In 2019, 90% of consumers searched the Internet to find a local business. In 2020, 57% of customers purchased from a local business for the first time. How will customers find your business? What can you do to make it stand out in the virtual crowd?
Google’s Local Pack is the first to be aware of, which provides local businesses with prime real estate within Google’s search results. Local results are displayed above organic results, they are highly visible in nature, and they derive their information from Google My Business (GMB) listings. In fact, MOZ ranks GMB listing factors as the most important determinant of local pack ranking.
The next three categories in descending order of importance are backlink quality/authority/anchor text, review volume/freshness/variety, and website keywords/domain authority, respectively. For a local business that wants to rank at the top of searches, efforts to focus on those areas are obvious.
How can a local business optimize its GMB listing?
You have to follow 3 steps. The first is by far the easiest: Claim your business profile. Google can’t display a list it doesn’t have. The second step takes a little longer, and that is to finish each part of the profile thoroughly.
GMB listings include NAP (business name, address and phone number), website, photos, hours of operation, business category and characteristics, products and services offered, and anything else from the business that you consider relevant.
Once the first 2 steps are completed, the third is one of continuous maintenance: keeping the listing updated. Obviously, this includes changing the listed location when the business is going on. Otherwise, no changes are needed. Other ways to keep listings fresh are by creating weekly posts, responding to reviews the business receives from customers, and answering questions from members of the public.
When it comes to single location businesses, the story may end here. They can simply optimize their GMB listing and link it to their website homepage to perform well in search rankings. For local businesses with multiple locations, the story continues.
It is in the best interest of these businesses to pursue local landing pages (LLP for short). A local landing page is a web page that stands alone. It exists to provide a unique business location from which you can link each LLP to its own listing on Google My Business. This way, each location can rank well in its own hyperlocal search.
What should be included on a local landing page? While there are some factors specific to an LLP, a good understanding of website design also applies in this case. Consumers spend 74% of their time on the first 2 screenfuls of the site, so keep the most important information at the top.
Clarity, conciseness and strategic use of keywords are ingredients for a good main headline. Consistent formatting and clear schema markup help search engines deliver more informative results to users.
Beyond the fundamentals, the specific factors that boosted the LLP’s search rankings include hyperlocal content, well-executed use of Google Maps and Google 360, location photos, a direction button, and social media dedicated exclusively to a single business location. Includes media profiles. . A short sales funnel has the necessary links for customers to click on the LLP. Coupons and sales specific to a single location can also increase conversions.
Why Keeping Your Business Mobile-Friendly Is So Important
Another thing that all types of business websites should know is how their site looks on mobile devices. When it comes to local searches, 84% of them are made on mobile devices like smartphones. If a customer can’t navigate your website on mobile, they might be more inclined to try another business instead of opting out of desktop.
Convenience for the customer takes priority. Some ways to make a mobile site easier to use include adding floating call to action buttons, adding click-to-call phone numbers, and ensuring that coupons are mobile-friendly as well.
When it comes to business, LLPs can also show options that increase convenience for the customer. 2-way communication, like texting, is a feature that many young consumers enjoy. If a store’s timings change or are temporarily closed, that information should be on both the LLP and the GMB.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the founder and president of Nowsourcing, an industry-leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH, that works with companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 500. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016–present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.