The foundation of successful local marketing is clean data and accurate listings – including business addresses and maps, phone numbers, photos, and business hours.
It is critical to “claim” your local listings. Unclaimed listings occur when online directories index and publish business pages for your business without your knowledge through scraping the web or purchasing outdated business data. Once these listings are published, Google may create a business page from this data, which often means the correct category for your business has not been selected, your keywords have not been targeted, and other information may be inaccurate as it was obtained from unreliable sources.
Local listings should include as much information as is available – product descriptions and categories, services provided, hours of operation, coupons, photos, and payments accepted. This type of accurate, updated, and consistent local data will drive high search engine rankings and ensure that your locations are found by online searchers.
Local SEO and listing management are closely linked: accurate, complete, and consistent listings improve search engine rankings. Local pages need to be found on their own. This means localizing how your site is coded; how you treat name, address, and phone number; and how you structure your URL through the following:
Local listings and landing pages need to rank well to be found in SERPs. Accurate, consistent content is the most effective way to improve search engine rankings. A citation is any web-based mention of your location that may or may not be linked to a landing page or website. Citations may contain complete or incomplete listing information, but are a critical factor in local search engine rankings. For example, citations from well-indexed listing portals such as Superpages.com can increase the validity of your location’s listing information for Google or Bing. By tracking and updating citations with accurate and complete data, SERP results can improve.
Each location should have its own landing page. Consumers are looking for you locally and a website can be the hub for all local marketing and SEO efforts. It captures consumer demand, streamlines marketing efforts, and provides metrics for future campaign optimization.
Local landing pages should be simple yet comprehensive, featuring the business name, address, phone number, products carried, store hours, and even a photo of the business owner or storefront. Links to review sites such as Google Places, Yelp, and Angie’s List should also be included.
The influence of user-generated content continues to grow, placing more control of the customer/brand relationship into the customer’s hands. Eighty-five percent of consumers read online customer reviews to determine whether or not a local business is a good business, up from 76% in 2012, according to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey.
Major search and review sites assign significant weight to online reviews, and the online “word-of-mouth” credibility they offer local businesses is vital. Customer reviews are some of the most compelling marketing content available to businesses and have the greatest potential to influence new customers.
The best way to increase the number of positive reviews being written about your locations is to ask customers to write them. Make it easy to do so by including a widget or button that offers one-click access to review writing. Incentivizing reviews is helpful but controversial. Both Yelp and Google frown upon incentivizing reviews. Google prohibits the practice in its Local Review Policies.
Negative reviews are inevitable and should be managed. Follow up with negative reviewers.