Do you depend on a local circle for new clients? If so, we’re going to focus on the importance of your local listings on the Search Engines and how to maximize them in a two-part series.
Why Local Listings are Important
Light years ago we had these huge books, that when not in use finding a phone number were used to boost smaller kids at the holiday table. I still have two of them… taped together and in use as a footrest under my desk to take the pressure off my legs.
Move forward to the “pre-mobile” days. We bypassed the books and typed our searches into a browser on our desktop computers. And, the search engines dutifully gave us a list of companies.
Step in the mobile age, and we now talk to our phones and tablets (let alone any AI device you may have in your house), especially if you’re in a semi-unfamiliar town… “Mexican restaurant near me”. And, your phone gives you a shortlist of Mexican restaurants.
Sixty+, yes, 60+ percent of people now do local searches on their phone or tablet. And, if you’re not maximizing your local listing, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of potential traffic. And, of that percentage, 78% of local mobile searches result in a sale (Source: SearchEngineLand). Here’s a very sad fact… 56% of local retailers/service providers haven’t claimed their Google Business page listing (Source: SEOTribunal.com). If you’re one of them, let’s fix that problem!
There are a ton of statistics out there – just for the searching, so let’s get down to business. The sweet spot that you want to grow into is what is called the “Google 3-pack”. That’s the three companies that are listed initially with the map when you get a search result.
How to Rank in the Google 3-Pack
There’s no quick and easy answer, but if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and join the journey for the long haul, you will get results. My goal is to highlight some important keys and provide you with resources that you can dig into for the details.
Here’s a basic list of what Google looks at:
- Where is the person that is searching for your business?
- Are your Name, Address, and Phone number (also called NAP) on every page of your site?
- Do you have a Google Business listing?
- Have you used appropriate keywords in your Google Biz listing?
- Do you have reviews? And, are they positive?
- Are people using your keywords in their reviews (i.e. talking about your key services)?
- The number of check-ins for your location (this applies to brick and mortar, not if you have a service area and go to meet your clientele).
- How active are your followers on social media – are you getting shares on your posts?
- What is your star rating in Google Maps?
There are a few of these that are really easy wins. Let’s tackle them first.
Is your NAP on your website?
Do you have your business name, address and phone number on every page of your website? Sorry, having it on just the contact page doesn’t count. If not, add it into the footer of your site. That’s the easiest way to get it to show on all your pages.
Have you claimed your Google Business Listing?
If not, Google has probably already created a “generic” listing for you.
- Go to Google in your browser, type your biz name into the search.
- With the results loaded, click on the Maps tab and click on your business name that shows up. (If it doesn’t show, you’ll have to add it – it’s easy, here are the steps from Google).
- Click on “Claim this Business”, then “Manage now”, and walk through the verification steps. It is quickest if you have them call your business number to verify.
Do you use your keywords in your Business Listing profile?
Once you’ve claimed your listing, or if you already have one, hone your description/profile so it includes your primary keywords. Also, while we’re on the topic of your profile, complete it as much as possible. Add your logo, fill in your hours, website URL, and as much detail as you can.
The long game of local search
The other items noted on the list make up what I call the long game. It’s important to engage your current customer base to give you reviews, be active on social media, and encourage people to engage with you there. This takes time, strategy, and energy to build.
Listings on Other Directories
Another thing that Google pays attention to in making sure that your business is legitimate are other directory sites. These include Bing, Yelp, a Facebook Business Page, and others. So, in addition to your Google listing, you’ll want to have your business listed correctly and consistently, everywhere.
The importance of this is to have the exact same business name, address, and phone number across the board. You can do this manually, or you can use online tools in paying a monthly fee. If you go with one of the tools, make sure that you either:
1) work with a company that gives you full transparency and updates monthly on progress that has been made.
2) you set up the tool on your own so you can work with it and track your progress.
I’ve got personal experience with this one of feeling like you’re in a black hole and clueless of what is supposedly being done for you.
Moz.com is an SEO resource tool and powerhouse when it comes to managing your local listings. They’ve got a handy checklist that walks you through the details you need to be aware of and eligibility guidelines. They also have a great “Fundamentals” resource guide available.
Checking your Local Listing
We use the free Moz Local tool to give a quick overview of a client’s local listings. I’d like to encourage you to plug your business in and see where you land.
Check your online presence by plugging in your country, biz name, street address, and zip code.
How’d you do? If you’re missing a bunch and/or have incorrect information, stay tuned. We’ll tackle fixing the problems in part two.