In decades past, all a company needed to be visible in the local community was a noticeable entry in the phone book and a good reputation that could spread by word of mouth. Today’s digital world is a little different, creating a strong need for web visibility, particularly in the local market. Instead of flipping through the phone book for a roofer, a painter, or a babysitter, over 85% of adults take to the web, scouring reviews, web pages, and social media accounts to look for a good fit. Local business searches are two times more likely to make a sale, making a strong first impression key.
In order to highlight local businesses, Google created Google Local, a search tool highlighting the top local businesses matching searched keywords, creating an extra boost to companies who make the cut. The top three companies that come up in a search are immediately more visible, providing web users with easy access to contact information, hours, and reviews. For businesses, this kind of visibility can be incredibly important, making a coveted Google Local position a great way to drive business and create a reputation. Earning a Google Local spot may seem like a significant undertaking, but with a few tweaks, you and your business can book your rank, increase your visibility, and build a winning online reputation.
Enhance Your Web Presence
The number one way to achieve a higher Google Local rank is to build a stronger web presence. Old, outdated websites can be more harmful than you think, driving potential customers towards competitors with larger, more informative web pages. A site with a professional appearance, straightforward navigation, clear and concise information, and numerous contact methods can make a huge difference in how your customers perceive you. Over 75% of web users admit to judging a company’s reputation by its website, so make sure you invest in improvements where it counts.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Think a great website is enough to dominate the web? Think again. Social media presence can drive a huge boost in search engine results, increasing your visibility, connecting with potential customers, and driving traffic to your website. Social media is largely free to use, allowing you to build a way to network without tapping into your marketing budget. Communication through social means is immediate, giving your customers a better way to reach out to you with questions and concerns, creating a bond between you and your target audience. When someone searches for your industry in your area, providing more resources is always better.
Build Up Your Reviews
Word of mouth was enough to create a reputation in the days before digital marketing, but today, your reviews count for far more. 88% of consumers trust reviews on sites like BBB.org, Yelp!, Google+, and TripAdvisor as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family, making what the public has to say about you incredibly important. While you can’t write good reviews yourself, you can urge your customers to do so for you, offering discounts and drawings for those who leave honest online feedback. There’s always a chance of neutral or negative reviews, but these can be learning experiences, helping you identify what practices to change in order to ensure every customer is happy with have you have to offer.
Take Your Site Mobile
In the early days of the mobile web, having any kind of website was enough. Since the roll out of Google’s new Panda algorithm, however, a site adapted for mobile is a must. Panda prioritizes responsive web design and mobile-specific sites, ranking them higher on mobile devices than companies who have chosen to stick solely to desktop. A high ranking on your home computer is a plus, but visibility across all devices is necessary to increase your ranking. Now that mobile web traffic has surpassed desktop use, an inadequate mobile site can be a serious problem for small businesses looking to grow a web presence. Mobile sites will only continue to grow in prominence, meaning that an investment now can pay off in the future.
Whether you love technology or you could live without it, there’s no denying what search engine results can do for companies in a local market. Google Local can be an invaluable tool for small businesses seeking growth, driving customers to your page, increasing online presence, and creating a foundation for local prominence. By enhancing your website and social media presence, promoting positive online reviews, and going mobile, you can give your business the tools it needs to see an increased rank, a stronger reputation, the boost in revenue you’ve been hoping for.