If your focus is on local customers, it’s more important than ever to be findable in search engines.
Do you have a business that gets most of its sales from within a 50- to 100-mile radius? If your focus is on local customers, it’s more important than ever to be findable in search engines. Why? Because today most shoppers either do research online before they buy, or they hunt for information using their mobile devices in order to find a local place of business.
According to Google research, online information actually propels people to shop locally. Three out of four people who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit the store. Not only that, but “... 71 percent of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.”
Here are seven ways you can improve your visibility in local search results:
- Include Your Address(es) on Your Site. Make sure your business is easily findable by visitors to your site by making your address prominent. Some businesses put it on a separate contact page, but others go one better and include the address in the footer or header of every site page. Including this information on your website also increases the chances your business will be properly associated in search engines with your geographic location.
And don’t forget: make sure the information is accurate. If you’ve moved or closed a location, update the information. Include phone and email contact information. A map and directions is also a nice touch.
- Claim and Complete Your "Google My Business" Listing. Google is the powerhouse of search engines. Luckily, Google provides a means to get your business listed for free, at “Google My Business.” The great thing about Google My Business is that it’s integrated with the main Google search engine, mobile search, Google+, and Google Maps. So no matter where people are searching in Google, if you’re listed in “Google My Business” your business has a shot at being found.
If you haven’t claimed your listing, go do it now. Or take a few moments to review and update your existing listing for accuracy. Add photos, such as a mouth-watering picture of your chef’s special dish, as they can appear in your listing and help spur interest.
- Don't Forget Facebook! Facebook, with more than 1 billion active users every month, is another powerhouse. And Facebook has been implementing a variety of features to connect consumers with local business. Be sure to do the following, at a minimum, when it comes to Facebook:
- Set up a Facebook Page. A Page gives your business a presence on this massively popular site. Keep the Page updated to engage with customers and your community.
- Complete the address / location information on your Page accurately.
- Follow these Facebook tips to help your business show up for nearby locations.
- Monitor reviews and ratings of your business. As the Page owner, you can comment on reviews. Don’t argue with people, but do take the opportunity to thank the reviewer or correct any obvious factual inaccuracy.
- Finally, consider the other local options such as ads that Facebook offers. More here.
- Claim Other Listings. Google and Facebook may be immensely popular, but they are not the only game in town. There are other places where your business may be listed. Use the free checker at Moz Local to see how your business appears on various directories such as Foursquare, Bing, and Yellow Pages sites.
Moz Local also offers a cost-effective paid service (currently $84/year) to keep all these miscellaneous listings up to date from one central dashboard. It can save time and ensure consistency.
- Leverage the Power of YouTube with How-to Videos. One way smart businesses are attracting customers online is through how-to videos. According to Google, how-to searches on YouTube grew 70% year-over-year between 2014 and 2105. So take advantage of the trend and create a how-to video related to your business.
Or turn your video into an ad. Google representative Claire Mudd suggests, “To stand out, include your business logo, a link to your website (or phone number), and a strong call-to-action in your video ad. Having a memorable ‘hook’ at the start of the ad can also capture people’s attention, lead to more views, and increase the chances they’ll search for your business afterwards.”
- Post on Social Media. Social media keeps you top of mind with customers (or people you’d like to become customers) on the social sites they frequent. Indirectly it can also lead people to your business through search. Take for example, images posted on Pinterest. Very often the pins will appear prominently in Google image search. Tweets from Twitter sometimes appear in search. And other social references may appear in search results.So, figure out which social platforms are most popular with your audience. Pick one to three of them, and post interesting images or information and otherwise engage there. You can either be found directly on the social platforms or indirectly through search engine references to the social update.
- Encourage Satisfied Customers to Review Your Business Online. Ask satisfied customers through post-sale emails, comment cards, or simply a spoken message at the cash register, to recommend your business via online reviews.
Social media and the location-based and connection-based elements of search engines today often surface recommendations and reviews of people your customers know. The more reviews online and the more social connections your business has, the more likely others in your connections’ circles will find your business. Don’t fear the online review - leverage it!
These seven tips, if followed, can dramatically improve your online search findability. What are you waiting for?
This article originally appeared on Inc.