Local search marketing can help small businesses be visible and find customers. They no longer have to compete with large brands that are not location bound in their marketing strategies. At the same time, by focusing on their local area, small businesses will reduce their ad spend on CPC and CPA.
However, many small businesses fail to get their spot in Google 3-Pack and on Google Maps. And this is not only due to competition, but also to mistakes they make in their local search marketing strategy.
To Be or Not To Be in the 3-Pack
The three recommendations users find above the other search results on Google do not appear there by chance. Google spiders perform complex searches to match the user’s intent and location with various businesses.
Therefore, businesses must constantly check that their NAP details (name, address phone number) are accurate and up to date on their website, on the Google My Business profile and on various other local directories.
But this is not the only issue that local businesses need to fix. To help you succeed in your local search marketing strategy, we prepared a list of Dos and Don’ts for this specific area:
DO: Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is the first place where the search engine spiders search when users look for businesses in a specific area. Another best practice in local search marketing is to constantly review, correct and update the information in your Google My Business account.
DON’T: Select the Wrong Category for Your Business
Do not pick a Google My Business category simply because it is popular if it does not describe your business accurately. If your website has a high bounce rate (people leave the website within seconds after reaching it), Google will downgrade its rank.
DO: Encourage Your Customers to Leave Review
Here is a tip for the success of your local search marketing strategy: get reviews on Google My Business. Constantly encourage and ask your loyal customers to say a few things about your business and products.
Google relies on these reviews to select the top 3 businesses which appear in the Local Pack section.
DON’T: Post Fake Reviews
Trust us, Google knows how to spot a fake review. Their algorithm has become so complex and refined, that you cannot fool it. Once you get caught, it will take a lot of time to rebuild your page rank.
DO: Make Sure that Your Business Citations Are Accurate
Once you change your phone number or office address, you should identify all the online directories where you have a business profile and update the information. Google uses citations to match your business with the user’s location. If they find contradicting information, they will not select your website for the 3-Pack section.
DON’T: Use a PO Box Address or 1-800 Phone Number
Make sure that your business address is a real, physical address and you have a local landline phone number. PO boxes and generic 800 numbers do not help the Google spiders confirm your location.
DO: Optimise Content for Local Searches
Whenever appropriate, add your location to your main keywords. For instance “family law office in Sydney” is a very good long tail keyword for local searches. This should become a best practice when you create social media posts, blog posts and throughout your website (especially in the About Us and Contact pages).
DON’T: Add Too Many Locations in the Website Footer
If you operate from several locations, you should optimise your content for each of them. However, do this with care, keeping in mind that Google does not like keyword stuffing. Thus, you will do yourself a big disservice if you copy/paste the list of all the cities/areas where you have offices in the footer of your website.
Last, but not least, be very careful when you are rebranding your business. If you change your business name, you must update all the online listings and conduct and appropriate PR campaign to inform your clients ahead of time.