What do you do when you’re looking for a local product or service?
Some people ask their friends and family for recommendations, some look on Facebook, and some people who refuse to adapt to the digital world we live in might even reach for the phone book.
But the answer you came up with in your head as soon as you read the question probably wasn’t any of the things I just mentioned.
It was probably more along the lines of “Google it.”
In fact, there’s evidence (directly from Google) to support that “4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.”
And that’s was from 2014! I have no doubt that stat has continued to increase since then as technology has become more and more prevalent in our lives.
So if you’re own a local Mexican Restaurant, can you see how powerful it could be to come up at the top of Google when some Google’s (to Google is universally considered a verb now, right?) “Mexican Restaurant in [city]” or “Mexican Restaurant near me?”
…You can’t see how powerful it is?
What if I told you that 50% of people who conduct a local search visit a store within a single day?
Think about it…
When someone searches for a Mexican restaurant in Google, it’s usually because they’re looking for a Mexican restaurant to go to!
That’s why Google and other search engines are so powerful: it’s intent based search.
In other words, people are actively seeking out information – as opposed to something like Facebook Advertising where people aren’t seeking out the information, but rather it’s up to the advertiser to put an attractive looking ad in front of them to pique the viewer’s interest.
If you want to grow your local business, you need to dominate local search results
It’s as simple as that.
With the amount of power that search results have and the fact that at least 80% of people use it to find information about local businesses, it’s a no-brainer.
If you’re not appearing in those search results, then your competitors are – and they’re going to get more business than you as a result.
So how do you improve your local search rankings?
Without doing all the funky SEO and keyword optimization stuff on the back end, here are three simple and effective ways you can start to improve your ranking in Google.
1. Optimize Your Listing On Search Engines
Just having a listing on Google (or Bing) isn’t enough to make your business rank higher and stand out from the rest of the pack.
You’re going to need to verify your business listing by going to google.com/business and follow the steps there to verify your business. Google will send you a postcard with a PIN number on it and you’ll just need to enter it to confirm your listing.
On top of doing that, you’re going to fill out your business profile as much as possible with your address, hours, phone number, email address, website, pictures, and so on.
Basically, the more information you can give Google, the better you’ll do in search results.
2. Get Listed In Online Directories
Search engines like Google and Bing pull information on your business from just about every directory you can think of online.
There’s Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List. But there are also directories you might not think of or know about like Foursquare, Superpages, and Localeze.
By getting your business listed and your profile filled out on all of these platforms, you’ll have your best chance of appearing higher in search engines.
3. Get Reviews
Having reviews is crucial. Not only is it social proof that might help a potential customer move forward with you instead of your competitor, but it’ll help you rank better in search as well.
With all the different review sites out there, how do you manage to get reviews on all these different platforms?
Well, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin – Try to focus on just getting reviews on Google and Facebook.
Focus on Google because that’s where people do most of their searches and those reviews will come up directly on the google search results page.
So even if your listing comes up third in a Google search, if you have more and better reviews than the two listings above you, you might still win the bacon on that search.
Social proof goes a long ways – even online!
In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation according to BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey.
You should also focus on getting Facebook reviews because that’s where so many people are spending time!
Not to mention, Facebook reviews can get shared around to friends and family – and if you’re managing your business’s Facebook page effectively, you’re going to want those reviews to share on your page on a regular basis.
Not sure how to start getting reviews?
If you want something, sometimes all you need to do is ask.
Over 70% of people will leave a review for a business when they’re asked! (Also from BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey.)
Especially if you have a good relationship with your customers, more often than not they’ll be happy to leave you a review!
So send out an email to your business’s email list, post on Facebook, and/or let people know when they walk into your store that you’d appreciate it if they left you a review on Google or Facebook – you might even want to offer them some kind of incentive like a discount or chance to win a raffle prize.