POST WRITTEN BY Bernadette Coleman
More customers are actively searching for local businesses online than ever before. Google processes over 3.5 billion search queries per day, over half of which take place on mobile devices. That’s a lot of on-the-go mobile shoppers looking for nearby stores. But that traffic is worthless to businesses that fail to optimize their local presence.
Improving your business’ online visibility and placement in search results is one key to attracting more local shoppers to both your website and physical locations. That said, local competition can be fierce. Businesses that want to connect with local consumers online can’t afford to make marketing mistakes that place them at a disadvantage.
Although there’s no perfect formula for dominating local search, there are certain mistakes that you must stop making to keep from sabotaging your own visibility. Today, we’ll examine the most common mistakes and what can be done to remedy them.
Writing Content For Search Engines, Not Local Customers
Done right, content marketing can be a powerful tool for local businesses. Publishing consistent content allows you to tell your brand story and educate consumers about products, news and trends, all while establishing your business as an industry leader.
Quality blog posts also help search engines learn more about your company, which can lead to increased credibility and higher rankings in search results. To be specific, Google loves E-A-T content — content enriched by the author’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Local businesses need to take it a step further and realize content is most effective when it has a bit of local flavor. A local perspective can infuse blog content with personality, make it more relevant to readers, and help the business build a stronger connection with local customers.
Sacrificing Backlink And Citation Quality For Quantity
Gone are the days when those scoring the most backlinks are guaranteed to come out on top. Sure, having lots of citations and backlinks pointing to the business’ website can still be great for SEO, but only if the sources are authoritative and credible.
Businesses that invest in high-quality link-building and submit listings to respectable local directories will see a boost in their online visibility. However, search engines do notice when a site receives most of its traffic from untrustworthy sources, which can result in lower search rankings.
Instead of trying to get as many backlinks as possible, focus on earning high-quality citations from reputable sources. The citations themselves should offer up-to-date information, and the business’s name, address and phone number (NAP data) must be consistent across the web.
Here are a few suggestions for improving your web presence through backlinks and citations:
• Submit business listings to high-quality local directories
• Contribute guest posts to authoritative websites
• Sponsor a local charity event or Little League team
• Include the website in social media bios for the business
Just remember: Quality is more important than quantity.
Not Taking Full Advantage Of Google My Business
Any business that hasn’t created (or claimed and optimized) a local business listing on Google My Business is missing out on several major benefits. By failing to maintain an up-to-date, optimized Google My Business listing, you’re actually making it more difficult for local customers to discover you when searching online.
The better the search giant understands the business, the more likely it is that the business will appear in local search results when shoppers search for nearby stores. For best results, the listing should be detailed and up-to-date, complete with photos, business hours and accurate NAP data. This correctness and completeness allows the business to build trust with Google and consumers, increase online visibility and ensure the data displayed in search results is consistent and 100% accurate.
Turning A Blind Eye To Bad Customer Reviews
Sadly, a negative review isn’t the type of thing that goes away if you ignore it long enough. It is vital to monitor customer reviews — and to respond in a timely manner if a customer voices dissatisfaction with their experience.
Leaving a bad review to stand without a response does not help the brand and does nothing to remedy the situation. So, rather than sticking your head in the sand when negative reviews show up, you and your team need to address the comments directly.
Attempt to defuse the situation and, if necessary, ask the customer to contact the business privately by email. Additionally, encourage happy customers to leave genuine reviews to ensure local review sites portray the business accurately.
Not Creating Unique Landing Pages For Each Location
Businesses with more than one physical location have an extra set of rules to follow when it comes to local presence management. With multiple locations come multiple sets of NAP data, along with individual business details specific to each location.
I recommend that a business upgrade its website with a high-quality store locator that generates individual location landing pages. This allows customers to find the closest location without ever leaving the business’s website. Each page should be SEO-optimized, mobile-friendly, have a unique URL and contain relevant, accurate store information, including foolproof driving directions.
According to Search Engine Watch, Placeable’s research reveals that 67% of customers lose faith in a business if they get lost on their way to a store. Plus, doesn’t it just make sense to ensure customers can easily find information about nearby store locations? Details like hours of operation, store address and driving directions should be easy to pin down on the website of a multi-location brand, and the location landing page makes this happen.
As disastrous as these mistakes can be, it’s never too late to learn from the past and improve the future. By being aware of these common errors and putting these solutions into action as soon as possible, businesses can improve their local presence, increase their online visibility, and attract new local customers.