local seo optimization, local search seo, local seo marketing, online reputation management

Managing Your Online Reputation Using Local SEO

Psst… don’t look now, but customers are searching your small business online. 

These days:

What’s more: 92% of local searchers end up choosing a company on Google’s first page, with the top listing getting more than 33% of that traffic.

And if your marketing strategy isn’t built for local SEO, you’re not only missing the chance to grab prime search engine real estate, but to grab consumer attention, turn clicks into customers and develop the online reputation you need to compete and grow your business.

What is local SEO optimization?

Local SEO optimization is the strategy by which you improve your business ranking and reputation on local search pages. An effective local SEO marketing solution gives your business the local search visibility, authority and reach to promote your products and services to local customers when they’re searching them online.

In other words, the right local search engine optimization service equips you with the SEO tools and strategy to maximize your competitive position, ensuring you’re among the first businesses customers see and trust for the things they need most exactly when they need them.

local seo optimization, local search seo, local seo marketing, online reputation management

Whereas global corporate entities most often have multiple locations, broad reach and significant brand recognition, small-to-midsized companies depend more on smaller, more targeted audiences to succeed, making local ranking strategies key to standing out and thriving in the marketplace.

What is local search?

Local searches tend to be much narrower in scope and have more purchase intent behind them than broader Google queries. Rather than seeking information on say, ‘how to fix my water heater,’ a local search query might be worded as ‘water heater repair near me’ or ‘water heater tech in {location},’ providing the consumer specific results on companies they can choose from in their local area. 

Once Google knows the user location or local intent, it can deliver the suggestions they’re seeking in the form of local search engine results pages (SERPs)—those based on the exact area listed in the query. 

What to know: Nearly HALF of all Google searches are location based or have ‘local intent.’

This is what makes an investment in local SEO so important. While you still want to target informational searches that position you as an expert in your field (i.e. ‘how to fix your water heater’), it’s your approach to local SEO optimization that determines how you connect with local shoppers and rank on local SERPs. 

What shows up on local SERPs?

Local search engine results pages feature location-specific info in blocks commonly known as the ‘local pack’ (aka 3-pack). This section appears beneath the results map on the first page of Google and highlights the three business listings Google deems most relevant to the local search query. 

Here’s a look at local search results or 3-pack for ‘water heater services near me’:

As you’ll see, the results in local search are quite different from those in standard SERPs, including anything from hours and ratings to your company’s contact info.

local seo optimization, local search seo, local seo marketing, online reputation management

But though it may seem like Google is pulling this info from your business website, 3-pack elements actually come from your Google My Business (GMB) profile, a core component of local search pages and now a crucial consideration of any local SEO marketing strategy.

Addressing and improving your local listing SEO in Google My Business can pay off big time in terms of online reputation, visibility and conversions.

local seo optimization, local search seo, local seo marketing, online reputation management

A closer look at Google My Business

Simply put, Google My Business (GMB) is your company profile on Google. Once known as Google Local, GMB offers consumers who search your brand a host of information about your business, including your address and phone number, a brief description of what you do, the services you provide and hours of operation. 

These details are familiarly provided at the top right (PC) or top (mobile) of SERPs in what’s known as a Knowledge Panel.

But while much of your GMB profile includes info you submitted yourself, other notable features like Q&As, attributes and Google Reviews are almost entirely out of your hands. These items are created by consumers who, in an ideal world, offered such info based on direct experience with your company.

Because the Knowledge Panel is so prominent in local and branded SERPs—and is the point from which all 3-pack info is derived—your local SEO optimization strategy must include updating and improving your Google My Business profile. 

Ensuring your GMB is accurate and addressing your Google Reviews (quickly, politely and honestly) helps give your profile a trustworthy, appealing vibe while increasing the likelihood of a 3-pack appearance. 

What to know: You may claim, add or revise your GMB listing here

But even though your GMB has a powerful impact on your local SEO and, by extension, your online reputation, it’s just one instance of what’s widely known as a business ‘citation.’

What are business citations?

A business citation is any place on the web that includes your Name, Address, Phone number and Website URL (NAPW) together. Citations can typically be found on local business listings websites, online directories and social platforms.

And just like your GMB profile, it’s critical not only to get your local business citations consistent and in order, but also to maximize your citation presence across the internet, making sure your business appears in all the places your customers are searching for your services. 

Your local SEO marketing strategy and business reputation depend on it. 

To start, it’s important to understand the two basic types of citations out there:

1. Structured

Structured citations generally pop up in business listings, such as on GMB, Yelp, Yahoo and others. Typically, these citations are generated by filling out form fields when your listings are claimed.

2. Unstructured

Unstructured citations aren’t usually displayed in a strict format, but rather the result of social media or a local news piece centered on the business. 

What to know: Inconsistent citations can devastate your online reputation. A recent survey found nearly 7 of 10 consumers will stop using your business when they find an inaccurate listing online. 

