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How to Please Google's Local Search Algorithms

"Local search" is when someone searches online for a business or service in their proximity. For example: “best burgers near me” or “chiropractors in Sioux Falls.” Local searchers usually have high intent, which means they are likely to select and visit a physical store location. One study found this to be the case over 70% of the time! What's more, local searches have increased frequency by over 200% in recent years. This is how consumers are looking for local businesses. Is yours showing up? 

There are two main ways your business can show up in a local search result: 1) a direct search, where someone is typing in your business name; or 2) a discovery search, where someone is searching for your business or service category in general. There are several factors that play into how Google (or other search engines) rank your business. We’re going to be talking about the top two here. 

1. Update Your Google My Business Listing

First, claim and update your Google My Business listing, which serves as a kind of online brochure for your business. Include all the helpful information you can:

  • Business Information. Name, address, phone number, website, hours, photos, etc. 
  • Service Categories. Make sure you have a primary and/or secondary service categories; this helps you show up when people aren’t searching your business directly.
  • Business Description. Provide an overview of your business and what sets you apart; this also helps your business show up for discovery searches.
  • COVID-19 Updates. GMB added a new section to keep your customers updated on any business changes due to COVID-19.

Some additional opportunities to build out your business listing include highlighting your products and inventory and using Posts to showcase featured products. 

2. Create a Review Management Strategy 

 Online reviews are the second largest factor in how Google ranks a business for local search results. But even more important than that, consumers trust online reviews about as much as in-peron word of mouth. There are three main components Google looks at: 

  • Sentiment. Do people like your business? First and foremost, make sure you are providing excellent customer service so you customers want to provide a review online. 
  • Quantity. The more reviews you have, the more established Google believes your business to be. It also helps paint a more accurate picture of your business and builds trust and credibility with potential new customers. Ensure you have a review generation strategy in place, whether it’s asking customers at check-out to leave you a review or following up after the sales process, make the ask.
  • Response. Imagine if a customer walked up to you and said “thanks for the great service, we love doing business with you,” and you said nothing and walked away. A similar tragedy takes place with many online reviews. Your customers are taking time to say “great job!” You should reciprocate. Continue to build loyalty, report, and say thanks by responding back to them. (You can save time by creating review response templates to build from; it will keep your brand voice consistent and make it easier to respond.) 

You might still be questioning, why do I need to do this for my business? Besides more people using local search to find you, this consumer change has resulted in “zero-click searches.” Where half of all searches do not result in a click over to a businesses website—because searchers found the information they were looking for on the search result page. You want to ensure your business is providing the best customer experience for local searchers and getting more people to engage with you over a competitor.

In 2021, local search isn’t a set and forget marketing channel. It’s a way to keep customers updated and engage with them, on a channel where they are actively looking for you. Click Rain is here for any local marketing strategies. You can even use our platform, Stratus, to manage your local listings and reviews. 

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