Why Local Search Management Is A Critical Brand-Building Tool

A busi­ness that neglects local search is not only wast­ing a valu­able oppor­tu­ni­ty, but it also could be putting its entire online rep­u­ta­tion at risk.

Troy Smith By Troy Smith from Search Optics. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Far from its per­cep­tion as an SEO after­thought, local search has the poten­tial to fos­ter cus­tomer trust and loy­al­ty – or, con­verse­ly, to inter­rupt the buy­ing jour­ney at any stage. If you want to gen­er­ate high-qual­i­ty leads, get more cus­tomers through your doors, and dri­ve sales, then you should vig­i­lant­ly mon­i­tor direc­to­ry list­ings and reviews for your busi­ness. Here’s why.

When dig­i­tal mar­keters think about SEO, we usu­al­ly have organ­ic search in mind. From opti­miz­ing a web­site with rel­e­vant key­words to devel­op­ing high-qual­i­ty con­tent tar­get­ing shop­pers at every stage of the buy­ing jour­ney, we employ a vari­ety of tac­tics to improve the organ­ic search rank­ings of our brands. And with good rea­son: organ­ic search plays a crit­i­cal role in get­ting a brand noticed, dri­ving cus­tomers toward mak­ing a pur­chase. The prob­lem? With organ­ic search get­ting so much atten­tion, we some­times for­get about local search, even though it’s just as indis­pens­able to a brand’s online pres­ence. Think about the last time you planned to vis­it a store and need­ed to know its loca­tion or hours of oper­a­tion. That infor­ma­tion is deliv­ered as part of local search results. A busi­ness could expe­ri­ence dis­as­trous con­se­quences if this infor­ma­tion were unavail­able or incor­rect. To put it anoth­er way: imag­ine con­nect­ing with poten­tial cus­tomers through­out their buy­ing jour­ney, only to lose them just before they make a pur­chase.

How To Give Local Search The Attention It Deserves

We should start by see­ing local search for what it is — a dis­tinct dis­ci­pline inde­pen­dent from SEO as a whole. More than just an exer­cise to make sure local search isn’t over­looked, this approach reflects the fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent ways organ­ic and local search func­tion. Even though organ­ic and local search work hand-in-hand, local search appears on a dif­fer­ent part of the search results page and uses a unique algo­rithm to pull infor­ma­tion from a spe­cif­ic set of sources. That’s why lump­ing local search into your over­all SEO strat­e­gy will prove inef­fec­tive. How­ev­er, sep­a­rat­ing local search and devel­op­ing cam­paigns around it can open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties to reach cus­tomers and entice them to move through the pur­chase fun­nel. Local search plays a role in every stage of the buy­ing jour­ney – from ini­tial aware­ness to research to final pur­chase deci­sion – which makes it a pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing tool when prop­er­ly man­aged. But what many busi­ness own­ers don’t real­ize is that they are account­able for ensur­ing the accu­ra­cy of their own local search data. Here’s why busi­ness­es must address two par­tic­u­lar areas of local search that are crit­i­cal for reach­ing cus­tomers: direc­to­ry list­ings and online reviews.

Directory Listings

Any time a poten­tial cus­tomer search­es your busi­ness, the loca­tion, hours of oper­a­tion, and oth­er key details will appear in the local search sec­tion of the page. Regard­less of whether a cus­tomer has just heard of your busi­ness or is close to mak­ing a pur­chase, this infor­ma­tion will like­ly have an impact on their deci­sion-mak­ing process. By claim­ing and ver­i­fy­ing your direc­to­ry list­ings, which typ­i­cal­ly involves request­ing and fill­ing out a phys­i­cal post­card to ver­i­fy your loca­tion, you ensure that you can update your list­ings with the infor­ma­tion you want cus­tomers to see. You also have the option to add enhanced con­tent ele­ments, such as pho­tos and text descrip­tions, which can sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve user engage­ment with your list­ing. Although claim­ing and updat­ing list­ings across more than 50 dif­fer­ent direc­to­ries might seem like a tedious process, you’ll quick­ly see the ben­e­fits of pre­sent­ing a clear, uni­fied brand image to cus­tomers on any search engine.

Online Reviews

Vast num­bers of online shop­pers – whether its moms research­ing baby prod­ucts or cus­tomers con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a tablet – rely on online reviews to make pur­chase deci­sions. Cus­tomer reviews about your busi­ness will appear along with local search results any time a user enters your brand’s name into a search engine. These reviews will like­ly serve as a cor­ner­stone of your cus­tomers’ pur­chase deci­sion, so make sure you mon­i­tor and prompt­ly respond to every review you receive. Why every one? Because respond­ing to neg­a­tive reviews can go a long way toward alle­vi­at­ing ques­tions and doubt about your busi­ness that may have been raised by the review­er. And respond­ing to pos­i­tive reviews is a sim­ple way to inspire loy­al­ty by telling cus­tomers how much you appre­ci­ate their busi­ness; plus, it lays the ground­work for more pos­i­tive reviews in the future.

Troy Smith

Written by Troy Smith

President, Search Optics

Troy Smith is president of Search Optics, a leading digital marketing provider with a specialty in automotive. Troy has a diverse background in digital marketing, technology, automotive and sales, and he helps thousands of automotive dealers and OEMs integrate digital marketing campaigns that emphasize quality lead generation.

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