This guidebook is jam-packed with everything you need to know as a local business owner starting from local SEO strategies to advertising and optimizing your local business
We all know that digital marketing is a vital tool for any business in today’s competitive world. However, it can be challenging to keep up with the constantly changing online landscape and find out what works best for your business. You may be asking yourself, “What is Local SEO?” The best way to answer this question is by understanding that local search is about optimizing your business for potential customers searching for you locally.
This includes keywords and phrases like your address, zip code, nearby industries (restaurants, gas stations), city name. If you are a local business owner, this guidebook is for you. This guidebook will discuss local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), advertising tactics, marketing strategies, search engine, setting up and optimizing your local business using Simply Be Found— to help you get your online business to be found and improve as you grow with us over time.
Have your pen and papers ready, and let us start dominating the digital local business world, leverage your competition, and win the local market.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: How SEO Started: The Roots of Search Engine Optimization
- Chapter 2: Get Your Business Found: How to Market Locally
- Chapter 3: Search Engine: The Power of Click
- Chapter 4: Ranking Local: Optimize Your Online Presence
- Chapter 5: Local Listings Management: What Is It and Why Should You Care?
- Chapter 6: Review Management: The Key to Keeping Your Local Business Above the Competition
- Chapter 7: Local Social Media: The Easiest Way to Build a Brand for Your Business
- Chapter 8: Local Business Reports and Analytical Strategies: How to Measure Your Success
- Chapter 9: Put It All into Act
Chapter 1: How SEO Started: The Roots of SEO
A timeline of the history and evolution of search engine optimization from 1991 up to the present day
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is believed to begin and officially launched in the first-ever website published in 1991. From then on, several websites began appearing from one place to another, which quickly crowded the internet. With a massive need for structure and accessibility across the world wide web, the world’s first search engine was created.
In today’s digital world, every online activity involves a search engine. Whether connecting with your loved ones, getting information, researching, and even online shopping, all consist of a web search. Behind every website, blog, social network, and app- there is a need for a search engine. Search engines have become a directional guide and connecting force on our day-to-day online activities.
A Brief History of SEO Timeline and Its Evolution
To better understand this Technology’s roots and how the whole SEO started, the Simply Be Found team put together notable history and evolution of search engine optimization from 1991 up to the present day.
The Wild West Era
It was said that throughout the last decade of the 1900s, the search engine was highly competitive. It only has two options, a human-powered directory, and crawler-based listings.
In the beginning, you can only perform SEO through on-page activities such as:
- Content Relevance
- Enough Meta Keywords
- Accurate HTML Tags
- Internal links and outbound links
It was simple to rank during the wild west era; you just have to keep repeating your keywords throughout your content, websites, and meta tags. If you want to outrank a web page that uses 100 keywords, simply repeat your keywords 150-200 times! Today, if one does that, it will be considered spam.
1991 – World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee shared his glorious invention of the first-ever browser, the World Wide Web, often referred to as the “Web.” In the August of the same year, web released a code library (libWWW) that lets participants create their web browsers and servers.
1994 – Yahoo Was Born
Stanford students introduced Yahoo and are initially intended to be an Internet bookmark list and directories. Back in the day, if you want to get found on Yahoo, you have to submit a page to the Yahoo directory for indexing manually.
1996 – BackRub Became Google
A new search engine, Backrub were introduced as a site that ranks web pages based on its inbound link and popularity. In August 1996, Backrub became Google.
1997 – Launching of Search Engine Watch
Danny Sullivan launched Search Engine Watch dedicated to providing news about the web search industry, information about how to rank websites better, and tips on searching the web. The term SEO was first coined by a web marketing agency that offers “search engine optimization” services in February 1997.
1998 – Launching of Goto.com / Google was Born
Goto.com is a website with sponsored links and paid web search. Advertisers bid at this website to outrank organic search results, which Yahoo then acquired. On September 27, 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin marked Google Homepage’s birthday.
1999 – Search Engine Strategies (SES)
SES was the first all-search marketing conference created in the last decade of 1990.
2003 – Black Hat SEO and Google’s Major Algorithm Update
Advertisers and marketers began to understand how Google read and ranks websites and tried manipulating the web search results without Google filtering the web page’s quality or relevance to rank faster for targeted keywords.
This tactic is known as “black hat SEO,” which includes spamming pages with keywords, duplicating content, hiding text and links. To counterattack this sketchy behavior, Google launched its first big algorithm update: Florida. Its main goal is to fight against websites practicing black hat tactics and punish those websites by removing them from most affiliate websites when ranking for commercial terms.
2011 – Google’s Panda “Content Farms” Update
To adhere to the relevance and quality in Google Search Engine Result Pages, Google continuously updates its algorithm to combat marketer’s manipulation and sketchy behaviors to rank in Search Engine Result Pages. In 2011, a massive marketing trend happened that polluted search result pages.
“Content farms” with an enormous crop of low-quality content began ranking, which led marketers to create multiple pages in a brief period. The Google Panda update targets pages with low-quality and reduced its rankings. It also rewards pages producing high-quality and unique content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs)
2012 – Google’s Penguin “Low-Quality Web pages” Update
Google Penguin’s algorithmic update targets web pages with low-quality content. Through Google Penguin, it was much easier to discover relevant links, whether it is coming from a high-authority or relevant websites.
2013 – Google’s Hummingbird Algorithmic Update
Hummingbird is the game-changer algorithmic update across the entire Google Algorithm. It helps in analyzing relevant and accurate user search intent through semantic search. Hummingbird goes beyond what the user is looking for rather than translating their initial query. It also helped local businesses be found in local results and showed more directional guides in the local organic products.
2014 – Google My Business was Born
Google My Business is designed to make every local business owner’s life easier by getting their brand promoted across Google surfaces. It enables business owners to attract more customers, increase their visibility score and drive more sales.
2015 – Google’s (AI) Algorithm Update
RankBrain was Google’s first Artificial Intelligence algorithm update to help understand new queries and investigate the user’s intent. It works by measuring how they interact with the results first shown after their query. Luckily, it is simpler to optimize this update. Just be sure your content can be read and understood by humans naturally.
2016 – Google Introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
The goal behind AMP is to load content instantly. Many news media and publishers continue to adapt and use it up to this day. AMP was originally created to compete against Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, it is optimized for mobile web browsing and make webpages load faster.
2017 – Ranking Factor for Mobile Searches
Google also started to devalue web pages by interrupting pop-ups.
2019 2021- Mobile-First Indexing
Mobile-first indexing was first introduced in July 2019 for all new websites. And by March 2021, all websites began to switch to a mobile-first approach. After knowing the brief history of SEO and its importance in our online activities, it is now time to dive deeper into SEO’s true meaning and how we can generate long-term results from it.
What is SEO, and How Does the Process Works?
One of the most frequent local business owners’ questions is What is SEO and how does it work, and why do I need it for my local business? Today, we will help you understand the true SEO definition, how to turn it into an effective process that generates long-term success for your local business and drive more sales.
SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimizations, optimizing your website to get organic (free) traffic from engine results pages. An optimized SEO involves website design, web page content, user-friendly interface, and relevance based on the user search intent.
If you still do not own a website yet, no worries, Simply Be Found will help you generate website traffic without the need to own one. But if you do, we will assist you in getting the most out of your local SEO efforts.
Local SEO vs. SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of your organic (unpaid) website traffic.
- Quality Traffic: Consumers search for the type of products and services that your website is precisely offering.
- Organic Results: Unpaid content that appears on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Organic Traffic: Site visitors who click your unpaid content from the organic search.
In other words, SEO is the action of increasing organic website traffic by producing high-quality content that consumers find valuable and informational, and search engine robots happy and fulfilled. Local Search Engine Optimization is a segment of search engine optimization that focuses on online search location or geographic components. It is one of the best practices for optimizing your website to increase search visibility and website traffic and attract more customers towards your brick-and-mortar or physical address of the business.
How Does the SEO Process Works?