Citations matter big time in local search SEO. Maintaining a strong slate of business citations across the web is essential to spreading your business throughout local SERPs and getting noticed fast. If your strategy doesn’t involve capitalizing on citation opportunities, and making sure they’re updated regularly, you’ll slip out of sight and mind in a hurry.

Does your brand stand out in local search? Take this brief quiz to find out.

What local search SEO tools can help my online reputation?

Effective local search optimization can help you control your presence and narrative across important local SERPs, providing the boost in visibility and credibility you need to convey trust, cultivate customer loyalty and compel brand interaction. A comprehensive, customized local SEO strategy increases your local footprint while reinforcing your position as the authority and trendsetter in your local industry. 

5 local SEO tools and tactics that can make the most difference for your small business:

                  1. Citation building
                  2. Optimizing your GMB
                  3. Website localization
                  4. Managing your local reviews
                  5. Obtaining quality backlinks

 

1. Citation building

As the heart of local SEO, your business citation presence is what pumps life into and throughout your brand. Ensuring your NAPW (Name, Address, Phone and Website) info is accurate, up-to-date and accessible wherever possible helps customers locate your company and provides the additional assets you need to grow across local SERPs. It also helps avoid the disconnects that can hurt your local reputation, ranking and bottom line.

2. Optimizing your GMB

As we’ve shown, Google My Business is what Google uses to populate local 3-packs during each local search. It’s also what shows up prominently during every search of your business (Knowledge Panel). Taking ownership of your GMB profile is an important first step in mastering your presence on local SERPS and on the widely used Google Maps feature. 

What to know: Only 56% of retail companies haven’t claimed their GMB listing, making it important to strike while the iron’s hot!

3. Website localization

Small business website localization can make your site an attractive target for search engines looking to supply more relevant results to local customers. Localizing your website to include natural mentions of your city or region nurtures an association between your services and your area while amplifying your visibility for critical local search terms. Articles covering local events can also strengthen local SEO and ties to your community. 

4. Managing your reviews

There’s an undeniable link between online reviews and reputation. And with proper ratings and review management, you can not only showcase your commitment to quality and customer service, but also signal Google that your site and services are legit, useful and trusted by local consumers. 

Reviews and review sites are important factors in how you rank in local search. And having a proper, effective review response, monitoring and promotions approach is an essential aspect of good local SEO marketing. 

5. Obtaining quality backlinks

When trusted websites link back to your blog or homepage, they’re showing Google your value as a trusted source of information. And the more natural backlinks you obtain from local bloggers, newspapers and business organizations, the stronger your content and your brand get in local search pages—the result of enhanced visibility and credibility that may do wonders for your small business. 

As local SEO best practices go, getting relevant, high-quality backlinks is one of the most effective ways to propel your brand to the top. 

Is your reputation resonating with local consumers? Learn your brand relevance and how you measure up here

Reasons to consider local SEO marketing for your business

With a customized, comprehensive local search SEO as part of your marketing strategy gives your small business the power to:

Target and promote to local customers

People conduct local searches for two reasons: 1) to find local businesses, and 2) to locate a product or service. Local SEO optimization gives you the tools to not only target local customers and promote your goods, but to position your business as the solution they need when they need it most. 

Improve conversions dramatically

Of all local advertising channels, local SEO for small business is one of the best ways to improve local ranking and your online conversion rate. Because local business directories tend to dominate local search listings, a robust local SEO strategy that includes local directory marketing can result in a much higher conversion rate than that of more traditional options (up to 50% in some cases). 

In other words, a proactive approach to expanding and streamlining your business directory presence may provide a major boost to your bottom line. 

Enhance your local review profile

More than 80% of consumers are turned off by bad reviews. Conversely, over 90% cite positive local reviews as strong inspiration for doing business with your company. 9 out of 10! 

In a climate where online reviews are so important, pumping up your review profile with a local search SEO strategy is no longer just important; it’s essential to building an online reputation that enables survival and produces tangible results. 

Reap an impressive ROI

Local SEO optimization is great for improving your local reputation online. But as a highly targeted marketing strategy, it’s also an efficient and cost-effective way to reach prospects when they’re searching your services, leading to very little wasted exposure and the potential for a large return on investment. 

Unlike traditional marketing modes (direct mail, newspaper ads, etc.), local business SEO doesn’t cast a broad net and hope for the next big catch; it generates specific, trackable results exactly where you need them.

Local SEO marketing services that target your potential

A data-driven local SEO strategy is a powerful weapon to have in your online arsenal, providing the tools you need to carve out your local footprint, strengthen your online reputation and grow your business to the next level. 

As the web’s leading digital marketing and ORM solutions team, Reputation Sciences™ has the tools and technology to help you realize your local SEO potential, and ensure you’re reaching customers when and where they need you most. 

To get started and schedule your comprehensive online brand audit, call 866-427-2206. 

For the latest updates and trends in #localSEO, check out our Facebook and Twitter.

Brandon P

Brandon Purdum manages the content team at ReputationSciences.com and Marca Global. His specialty is writing content that informs and inspires people to take control of their online rep. In his free time, he enjoys trying to keep up with his four-year-old and avoiding his novel like the plague.

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