Your Local Search Marketing Strategy to Rank on Search Engines
Ninety-one percent of consumers use search to find information about local businesses. Moreover, nearly half of all Google searches are linked to something local. If you want consumers to notice you online and either visit your online store or come in person, you need to implement a local search marketing strategy.
In this post, we define local search marketing and share tactics that will help your business boost visibility on search engines and gain more consumers.
What is Local Search Marketing?
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Local search marketing, sometimes referred to as “local SEO” (search engine optimization), is when businesses optimize their website and local listings to appear in relevant search results when consumers search for products or services.
Localized search marketing applies to businesses with a physical location, multi-location businesses (think franchises), or stores without a physical location that serve a local market.
Why Does Local Search Marketing Matter?
We previously mentioned that nine out of ten consumers search for something local. The catch is that consumers hardly scroll past page one of the search engine results page (SERP).
Let’s take a moment to discuss what is in the SERP. The Google 3-Pack, also known as the Local Pack, often appears at the top of results for local searches. See the example image below:
Businesses in the Google 3-Pack receive 126 percent more traffic, and 93 percent more actions (website clicks, calls, and driving directions) than businesses ranked 4-10.
So, how do these SERP and Google 3-Pack statistics correlate with local search marketing?
When consumers search locally, local search marketing helps your business appear in the SERP’s Google 3-Pack (Local Pack), Local Finder, and Local Search. By ranking well in the SERP, you’re much more likely to receive online clicks and in-person traffic.
5 Ways to Improve Your Local Search Marketing
It takes time and effort to effectively implement a local search marketing strategy. However, as noted earlier, the return on investment (ROI) is there once your business consistently ranks on the SERP. Below are the top five tactics you need to implement to improve your local search marketing.
1. Update Your On-Page SEO
One of the leading local SEO/search ranking factors is on-page SEO. On-page SEO, sometimes called on-site SEO, are actions you can control to make your website friendly to search engines and help you rank quicker.
To improve local on-page SEO, your multi-location business should focus on optimizing your local landing pages.
Local landing pages, or local pages for short, are web pages tied to one individual business location or retailer. You can read our blog post on local landing pages for more on the topic. Here are a few of the most impactful on-page SEO tactics you can implement on your local landing pages:
Keywords: Include keywords on your corporate website and local landing pages. Place these keywords in your URLs, title tags, and meta description.
Title Tags: Title tags are an HTML element that identifies the title of a webpage as seen in the example below. Note that title tags should not exceed 60 characters in length (including spaces).
Meta Description: A meta description is a 50-160 character hook that appears below your title tag on the SERP. It should include your keyword once and act as an enticing hook to the reader.
Alt Text: Images on your website and local landing pages should contain alt text or alt tags, which is written copy that describes an image. Alt text helps search engines crawl and rank your website and helps visually impaired people better understand an image.
These on-page SEO tactics are essential to your local search marketing strategy. They’re a bit tedious to implement but are worth doing. If your business has numerous local pages to manage, consider using SOCi Local Pages.
SOCi Local Pages can help ensure a strong local presence with real-time updates to your website data, title tags, meta descriptions, and other on-page SEO tactics. SOCi’s local page services don’t just help with rankings but can also improve your conversion rate with easy-to-use appointment bookings, online ordering, and lead-capture forms.
2. Monitor Your Backlinks
Another important local search marketing factor is backlinks which are external links from other sites to your corporate website or site’s pages. You can have both positive and negative backlinks.
Positive backlinks are from reputable sites and can help your local search rankings, such as:
- Local directories
- Local blogs and event pages
- Local community sites
- Local and industry publications
Negative backlinks derive from non-reputable or spammy sites and can hurt your local search rankings. Bad backlinks can stem from:
- Links farms
- Low-quality websites
- Websites with a poor domain authority
- Sites in a foreign language that aren’t reputable
- Unrelated websites
Technically, backlinks are part of your off-page SEO since they stem from outside your website. That said, you can still influence the quality of your backlinks.
Let’s look at how to gain positive backlinks at both the national and local levels. These tactics will primarily fall under your marketing and PR teams.
- Host webinars with industry experts and create a blog or landing page others can link to
- Partner with or host events with other local businesses, nonprofits, or organizations
- Invite local critics, bloggers, or reviewers to your local businesses
- Create thought-leadership and industry-specific data studies, surveys, and whitepapers
Gaining positive backlinks will help your organic and local rankings. That said, don’t let harmful backlinks upend your hard work. You should periodically check for and rid your sites of bad or spammy backlinks.
The number of local pages and how many pieces of content you have will influence how often you must check and remove or disavow bad links. Generally, we recommend checking and disavowing bad backlinks monthly or quarterly.
You can use Google Search Console for free to disavow links to your domain and subfolders. Here’s Google Search Console’s Help page on how to disavow links to your site.