The process of search engine optimization allows websites and organizations with user-friendly sites. It provides easy to navigate and read high-quality content, relevant keywords, and phrases to rank higher in search engine result pages.
An optimized SEO website and webpages allow more customer traffic and higher visibility scores, generate higher conversion rates, and establish brand awareness. By creating unique and high-quality SEO-focused content, you can have a higher chance of landing in the three-pack, which increases your chances of bringing in new leads by 70% in targeted organic traffic.
What are the Three Types of SEO?
You need to learn three types of SEO to make a practical, SEO-focused, and organic search strategy. We will help you identify and break down each SEO type to achieve an effective search marketing strategy for your local business needs.
It involves content found on your website. These contents are being read and scan by search engines to determine their relevance and understand each content’s topic based on the user’s search intent to provide a valuable source that searchers are looking for.
On-Page SEO Category:
- Keyword Research: Analyzing and evaluating the best keywords to target in website, landing, and web page content.
- Content Creation: Producing unique and high-quality content in your website with an inserted targeted keyword that humans can read naturally.
- Keyword Optimization: Using and placing target keywords in the right places (To prevent being tagged as spam) and proper meta tag use.
Off-page SEO techniques involve website reputation and authority. In other words, Off-page SEO helps search engines determine how reputable, reliable, and trusted your website content is.
Off-page SEO also strengthens your relationship with other websites through high-quality backlinks. By building various high-quality backlinks and guest blog posts, you can gain trust signals from authoritative sites, which shows how valuable and established your site is.
These are the non-content elements of your website. Technical SEO strategies focus on improving your website’s backend structure and core foundation. It improves your website’s readability and accessibility, making it easy for search engines to read, scan, and understand each content. Thus, providing a good user experience for users is a significant factor for search engines to categorize your website as high-quality.
Off-Page SEO category:
- Website Loading Speed
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Easy Navigation
- Site Foundation and Backend Structure
- Structured Data
That ends our first chapter. Now, you are now well-equipped with knowledge about the foundation and basics of Search Engine Optimization. In the next chapter, we will dive deeper into several effective and powerful advertising tools to help your local business get found while effectively optimizing each content. Let us get started!
Chapter 2: Get Your Business Found: How to Market Locally
Do you want to increase your local sales? Do you own a small business in the United States and are wondering how to get found locally? In this chapter, we will answer all your questions.
When it comes to advertising and marketing strategies, we always want the easiest, quickest, and most effective techniques and strategies. Who does not like to save time and money? Especially for small local businesses, we simply do not have extra time.
Chapter 2 will answer some of the most common questions business owners have like What is the best way to advertise locally? Where should I advertise? How much does it cost? and so much more.
Besides answering, we will also be providing quick and practical solutions you can start practicing for your local business this 2021.
What is the Best Way to Advertise Locally?
To answer this question, we must first break down the difference between traditional media and digital media and see whichever works best for your local business. There are two widely-known types of advertising: traditional media and digital media.
Traditional Media vs. Digital Media
Traditional media has been widely used to promote brand awareness and reach a broad target market through television, newspaper, radio, billboards, etc. However, the downside is that there is no guarantee of ROI (Return of Investment) since you target a broad market with no specific target audience, and pricewise, it is costly since it uses different advertising channels.
Other Traditional Media Include:
- Print Ads
- Off-site signages
- Banner Ads
- Direct Mail Advertisement
- Cold calling
- Door-to-door sales
On the other hand, digital media are also known as the “new media.” It aims for a narrow target audience through Internet, social networks, paid online ads, and search engines. The target audience was based on analytical results of your consumer’s interest, online activities, and user behavior which lets you identify their customer journey and eventually, led them to their buying decisions.
Digital Media Methods Include:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Paid advertisement (Pay-per-click)
So, to answer your question on how to advertise your business locally. First, identify who your target audience is, understand its interest and behaviors and keep up with the latest marketing trends.
Remember, there is no harm in exploring whichever advertising strategies works best for your local business. You may even invest in both traditional and digital media, then pay attention to the insights, campaign performance, and do a frequent evaluation to see where to allocate your time and money with a higher return-on-investment properly.
Where Should I Advertise?
Marketing your small business is easier said than done. The best way to survive is by embracing and adapting modern marketing strategies and campaigns. Evaluating your marketing campaigns, assessing the latest marketing trends, identifying consumers buying behaviors, and learning other vital factors to attract new customers will keep your small business staying ahead of your competitors.
No worries, we know this is quite a lot to take in, especially for new business owners. This is why the Simply Be Found team narrowed down the best marketing strategies to promote your small business locally.
- Set-Up and Optimize Your Digital Business Profile – Your business depends on being seen by more customers. With Simply Be Found, we take your data into advertising that gets you found in over 70 listing agencies, including cellphone, voice, and web searches, to bring in more new leads and drive more sales.
- Voice Search Optimization: Mobile and voice searches now outrank desktop searches, with 80% of consumers choosing to use their mobile devices and digital voice assistants to ask for driving directions, book appointments, request a quote, or even make a purchase. Being found in sophisticated digital voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana, and more letting your business gets a competitive edge to be found.
- Direct Advertising: The best and the most effective way to market your small business is by having the right advertising tools and marketing strategies to stay ahead of your competition.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of advertising varies from the size, industry, and complexity of the advertising and marketing campaign. But for starters, you may want to consider setting up and optimizing your digital business profile even without owning a website. It is more affordable and easier to navigate, especially if you are still new in the digital world.
Simply Be Found offers exclusive access to all its all-in-one advertising tools without requiring you to own a website (But if you do, we will help you increase the effectiveness of your online advertising). You might also be asking, does Simply Be Found do more to help me than just using other business listing sites?
The answer is a resounding Yes. We do more than just the general tools other local listing sites are providing. Our system turns your business name, address, phone number, website, hours, etc, and optimizes it for faster results. In most cases, we have direct access to more features than with other listing sites, including connecting and synchronizing your business information to over 70 networks the boost your visibility in cellphones, web, and voice search.
Chapter 3: Search Engine: The Power of Click
In today’s age, there are many opportunities for local businesses to expand their reach and grow exponentially. One of the most potent tools is search engines. With the rise in smartphone use, you can now search with one click from your phone and see all the information you need about a business near you!
In this chapter, we will be discussing the power of search engines for local businesses as well as its importance to local businesses of any size and industry.
What are SERPs?
SERPs is an acronym that stands for search engine results pages. Search engines display these pages to provide a reliable solution to the user’s inquiry based on relevant search terms or unbranded keywords.
The search engine algorithm works by identifying the user’s search intent based on their specific keywords, interests, and online activities. This way, it prevents from supplying incorrect and irrelevant information to the searchers. Search engines crawl your website contents to evaluate and assess if your website produces high-quality or low-quality content based on the user query.
Searcher’s Intents Can Be Anything From:
- Informational: Consumer’s query is looking for information.
- Transactional: The user’s query is ready to make a purchase.
- Navigational: When a user query is intent on finding a particular product, website, or webpage.
- Commercial: When a user searched for a specific product and is more than ready to buy something.
Search engines are trusted by many due to their relevance and precise answers based on user’s queries.
The Local Search Engine Strategy
An effective Local SEO strategy helps local businesses to focus on establishing brand awareness, attract more leads, and improve overall customer interactions. If you want to achieve a successful local SEO strategy to generate high visibility score, improve customer traffic, and increase profitability- keep on reading!
You can learn more about the step-by-step guide on how to improve your online presence and optimize your Local SEO here. After knowing the meaning and definition of SERP and identifying several ways to improve your local SEO, let us now answer the question, “How do I get my business listed on search engines?”
There are several popular search engines and networks that are widely used across the internet. If you are not yet familiar with these, no worries, we will provide a step-by-step guide on creating and adding your business listings to attract more customers and drive more sales.
