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Leveraging Local SEO - How to Connect with Customers Precisely When They Need You

June 29, 2018

Today’s online searches are dominated by queries regarding local businesses and attractions; their products, services and general information about them. If a local business can successfully feature in the results for these searches through local SEO (search engine optimisation), they stand to boost their online visibility and increase online and offline conversions. Search engine result pages (SERPs) are now full of Google-owned Special Content Result Blocks (SCRBs), making organic search results less visible. An attentive local SEO effort is now essential to get coverage in the screen-grabbing SCRBs. Let’s look at what local SEO is and how we use it to help our clients connect with their prospective local customers.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO sees businesses targeting customers in their local area, online. A case-in-point example of successful SEO would see a Fitzroy, New Plymouth car garage feature in the search results when a potential customer nearby performs a Google search for ‘Fitzroy car garage’. This sees the business showcased at the exact moment the customer needs them, meaning the lead will likely translate to an online or offline enquiry.

As Google move to dominate search results with SCRBs, we can make the most of this by targeting users in specific locations and with specific intents.

What is the Google ‘Local Pack’ and why is it the holy grail of local SEO?

Ultimately, the Fitzroy car garage will feature in the Google SCRB known as the ‘Local Pack’. Inside the Local Pack is a Google map of the user’s local area with listings of three businesses that best relate to the user’s search. The listings include company details such as name, address, phone number, opening hours and reviews.

The Local Pack sits on the SERP just below any AdWords (pay-per-click) listings, but above all organic results. If your business makes it into this prime screen estate, it’s a stamp of approval and legitimacy in the eyes of the end user that will help increase your conversion rate and reinforce your brand. Another way to look at it is like your company has been shortlisted to receive the customer’s business – you’re in the final three, making for pretty good odds of converting!

 

Five steps to penetrate the Google Local Pack

So, we’ve covered what the Local Pack is and why inclusion can be a very powerful tool for businesses serving their local community. Now, let’s look at the steps we take at Apex Digital to get our clients featuring in the Local Pack.

  1. First up we create and verify a Google My Business (GMB) listing for our client. GMB is like a digital business card that communicates all your company’s contact details and information like opening hours to your perspective customers searching via Google. The listing is free to claim and verify for businesses which meet Google’s criteria and it helps the company’s chances of appearing on Google Maps and in the coveted Local Pack.
  2. We then make sure our client’s information (name, address, phone number, website, opening hours, etc.) are consistent across the web and any directories they may be listed on. Inconsistency here can harm the chances of making it into the Local Pack.
  3. Then we encourage positive engagement by helping our client attract reviews and wherever relevant, reply to them in an authentic manner.
  4. If our client is a chain with multiple locations, one approach we can use is to create useful, local content rich location-specific landing pages. We may refer to local customers the client works with, or local sponsorships or community involvement..
  5. As the Local Pack becomes an increasingly popular sight in Google’s SERPs, we are also seeing more AdWords ads popping up inside it. For clients using AdWords this offers another opportunity to bolster their level of visibility in the local pack.

How to maintain your GMB listing and keep penetrating the Local Pack?

We recommend frequent maintenance of GMB listings because kind-at-heart customers, business rivals and evil deed-doers can all ‘Suggest an edit’ to any GMB listing. These can (and often do) result in live changes that are made without the listing owner’s approval. That’s why we pay very close attention to our client’s GMB listings to ensure all their information is up-to-date and ‘edit’ free. Don’t be too alarmed though, the pros of having a GMB listing and making it into the Local Pack far outweigh any temporary impact of a wayward ‘edit’. On that note, we’ll also continue to scour the web for incorrect or inaccurate listings or citations relating to our client’s business and update them accordingly.

An excellent way to harness the power of your GMB listing is to make the most of the new features Google have recently bought to the fold. These include Google Posts, which lets us make an impromptu ad for our client (that’s free to list). It could be promoting an event or a sale they are running. These posts can include text, an image, CTAs and actionable headlines to help engage customers.

Another of the interactive features Google have included in GMB is the ability to converse with your audience via the Questions & Answers section. This lets would-be customers ask questions about a company such as ‘Do you deliver on weekends?’ or ‘Do you have Fly Buys?’. The GMB listing owner receives notifications when a question is asked, and they can answer the question for all to see. Listing owners can also ask and answer a question themselves to address of common query they receive, or to flag a new development. Think of it as an on-the-fly FAQ section.

Hopefully you’re now local SEO savvy and would like to learn more about promoting your business using local SEO. If so, take a gander here. If you’d like to know more about GMB listings and how you can make your business world famous, locally, then get a load of this.

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Filed under Digital Marketing

Written by

Mark is the Manager of Digital Marketing at Apex and has worked in the digital marketing industry since 2004. Prior to joining Apex he worked in a variety of traditional marketing roles in both the corporate and SME environment in NZ and abroad, but these days much prefers the tangible measurability and transparency of digital marketing.

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