Whether a local business is a stand-alone, single location or part of a massive national or global brand, it shares a common goal with every other business. Every local business wants to be findable in search and therefore visible to the public – those consumers trying to solve a problem or fulfill a need as they go through their busy day.
Google is very aware of this trend – most of us are fueling it – and has named these “I-want-to” flashes of time Micro-Moments. A person creates their own Micro-Moment when they want to know, to do, to go, or to buy, and then take action intended to achieve their objective. So yes, for local business today the Micro-Moment is an integral part of achieving success.
The Consumer Lives In The Micro-moment
Let’s examine a real-world example, a Micro-Moment taking place in a slightly stressful situation. Driving from Point A to Point B outside of her home turf, a friend’s 20-year-old Volkswagen – that’s collectible, not actually old – began to make a screeching noise when the steering wheel was turned. Horrors! She was far, far away from her trusty German car mechanic, and the owner’s manual prescribed only the factory-approved power steering fluid.
So it’s past 7 PM, my friend is far from home, and garages will be closed at 7:00 – but her smartphone search shows the small town she entered has no less than four auto parts stores. Choosing the store closest to her location, she searched for the specific German power steering fluid and discovered the product was in stock, with the reasonable price visible on the product image.
Selecting directions from her location, she found the store with plenty of time to spare. Adding the fluid eliminated the steering screech, leaving her with a quiet ride and peace of mind. This successful Micro-Moment illustrates the very core of local search.
Here are some eye-opening statistics on current search and mobile consumer behavior:
- The amount of on-the-go searches with “local intent” is considerable, at 56%
- Smartphone users overwhelmingly use search engines to find local business – research reveals a very high 82%
- Even in-store, smartphone users check their phones when on a buying mission – once again, a remarkable 82%
We have established that the goal for a business (whether at a unique location or one of thousands) is to be found by those always-searching consumers. But does a business fully understand that providing additional pertinent information to these searchers is part of “being found?”
Consumers will always be searching for basic business info. What’s that exact address? Are they open now? What’s the number; I’d better call to make sure. Businesses have an obligation to the public, and an opportunity to shine, by ensuring correct NAP and business hours in every listing or citation.
But there’s much more to providing information, because right now, customers are expecting more. What they search for – and the times and places they conduct these Micro-Moment searches – indicates quite clearly how important it is to them! Sure, the consumer wants to know if the business is open: but also, whether a particular item is in stock. Does the store 15 minutes away have the item; or is it available at the location near a spouse’s workplace? Info covering product features is also a must-have.
Defining Local SEO
Many are familiar with SEO, but pay attention, because here the focus is on local SEO. Local search engine optimization (SEO) or local search falls under the SEO umbrella but is a distinct subject with a geographically-based focus.
There are many components to digital marketing, with local SEO occupying its own special category of “so much to know.” The issues a brand or business must address include:
- Review scores that seem to vary widely
- Locations that show multiple listings
- The role of social media
- Accurately measuring ROI on digital marketing efforts
It’s impossible to understand all of it, but you can’t do it at one time. Start with some very important must-do’s for a business to get found in local SERPs (search engine results pages).
5 Tips To Rank Local Businesses Higher In SERPs
1. Claim Online Listings, Ensure Accurate Business Citations
In searching for a business you may have seen a question on a listing page that asks “do you own this business?”
This indicates that the business citation was put online by a listing service (not initiated by the owner). There are hundreds of such business listings services across the web that will include the shops, companies, and services for a particular area.
Have you discovered such a listing for your business or client businesses? More than likely the answer is yes!
The next step is to claim that listing and begin to take control of your online data. By doing so, you can affect the way a business appears on these directory services.
Essentially, most third-party sites want you to claim your listing and more than likely, claiming (and possibly correcting) that listing will involve a short amount of time, but no financial outlay.
2. Improve And Optimize Website Content
What keywords are customers most likely to use when they search for businesses in your industry? Always include these important words and phrases when creating content for your site. This makes it easier for search engines to understand your site.
Optimized website content increases the chances of obtaining higher search placement, and the business becomes more discoverable by all those potential customers.
3. Get Active With Protecting And Managing Your Online Reputation
Many review sites such as Yelp, Google, and Foursquare encourage customers to leave reviews for businesses they have patronized.
Monitor these sites to keep up with current ratings. And as stated, get active! Respond to negative and positive reviews alike.
4. Social Media Is Still Your Friend
Social media is here to stay, so take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. This falls under the rule, “Be where your customers are.”
These social media giants offer great opportunities to interact with your current customers and get in front of those target audiences. It’s a two-way street, so focus on building relationships on the site(s) where customers and potential customers hang out.
Deliver the content and interaction to keep customers involved. Let them know they are truly a valued part of the business!
5. Keep Score And Track Performance
You can do the right thing, but “the right thing” must be tracked and measured to prove its value. There are many applications to help track website performance, the sites that make referrals, activity on social media, and more. How are email offers performing? What about content downloads?
Tracking the results of your efforts is important and actually quite cost-effective (as many applications are free, or feature lower-cost options). Remember to measure conversions. It can be as simple as asking the consumer. Gather the data and review it. How are you doing? An honest assessment will point the way to get even better results.
Big Picture SEO Vs. SEO Components
Yes, local and mobile will continue to evolve, but the direction is clear. Understand the big picture in SEO, but take it component by component. Whether for a single location or for thousands, optimizing for local is manageable. Doing it right ensures that both business and the consumer come out as winners.