- 1. Log in to your GMB account
- 2. Add new location
- 3. Enter your business name
- 4. Add Business category
- 5. Pinpoint the exact location
- 6. Enter Address
- 7. Add other information
- 8. Verify Connection
- 9. Choose your verification process
You can learn more about the step-by-step guide on how to add your business listing in Google Maps here.
- 1. Log in to your YouTube account
- 2. Click on “Get Started.”
- 3. Add your business name
- 4. Create your business YouTube page and start adding videos.
You can learn more about the step-by-step guide on how to add your business listings in YouTube here.
- 1. Log-in to your Facebook account
- 2. Set-up your Ad Account
- 3. Create a New Ad Set
- 4. Create an Offer
- 5. Define your target audience
- 6. Set Your Ad budget and schedule
- 7. Select Ad Format
- 8. Add Images
- 9. Add headlines and text
- 10. Review and Submit your Ad Campaign
You can learn more about the step-by-step guide on how to add your business listings in Facebook here.
- 1. Set-Up Business for Instagram
- 2. Create or link a Facebook page
- 3. Add Your Business Information
- 4. Your Instagram account is digital business profile is ready!
- 5. Optimize your business profile
You can learn more about the step-by-step guide on how to add your business listings in Instagram here.
Other Factors to Consider When Creating a Local SEO Strategy:
Local SEO’s primary goal is to build reliable, trusted, and relevant signals around geo-targeted locations to indicate positive and correct information to search engines and searchers. If you want to drive more buyers to your brick-and-mortar or service area businesses, you must align your local SEO strategy depending on your goal and rise from the top.
But how does a business build trust with search engines and succeed in local search?
If you want to increase store visits on your brick-and-mortar, optimizing your citations (Name, Address, Phone, Business Hours) listed across the web would be the first step. An accurate and consistent citation on high-quality online directories and listing agencies adds a layer of credibility, allowing search engines to see your local business as authoritative and prominent.
Aside from citations, search engines also determine which results are delivered to searchers by comparing each business’ reviews, ratings, social listings, and responses to provide the best possible information and send searchers to the correct location.
Search engines strengthen their credibility and trustworthiness by delivering high-quality, relevant results to each search query. Online search engines can determine and match your business depending on the relevance of your business information once it crawls and evaluates content within your website.
You can earn greater visibility (which refers to how easily people can find your business online) by building trust, authority, and relevance within your citations and website contents. A good visibility score means your business appears on page one of the local search results when a consumer searches for a relevant search term or even an unbranded keyword.
Aside from Credibility, Relevance, and Visibility. You must also consider other aspects of local SEO, such as your listing management, reputation, and social media management. These fundamental elements play an essential role in determining how search engines and searchers determine how prominent, trusted, and authoritative your business is in the local search results.
Chapter 4: Ranking Local: Optimize Your Online Presence
The internet has a way of ranking everything from the most popular dog breeds to millennials’ best cities. So, it is only expected that Google would rank local businesses as well.
Local search is the fastest growing area of online marketing, with nearly half of all searches now conducted for local information. Local businesses have seen a steady rise in traffic and sales as more people rely on their phones to find what they need, when they need it. But ranking well is not just about getting found; it is also about being visible to your audience when they are ready to buy.
The Local SEO Ranking Factor is an essential part of your local business marketing strategy. After learning the importance of Search Engine Optimization, Advertising, and the power search engine brings towards your local business– it is now the time to start improving your local rankings.
What are Local Search Rankings?
Local search rankings determine how well you rank when customers search with local intent through search engine algorithms in providing relevant local results for searches based on proximity, purpose, and other influential factors.
You can view local search rankings in different formats based on where you enter the search query. Here are some of the popular setups that affect your local search rankings depending on local search intent.
- Google Maps enables consumers to see nearby businesses and select which one is the most convenient and accessible. Google maps results are usually a combination of a list of nearby businesses together with their location.
- Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rank and recognizes businesses with local intent then provide the top 3 ranking businesses in a pack along with a map preview above the fold.
- Knowledge Panel is a sidebar result tab of the business’ location page that appears in SERP when the searchers already know what they are searching for. (I.e., looking for business name + location). From here, searchers can quickly see relevant information such as an address, phone numbers, business hours, ratings, and reviews.
- Local Pack is the organic or unpaid list of businesses that appears below the fold. It appears behind paid advertisement when customers perform an organic search with local intent.
- Mobile Search Voice with the domination of mobile device users in web browsing and searching, busy people tend to ask digital voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google home to ask for help in making a better decision in providing a quick and simplified answer to their questions. The local voice search results on mobile have the same list selection of a local map search on mobile. Users can quickly scroll through the list of options and select a business that will open its business information.
How Are People Using Local Search? (Branded vs. Unbranded)
Search engines rank local businesses based on the provided search term or keyword.
- Branded Keywords: A branded keyword already includes the business’s name, product/service. It is used mainly by more prominent companies with larger budgets in optimizing their page to rank higher.
- Unbranded keywords: It refers to a user searching for a specific product, service, or needs using a broad generic name. (i.e., coffee shops, salons, roofer.)
Search engines rank local businesses based on the given local search term and keywords (branded and unbranded). Ranking well in unbranded searches and keywords is the basis of local business success in getting higher visibility to your customers, driving local online traffic to your physical store, and bringing in more new leads than those behind or beyond the first page of SERP.
Optimizing for Unbranded Searches
If your business is not displaying in the three-pack or even on page one, it simply means you are way behind your competition. 95% of people do not scroll past the first page to get your business found. On top of it, 77% of people click on one of the top 3 results, so it is ideal to land in the top spot to stay ahead of your local competitors.
If you want to rank higher, you must optimize for unbranded searches. You can do so by assessing and evaluating unbranded keywords and phrases relevant to your business. It tells both searchers and search engines about what your business does, service/product you offer to match you with customers who are most likely searching for the same type of product/services. Start by understanding your customer’s search context and intend to create a definitive list of relevant unbranded keywords and phrases you can optimize that customers are most likely to use when searching.
- Intent -What the customers are searching for.
- Context – Why the customers are searching for it.
Understanding your potential customer’s intent and context is critical in driving customer traffic as user behavior, and search engine enhancements continue to change dynamically. Gone are the days when the searches are simply looking for 1-2 keywords such as “Best hotels.” Now, they are searching for “Best hotels near me.” “Best family hotel for 5 in Colorado.”
It is essential to truly understand and choose the right local keywords to get better rankings, more relevant searches, and connect with more qualified customers who are genuinely looking for your specific type of product/service. Once you have created a list of local keywords suitable for your local business, start incorporating them into your content. To avoid being tagged as spam, try to use these keywords as naturally as possible. It will help search engines understand your business, products, and services better to match you with the right customers.
The Local Search Ranking Factors:
You might now be wondering, “How do local search engines decide which businesses deserve the top slots?” It all comes down to search engine algorithms, signals, and other crucial factors in determining which local business deserves to be in the in-page one of search engines.
On average, there are only ten available positions on page one, and for mobile searches, it narrows down to only the top 3 positions. For your business to have a higher chance of landing in the three-pack, you must consider these factors and start working on enhancing them to rank higher in local search result pages.
Google My Business Signals (19%)
GMB signals have the most influential factor in getting a higher ranking in local search engines. Proximity-wise, search engines recommend nearby businesses depending on the searcher’s location to ensure that results are accessible and actionable for consumers; if your business is further from the searcher’s location, no worries, you can still optimize for other critical elements such as categories, photos, and listing description.
- Categories: When choosing your primary category, look for something that accurately and precisely describes your business, enabling search engines to connect you better to qualified customers.
- Photos – Adding photos and videos to your listing shows legitimacy for customers and search engines, giving them proper expectations and perception of your business.
- Listing Description – In this section, you can highlight what your business does, what product/service you are offering, and other unique selling points to entice more customers using relevant keywords and phrases.
Link Signals (17.3%)
Links are short for hyperlinks and a way for users to navigate in between pages on the internet. If you want to rank higher, you may want to consider link building through linking domain authority, anchor text, high-quality backlinks, and Inbound Links. Search engines utilize links to crawl the web; these crawlers links between individual pages on your websites to better understand your website content.
