Local search engine marketing is becoming more important than ever for business owners. Google, for example, prioritises results that are hyperlocal and good SEO practices include both on-site and off-site strategies. Local SEO services will keep helping businesses rank better and better in the new year – our team is always keeping a sharp eye on how to make your business stand out in local SERPS and continue to increase ROI!
A few of these core strategies to gain more traction in 2019 are:
- Online Reviews
- Google Knowledge Panels and Google My Business
- Proximity Marketing
- Citations and Consistency
Managing Online Reviews
Did you know that around 88% of consumers trust companies’ online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations?
A lot of consumers will leave reviews completely unprompted, which is extremely important. Why? Google trusts your customers and audience more than they trust you. Simply put, they take signals, which can be positive or negative, to determine whether your website is worth a good ranking.
You can look at online reviews as a sort of endorsement, which in turn results in Google rewarding your website with more visibility. When you receive good or bad reviews, Google views it as your business being real, legit, and having had interaction with people – which will help prospective clients make decisions.
“But how do online reviews add SEO value?”, we hear you ask. We’re getting there!
We all know how Google ‘reads’ websites to understand the internet; the more content available, the more Google knows and understands your business. Google My Business reviews adds fresh content to be read by Google – but, above all, it adds a lot of keywords that help define your business.
When your customers leave reviews, they are unintentionally describing your services and your products to Google. And this is how they provide SEO value: by helping to bridge any gap that your website may have in terms of content, increasing visibility, and improving your rankings.
Click-through rates, or CTR, influences SEO rankings significantly. Having traffic directed to your website from a high percentage of search results makes Google assume that you’re doing something right, rewarding your website with better rankings. And reviews can be a big factor in CTR; high ratings entice clicks and lead to Google boosting your rankings.
And how can you make reviews work to help you instead of damaging your rankings?
Keep in mind that it’s 25x more expensive to earn new customers than it is to retain existing ones. Moz’s guide ‘Diagramming the Story of a 1-Star Review’ explains in great detail how to reply to negative reviews. You can shape how future potential customers view how your company treats customers by keeping the following in mind:
- Encourage reviews.
- Provide review reply training to employees.
- Have a complaint-friendly company.
Google Knowledge Panels and Google my Business
Whenever someone searches for a business on Google, Knowledge Panels often show up on the right-hand side. These information boxes help customers find your business and your contact details. It can also show industry-specific information such as which amenities hotels offer.
There are a few factors that influence whether your business appears in the Knowledge Panel or not. Its standing on local search results is determined by distance, business prominence, and relevance.
- Distance. Represents how far search results are from users.
- Business Prominence. Relates to how well-known your business is. Google takes into account articles, links, and directories to see how prominent your business is.
- Relevance. Ensures that local listings match what customers are looking for, making it vital for you to add complete and detailed information about your business.
Google My Business is extremely important for local SEO – and it will still be as important in 2019! You can improve your local ranking by optimising your Google My Business to provide you with a better presence in both Search and Maps. Google advises that businesses follow a few steps to improve it:
- Enter your business’ complete and accurate data. Details such as where you are, what you do, when your business is open, phone number, and physical address are also important.
- Add business photos. Show off your products or services and tell your business story with high-quality and appealing photos.
- Verify your location. This gives the best chance of your products and services appearing for users in Search and in Maps.
- Manage and respond to your reviews. Make sure your customers know you value them and their feedback, improving your visibility how you come across to prospective clients.
Proximity Marketing: Google Beacon
This isn’t a new technology but it’s looking like 2019 will finally be the year in which Google fully takes advantage of proximity marketing. Beacons are simple, small devices with a range that can be just a few metres in diameter, which send signals over a short period of time. Any device nearby that falls within this range can pick up the beacons’ signal, allowing your business to accurately target passers-by with tailored messages.
And you can easily have a network of beacons across the city! This can ensure that, even when people move around, you can still send them messages from one location to the other. The potential is very exciting; proximity experiences will significantly improve, with Google’s beacon platform designed to have an easy way of incorporating highly context-sensitive cases into your venues and apps.
Some key benefits that beacons will be able to provide are:
- User guiding. Through airports, cities, shopping centres, or other locations.
- Mapping. This provides insights into what where your customers go in-store, allowing you to know which actions can be attributed to their journeys.
- Loyalty. Easily send loyalty rewards to your customers as they complete their purchases.
- Measure frequency. Know how often your customers visit your business, how long they stay, and how it correlates to purchases.
- Location targeting. Target users with highly specific messages according to specific locations.
- In-store messaging. Provide promotional offers by messaging customers as they browse through your business or store.
The technology will undoubtedly keep getting even more exciting for local SEO. This highly specific targeting will open the door for other sectors to take advantage of proximity marketing with Google Beacon. Their Proximity Beacon API and Nearby API have made Google’s devices extremely accurate.
With the open source Eddystone, Google distinguishes their solution from the iBeacon. Eddystone is cross platform, compatible with iOS, Android, and platforms supporting BLE beacons. It also sends four different types of signals unlike the one for iBeacons, and allows you to manage your beacons easily with Google Cloud Platform.
Build Up Local Citations
Build up your local citations to impact your local search rankings – the more online mentions you have, the more Google and other search engines will think your website deserves higher rankings. Particularly if these mentions are on relevant websites to what your business is about. Ensuring that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is correct and consistent is essential for local citations, as they can simply include basic details and not a website link.
- Geo/Industry-Specific Platforms
Local business associations, commerce websites, and community hubs offer a range of listings specific to industry and geographic location. While often free, some may require payment – make sure the listings you invest in give you enough traffic to justify your expenses.
- Structured Citations
Websites that specifically offer a structure for business listings, such as local business directories and search engines, offer structured citations. Structured citations can be built and managed manually, with the core components being your business name, address, and phone number.
These local citations can influence your impact in local search engine rankings. Search engines collect data about businesses, such as:
- Quality of platforms your business exists on
- The number of citations
- The accuracy of the data your business features
Providing accurate citations is vital for consumers to discover local business, increasing transactions and profit. Rankings, reputation, and revenue are all intrinsically connected to local citations.
- Unstructured Citations
With apps or websites that aren’t structured specifically for publishing local business, such as news article or blog post mentions, are great examples of unstructured citations. They can be built up by submitting press releases or other content to news websites, sponsoring events, being featured on blogs, and engaging in campaigns on social media. After you have your core citations, your Google My Business listing, and geo-industry-specific citations, it tends not to be worth investing in low-quality directories.
Having new unstructured citations in valuable apps and websites can provide you with new traffic and exposure to new audiences. Unstructured citations can make a big difference in competitive markets, helping your business to stand out from your competition.
Start off 2019 with the right foot – let us help you optimise your local SEO strategy!