From restaurants to dry cleaners, elite French eateries to downtown pizzerias, every local business can benefit from Google Local. As web users switch from searching for universal information – tips, tricks, and mass products – to local services, possessing a high ranking in Google Local is becoming increasingly more essential for success.
There are hundreds of benefits to ranking prominently in Google local, but a few of the more obvious (and beneficial) are:
- More customers from local search. Web users are constantly searching for new opportunities to eat, shop, and hire locally. A high-ranked listing gives you the promotional muscle to be the first on their ‘to call’ list.
- More spontaneous sales from mobile users. An increasing number of people are searching for great restaurants, bars, and shops while out and about with their smartphones. Benefit from their desire to spend with a top ranking in your city’s Google Maps listings.
- More sales, more revenue, and compounding publicity. The more popular your business becomes on Google local, the more reviews and feedback it tends to attract. This produces a compounding effect, where a high Google Local ranking ends up progressively increasing your overall sales.
From more customers to more money, the benefits listed above are very real and hugely desirable for most local businesses. While enjoying the entire benefits of a top Google Local listing requires extensive local SEO efforts, the following five tips are excellent for sidestepping your competition on the way to the top:
1. Reviews are local power. Encourage your customers to leave them.
Google uses three primary factors to rank its local results: on-site content, links, and reviews. Positive reviews, particularly from users with unique social profiles, are an excellent tool for boosting your business’s local search visibility.
If you’re a bar or restaurant, consider offering a discount – maybe waived gratuity? – for customers that leave a review online. If you’re a coffee shop, offer a sample of your latest creation in exchange for a review from one of your regular’s.
Just like links are the key to successful worldwide SEO, building a positive review profile is one of the best ways to optimize for local SEO. From vouchers to cookies, freebies and incentives are a great way to generate positive reviews quickly.
Does your city have a food blog that’s particularly popular? How about a local bar guide that’s all the rage amongst office workers or college students? Getting high-value links is always good for SEO, with high-value local links some of the best.
Search for local link building opportunities – particularly from publications that receive a fair deal of traffic – and generate powerful inbound local links for your business. Links, along with reviews, are the keys to off-site local optimization.
Not all social media opportunities are positive. Yelp, for example, is regarded by many small business owners as an underhand racket. Despite this, a careful and reasoned investment in social media is great for improving your local presence.
Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and other social media pages – particularly any service that provides an address listing – are immensely valuable for indicating to Google that your website is targeted at a particular geographical region.
4. Invest in effective offline advertising
Optimizing for Google Local is as much about awareness as it is about proactively encouraging your customers to review or link to your website. If customers are in your stores, many will leave a review or citation without ever being solicited.
Because of this, an offline media buy – street banners, billboards, and radio ads – is often incredibly effective for inspiring new reviews and citations. A simple radio ad can bring hundreds of customers – and tens of reviews – to your local business.
5. Create local accounts with Google, Yahoo, and Bing
Aside from encouraging organic feedback and local links, one of the best ways to optimize for local search is to simply claim your listing. Google Local offers small businesses the ability to claim their local search listing at this registration page.
Yahoo and Bing, which are both often used as the default search engine on mobile devices, both offer their own local registration service. Register for Yahoo’s local listings here, and Bing’s local maps and directory service here.