On page Signals (13.8%)
The on-page signal means the presence of your citations, consistency of NAP, keywords, and domain authority in all your listings and website content.
Citation Signals (13.3%)
The citation also means your NAP (Business Name, Address, and Phone Number) together with citation volume and aggregator.
- Citation volume: Your citations and listings are both the foundation of your existence on the web.
- Aggregators – A company that maintains and supplies the underlying business database for local search directories.
When optimizing for citation signals, go to a platform that provides you the right tool to find, manage and edit influential citations to keep them accurate and consistent across the web. If you want to ensure accuracy and consistency in your citation signals, you may want to consider Simply Be Found.
Our system puts together all your relevant business information such as your company name, hours, reviews, then turns it into advertising that gets you found. On top of that, your citations can easily manage, edit, and update using just a few clicks under the business information tab to make sure you optimize your citation signals and rank higher in local search results.
Review Signals (13.1%)
The way you receive and respond to all your customer reviews matters in getting a higher ranking in local search results. Review signals give search engines a better understanding of how popular and well-liked (ratings) your business is compared to your local competitors.
Behavioral and Mobile Signals (10.1%)
Mobile web browsing and searching have become more popular among young adult consumers. Nearly 60% of their searches are initiated on mobile devices. To better accommodate the rapid increase in mobile device users, Google transitioned in ranking mobile-friendly web-page content higher than those offering desktop versions.
In determining relevance, search engines consider personalized data from the searcher’s history and use of exact keywords when matching with your business data found in your listing agencies, websites, and review sites.
Social Signals (3.5%)
Most social media users browse and search for local businesses within the app to determine their legitimacy, types of product/service offer, and check-in their ratings and reviews. The level of engagement (likes, shares, and comments) you perceived on your social pages tells google if customers are happy and actively engaged with your business.
Further Improve Your Local Search Ranking
Aside from local search ranking factors, you can further improve your local search ranking by implementing competitive and foundational activities while ensuring foundational aspects are in place.
Location: If you want to rank higher in terms of area, your business must be near the searcher’s location. However, we cannot control where potential customers are coming from. For the best result, optimize all your other local search factors to maximize your chances of showing up in searches made even outside the radius.
Categories: You can rank higher by using the right local keywords and phrases most likely being used by potential customers searching for the same products and services your business is offering. Some local sites allow you to have multiple categories (up to 3), while others are limited to one. So, when choosing the right primary category, select the most relevant one and precisely describe your business.
Citations: Accurate and consistent citations are critical factors to rank higher in local search results. Citations help search engines deliver the most precise and accurate business information for the searchers. The quality of a business’ citations is much more important than the quantity. It helps search engines to provide valuable, relevant, and accurate information that local searchers trust.
Link building: Links are short for hyperlinks connected from one online resource to another related online resource or webpage. If you want to rank higher, you may want to improve your relationship by acquiring more links from high-authority and trustworthy sites across the web.
Reviews and Responses: Getting glowing reviews matters in attracting more prospects to your business but managing and responding to it dramatically boosts your local rankings.
Responding to each of your reviews shows how actively engaging you are with your customers. In contrast, genuine customer testimonials help promotes your business, boost your ranking in the local search results, and attract more customers.
Chapter 5: Local Listings Management: What Is It and Why Should You Care?
Search engines find, index, and present local businesses to searchers are the focus of this chapter. We will explain how search engines like Google rank these listings, why they are essential for small business owners, and what types of websites can be found on the web for managing your online presence.
A recent study found that 97% of all Internet searches are done using search engines. For your business to show up in the top results, you need to register it with a variety of directories then maintain these listings. Search engines are always looking for ways to index and present local businesses to searchers.
This process is called Local Listings Management. The search engine spiders (programs that crawl the web) try to find any mention of your business on the internet, whether it be a blog post or a Twitter tweet, and index them so they can appear in searches for related terms like “Yelp.”
Local Listing Index and Category
Before a local business gets categorized and indexes as a local listing, it must pass the four main principles that search engines and web directories command:
- Business Name
- Local Phone Number
- Physical Address
- Face-to-Face Business
Local listings and citations are vital factors in getting your business listed on local search sites, online directories, and listing agencies. Search engines have data markup or schema that scans and reads websites to see if it produces high-quality and relevant content fit for searchers’ needs. The process is simple; search engines will crawl on your website to determine what your business does, the type of product/service, and its relevance to your customers.
Your local business gets indexes based on your business description and specific keywords. Search engines will then connect you to potential customers looking for the same type of products and services. But when it comes to local search rankings, reputation, and authority, you should set up and optimize your local business listing to determine local business success in local search results and web directories.
The Local Search Ecosystem
The local search ecosystem houses the complex web of search engines, data aggregators, listing agencies, and online directories that store, update, and distribute each database of business listings, holding valuable business data sources within the system. The initial question that would pop up in mind would be setting up a local business in this complicated and quickly outdated system worth investing time and money?
In the United States, there are over 30 million local businesses operate as of 2021, and nearly a million businesses open and close each year. The complications of database tracking lie within the rapid increase in numbers of new local businesses with inconsistent citations and the pile of dirty data from closed businesses (out of business) still published in one of these aggregators, online directories, and search engines.
However, there are no national database local search sites to verify and track every business owner who opens, moves, or closed a business. It results in an even more complicated which leads to many different local business system players.
With the massive increase in competition and movements across the web, how do we keep up?
Up until now, there are no sites, app, or databases to verify and track each local business activity. Still, we can identify relevant, legitimate, and trustworthy local businesses through the help of the following data providers and influencers:
Primary Data Aggregators
These data providers are the primary sources for compiling, distributing, and even purchasing business data across the web.
Their focus is to maintain a database with live locations, verify newly opened businesses, and track those out of business. They collect business data from public records, phone companies, online sources and even manually call every local business out there. These aggregators’ business data are standardized, cleaned, and validated before turning over to local search sites, data warehouses, marketing firms, and search engines.
Search engines are the number 1 “go-to” destination for various information from a variety of different sources such as:
- Data aggregators
- Business owners
- Listing Management
- Web crawlers
- Purchased data information from phone companies, business licenses, etc.
Google plays a significant role in search engine domination, including players like Bing, Yahoo, and Apple. As local customers try to find, search and discover local businesses, search engines became the “go-to” destination in finding the correct answers to their questions. Search engines also provide the most comprehensive, complete, and updated business listings database to help searchers easily find nearby businesses.
Local Search Sites and Online Directories
Consumers do not only use local search sites and social listings to discover new local businesses simply, but it also became a place where you can quickly sell, shop, and purchase different items. Consumers often use these platforms to discover local businesses, look at the product/service reviews, and then decide whether the product/service matches what they are looking for. In this case, an accurate and updated listings database is vital to ensure that consumers who are more than ready to buy the product get accurate and precise business information when calling or visiting the business.
Business Owners and Listing Management Service Providers
The last yet most actionable form of listing management is from the business owners themselves and the service providers they hire to help them set up and optimize their local listings. You can quickly check the consistency of your business information found in each of your business listing resources for a single business. Greater consistency across the web equates to greater accuracy in search engines and potential customers’ eyes.
Quantity vs. Quality Listings
For single business owners, managing and controlling your local business listings there are time requirements but can be done. But when it comes to multi-location businesses, managing, editing, and updating your business data seems like a never-ending cycle. So you have ask are the hours spent creating consistency in data aggregators, search engines, and web directories worth it?
The key is to get quality over quantity listings. Search engines and local search sites rely on fewer, trusted, and reliable sources in ranking local search results. It eliminates dirty and irrelevant data from less reliable sources. For your local business to get Quality listings, you must always keep in mind your business listings’ accuracy and consistency across the web.
