Did you know that more than 85% of brand engagement by consumers is done through local business listings, landing pages, and search results? One study shows, more than 88% of people research products online before purchasing. With numbers like these, local search marketing shouldn’t be overlooked. Because of its high probability of obtaining new customers and sales for your business, implementing local search marketing strategies into your business goals is key. Let’s cover the basics with these 3 tips:

1. Google My Business Listing

With Google searches accounting for nearly three-quarters of all search engine queries, building a local search strategy with Google is fundamental. Google My Business is a business feature for brick and mortars to use, showcasing hours, photos & user reviews on Google and other search result pages. When customers search for a business using Google or Maps, the Google My Business result is prominently shown. Proactively managing this result can help a business control how it appears to users who search. It is easy to set up, there is even an app for that!

To keep customers engaged when they interact with a “Google My Business” listing, try these tactics:

  • Use Images that POP
  • Read and respond to user reviews to show them their opinions matter
  • Keep business hours up-to-date
  • Complete & Verify Your Listing with Google
  • Always include the business website

Google My Business insights help can indicate how customers are interacting with your brand i.e. if they’re requesting directions, visiting your website or calling you from the listing. Google offers a robust amount of resources & tracking tools:

  • AdSense
  • Business Solutions
  • G Suite
  • Google Maps
  • Think with Google
  • Work with Google
  • Test my Site

The data received from these tools can optimize customer interactions. For example, leaving directions in a voicemail greeting, or making sure staff members are trained properly to complete actions on calls. High rating reviews on Google means it is more likely a business will appear in top results for general searches.

2. List Your Business on Local Directories

Depending on your industry, there are many other search directories out there that you should consider having a presence on. Think beyond local. For example, someone might search, “Phoenix Digital Marketing Consulting Angie’s List”, pairing a nationwide directory with a local city in a single search.

HubSpot has a good comprehensive list of 50 online local business directories to consider. In addition to optimizing listings on other general search engines like Bing and Yahoo!, consider creating and managing business profiles for these sites:

Yelp: In Q2 2018, Yelp had 72 million unique visitors via mobile web. By the end of Q2 2018, Yelpers had written approximately 163 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists.

Facebook: Facebook is continually evolving its local search functionality, and with more than 2 billion global users every month, it’s a formidable player in local search. Optimize a Facebook business page with keywords related to your business and industry. Pay attention to and respond to user comments and reviews, and make sure all contact information is up-to-date. Use a call to action button like “Contact Us” to make it easy for Facebook users to get in touch with your business.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is not just a social network for B2B enterprises. With more than 545 million users, LinkedIn is a site visited daily by professionals from diverse industries. Companies can reach this wide audience by optimizing their company pages and posting engaging content on their feeds. This helps to increase visibility across the network and gives users a way to get in touch with businesses on a more personal level.

Additionally, you’ll want to be sure to search for “[local business directories] + [your industry]” to see top sites related to your business. Reaching out to your local Chamber of Commerce Online. Is another great local play. Each city website offers a business directory to its visitors that includes industry-specific listings. Use your website analytics tool to see where your referrers are coming from. This can help you learn if updating a page on a local directory or improving your review management on a certain site is beneficial.

Best Practices for Local Search Management

Customers opinions are powerful! their reviews are trusted and can influence peers, local businesses can also follow best practices to improve local search standings. Consider these techniques:

Optimize your pages: Treat your local listings the way you would your own website pages. Properly optimize your website and brand your pages with real-time information. When you’re open, a phone number and an email address that work, etc. Write informed descriptions that include keywords relevant to your business to increase your search presence.

Claim vanity URLs: On sites like Facebook where you can create a custom URL with your brand name in it, do so. This makes you more searchable in search engines and helps you protect your brand.

Respond to reviews: Consider the same principles you would apply in face to face interactions with the customer as principles you would execute online. It’s inevitable that you will have at least one customer who will leave negative reviews because they’re angry and want your attention. Respond honestly and with compassion. This can help to increase their satisfaction, they might even remove the negative review altogether. This will signal to other customers that your business cares about its clients.

Solicit more positive reviews: Use in-person compliments or email messages praising your business as opportunities to form relationships with customers. Ask for further support on review sites. For example, if someone speaks highly of your business, ask for a review on one of your review sites.

Don’t forget to utilize your own website to highlight these attributes. In today’s market, it is all about the customer journey. You have to develop more personal relationships with your potential clientele. If you want to receive true organic referrals be sure to implement these local search tactics and gain a brand reputation worth talking about.