5 Ways to Seize Control of Your Local Search Results
Four in five customers want their searches for products and destinations to be customized to their city and immediate surroundings. Consumers are hungry for accessible information such as business hours, location, product availability and reviews from customers. This creates a ripe opportunity for businesses to develop a local online marketing strategy that will build brand awareness and engage nearby prospects.
Claim Your Listings
More than ever before, people are looking to make informed purchasing decisions, from buying a car to making spur of the moment lunch plans. Discovery tools like Google Places, Yelp and Foursquare help millions of people learn vital information about a business within seconds.
Claiming your listing on these review sites gives you the ability to correct inaccurate details, assign the right search categories to your business, and add relevant information. Many listings include details regarding accepted payment types, contact information, website address, photos and coupons. Some businesses offer rewards for giving reviews or checking in, but simply asking for them is generally viewed as more tactful and more likely to yield thoughtful reviews.
Optimize Your Web Page for Local Search
Equally important as using these discovery tools is the effort to optimize your web page for local search. If you are targeting a particular market, provide geo-specific information. Make sure your title tags and Meta descriptions include your primary keywords as well as the area in which your services are available. Embed a map and include your contact information and location on all pages. If you are targeting a number of areas, create landing pages specific to users in various physical locations.
Optimize for Mobile Search
Local searches account for 50 percent of mobile users' in-store visits. If you want to dominate local search, a mobile version of your site is unnegotiable. A user searching for something on a mobile device is less likely to browse and more likely to search directly for what they want and make a decision right then.
Create other device-specific versions in order to cover all your bases. Keep it simple, but helpful-again, users are looking for clear information about your business. The last thing you want to do is drive them away with a complicated layout and hard-to-use features.
Produce High-Level Content
A thriving web presence is contingent on providing current information that benefits users. Update frequently and only offer information that is relevant. Make sure your content provides the answers to questions potential and current customers are asking.
Being discoverable via a number of different sources is an enormous advantage, but if your information across all these channels is inconsistent, your credibility will take a dive. One aspect of maintaining consistency is making sure that your brand voice is apparent in all of your content. Use every snippet of copy and every visual as a chance to show who you are. Make sure every detail on each source is accurate so visitors to your store aren't thrown off by the hours on your door versus the hours you provided on a review site.
Track Your Reputation
Negative reviews can impact businesses more than they expect. Cleaning up a reputation that has already been trampled in the dirt much more difficult than making sure it doesn't fall in the first place. Monitor your ratings and customer reviews in order to respond to issues quickly and express regrets for any inconveniences or inconsistencies.
Do more than monitor the negative-keep track of all mentions of your brand, and communicate with your customers. Mention is a great tool for this, as it tracks your brand name and targeted keywords across all platforms on the web. Engage your social media audience so that you are accessible and open to both problems and praise. Make sure your offline marketing efforts run in unison with your online marketing efforts so there aren't mixed messages.
It's not easy managing a reputation in the age of real-time marketing, but it is an essential aspect of being an online force to be reckoned with.
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