Simply Be Found offers a seamless way to manage and update your citations across the web. You get to manage inconsistencies and update information in over 40 networks, including mobile devices, web, and voice search– right at the comfort of your home, office, or whichever you are. Never worry about customers getting the wrong phone number or physical address of your local business.
How to Optimize Your Listing for Local Search Success:
The first step in optimizing your local business to success is by claiming your local listings on each of the top sites in search engines. It verifies legitimacy, management, and total control of the business owner or authorized user.
After claiming the business listing, make sure all the existing data are correct, updated, and consistent before distributing across all your other business listings. It ensures that the business information is published correctly for your potential customers to see.
Aside from necessary business information, adding more relevant information to your business makes it easier for search engines and searches to know more about your business. Add your business description, categories, business hours, website, photos, reviews, and questions and answers.
Setting up and optimizing your listing is not enough to keep them sustain and consistently ranking. It also needs a constant update (can change every six days), especially during particular circumstances such as holidays. This is why having a listing management service provider is a big help in ensuring your local business is constantly managed and gets updated at least once a week.
Duplicate listing exists for a couple of reasons. It may be from one listing platform representing a single location, etc. However, duplicate listings create confusion among search engines and searchers, affecting your overall ranking in the local search results. To prevent this negative impact from happening, you have two options to handle duplicate listings: Duplicate suppression or duplicate reduction.
- Duplicate suppression: Duplicate removal feature allows customers to manually click on the duplicate suppression button in the dashboard to hide it from the public. However, this feature is not permanent. It remains hidden as long as you keep paying for the duplicate suppression service fee.
- Duplicate Reduction: The act of manually claiming the duplicate listings and merge them into the primary listing marketing them as closed. This method will permanently remove duplicates on significant search directories, prevents confusion for searches, and produces a favorable and higher local search ranking.
Benefits of Optimized Listings:
The more accurate information you have on your listings, the more you provide information and build trust with potential customers and search engines.
- Optimized listings get 400% more clicks
- Optimized listings rank higher in local search results pages
- 300% more photo views and customer engagement
- 70% increase in search appearances
- 60% increase in driving directions and higher conversion rates
The purpose of all this hard work is to beat out local competitors and get your local business at the top of search results to drive customer traffic and increase conversion rates. By using Simply Be Found in the span of 6 months, our clients were able to see a significant increase in website traffic, photo views, and quotation requests.
Chapter 6: Review Management: The Key to Keeping Your Local Business Above the Competition
Many local businesses are unaware of the importance that reviews have on their business. Reviews influence consumer’s buying decisions and account for over 13% of how search engines determine the local search rankings. 93% of customers read reviews to see if the good, the bad, and the ugly side of a business. To keep your customer happy and maintain a healthy relationship, you must monitor reviews often to identify any potential problems before they become significant issues.
Local business reviews are more important than ever. But it is not enough to just reply to the good ones; you need to monitor and manage all of them. There are many ways to keep your local business competitive in the marketplace. Customer reviews, for example, can be an excellent tool for both consumers and businesses. Suppose you are not familiar with how customer reviews work on Google or Yelp. In that case, this chapter will give you a few insights into the process of reviewing and managing customer feedback that might make it easier to do so like a pro.
Reviews and Revenues
Reviews can make or break a business- but one thing is for sure, reviews are an essential advantage when running a small business. It is one of the proven marketing strategies that help improve the revenue of a local business. The way customer perceives local business reviews directly influences how much customers are willing to spend.
86% of customers say they will not buy products or services from a business with a low star rating or many recent negative reviews. Nowadays, reviews can easily be seen at popular review sites such as Yelp, and every new star earn in Yelp rating equates to a 5-9% increase in local business revenue. You can learn more about Yelp reviews matter to your local business here.
Why Do Reviews Work?
The first appearance of online reviews dates to 1999, and up until today, it is still relevant and a critical aspect in local business success. Reviews work because they provide first-hand experience on what is going inside the business. They are coming directly from the source of actual consumers who have had a real experience with the business’s products and services.
Reviews are also a key factor when determining a local search ranking. Search engines have a compilation of an extensive database of genuine, accurate feedback from customer experiences. They tied these rich contents to unbranded keywords to better understand local businesses’ quality and services.
Why Customers Trust Reviews
Gone are the days when brands advertisement solely depends on what they say about their products and services. Now, brands are discovering what is driving consumers to trust a brand through other shoppers’ influence. 89% of people trust reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, and even celebrities they follow online, which is why influencer marketing works like wonder.
Customers are more likely to purchase a product from a website with customer reviews than those who do not have any customer reviews on their website. It is because reviews give customers the knowledge they need to make confident decisions about purchasing the product or visiting the location they are searching online.
Customers also trust brands that display real and honest opinions about the local business’s products and services, which is why reviews are forcing brands to put their best foot forward to have a good perception from potential customers and rank higher amongst the local competition.
How Do Reviews Influence the Local Search Rankings?
Online reviews rank as the fifth most important factor to consider when ranking for a local search result. To influence review success, here are four factors to keep in mind:
- Quality: The quality of your reviews can be depicted as a star rating from 1-5. Search engines give a higher ranking to local businesses with above-average ratings for providing a great overall experience to their customers.
- Quantity: Generating more reviews equates to more customers visiting the location. Search engines determine the number of reviews based on how popular the local business is in that service area.
- Velocity: Consistent flow of new reviews or the frequency of reviews weekly or monthly helps increase your local rankings. Fresh and up-to-date reviews are more relevant than having hundreds of old reviews from your local business.
- Responses: Reviews are supposed to be conversational and not a one-way flow of conversation. When local businesses respond to their customer reviews, it improves their local search rankings.
Local businesses that show involvement and are actively engaged online show a significant increase in customer interactions and a higher conversion rate than does who do not respond to each of their reviews. Also, search engines determine each local competitor’s rankings based on these factors within the geographic area:
- How fast your response has a direct impact on your rankings.
- Local businesses not responding to reviews ranks lower.
- Responding metrics are more important than the number of reviews, ratings, and even frequency.
Success with the Customer:
If you want to see your local business’s review success, you must consider your customer’s feedback and respond whenever they leave a review to avoid showing disinterest and inactivity. Below are some of the essential factors in building a solid customer relationship.
40% of consumers perceive the business based on reading the first 1-3 reviews. It is why most of the review sites highlight relevant, most detailed, and keyword-specific reviews on top, which also means that businesses must deliver on every aspect of the experience and fill the gaps where they are lacking.
The recency of reviews is an essential factor in determining their relevance. Suppose a business has an above-average rating, but most of its reviews are in the last month or old reviews. In that case, potential customers will still look after its most recent negative reviews rather than its overall performance.
The way a business responds, handles, and engages with their customers also have a huge factor in turning a potential consumer into a repeat buying customer. Responses such as thanking the customers for their feedback, acknowledging and addressing their issues help build trust and confidence with potential customers. Avoid automated, repeated (same response) or not responding at all; it shows you are not considering your customer’s feelings.
Nowadays, it is easier to identify fake reviews over authentic ones. Suppose your business has an outstanding 5-star review from the same people or has repetitive content. In that case, it can turn off potential customers by assuming these “glowing” reviews are paid and all-made-up and will go elsewhere.
Review Management Strategy
The best way to handle and win customers is by creating a review management strategy that gives you, as the business owner, complete control over your reviews across the online directories and search engines. If you want to improve local search ranking and online presence, local businesses need to be actively involved and control what customers are saying about their products and services. Below are some of the best practices you can apply for a better review management outcome.
Best Practices for Managing Reviews:
Hire a Service Provider
In today’s fast-paced online world, local businesses need to act fast and adapt by having a bird’s eye view of all their reviews in other local listings and directories.
To have complete control over all your reviews, you must engage with software or a platform that gives you control over your reviews across multiple local listings, search engines, and online directories. Now, it is possible to singlehandedly view, manage, and track all your reviews across over 70 online directories and listing agencies right within the Simply Be Found review section.
