Thursday, June 19, 2014

Local Search

Understanding local search

If you're a brick-and-mortar business or if you have a local presence then it's important that you know that your potential customers are using search engines to look for local products and services. The search engines are getting pretty good at giving users exactly what they want with some very specific local types of search results. Let's say you're in West Palm Beach with a toothache that needs some immediate attention. These days the first thing you're likely to do is head do a search engine and start typing "dentist west palm beach" and looking at the current market share data you're more likely to do it on Google, than anywhere else.

Local Search
Local Seach |Results
In the search results you'll see a list of businesses in the West Palm Beach area matching your search. You'll see some special listings with location markers and a map that shows you where all those businesses are located. When you click on that marker you end up in a Google Maps interface showing a map of the area surrounding the business, and plenty of information and reviews. For each business listing that you see you can either click the link to the website or head over to that particular business' Google+ Local page, where you can find reviews, photos and even see who in your social circles has had anything to say about that business.

The bottom line is that if you're a dentist in West Palm Beach and you don't have this kind of local listing on the search engines your phone isn't very likely to be ringing. So how do you position yourself to have your business featured in these special local search results when people type in search queries with a local intent? Well, there are a few things that you can do. First off you're going to need to have a Google+ Local page. If you're not on Google+ yet now is a good time to start. The process of setting up a Google+ account and a Google+ Local page for your business is non complicated.

If you had a Google Places account, it's already been migrated to Google+Local for you. You can simply log in and make any updates or changes to leverage the new format.  Don't forget to ask your happy customers for reviews on your Google+ page. The more reviews and the more positive they are, the more likely Google is to return your pages above the competition. Next, we'll need to understand the concept of citations. Each and every mention that search engines find around the web of the name, address, or phone number of your business is considered a citation and the more citations a business gets from quality sources the more the search engines trust that this is a business searchers are looking for and the higher it can rank in local search results.

Next, your website is a critical piece of your local marketing strategy. You'll want to make sure that you have separate pages on your website for each service or category of products that you offer and you'll want to make sure that your business' name, address, and phone number are clearly identified on your website. Of course, remember your content strategy and make sure that you have relevant keywords in your copy to ensure optimal search performance. Focusing on creating, maintaining and growing your Google+ Local page, building consistent and quality citations of your name, address, and phone number around the web and focusing on the content of your website are the key ingredients that you'll need for local search success.

Steve Steinberger

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