In a global economy that has near-instant access to everything, maybe it’s time to start thinking local.
Mobile internet is responsible for an ever increasing share of the world’s search traffic, and people aren’t just searching from their mobile device, they’re searching local. The thing is, most don’t realize that this isn’t just a niche audience… it’s estimated that 2014 will be the year that more searches will be performed from local devices than from your laptop or desktop at home.
Why does this matter?
Mobile search traffic is largely local and businesses are overlooking the value of local search engine optimization. This is set to becoming a booming industry and yet it’s largely being ignored by those it could be benefitting the most – local businesses.
Here’s what your business needs to do to successfully ride the mobile wave into local search riches.
Claim your business on Google Places and Facebook
It’s estimated that only 37% of all businesses have taken the time to claim their listings and create a page on Google Places and Facebook. This is by far the easiest of all the tasks related to local and mobile search, yet nobody is doing it. It takes 10 minutes, and it’s absolutely critical to your local search success. Get on it.
Once it’s claimed, it’s time to start optimizing. Make sure your business is listed under the correct category, uses keywords related to the product or service you’re trying to sell and ensure that all the information is accurate. I can’t be the only one that gets extremely frustrated when trying to contact a business that I know is open only to reach a disconnected number due to a typo when creating the listing. Optimize and double check everything in the listing, all local search efforts start here!
Create a mobile version of your site
Most local search takes places on mobile devices so it makes sense to create a page that’s easy for them to see. We’re in the days of responsive web design, and most web templates are actually being created so that they scale and look great on everything from a huge monitor to an iPod touch.
Give mobile searchers what they’re looking for
Most mobile searchers are looking for one of three things: an address, a phone number or hours of operation. As simple as this seems, most businesses are overlooking the importance of adding these items on their home page. The address and the phone number should appear on every page, and the hours of operation need to be on the home page at a bear minimum.
Clean up your online reputation
This should go without saying, but online reputation management can make or break your business. We’re living in the world of instant feedback and sites like Google Places, Twitter and Yelp! make it easier than ever for a dissatisfied customer to share their frustration with the world. Google Places and Yelp! reviews remain indefinitely and appear prominently in the search engines. It’s time to clean up bad reviews and avoid future reviews that could be deemed negative. This is often as easy as reaching out to a customer and asking for a second chance. Offer them a coupon or a freebie of some sort to get them back in the door and then don’t ruin it! After they get to re-experience your business, ask them to update the review.
Paid local search options
Both Facebook and Google (the world’s two most popular PPC providers) allow you to target ads to a local audience or a specific mobile platform. Take advantage!
The items above should give you a solid start into the world of local search, but this isn’t by any means an all-inclusive list. There is still a lot of work to do but you can’t run until you can walk… start walking!