Simply Be Found review section aggregates all reviews for each location of your local business and puts them together into a place. From there, you can easily view, filter, group, sort, manage and even analyze each review to help you stay on top. Reviews are then displayed directly at Google and other review sites to make it easier for your potential buyers to see your glowing reviews whenever they search for your business.
Monitoring each of your reviews helps you better understand how your customers feel towards your local business. To stay up to date, you must check your reviews at least once a day, but if you have a software or a service provider, you can set up a custom alert through the review section at your review management software or platform.
With Simply Be Found, we let our member’s set up a custom alert to notify you whenever there is an unsatisfied customer and act accordingly to address any potential issues that may arise. Getting a hold of all your reviews in one place gives you powerful insights and benchmarks against your local competitors.
Reviews are rich, real first-hand experiences from your existing customers containing valuable insights for you and your potential customers. Performing sentiment analysis on each review lets you sort and unlock valuable insights and highlight emerging trends. It makes it easier for you to recognize critical topics, develop a greater understanding of how customers perceive your brand, make operational improvements based on what customers are saying and provide a better customer experience.
Never let all your valuable insights and knowledge go to waste. Instead, use it as an opportunity to leverage from your local competitors. Create an action plan based on the information and knowledge you’ve learned from monitoring, measuring, and data reports, then set an attainable goal for the whole team on what works best in monitoring, handling, and responding to customer reviews.
Responding to Reviews
The truth is, negative reviews are unavoidable- no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot please everyone. But, with the correct approach, you can turn negative thoughts into positive ones. On top of it, responding to reviews increases your rankings in the local search results. Whether it is a positive, negative, or neutral one, responding to each review is necessary. If you are not sure how to approach a negative or a positive review, no worries- we got you covered.
How to Respond to Positive Reviews:
Every positive review is a wonderful opportunity to build a lasting relationship with your customers. If your review responses are correct, you can keep on making repeat customers and expand your customer base. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to respond to positive reviews you can start with:
- Start with A Personalized Approach: Start your approach depending on your business style and target audience. If you are catering to general people, you can call them by the first name to give a friendly impression. But if you own a luxurious hotel or enterprise, being formal is more appropriate.
- Show Gratitude: Always express your gratitude and thank them for their time to write a review. Being grateful also is a great way to establish rapport with your customers. Remember not to go with the same response on all your customers. They can quickly notice when you are saying the same thing to everybody, making them feel like just an ordinary transaction and nothing special- You don’t want to make them feel that way. Keep it genuine and unique at all times.
- Make it More Conversational: Reviews are not meant to be a one-way flow. Make it more conversational by asking a question that will evoke their responses. I.e., “We’d love to see you again at (your business name). Feel free to give us a call at (business phone number) for booking a table, getting something delivered, or any inquiries you have in the future.”
- Make them Feel Welcome: As you end your response, make sure to let them know that you’d be happy to see them again. Make customers feel welcome, so they will more likely recommend you whenever they have friends or are looking for the right store or business. If done right, responding to positive reviews is the key to making a lasting, loyal customer. Be genuine, build their trust, and make them want to do business with you again.
You can learn more about how to respond to positive reviews with templates and examples here.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews:
Receiving a negative customer review is inevitable when you run a business. There are just too many circumstances that can spoil a customer’s experience when they visit your business. Customers leave reviews to provide potential customers direct and real-firsthand experience with your business. Frequently, they are expecting a response from your team.
Here is a step-by-step guide in responding to a bad review you can start with:
- Start with A Proper Introduction
When a customer left you a bad review, chances are they are looking for someone in your team to take responsibility for it, acknowledge and address it accordingly. Start by writing a personalized apology letter, avoid contesting or arguing with the customers; it will only make the customer angrier and spread bad reviews through word-of-mouth.
Keep the intro and apology brief and genuine. In many cases, always show customers that you are good at serving them and reassuring them that their concerns will be well taken care of.
- Address the Issue
Your response is a great way to start the conversation, but keep in mind that the customer wants you to solve the issue ASAP. The next part of your response must explain how you handle the problem. Talk about the issue, give a brief explanation on why it happened, and immediately talk about what you are doing to fix it.
- Try to Compensate
After explaining your side of the store and what you are doing to fix the problem, ask them how you will make it up to them. Try to compensate them by providing a discount coupon or a voucher for their next visit.
- Thank them for the Feedback
You may apologize once again for the inconveniences it has caused them together with your personal “signature”. Thank them for giving the feedback, and for how it helps you to further improve the customer experiences for others. Remember always to make it personalized, be genuine, and always offer a helping hand in addressing your customer’s concerns. You can learn more about how to respond to negative reviews with examples here.
Generate More Reviews
Quantity, Quality, and Frequency work hand-in-hand if you want to consistently rank higher in the local search results and attract more potential customers. You can generate more reviews simply by asking your customers through a review URL link, surveys, or review requests after they visit your locations. When a customer leaves a review, make sure it won’t filter out by educating them first to “check-in” at your location to verify that they are there and that the review is legitimate.
Review management is a crucial part of local SEO strategy to your local business’s success. Aside from its local search ranking factors, it is also an effective way to attract more potential customers to your business. By managing, monitoring, and responding to reviews, increase your local SEO ranking, provide a better perception of your business to your potential customers, and drive customer traffic into your location.
Chapter 7: Local Social Media: The Easiest Way to Build a Brand for Your Business
Building a brand for your business can be challenging, but it does not have to be. Here are some of the best ways to get started and make an impact with social media.
What is the simplest way to build a brand for your business? The answer might be as simple as social media. Social media is now so pervasive that it is difficult not to have some online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. 8 out of 10 US internet users are active on social media, and nearly half of United States customers use social media to ask questions about products or services businesses provide.
Social media is a great way to establish and maintain relationships with customers. Whether you are looking to connect with current customers or reach new ones, you must have an active presence on social media. This chapter will see social media can help build your brand and what type of content you should post to engage with followers.
Benefits of Local Social Media for Local Business
- Increase market reach.
- Can easily interact with customers.
- Increase brand awareness.
- Strengthen customer loyalty.
- Increase customer traffic and improve local search rankings.
Best Practices on Social Media for Local Business
Many marketers see exponential growth in using social media as a medium in promoting their brands and establishing a robust online presence. To see online presence success using these top social channels:
- Learn how to navigate and utilize these powerful platforms’ digital business profiles for building customer engagement.
- Improve local search rankings.
- Increase driving direction requests to your brick-and-mortar businesses.
Today, the Simply Be Found team will share with you an easy guide to social media for local businesses:
Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users and is the only social media platform that can compete with big names in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Facebook is more than just connecting people; it is also a way to discover nearby businesses. 1/4 of Facebook mobile users are using Facebook to search for local businesses, and 30% of those lead to driving directions or visits the place of business.
For local businesses, creating and managing your online presence on Facebook is a must. If you haven’t claimed or started a digital business profile yet, it is the perfect time to make one. In most cases, Facebook already took the liberty to create your digital business profile.
However, Facebook is also the most prominent platform with the most duplicate pages. When left unnoticed, it can confuse your potential customers, which will lead to a lower local ranking. To avoid this from happening, be sure to find, merge, or close any duplicate pages. You can learn more about how to create, claim and merge the Facebook business page here.
Managing Digital Business Profile: Having multiple location businesses with individual pages for each of your locations is a time-consuming and challenging task. To make everything organized, consider setting up parent/child pages which act as the corporate page (parent) and individual pages (child) to connect all your locations into one place.
Advantages of Setting Up a Facebook Parent/Child Location Pages:
- Custom maps and locations to make it easier for your customers to find your business.
- Localized specific content for each page
- Customers can discover location pages using search engines.
- Easy management of multiple locations from one place
- Customers who “check-in” can leave reviews on each site.
How to Optimize Your Facebook Business Profile – Like an optimized business listing, having an optimized and comprehensive Facebook business page makes your business more attractive and enticing to customers. In optimizing your Facebook business page, make sure to produce Facebook user-generated content wherein consumers can write posts, leave comments and reviews, and even add photos or videos to any of your pages. These are also the contents your potential customers would love to see.
Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 to work hand-in-hand in building the largest, fastest-growing, and income-generating social media platforms across the web. Though Instagram and Facebook differ in so many ways, they have one thing in common- A great tool in attracting more local consumers.
Instagram’s primary focus is to create appealing visuals around your brand and locations through photos and short videos. When potential customers search through your Instagram business page, they are more likely looking for images that give them a better knowledge of the products and services your business offers. Just like Facebook, you can also create an Instagram business page for the entire brand. But Instagram only allowed one corporate page per brand to avoid duplicate listings.
Managing Local Content without Local Pages: The only downside of having an Instagram business page is that you cannot control tag contents on your store locations. Customers can add a geographic pin or tag your store without mentioning the actual place of business they were at; however, local businesses get no notifications whenever someone posted a photo in one of their stores.
These location tags tie pictures from physical location to make it easier for customers to search for your Instagram account with a specific or geo-targeted location. All images tied up with that single location will then show up. If you have multiple location businesses, you can use aggregation tools, so you do not have to manually search each location just to find imagines, track photos, or manages the hashtags. Aggregation tools allow businesses to quickly locate previously added photos, collect and aggregate them into one centralized location.
Five hundred million tweets are being sent every day. Although Twitter is not intended as a discovery channel for local businesses in the local area, it is still a powerful platform in establishing your online presence and building a customer base. Twitter is frequently used as a medium to resolve customer service issues, interact with customers, and better understand what the customers are saying with your brands. 71% of Twitter users expect a brand to respond to their query within an hour of tweeting. If you have a Twitter account for business, make sure someone is handling it actively to avoid giving a negative impression of not responding within the first 4 hours.
Besides building customer relations, you can also improve your local search rankings by simply posting a tweet, re-tweeting, using relevant hashtags, making followers, and re-tweeted/re-quoted because these activities send a positive signal to search engines that your business page is producing high-quality and authentic contents.
Filtering: Geofencing is a social media tool that allows businesses to filter posts by location-based service areas to enable you to engage more with customers that are nearest to your locations. Targeting and engaging with these customers together with relevant promotions, deals, offers, and coupons are an effective strategy to enhance your online-to-offline conversions.
How to Optimize Your Social Pages
Optimizing your social pages will improve your visibility and search rankings and ensure customers find the exact information they are looking for – to facilitate and speed up their decision-making process. An optimized social media page does wonders for your local business. It helps promote your products and locations, build customer trust and loyalty, and ultimately drive online-to-offline sales.
Complete Your Profile
It is essential to optimize not just your NAP but also other relevant vital categories. Try to fill in all the blank fields available on your profile, including business category, website, and business hours. It is to ensure that customers will not be missed out on your essential updates and announcements. Remember that search engines always look for consistency in all your business listings to influence your local search rankings positively.
Use relevant specific keywords on your business description in optimizing your business profile page. It will help both search engines and potential customers have a better understanding of what your business does. Try to optimize 4-5 keywords and use them naturally around your business description section because using too many keywords will only lead to confusion for search engines and searchers.
Also, try to write at least a 100-word business description while naturally incorporating your selected keywords. Avoid writing repetitive, irrelevant and lengthy biography that doesn’t make sense.
Local Social Listings Tools
One of the challenges physical stores face today is the inability to target, communicate, and understand their customers on a local level. Creating a consistent and authoritative social media presence through posts, photos, tweets, reviews, and other engaging content can help your local business stand out from the crowd. To do this, you must learn how to navigate and utilize different social media management tools and advertising to help you start creating a winning social media campaign strategy.
- Social Media Tools: If you are not yet familiar with how things work at Social Media, you can hire a service provider to help you effectively and efficiently manage your local social media presence. But you as a business owner must know the key features in making the most of your social strategies.
- Bulk Posting: Posting and scheduling content can be difficult and time-consuming for business owners. To help you save time, you can try bulk posting, which allows you to schedule and send posts to update for as many locations as you want in one click. It is also a great feature to keep all your social pages fresh and active.
- One-Click Responding: When a customer leaves a comment, review, or ask a question on your local social media, they are expecting a response from you. By setting up a one-click response, you can now reply to any customers with just one click using a custom standard message you’ve created. You can customize a response depending on frequently asked questions.
- Hashtag Metrics and Campaign Tracking: Local businesses need to get a hold of their valuable insights. Have the appropriate social media management tool to help you control and analyze which campaign converts more customers and gives higher budgets on successful campaigns.
- Reporting and Benchmarking: Now, it is much easier to monitor and analyze social media engagement analytics and reports through your social media reports page. It is crucial to track and benchmark your social success and leverage it amongst your local competitors. It helps you have a high level of knowledge over time and see how well your business performs on social media.
Localized Social Media Advertising
An excellent local marketing strategy’s foundation lies within locally optimized store pages, comments and reviews monitoring, and active customer engagement. In order to have a successful local ad campaign, it needs to be locally relevant to your targeted audience.
Social media can be a bit overwhelming for new business owners; the initial process of setting up and optimizing a business page is usually the most complex, most complicated part of starting a new business venture. If you are a new business owner, did you know that there is a much easier way to create, set up, and optimize your digital business profile to compete against established local competitors?
Simply Be Found is one of the leaders in providing essential features and advertising tools to effectively and efficiently manage all your business listings (social media included) and be found by your target audience easier! Remember, to drive customer traffic, build brand loyalty and win the local market- your business appears whether it is a direct or discovery search.
You can learn more about how you can set up and optimize your business listing here while adapting these best practices in utilizing social media platforms as your leverage.
Chapter 8: Local Business Reports and Analytical Strategies: How to Measure Your Success
In previous chapters, we have learned various tips, tricks, best practices, powerful tools, and helpful information in developing an effective and efficient local SEO strategy for local businesses. Chapter 8 will dig deeper and learn how to track, measure, enhance, and further improve our local SEO strategy through data analytics and reports that will stimulate growth and local SEO success.
A great way to analyze your campaign is by using Analytics tools that provide detailed information about what users are doing on your websites, such as their age group or the location they live in. In this final chapter of the book, we are going to look at the steps you can take to make your website more visible in search engines by analyzing web statistics for areas such as page views per day or traffic sources.
Importance of Local Business Reports and Analytical Strategies
Local business reports and analytical strategies are essential because they provide valuable and informative business data needed to create and manage future projections, marketing plans, and budget management.
Setting up realistic, measurable, and attainable short and long-term goals for the team makes everyone efficient and focused on their role. Remember to constantly track any progress towards the goals and benchmarks and make necessary adjustments if things don’t work out the way they should be.
Access to Important Data
Aside from the constant measurement of goals and benchmarks, it is also vital that each team members have a clear view of how well the company is performing through real-time reporting and business statistics. Local ranking competition is highly competitive and is constantly changing over time.
Let your team members know your company’s current local search rankings, business statistics, social media metrics, things that are not working out, and gaps that need to be filled in. Study shows that employees who actively involved the company’s decision-making improve their day-to-day working activities and better employment relationships.
Adaptability and Accountability
The secret of a successful local SEO strategy lies at the hands of every team member of your company. Holding your employees accountable doesn’t mean constantly keeping an eye on their performance and give punishments.
Let them know and understand how each role determines the company’s success. When goals are hit, deliverables are produced, and expectations are met; give them proper recognition, acknowledgment, and even incentives to boost their morale and keep on making outstanding contributions.
Room of Learning and Improvements
Creating a winning local SEO strategy can sometimes result in multiple failures and re-adjustments before you can see improvements and positive results. Employee accountability should not always revolve around how many mistakes they made. Instead, create an atmosphere where team members are encouraged to learn, grow and improve. Show them things they can improve on, train them in the proper process, and recognize the job well done.
