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Webinar Recap: Why Personalization is a Must in Local Search


Over the past few months, we’ve been discussing ways your multi-location business can boost its online visibility through local search. To dive deeper into this topic, we recently hosted a webinar on one of the most prominent Google local search trends – personalization. Personalization means that your search results are tailored to the specific needs of the searcher. 


Driving this conversation was SOCi’s very own Damian Rollinson, Director of Market Insights, and Dustin Hayes, our Director of Marketing. Within this blog, we’ll recap top highlights from the webinar, break down how personalized search results can impact your localized marketing efforts, and provide you with easy-to-follow tips to enhance your local Google My Business (GMB) profiles to improve personalization. 



The Growth and Expansion of GMB and Local Search


Local search is expanding. “Near me” as a search term has doubled every year since 2016. Consumers are continuing to search for local products and services at a rapid pace. As local search terms have continued to grow, Google My Business (GMB) is also getting deeper and broader. GMB is no longer just a directory of businesses’ contact information. Consumers want more. GMB is now intended to answer any conceivable question about business products, services, amenities, and features. It has also become a platform for consumers to share their experiences and is increasingly becoming a place to transact business. 


As a multi-location marketer, you’re likely already keeping your local listings updated and accurate, but are you personalizing your local GMB profiles with as much information as possible? For instance, if you’re in the restaurant industry, GMB has a variety of attributes your business can fill out to indicate whether you offer take-out, curbside pickup, or delivery, along with whether or not you take reservations and a CTA to order online. Regardless of your industry, GMB now offers many opportunities for you to personalize your local GMB profiles, which when leveraged, will strengthen your online visibility. 


Areas of Local Search Personalization 


Google is now using all of the information included in your local GMB profiles at its disposal to create a different search experience for each user, based on their specific needs and circumstances. In local search, you can personalize your GMB profiles based on: 

  • Photos matched to query intent 
  • Justifications in the local 3-Pack pulled from multiple sources 
  • “Related to your search” content pulled from sources similar to justifications 


We’ll dive a little deeper into each of these areas next.


Photos Matched to Query Intent 


Google is pulling photos from the GMB gallery and showcasing them in the local 3-Pack results. Google is doing this to reassure searchers that the businesses displayed in the Google 3-Pack have the products or services consumers are looking for. One thing your multi-location business should consider is where these photos are coming from. Currently, almost all images come from photos provided by users, not by the company itself. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s something for your business to keep in mind. Are the photos being posted on your local GMB profile an accurate representation of your business? Do they look professional? 



If your multi-location business has outstanding photos of the products and services you want to appear in search results for, Google will likely showcase those photos rather than any taken by consumers. Providing imagery prevents less than ideal images uploaded by consumers to be showcased. While photos matched to query intent is one great way to personalize your local search results, there are other factors to consider as well. 


Justifications in the Local 3-Pack


Justifications are little snippets that appear at the bottom of the local 3-Pack results that include bolded text which likely highlights information found in the search query. For instance, if you search for Halloween costumes near me, your search results could include Google 3-Pack results with the word “Sold here: Halloween costumes” to indicate that the search results align with the search query. The information found in the “sold here” justification can be pulled through Google users or information found on your business’s website. If enough Google users answer questions about a business and say that they do sell Halloween costumes, the justification may appear in the search results. 



While we mentioned the example of a “sold-here” justification, there are seven different types of justifications that can appear in local search results, including: 

  1. Review justifications
  2. Website justifications
  3. Post justifications 
  4. Services justifications 
  5. Menu justifications
  6. In-stock justifications 
  7. Sold here justifications 


Justifications are becoming increasingly prevalent in search results. For instance, 57 percent of local 3-Pack results contain a justification, and SOCi’s data shows that 25 percent of all local search results have a justification today. You can make your multi-location business justification friendly by optimizing your website for keywords that you’d like to appear in the justifications. Similarly, you can monitor your ratings and reviews to ensure that the information left in your reviews represents your business’s offerings. The more effort your company puts into making sure your website is optimized with keywords and all the information found in your reviews is accurate, the more likely it’ll be that your justifications provide helpful and correct information. 


“Related to Your Search” Custom Content 


Depending on the user’s search terms, there might be a section under a Google 3-Pack result that reads “related to your search.” This section’s information can come from your listings or website based on the specifics of a query. Many of these results come from user-generated content, like when a consumer answers one of your questions in Google Q&A. Your multi-location business also can influence what’s found in this section through Google Posts, product listings, and answering questions in your own Google Q&A, as seen below.


This example from Target provides both a Google Post and a product listing appearing in the “related to your search” section. This section ties the search keywords back into the local listing, showing the consumer that the results listed are relevant to their search. The “related to your search” section typically appears in long-tail searches. These are searches where consumers ask for more specific information. Google digs through the data it has about your local business to show what it has, again creating a personalized experience for the searcher. 



Personalizing Your Local Search Efforts 


Now that you understand the various ways Google pulls in personalization to local search results, your multi-location business can ensure it’s optimizing its local GMB profiles accordingly. The first step is to ensure that each of your business locations has updated and accurate business information. With 100s or 1,000s of business locations, that can seem nearly impossible, but SOCi is here to help. SOCi Listings empowers you to manage your business listings at scale and optimize your online presence and local search rankings effectively. From syncing, updating, and managing your local listings to custom audits and profile recommendations to the flexibility for local managers to make their updates with corporate oversight, SOCi Listings covers every step of the process to propel your listings to the top of search results.



While updated and accurate business listings are an essential part of your personalization strategy, there are other areas your business must focus on. From including photos on your local GMB profiles to posting on Google and answering questions received in Q&A, there’s a lot to consider. Monitoring your online reviews is also essential since review feedback can impact your justifications and photos. That’s where SOCi Reviews comes in. With SOCi Reviews, users can view every action taken on reviews and monitor every activity on social media. Now, your local, regional, and corporate teams will always know which reviews and social engagements are addressed and which ones still require attention while also giving you a good idea of the content found in your reviews. 


It’s time to start personalizing your local search efforts today, and SOCi is here to help! Request a demo today for more insight into how SOCi can take your local search strategy to new heights and help you crush the competition!


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