When they’re craving pasta and want to look for Italian restaurants nearby, most people do one thing. They grab their phones and enter “Italian restaurants near me” on Google.
This is why local SEO is more important than ever. It could be a huge game changer for your business, giving you access to a new pool of potential customers.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is when you’re making sure that users from a specific location find you online. According to a recent survey, a whopping 88% of consumers visit or call a business within 24 hours after finding it via local searches.
If you’re not convinced yet, 56% of businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listings yet. That number could include your competitors.
With those statistics in mind, getting started in local SEO could give you an incredible competitive advantage.
You might be hesitant because you don’t have the time to learn local SEO and everything it entails. However, dipping your toes in local SEO isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Begin by creating a Google My Business Listing–something you can accomplish in minutes. In this post, we’re going to break down how to create a listing and all the ways it can benefit you.
Let’s get started.
What is a Google My Business Listing?
If you’ve ever searched for a business online, there’s a huge chance you’ve already seen a Google My Business listing.
Listings appear next to search engine results. They include the business name, hours, phone number, address and customer reviews. Google also lets businesses and users upload photos. The best part is, they’re completely free.
Creating a listing is as easy as filling out a form. All you have to do is enter the required business information and upload your photos of choice.
If you’ve used Facebook, you won’t find it hard to navigate Google’s My Business’s interface. The entire process doesn’t require professional assistance at all.
Google sometimes creates listings for businesses. If that’s the case for you, you can go ahead and clam it. They offer the following options:
- Instant verification
- Bulk verification
What do you do after claiming your listing?
Review your business information.
Google My Business listings are great, but they have one major flaw. Anyone can go ahead and edit them.
If a competitor wanted to change your number so people couldn’t call you, Google wouldn’t know any better. It would go ahead and process the change. You need to be vigilant and check your listing information on a regular basis.
Aside from the information previously mentioned, Google also lets you add the following:
- Service area
- A brief description of your business
- Opening date
Your Google My Business listing also functions as a social media profile.
Google My Business lets you create posts. You can upload a photo along with a 100-300 word description. Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, you won’t have to pay a cent to get your posts seen.
When people find your listing online, they’ll be able to see your first post right away. This gives you a great chance to promote events, sales, products discounts and other things of importance.
If you pair posting with other Google functions, it could do wonders for your local SEO strategy.
Let’s say that you run a car detailing shop. You can post about a special discount that’s only available for a limited time period. Since users can also book appointments through your listing, it’s easier to convince them to act right away.
The discount and the quick booking function could result in new customers.
That’s only one example of how you could integrate posting on your listing with your local SEO strategy. You can come up with more depending on your business and other available functions.
But posting simply won’t be enough. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Post regularly. – No one wants to see posts about sales and events that happened weeks ago. In fact, it could give people a bad impression of your business.
- Keep your brand in mind. – Think about your brand’s image and voice. Make sure it comes across in the photos, fonts and language you use in your posts.
Generate as many reviews as possible.
People are very careful when choosing who to do business with.
Let’s go back to our example from earlier. When you enter “Italian restaurants nearby” on Google, it’s going to generate several results. Most people don’t just choose randomly. They look at the reviews and select the one that has the highest rating.
In this digital age, word-of-mouth is still as powerful as ever. In fact, according to a survey, 93% of consumers read reviews before deciding where to spend their money.
Some popular directories like Yelp frown on asking people for reviews. Google encourages it under the following conditions:
- You’re not offering compensation for the reviews in the form of services, benefits or good.
- You’re not asking people you have close personal ties with for reviews.
At this point, you might be wondering who you can ask exactly. Scroll through the list of customers you previously worked with. There’s a huge chance some of them would be willing to leave you reviews.
You can post links to your listing on your business’s social media account. If you have a newsletter, you can ask subscribers who’ve worked with you before to leave reviews. You can even ask people who come into your establishment.
There are so many ways to generate reviews that are within Google’s required parameters.
Make leaving reviews easy for people.
Some of your previous clients might be willing to leave reviews, but you still need to make the process as easy as possible.
If possible, write down instructions that you can send them. Include links along with screenshots.
Reply to all reviews.
You’ve started getting reviews. Now, what do you do?
Reply to every single one of them, especially the negative ones. You’re showing people you’re open to feedback, and you’re taking steps to provide better service.
For positive reviews, make sure to say thank you.
For negative reviews, address each of the customer’s complaints. Explain in concrete steps how you’re going to do better in the future. Say that you’d be willing to discuss the issue further through phone or email.
Local SEO might sound complicated, especially for business owners who don’t have enough time on their hands.
But you can get started by creating a Google My Business listing. It’s as easy as filling out a form and doesn’t cost you anything aside from time. If you’d like more options, you can always seek professional SEO assistance.
There’s also a huge chance your competitors aren’t fully utilising its features. This is your opportunity to stay ahead of the pack.