Local SEO KPIs
When creating a local SEO with measurable KPIs (Key Performance Indicator), consider measuring: website performance for the organic search result, top-performing pages, location rankings, and other metrics the need to be optimized for local search to help reach your desired goals. To help you get started, here are essential KPIs needed in measuring the effectiveness of your local SEO strategy:
Monitoring and tracking each customer entering your physical store and manually asking which campaign led them to pay a visit do not fully determine the areas they came from. However, you are close enough to monitor your lead.
The good news is, there are tools to help you sort and analyze your customer insights and demographics. Google Insights and Yelp Business Analytics are great tools in helping you better understand how well your local SEO strategy is performing. These tools also allow local businesses to track impressions, direction requests, photo views, calls, and click-throughs that led to your local listings.
Another way of checking how effective the local SEO strategy you have put in place is by tracking improvements in driving directions clicks to calls and listing views. These metrics determine how many customers are visiting your physical locations.
Being part of the three-pack or the snack pack gives your local business an additional 400% increase in customer traffic, higher conversion rate, and revenue growth. Getting your business found on page 1 is the most significant indicator of local SEO strategy success of local search results for relevant keywords (branded vs. unbranded).
However, local search results rankings are constantly changing; numerous factors influence your local search ranking. Therefore, it is essential to keep track and monitor any changes and make necessary adjustments in implementing local SEO strategy to avoid getting below the fold.
If you need a refresher on improving your local SEO ranking, you may go back to chapter 4. Besides constantly tracking your local search rankings, you must also keep track of your location rankings in the organic search results. Location rankings and local search results rankings are highly correlated with one another, which means that website SEO (on-page, off-page, and technical) should not be neglected or ignored.
You can determine how well your local business’s local listings management performs through listing presence and listings accuracy. The difference between the two is listings presence indicates how many sites your local business locations are listed, while listings accuracy signifies accuracy or consistency on all your local listings.
Review quality, quantity, and frequency are essential KPI factors when tracking local SEO strategy success. Following all reviews received, from the very first to the most recent one, allows you to have valuable insight into what the customers are saying and feeling about your business.
Social engagement is a crucial feature in building a solid personal relationship with your customers. Tracking your social media engagements (likes, comments, shares, and hashtags.) is a great way to determine your social media campaign performance.
In most cases, when a customer leaves a comment or a review, they are expecting a response from the business itself within 24 hours. In today’s fast-paced digital world, not responding to a word or a review leaves a negative impression on the local business. Most often than not, customers who do not get a response within the first 4-24 hours tend to go someplace where they feel most welcome.
How quickly you respond to a customer review or social media posts indicate how you handle and value your customers. Have someone who can be available to answer your customer’s query and keep your average response times as low as possible.
Local Business Reports and Analysis
In chapter 5, we have learned the importance of listing management to your local business’s success. There are many listing agencies and online directories you want your local business to be listed on, for starters, but handling it all at once can be a time-consuming and challenging task.
If you are going to do it manually, focus on being listed on the four leading aggregators (Acxiom, InfoGroup, Localeze, and Factual) and tier 1 and 2 directories. The key is to get a 100% presence of all target sites, which are about 30-40 sites in total. While listing accuracy should be around 95% to secure the correct listing information. The good news is, there is an easy way to do it.
Your business can get listed on over 70 listing agencies and search engines simply by signing up and being a Simply Be Found Local member. Our proprietary system turns your business data into advertising and blasts it on over 70 networks.
In chapter 6, we have discussed essential components and critical metrics of review management and monitoring for your local business success. Quality, Quantity, and Velocity (Recency of reviews) are essential KPIs to help track trends and identify places your local business lacks.
It is essential to check how many reviews are received per day/month/quarter, the difference in ratings, and the quality of the review itself in each review site. It allows local businesses to understand better how customers perceived your business, what they are looking for (keywords used), and which areas need your Local SEO efforts.
In chapter 7, we have talked about several best practices in managing and handling your local social media pages and social media tools you can use to improve your local SEO strategy further. Local social media are a great platform to know more about your target audience and build customer loyalty.
Social media engagement metrics include likes, shares, comments, and even hashtags. In managing your social pages, create engaging contents that would encourage your customers to have an interaction with your business, and in return, promotes brand awareness and increase your follower count.
To stay ahead of your competition, you should look for a key feature that offers customizable alerts that can help your business stay on top and always up to date on your local SEO performance. Having customizable alerts also helps your team efficiently manage ongoing Local SEO strategy, track goal progress, and improve low metrics.
Set You Apart from the Local Competition
Local search results rankings algorithm depends on relevance, prominence, and proximity. A local business has a different set of local competitors depending on a location-by-location basis. Therefore, identifying and closely monitoring top competitors’ online activity and performance is vital in keeping ahead of the competition.
How else can you determine the effectiveness of your local SEO strategy?
- Measure goals/benchmarks
- Defining KPIs
- Analyzing ROI (Return on investment)
- Work on areas the needs improvement
- Start taking action.
You can determine if your local business is ahead or behind the competition by checking in top competitors’ performance on social media, keywords rankings, and quality of reviews (If you have the same products.) Perform local competition analysis and work on improving KPIs that are falling behind.
Chapter 9: Put It All into Action
You have discovered a lot about what it takes to build a robust local SEO strategy for your business. Now, you need to put everything into action.
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of The Local SEO 101 Guidebook. Here is a quick recap of all the critical components in building a robust local SEO strategy:
- Local Business Listing
- Review Management and Monitoring
- Local Social Media Guide and Management
- Business Reports and Data Analysis
Now, it is time to put everything you have learned into action. Ready to take your local business to the next level? Local business is more important than ever.
Recent research by the Wall Street Journal revealed that 88% of people are willing to spend more for a product or service if it is locally owned and operated. However, the average American doesn’t have enough information about their local businesses because there is no standardized place to find them all in one location.
Set-Up & Optimize Your Local Business to Success
Most small business owners find it hard, complex, and costly to set up, optimize, and get their businesses found out there. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, manually tracking where each of your customers is coming from seems like a never-ending cycle- how can I identify know who is my target audience? How can I grow my customer base? How can I attract more customers to visit my physical store if my business is not showing in search engines? Those are some real, accurate, and honest questions we often get from our clients of small business owners.
Getting your local business found on top search engines, web directories, and listing agencies is one way to help establish your online presence. And for it to be possible, you must have your business listed on a minimum of 30-40 sites to be verified and have a 100% listing presence. Meanwhile, listing accuracy should be around 95% to have at least a 30% chance of being on page one or the 10-pack.
How to Get Started?
We understand how risky it is to start a business venture. As much as possible, we want to give back to the local community by helping local businesses set up and optimize their local businesses, get found easily by their local consumers, attract more customers, and have a steadily growing local business.
Now, we made it easy and simple to help your local business grow, establish brand awareness, increase customer traffic, and drive more sales without the need to learn hard processes, download software, and endless sign-up tabs. We want YOU to earn from your LOCAL BUSINESS.
- Advertising Campaigns: Your business depends on being seen by more customers. We turn your business data from your business such as Name, Address, Phone Number, Business Hours- to name a few. Put it all together and turn it into advertising that gets you found.
- Mobile Responsiveness –87% of local consumers use their cellphones to search for nearby businesses or discover new local businesses. Our platform can easily be accessed and navigate on mobile devices, making your local business found even on small screens.
- Consistency and Accuracy: Consistent and Accurate business information on all your listing sites gives your local business a competitive edge to be found in top listing agencies and popular search engines. You can quickly correct any inaccuracies and update them on all your sites with just one click at our Business Information tab.
- Your Business Gets Found on Digital Voice Assistants such as Alexa, SIRI, Google home, and more.
- Get Full and Direct Access to practical advertising tools and guide to attract more customers and increase your conversion rate.
- No contracts Needed – No monthly agreements; you can cancel anytime.
Sign up to Simply Be Found now and start getting your local business found on cellphones, web, and voice searches. Optimize your local business today.
To learn more, visit Simply Be Found.