistent UNAP across all channels is already one of the strongest identifiers of a business.
- Value of citations will increase overtime. Citations consistent with UNAP will increase rankings for that location.
- Reviews are becoming more important. Google is expected to crack down on spammy reviews and incorporate recommendations in their already personalized search results. They even launched City Expert program to have reviews of their very own.
- Google maps will become even more personalized and integrated with Google Now and Google Glass.
- Carousel search results will expand to more local searches, since Google is pretty committed to Knowledge Graph development. It will continue to evolve. More and more queries will be identified as having “local intent”. Location-centered content will boost ranking for local queries.
- It will become even more important for local websites to render quickly on mobile. Search results on desktops and mobile will eventually become noticeably different. Those businesses who pay attention to what their customers want will dominate mobile search results.
- Markup convention called Schema will become more selective and will make already optimized popular websites even more visible.
- Google Plus presence and activity will give more prominence and authority to local businesses, especially the businesses with high quality photos
- Social signals overall will become more important for local rankings, especially hyper local signals – check-ins on Foursquare, Yelp and Facebook
If you have to pick just one thing to concentrate on, it will be your UNAP consistency. If your UNAP is all over the place, no matter how well you do with links, website optimization, or social engagement – you will not rank as high as you potentially could. And with the local ecosystem still being complicated, focus on only a few channels that matter.
We at Milestone take care of a lot of back end optimization for you, as well as some front end tasks. We focus on what is important for your ROI and configure your website for the best performance.
And there are some things you can do:
- Respond to reviews, encourage clients to leave reviews, make it easy for them
- Be visible on social channels. Post on your Google plus page talking about things that are interesting to your customers. Use our MediaConnect360 tool to engage with your customers on all your social channels
- Refresh your specials and check-in offers on Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp
- Add high quality photos to your social profiles, especially Google Plus
- If you have resources, record a video or several
- And always keep your visitors in mind – make your website easy for them to navigate and find what they are looking for.
Overall, do something great and useful to your customers as often as you can and get some well-deserved links.
And if you need help, talk to your Account Manager about how you can do better in local search. And I will see you next time we talk about search.