What is Local Search?
Local search is any web search with the intent to find something in a geographic area like a country, state, city, zip code or street. When searching locally people look for a variety of information like directions to a local store or business, operating hours, reviews, product availability and more.
See the local search results below for “laundry near me” from a mobile phone. Google will show you nearby laundromats that you could visit. The search engine uses local map packs and Google My Business pages to display results.
As mobile usage sky rockets, mobile search with local intent is increasing as well. People on-the-go with a smartphone in hand want to find things in their immediate surroundings.
If you are a local business, remember – local searchers are ready to act immediately! According to Google, “many of them visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct desktop searches”:
Looks impressive, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, only 44% of local businesses are listed on Google My Business and can show up in Google local search results. More than a half of local retailers are still not visible to their potential customers and as a result are not considered when they search. If you want to increase your traffic and make more money you must rank in local search. If you don’t rank you will be out of sight and out of mind!
The good news is that most of the things you need to do are free and don’t require deep technical skills.
Show Up! Register With Google My Business
Google My Business is simple tool to create and manage your business information across different Google products, including Search and Maps. It’s absolutely free and easy to use.
Click here to register at Google My Business right now!
Fill out the following listing completely to get the most of this tool:
- Business Name, Address, Telephone Number and Logo
- Photographs of your Business
- One-click direction, call, and website buttons
- Popular times
- Hours of Operation
This data will give your business incredible exposure in search results and will definitely attract new customers:
The information will look great on any device. Potential customers can tap the images to check your dishes, press on your phone number to call you, or click on reviews to see what other people think about your business.
Be Accurate! Ensure N.A.P Consistency
As you might know, N.A.P stands for your business’ Name, Address and Phone. It’s extremely important to ensure that all three are listed the same way on your website and off of it. Slight variations, such as St. instead of Street, do not matter. But the following discrepancies are not acceptable:
- A difference in business name
- Misspelling in the address or a lack of suite number
- A wrong or different phone number
- A different or wrong website URL
How it Works
Search engines like Google crawl local directories looking to see if things like N.A.P are consistent across all of them and your website. If they are they take it as a strong indication that you do actually reside in the location and that you should rank for local terms in your area.
N.A.P inconsistency can happen by three reasons. One not knowing this is important when claiming your pages. Two not updating pages when the business moves. Three corporate politic or franchise models where individual owners are not well connected to corporate.
You can run a free scan to see how your business is listed!
Be Everywhere! Arrange Citations in Authoritative Directories
Citation is listing your business on other online directories. The higher the quality and quantity of your business’ citations, the higher you rank in local search.
Within national citations, there are a few aggregators that provide information to search engines and send business info to smaller citations websites:
You can try to set up these citations yourself or use MOZ Local tool to complete the task. Also, consider listing on the following citation websites: Yelp, Superpages, Yellow Pages, Express Update USA
Express Yourself! Add More Photos
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The more pictures you expose, the more appealing your business is to your customers.
There are several types of business-specific photos you should add to your local business on Google:
- Business profile photo and business logo;
- Exterior photos – shots of your building to help customers recognize your business as approach it from different directions;
- Interior photos – to help customers feel the atmosphere of your business;
- Product photos – showcase your best dishes, top selling items or most comfortable rooms;
- Photos at work – shots representing what exactly you do;
- Team photos – pictures of you and your employees to present more personal side of your business;
According to Google, “Businesses that add photos to their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.”
Learn more about Google’s local business photo requirements here!
Go Social! Take Advantage of Facebook
Facebook is getting more power in local search. Like Google and Yelp, they are now one of the major review platforms generating huge volume of consumers’ feedbacks. Besides, your Facebook business page may appear in search results. But the most valuable fact for local businesses is that Facebook can help you target customers specifically in your area and extend brand awareness in your location through its Facebook Ads.
Just a couple of reasons why local business should go for Facebook Ads:
- It’s comparatively cheap. You can advertise on small budgets and turn a campaign on/off whenever you feel necessary;
- It’s easy. The targeting is already in place – you can run your campaigns for people living or working close to your business just choosing necessary settings in Power Editor;
- It’s widespread. Your own customers can promote your business to their friends and families by liking and sharing your posts;
Learn how to create Facebook Business Page here!
Be Responsive! Manage Your Reviews Properly
Online reviews are one of the key ranking factors in Google local search. In addition, positive comments make your business look more trustworthy for potential customers:
Interacting with customers by responding to their reviews about your business is extremely important. If you get negative feedback, keep calm. Check the review policies – if any violations detected, you can report them to Google and necessary actions will be taken. Regardless you should always answer in a professional manner. Thank your customers for taking time to share their positive comments too.
Be Fast! Test Your Site’s Loading Speed
Time is money. Literally. The faster your website is loading, the better user experience you’re providing to your customers, the more revenue you can generate. But if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to show up, you can lose 40% of your visitors, according to Kissmetrics. Make sure your website load speed is fast enough to meet your customers’ expectations.
Advanced Tools To Enhance Local Search Ranking
Half of Google searches are mobile, and half of mobile searches have local intent. To attract more customers, make sure your website is mobile friendly. Your site should be built using responsive design so that it changes to fit the device that the user is using. Keep away from having a mobile version and a desktop version of your site. It is not worth your money.
You can test your mobile performance here.
You can also consider using AMPs on your website to make your pages load faster on mobile devices. According to Google, webpages built with AMP load an average of four times faster and use 10 times less data than equivalent non-AMP pages. Beside higher speeds, AMPs affect impressions and user experience, leading to higher user engagement and clicks through.
If you decide that AMP is what your website might need, check this Google tutorial for detailed instructions. If you use WordPress, download and install this plugin to get started. Yoast has a WordPress Amp guide to help you get this right.
You can make your website stand out in SERP by applying local structured data markup to your web pages. This standardized code format will provide search engines with more information about your business – your services, products, reviews and more. Only 31.3% of websites apply this markup, so use this opportunity to your advantage.
Learn more about the advantages of using Structured Data
Google encourages you to use the structured data markup, as it helps their crawlers to read and understand the content of your website. Google provides free Structured Data Testing Tool to check if your markup code is properly implemented. If you are not quite familiar with coding, you can tag the data fields on your site with a mouse, using Google’s Data Highlighter.