As a small business owner, you know that having an online presence is crucial for success. However, are you aware that having accurate local business listings can make a significant difference in helping your business stand out from the competition? In this article, we will discuss the importance of local search and why it should be on your radar.
Think of local search platforms as the modern phone book. These are websites or apps that enable users to search for businesses, products, or services within a specific geographic area. The "Big 3" local search platforms are Google, Facebook, and Yelp. However, there are over 70 other local directory sites where users can find business information, including industry-specific sites like Healthgrades for medical providers, Avvo for attorneys, or Angie for contractors and other construction and home-improvement businesses.
Having accurate local search listings is essential for small businesses as it quite literally puts you "on the map." When a potential customer performs a local search, they are typically at the decision-making point in their buying journey and actively searching for a business to engage with. If your business does not appear in their search results, you could be missing out on potential sales.
Maintaining verbatim accurate data (meaning exactly the same - down to capitalization and punctuation) across all of your local search listings provides confidence to search engines in the accuracy of their own data, resulting in your business showing up higher in more searches. When search engines see consistent information about your business across multiple platforms, they have more confidence in your business and are more likely to list your business higher in search results.
The more platforms your business appears on, the more likely you are to rank well in the places that matter, such as Google search results, Bing, or Apple Maps.
While having accurate business information is essential for local search optimization, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Local search optimization requires a holistic approach that encompasses several strategies to maximize your business's visibility and rankings on local search platforms.
One effective strategy is to use structured data markup code on your website to help search engines understand your business better. Structured data markup provides additional context to search engines about your business, including your business's name, address, phone number, hours of operation, and more. This can help improve your search result rankings and make your business more visible to potential customers.
Another effective strategy is to regularly post new photos, updates, and promotions on your local search platforms. This not only keeps your business information current but also helps engage potential customers and demonstrates that your business is active and engaged with its community. Additionally, maintaining your holiday hours on your local search listings can help prevent confusion and frustration among potential customers during holiday periods.
Reviews on your local search listings play a significant role in the ranking algorithm. Positive reviews not only demonstrate to potential customers that you provide excellent service or products, but they also show search engines that your business is reputable and trustworthy. This, in turn, can lead to higher search result rankings and more business.
Tracking your progress vs. your competitors regularly is also essential to local search optimization. By analyzing your competitors' online presence, you can identify areas where you can improve and outperform them. You can track your progress by monitoring your search result rankings, reviewing your online reviews and ratings, and analyzing your web traffic data. At Brentwood Visual, we provide our Local Search clients with quarterly geogrid reports, which show how your business ranks for specific keyword searches based on geography. These reports provide a visual representation of how likely you are to appear vs. your competitors across your target region, and allow us to track the results of our efforts.
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