3. Manage Your Google Business Profiles
To rank in the Google 3-Pack and Finder, you need a well-optimized Google Business Profile (GBP). According to local SEO experts, well-optimized profiles account for over a third of your ability to rank in the Google 3-Pack and Finder. Furthermore, customers are 70 percent more likely to visit a business and 50 percent more likely to consider purchasing from a business with complete Business Profiles.
So, how do you ensure you have complete GBPs? According to Google’s help page, you must do the following:
- Add services that you offer
- Note, if Google does not list the service, you can add custom services.
- Add in-store products
- Upload photos and videos
- Write personal and humanized business descriptions
- Set an opening date
- This date helps online users and Google determine how long a business has been operating or when it’ll open.
- Set your business hours
- Ensure that you update these hours during holidays or other temporary periods.
- Ask for reviews
- Add a review link to make it easier for customers to leave reviews and share it in emails, on Whatsapp, on Facebook, or after chats.
- Select attributes like outdoor seating or Wi-Fi available
- You can also select from identity attributes such as Veteran or LGBTQ+ owned.
The above-listed action items are the minimum you need to implement to help your profiles rank in local searches. To take your profiles to the next level, you must also do the following:
- Add a primary category
- Add secondary or additional categories
- Ensure your business’s location pin is accurately positioned on the map
- High-value backlinks to your GBP listing
These are just a few of the most critical action items you can implement to help your GBPs rank higher and earn more clicks. Managing your GBP and other listings can feel like a full-time job. SOCi Listings software can help.
SOCi Listings is built for multi-location businesses. The software can help implement the previously mentioned tactics across 100s and 1,000s of business listings on multiple directories such as Google, Apple Maps, Yelp, Facebook, and many more.
SOCi Listings can help you dominate local search results and improve local engagement and acquisition.
4. Update Your NAP Citations
Another crucial local search marketing factor is NAP (name, address, and phone number) citations.
Before diving into NAP, let’s first define “citation” in this context. A citation is when a third-party website mentions your business and links to your website, local pages, or local listings.
With NAP citations, we’re primarily concerned with structured citations. Structured citations are when your business has a local listing or local page on a directory such as Facebook, Apple, Yelp, or Bing.
These local listings’ NAP citations make your local business uniquely identifiable to people and search engines.
If your NAP is inaccurate, you’ll:
- Misdirect customers, often resulting in a loss of revenue, mistrust, and even negative reviews.
- Confuse search engines, potentially lowering your ability to rank in the SERP.
With hundreds or thousands of locations across dozens of directories, you can begin to understand how challenging it is to keep track of all your NAP citations.
One way to achieve this task is by contacting one of the three leading data aggregators, Localeze, Acxiom, or Foursquare, with your most up-to-date NAP citations.
SOCi Listings can also help! SOCI Listings integrates with the leading data aggregators, making it easier to manage each listing’s location data on all major directories.
5. Acquire and Respond to Reviews
We mentioned reviews earlier when discussing Google Business Profiles. They’re vital to both consumers and search engines.
We found that more than half of consumers have passed up a local business due to their local ratings and reviews. Furthermore, more than three-quarters of consumers that leave critical reviews expect a business to respond to them.
Online reviews can also impact your SERP rankings. Our recent report, the Top Ranking and Conversion Factors for Local Search, found that quantity and velocity are two of the main factors search engines consider when examining reviews.
We also discovered that businesses ranked number one in local searches contain an average review count of 404. In addition, the average GBP star rating for all positions 1-20 on Google hovers around 4.1 stars. For more insight into the data, download the full report now!
While reviews are important, you don’t want a bunch of negative reviews — that can often hurt your SERP rankings and your brand’s reputation. So, how do you increase the number of positive reviews for your local businesses and their listings?
- Respond to all reviews, which signals that you value customers and their feedback. You should respond to your most recent reviews first, especially negative ones.
- Personalize your review responses, so they don’t appear ingenuine or robotic.
- Improve response time to show clients you’re attentive to their feedback and needs.
For a detailed guide on responding to reviews and managing your online reputation, download our Multi-Location Marketer’s Guide to Online Reputation Management.
Multi-location businesses have the unique challenge of managing and responding to reviews across all locations on various networks and directories. SOCi Reviews can help.
SOCi Reviews is built for multi-location online reputation management. Local teams can create personalized responses to reviews using dynamic text, while your corporate team can maintain oversight and approve responses.
SOCi Reviews also has insight and sentiment analysis capabilities, so you can understand shifts in customer perception and proactively address customer pain points.
How to Make Local Search Marketing Easier
As you can tell, many factors affect local search. Therefore, you need a robust local search marketing strategy to optimize your local SEO, improve SERP rankings, and gain more customers. If you want even more in-depth instruction on improving your local search/SEO, download our Top 10 Things You Should Be Doing in Local SEO Now guide.
As mentioned throughout this blog, to make local search marketing easier, consider using a platform like SOCi. SOCi’s Listings and Reviews products and local page services are built to improve local search for multi-location businesses. Used together, they can save your team time, effort, and money. For more information on our products or services, request a demo today!