How to get More Local Customers
Today the first place that people look for a business is online using their mobile phone or computer. If somebody was to search for your business category would they find you? And if they did would the information that they were presented with be compelling enough for them to call and book an appointment or buy a service from you?
People are constantly looking for places, items of interest or things to buy in and around the vicinity of where they are, the question is what are you doing as a business owner to capitalise on that?
If you are keen to have more people find your business, become customers and come back again and again then here are a few changes you can make today to significantly increase your chances.
Claim your Google My Business Listing.
To find your page, go to Google and type in “Google my business”. Click through to the Google My Business page, then click the Get Onto Google button. You will be prompted to enter your Google email address and password to log in. If you don’t have one you can sign up for a password. In the search bar where it says “find your business” type the name of your business and it should bring up your business listing.
Google will tell you whether the listing is claimed or not, and it will also say whether it’s claimed with the email address you are using. If it is, great! You can log in and edit the page. If the email address doesn’t match then you need to claim your business.
To claim your business you will need to verify that you are the owner, which you can either do by having a verification pin sent through to your mobile (immediate), or by postcard (which can take 2 weeks). Once you have that pin, enter it into the verification page and your listing will be claimed.
Once you have claimed your Google My Business Listing the next thing you need to do is add the relevant business information in the next five steps. Before we get into that I need to explain one of the most critical aspects of Local Search: NAP citations.
What is a NAP Citation?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. Think of your NAP citation as the unique fingerprint that identifies your business to search engines and directories.
Everywhere your business NAP is found online is called a citation. In real terms the more citations mean there are more websites where customers can find your business. In addition search engines (like Google) see citations as a “vote”, a trust sign if you will about the authority of your business and they are a big factor in how well your business ranks for industry related keywords in search results.
One of the biggest problems for businesses in local search is inconsistent, incomplete, or inaccurate NAP information in citations. To learn more about the importance of NAP citations for your business click here.
So now you understand the importance of your NAP citation and you have claimed your Google My Business page. The next step is to highlight how you can improve the relevance of your business and increase the chances of potential customers finding it and selecting you.
Increase the number of Consistent Citations of your business around the internet.
Google uses data from other trusted resources around the web to categorise your business and build up a picture of how authoritative your business is.
There are hundreds of websites/directories on the internet like Yell, Yelp and 118information, that are vitally important because they share information with Google. If your information on those sites matches what your Google my business page and your website say this increases trust and can influence how and where customers will find your business in search.
Earn, Manage and Market Reviews
If you conduct local searches such as “Dentist in Watford”, “chiropractor in Preston” or simply “divorce lawyer near me”, you will see that in the listings there will be businesses that have reviews.
For your business to stand out in the new 3 pack you need to make sure that your business has reviews. We’re not just talking about 1 review, you need ensure that your business has more 5 star reviews than any of your competitors in and around the local area.
In the example above the the top two dentists have their reviews displaying prominently and the thrid dentist does not. Who do you think a potential patient will call?
The greater the quality and quantity of reviews you have the better. It reflects on the services that you are providing to your customers when potential clients look upon your business.
Reviews are so important in the local search infrastructure that you should consider putting in place a review collection strategy where you ask every single person that visits your business to go to Google and leave feedback about you and the experience they had.
By doing this, each customer is effectively sharing their good opinion of you with everyone they know and also potential clients who might see your business for the first time and need some assurance that you are the best in your area.
Social Media Signals
Social media has become integral to many areas of digital marketing and it is no different when it comes to increasing your businesses awareness in local search. With billions of active users, it is a great medium to build fans and followers, gaining reviews and authoritative web sites where you can get a structured NAP citation.
Social content ranks well on search engines because it is often current and relevant to people that are searching for you or your services. What happens on Facebook, Yelp and Twitter does influence how Google and other users perceive your business.
Social media is Word of mouth marketing. What people say about your business services, their feedback and reviews are publicly accessible to your potential clients. And this has a massive influence on your lead generation and ultimately sales.
According to Moz’s 2015 local search ranking factors, On Page Signals account for 20.3% of the signals Google use to position your business in front of local consumers.
On page signals include presence of NAP, Keywords in Titles and domain authority. We have already discussed the importance of NAP but I wanted to take the opportunity to drive home the importance even more. If your business Name, Address and Phone is not the same on
- Google My business
- Your Webiste
- Local Business Directories
Then Google does not consider you trustworthy and this will be reflected in when and how your business is presented in search.
If you are a Dental Practice then make sure that on your home page you include the keyword “Dentist”, other related keyword terms and your location. Make it absolutely crystal clear who you are and what service you provide.
The more information you can provide the search engines that matches what other trusted, relevant and authoritative sites on the internet say about you the better.
Local SEO is all about getting internet browsers with commercial intent to convert, be that buy or become a patron of your business.
If you follow the advice given in this blog post you will have a strong head start in optimising your online presence for local people that need the results your products and services provide.