Your Business Needs Local SEO
Google as we know releases hundreds of updates every year and nothing is ever certain. I like to think of it as comparing it to how often we change our clothes before making a final decision. While many of us will predict what Google will release next, it almost never matches up in my opinion. Sometimes these changes can be detrimental to our businesses while others are minor changes. One thing you can count on every year is changes to the local search algorithm. This alone is the reason why we must pay attention to local search.
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Local First, National Second
You cannot succeed beyond your local area if you don’t master this area first. To explain this simply local must come first then you can focus on other areas outside of where you do business. Most know one of the biggest changes in recent years is if you are a Lansing, Michigan business then you are a Lansing business. If you try and optimize your Google Local listing as well as your website you will not rank for anything other than where your business resides. If your business has multiple locations in the surrounding area then I would recommend setting up a separate Google+ Local listing for each business.
Dominate your Local Competition by Increasing your Google Reviews
Many know reviews in general can make or break a business. The reputation of your business is all on your team and how you operate it. Whether you handle your marketing in-house or outsource it there is no company that can fix your reputation other than the business owner themselves. There are multiple review channels that your customers can use we will just focus on one for the sake of this blog.
If you have ever used Google Maps on a smart phone then you will see how easy it is to locate surrounding businesses. From there you can easily pull up the business profile and read about the business. Near the bottom you will find the reviews that have been left by others. Over the years I would say most probably do not leave a review on Google. However since Google has placed this in the forefront it is incredibly important for a couple reasons. 1) Your business profile is at the forefront of your potential customers. 2) Google uses this data to determine where you rank in local search.
You will want to make sure you have access to your Google listing. Google does require you to have a Gmail email address and then from there you will need to claim your listing using Google My Business. Once you have claimed and verified it then you will have access to it as well as be able to grant access to others on your team.
You may be asking yourself how can I increase my Google reviews? The only simple way to explain this is to tell your customers about it. This can be done verbally, at the bottom of their receipt or using a business card that will feature a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. In my own sight it is a barcode on steroids that offers the user an interactive experience using their smart phone. Get creative about inviting your customers to leave a review for your business. Keep in mind not to offer a gift in exchange for a review. DO NOT BUY YOUR AUDIENCE. You want real and authentic.
A Google listing that begins receiving reviews is seen in the eyes of Google as being “active” and “alive”. Many of you will notice if someone goes on to Google’s homepage and types the name of your business you get what is called the Knowledge Graph that appears on the right side with all the ins and outs of your business. Your star rating is in a very prominent location. Your reviews will influence this almost immediately.
The second part of this is the response. You will want to respond to every single review, good or bad. By responding it will help your placement against your competitors in the Local 3-Pack Maps. This may not show for every user who searches on Google so it is better to be safe than sorry. If you choose not to respond to your Google reviews then it will lower your placement amongst your competitors.
Increasing your review quantity and responding is only part of the equation to fully rank in Local Search. Read more on how to rank your local business and the 2015 Local Ranking Factors.