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Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out

By Napoleon Suarez | Small Business

Let’s face it, search engines are getting smarter. Your potential customers know that, so their queries are following suit. Not long ago, if you wanted to find a hospital that was close to you, you had to type ‘hospital in [AREA].’ Now look (I ran the search from Center City Philly):

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image SearchResultsNot Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

Now, I can just type in the word ‘hospital’ and Google still returns relevant results. The same holds true for terms such as ‘car dealer’ or ‘towing company.’ So, we have seen that Google has changed, but has your organic search strategy? If not, here are some things that you may be missing out on.

1. Reputation Management

If you are not properly optimizing your local directory listings, you won’t be able to stay on top of reviews with negative sentiment, but why is this important?

You may have notice Google’s local scoring system:

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image google scoreNot Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

The official definition can be found here, but to sum it up, the more positive reviews you get, the higher your service will be rated. Since Google’s goal is to help the cream rise to the top, it wouldn’t surprise me if the higher rated local companies receive higher organic rankings (which will increase traffic and leads.)

Google pulls reviews from trusted sources on the web and ranks them accordingly. In a perfect world, we would all receive reviews like these:

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image google score2Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

Unfortunately, we live on the planet earth and we will sometimes see reviews like these (I don’t mean to call anyone out, I promise):

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image google score3Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

If you are properly optimizing your local directories, you will be alerted that this review came in and you would have the opportunity to reach out to this person and offer to make their experience better. I have heard many stories about companies reaching out to disgruntled customers to make things better. The customer has even gone back and updated their listing to a positive one. Be sure you get to these comments before Google does.

If you want to ensure you are efficient with your local directory listing, check out the getlisted.org resource to find the most influential ones by industry here.

2. Capture a Competitor’s Customers

By optimizing your Google Places page, you are increasing the likelihood of driving leads to your site. Wouldn’t it be great if your company’s listing showed up whenever someone searched for a competitor’s listing? Well, that is exactly the case. Look at this section below a competitor when I searched for a ‘nissan dealer.’

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image competitorNot Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

If for whatever reason I was not happy with the reviews that I saw for the initial listing, Google shows me four other ones that they think that I would enjoy more. Without a properly optimized Google places listing, I would not have the opportunity to steal customers from a competitor with weak SEO games.

3. Increased Visibility

By optimizing your Google Places listing, you will be sure that your results show up when they are supposed to. Google Places gives you the ability to set your service hours. Let’s say that I am a tow service and my Google Places hours section looked like this:

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image increasedvisibilityNot Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

If I am searching for a tow truck at noon, Google will know to show my listing in their results page because that would offer the best user experience. If I have not updated this section of Google Places and someone searches for a tow truck at, say, 4pm, Google now has to guess whether my shop is open or not. I do not want Google guessing about my store hours.

4. Increase Your Click Through Rate

This is basically industry jargon for ‘increase the likelihood that someone will actually click on your stuff’ when someone does a search keywords that are important to your business. Check out the results returned when I search for ‘Nissan dealer cherry hill.’ (Yes, this term is super long-tailed, but I want to prove a point.)

Not Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out. image exampleNot Optimizing for Local Search? You’re Missing Out.

If Cherry Hill Nissan was lazy, they could have been cool with only ranking #1 organically for this term. They would have ~10% chance of being clicked on for one of their most important terms. However, by having both the Google Places page and the DealerRater.com page, they went from ~10% chance of being clicked to ~30% chance. If I ran this dealership, I think I would like the 30% number a bit better.

5. Brand Building

I know, brand building is less SEO and more Inbound Marketing (which is where the industry is going anyway) but here me out. When is the last time you saw a brand so much that you thought to yourself “man, that must be legit, I am seeing it everywhere.” I thought that when I first saw The General Car Insurance. I thought those commercials were MAD cheesy and that nobody would be buying that insurance. However, after I saw the commercial a few hundred times (many during prime time) I started to take notice. Because the commercials got beat into my head so much, I started to respect it. Google ‘car insurance’ and see what comes up.

By optimizing your local directories, you are doing the same thing for your business. The more people that see your business, the higher the likelihood that they will click on your listing and buy your stuff. Couple this with all of the positive sentiment from the reviews that you have encouraged and you can see how everything plays really well together.

So, has your local SEO strategy been updated to include some of the things above? If not, contact us and we would love to help!

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