Google recently updated its local search algorithm to factor in more traditional ranking signals that are associated with organic search. If you visit the ‘Improve your local ranking’ page in Google My Business, you’ll see the biggest update has been made to the section on ‘Prominence.’

In a nutshell, Google is trying to give more credence to how ‘well-known’ a business is. For example, well-known brand name stores or popular museums might get a bump. But Google also factors in other information about the business found on the internet, “like links, articles, and directories.”

Additionally, online reviews look to play a larger role in local search. Google states, “[R]eview count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local search ranking.” With this update, we thought it would be a good opportunity to offer a refresher on what businesses should focus on to improve their local search ranking.

Consistent and complete information

It’s imperative that your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent across all of your business directories. This will make it easier for your customers and potential customers to find your business or get in contact with you offline, but it will also help them find you online when conducting Google searches.

Additionally, you should have a completely updated profile with an accurate description of what your business does and what your hours of operation are. According to Google providing detailed, accurate information will help it, “better understand your business and match it to relevant searches.” To learn how to update your business’s Google My Business listing, visit this page.

Include photos

It might seem like a small thing, but adding photos to your Google My Business page can make a huge difference not only on your local search ranking but also whether or not online searchers click on your page. Research by Yelp shows that a business with 1 to 5 reviews and 10 photos sees 200% more views than a business with the same number of reviews and 0 photos. Those visitors will also stay on the page 2.5 times longer on pages with pictures than on pages without.

Collect and manage reviews

Online reviews are important because they give potential customers a sense of what it’s like doing business with you. In addition, online reviews help build trust and credibility with your audience as 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s no longer enough just to collect reviews, Google has now placed more emphasis on responding to reviews because it shows that your business is engaged with its customers and is invested in the feedback it receives. Learn more about responding to online reviews in this blog post.

How online reviews can improve local search

Download our ebook, The Complete Guide to Online Reviews, to learn more about how online reviews are driving purchases. The ebook will show your business how to:

  • Increase the number of reviews you collect each month by up to 15x
  • Improve local search engine optimization
  • Efficiently respond to negative reviews
  • Implement a simple, but effective, review collection process into your daily operations

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