Three simple things you should be doing to improve Google local search

Google Local Search

Don’t you just wish that Google would slow down for just a little bit so you can catch up? They are constantly updating and fine-tuning their algorithm to provide the best possible experience for searchers. Which I appreciate as a person who frequently makes search engine queries. But as someone responsible for online marketing, it makes my job a little harder than I would like.

With all these changes happening on a regular basis, sometimes we can lose focus on the basic building blocks of our local SEO strategy as we chase after the shiny new object. In this post we’re going to give you a little refresher on three easy things you should focus on that will pay huge dividends to your Google local search ranking.

Keep your business listings up-to-date

If you’re old like me, you remember searching for businesses in the Yellow Pages. If a business wasn’t listed in your local Yellow Pages, it was almost like it didn’t exist. But nowadays there are dozens and dozens of online business listings consumers can use to find your business, including YP.com the digital successor to the Yellow Pages.

Having up-to-date, accurate listings in these directories will give your local SEO a huge boost, but many businesses don’t take the time to do so. According to a survey by ConstantContact, while a vast majority of small businesses recognize the importance of local search directories, 49 percent of respondents said they have never updated their listings.

To help you get started here’s a list of the top-10 online local business directories for local marketing according to HubSpot. You can check out the full list of 50 here.

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo!
  4. Yelp
  5. Facebook
  6. Better Business Bureau
  7. Angie’s List
  8. MerchantCircle
  9. LinkedIn
  10. YP.com

To update your listing, the first thing you need to do is claim your business online, which is something many people fail to do. Review the details about your business. Are they correct? If not, update them. Next, take a look at the images associated with your listing. Do they accurately portray your business? Consider uploading high res photos of your building’s exterior and interior to give your customers a better idea of what it’s like to do business with you. Finally, make sure the descriptions you include are filled with keywords that are relevant to your business, so you are easier for the search engines to find.

Accurate name, address, and phone number

According to Moz, on-page signals like name, address and phone number (NAP) are the number 1 factor that helps determine local search ranking. It’s important that your NAP information is consistent across the business directories mentioned previously. It’s not enough that the information is correct, it should also be consistent. What I mean by that is the format should be the same across the board.

To make sure the search engines have all the information they need, you’ll want to use Schema.org markup. Check out this article on Search Engine Land for more details.

Collect and manage online reviews

Recent updates to the Google local search algorithm have given more weight to online business reviews. While search engine results are determined primarily by your business’ content and how relevant it is to the query, local search also takes into account things like your distance from the searcher and prominence.

A business’ prominence is made up of a number of different factors, including how prominent it is in the offline world as well as the amount of information Google has about a business – i.e. links, articles, directory listings, and Google reviews. But it’s not enough to just have a large volume of high-quality reviews, Google local search also factors in whether or not a business is responding to and engaging with reviews. Many businesses that are successfully collecting and managing reviews have implemented an online review management platform to help them streamline the invitation process.

Google’s algorithm is going to be constantly evolving, but if you focus on the basics discussed in this post, your business will always be in a good position to succeed and get noticed by consumers.

Improve Google local search with Podium

Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help your business use text messages to invite your happiest customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business collect 15x the reviews that traditional platforms produce, which in turn will improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.

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