Our lives are far less on the internet than we think – at least as now as our consumption is concerned: online commerce accounts for only 4 percent of sales and 80 percent of all consumers are so-called “ROPO” buyers – they search for products online and then buy them offline (Research Online, Purchase Offline).
The local search, therefore, plays a unique role when it comes to targeted consumption: 75 per cent of consumers visit a store within 24 hours after finding it in a “search near them” (so-called “near-me searches”). have found.
And that’s the point: a real- site business can use this search behaviour to make more revenue offline. This requires, however, that it understands the rules of the new buying processes and aligns its marketing accordingly. It is about local SEO strategies and the goal to be found in local searches as best as possible.
What is “Local SEO”?
With local SEO, local businesses optimize the visibility of individual business locations to customers looking online for products and services in their circumstances.
Near-Me searches have become increasingly important in recent years: Every second to third search query has a local reference (for example, “supermarket near me”).
Purchase Processes And Local Search
So how do retailers, franchisees, cafes, petrol pumps, hairdressers, and, and, and … reach the top of the local search?
Before going into concrete strategies for local SEO, we need to at least briefly discuss the relationship between buying processes and local search queries:
We draw on a range of online platforms and apps when looking for products and services near us. Of course, Google is at the top, but also with Facebook, Yelp or Apple Maps and other providers, we are increasingly looking for people in our area.
Such platforms usually want to give us the best possible user experience (UX)and give us what we are looking for.
A very typical example: If I have a natural appetite for a good burger, I look at Google for “best burger now near me.” I get three results with the so-called Local Pack (also Local 3-Pack or Map Pack), which answer my query as best as possible: All proposals are within reach, have opened, and other customers can recommend them.
When you do a local search on Google, the locations appear in the Local Pack – and 93 percent of users also click on one of these results. For locations to appear in the Local Pack, you may need to meet the following conditions:
- You have a full profile on Google My Business and other platforms.
- They contain the searched keyword.
- They are nearby.
- The opening hours are suitable for the search.
- Other users recommend these locations.
3 Successful Local SEO Strategies
These conditions can be used to derive three essential Local SEO strategies that businesses can use to drive their offline traffic.
Strategy 1: Ensure Flawless Listings
Listings, in this case, include entries/profiles on online platforms – including search engines, directories, navigation and map services as well as social media or rating portals. If you want to use listing management effectively for your local SEO, you should be present on as many platforms as possible that are relevant to your target group.
Google My Business comes first in listing management. Google is the most used search engine, and the GMB entry is automatically visible on Google Maps. Provide your information as completely as possible. These include at least the NAP information Name, Address, Phone as well as opening times and the web address. But also keywords, descriptive texts, and rich media contents (pictures, videos) are recommended, to be visible and attractive for your target group.
Additional entries on online platforms give your additional location authority: By increasing the number of citations (keyword: Citations) of your business on the net, Google assigns more relevance to you and raises your potential for a search query.
However, the improved ranking requires one thing: all your information must be complete, up-to-date, and consistent across platforms. The reason: A store closes on Facebook at 7 pm and 8 pm according to another portal – what statement would you believe? Not only you, but also Google is faced with this question. Inconsistent information affects the credibility of a site, and thus its ranking in a local search.
Checklist for your listing management:
- Check how well your location can be found on the Internet.
- Create an overview of all the platforms that are important to your business. Google My Business should be there. Facebook, Yellow Pages, Apple Maps, Bing, Yelp too.
- Enter each business location consistently with the following information on all listings: name, address, type of business (category), contact details (telephone, mobile phone, fax, website, e-mail), opening hours, special opening hours, keywords, brief description of location, long description to the location, imprint.
- Take into account image and video material such as logos or product images.
- Check the timeliness of the entries regularly. Think of spontaneous changes in marketing initiatives or company parties.
Strategy 2: Create web pages for your locations
Search engines such as Google, index web pages so that they can be taken into account as search results later on. If you present your location on a separate page within your website, you increase the impact on Local SEO.
Consider a site page like a listing – but a much stronger one. Since the page is located on the domain of your company, it automatically benefits from the authority of the address. For Google, it is thus particularly credible and ideal for local SEO.
Because this site page is part of your website, unlike the previous platforms, you have complete freedom of design – most importantly, you can (and should) implement your branding. This will increase the user experience and give you more freedom to guide them into your business.
As with the listings, however, the principle of data consistency also applies here: information such as the NAP information must be uniform on the site side.
Consider the following for the site pages:
- Create a summary page for all your locations (keyword: store locator) and full subpages for each location.
- Structure of the data using the standard Schema.org.
- Think of call-to-action buttons, for example, for directions.
- Optimize the URL structure for search engines.
- Make sure your pages are indexable, fast loading, and using responsive design.
- Check the details of your location pages regularly.
Strategy 3: Make for excellent reviews
Take the search for the best burgers in the area again. If you see these three results, where would you go?
Granted, the race is close. But do I also take the first result, because it has the best rating and the shortest distance?
The rating of a location is a ranking factor: Suggestion entries have a better chance of appearing in the search results. And this is especially true for a request with a qualitative characteristic like ” best”. Finally, it’s about user experience. Who wants to visit a restaurant with 2.3 stars, if there is also one nearby with 4.5 stars?
For your location to appear high up in the search, you want to be able to present as many and as positive as possible evaluations.
The problem is that not every rating is positive.
Best practice for the management of reviews is, therefore, on the one hand, to motivate satisfied customers to a rating and on the other side to answer in-depth reviews. Because: Your reasonable reaction to a negative rating can result in about every third case that the person behind the review corrects or even removes it later.
What you should keep in mind when reviewing:
- Think about a strategy on how to move your customers unobtrusively to a rating.
- Check your review portals daily and respond quickly to new reviews.
- Give friendly thanks for a positive review, mentioning, where possible, the name of your company as an additional entry that can be tracked by search engines.
- Be careful about a negative rating. Show that you take the feedback seriously, for example, by encouraging improvement or offering redress.
- Collect the assessments to detect abuses in good time and to initiate continuous improvement.
Tip: Make Local SEO Easy
Manual Local SEO is anything but easy to do by hand. In a single location, it might be feasible, but it would be time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone (which, in the case of erroneous data, results in making all the effort in vain). And with each additional location, Local SEO is increasingly becoming a matter of impossibility. But that should not be a reason to give it up.
Listings, site pages and reviews can be automated as much as possible by using a specially designed location marketing software. Through automation, you reduce the effort to a minimum and at the same time, avoid sensitive errors. This will increase the chances that your location will appear at the top of your local search and enhance your offline traffic.