By Rochelle Sanchirico
There are no good Thai restaurants within 3 miles of my house, which is a serious source of frustration in my household. So invariably, around once a month, we decide to look farther afield and try out a new place when the Thai craving strikes. And just like most people do these days, we turn to a search engine to make this job manageable.
Search engines are smart enough to know when you’re searching for something that has a local flavor—restaurants, salons, banks, and other location-based businesses of that ilk. Then they’ll return locally-based results based on your IP address or other geography-determining factors. So if you’re a local business, how can you be sure that you’re 1) showing up and 2) putting your best foot forward in local search results?
In order to show up in locally-based searches, you need to make sure that the search engines are aware of your business through digital assets that they index.
What are examples of this?
- Social profiles: Search engines are giving more and more credence to social profiles, so it makes a lot of sense to get a robust profile and presence set up on those that have the most bearing on local results. Facebook is a top local search social platform, but Pinterest, Instagram, and other platforms may work well based on the nature of your business and the social savviness of your locale. To be effective, all profiles should include at least your business name, a general description of your offerings, location (street address), contact information (telephone and email), website URL, and hours of operation.
- Directories and review sites: Is your business showing up in all of the main local directories, which often float to the top of local search results? Think Yelp, Google Maps, YP.com—there are hundreds of these local directories that will strengthen your local search strategy. So leverage a product like Webs Local Search to assess your current standing in these directories and get your business details out to over one hundred listings at one time. And don’t overlook paid review sites like Angie’s List. Like your social profiles, all directory submissions should include all of your pertinent business details.
- Website: Make sure your business has a website which includes your updated offerings, location (with a map), and hours. Even if your website doesn’t initially float to the top of local search results, it will be the first thing that searchers look for to determine your business’s credibility and get a more complete picture of your menu of offerings.
Now that you’re showing up in local search results, how can you really show off to ensure that a searcher who is intent on buying selects you over the other local businesses they’ve found?
- Include proof points: Have you received any awards? Have you been serving the community for longer than your competitors? Be sure to include these proof points in your company description.
- Be engaged: After you create your social profiles, be sure to feed and nurture them. Commit to posting on all social profiles at least three times per week and respond to customers that reach out on social.
- A picture (or video) is worth lots of words: Social profiles are another great place to share photos and videos related to your business, with an emphasis on real-time interaction with local customers. My local hair salon takes pictures of all of their top cuts and colors and posts it to their Instagram page. Local customers love seeing themselves in social venues, and will help you organically grow your customer base.
- Sweeten the pot: Coupon codes or offers for those searchers who find you via your social profiles or directory listings never hurt—so create discounts specific to them to seal the deal.
Now that you’re local search ready, make sure your business can handle the onslaught of local customers eager to buy.
Rochelle Sanchirico is the head of marketing and analytics for Webs. She leads the marketing strategy and execution for both Webs and Pagemodo, ranging from branding to search engine marketing to email marketing and promotions. She also oversees the analytics team, which strives to provide data-based insights and recommendations to the business. Prior to joining Webs, Rochelle held a global marketing and product management role at comScore and held several leadership roles at The Washington Post including senior director of acquisition marketing, digital for three years and director of digital marketing.