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Today, 4 out of 5 consumers search for local businesses online. When consumers find incorrect information about a business online, 73% lose trust in that business. And, incorrect information abounds — a 2016 study found that up to 40% of location info online is wrong!
Exposure and traffic driven from search engines is the highest revenue-driving channel for most websites. Visibility on search engines is crucial to success for all hotels and our Local Search Optimization program is a key aspect of the larger, more widely recognized SEO offering. Our Local Search Optimization includes:
Over the past decade, the digital marketing landscape has been shaped by the evolution of search engines, mobile devices and their roles in consumer’s lives. The importance of local search marketing is directly tied to this growth in mobile, yet it goes beyond to impact desktop and tablet search. The search results that Google displays to you are personalized based on your location and previous browsing habits, among other factors. As mobile devices become more ingrained in our lives, consumers are more frequently turning to the search engines to find geo-based business information including reviews, directions, amenities, offers and so much more.
GCommerce’s local directories management is a key feature of our Local Search Optimization service that works as part of a local search optimization strategy to maintain accurate and consistent information across directories including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp and more. Managing these directory listings in-house allows us more direct control over what information is being pushed and pulled from these directories.
By utilizing our local directories on-going services we will:
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In the face of Google’s increased interest in providing answers rather than pointing you elsewhere to find them, Google local is changing in the following ways:
This is just a handful of ways that Google has changed the way they do local, but they’re arguably the most important and immediately actionable.
Also, this trend keeps with the overarching theme that Google is relying more on itself and the few superpowers around it rather than on the smaller guys, and reviews published right there on Google are more valuable to the platform than whatever is happening off their site.
Increased Focus on Reviews.
Your business description should include keywords that you anticipate your target audience searching for and should emphasize what makes your business unique in 450 characters or less. It’s a tall order! But you want to sum up what you do and what value you offer your customers as succinctly as possible.
At Google’s annual developer conference on May 7th of this year, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done…we want our products to work harder for you.” And when you look at the new local landscape on Google, you’ll see that Pichai wasn’t kidding. The platform now provides more information right on its pages so that users don’t need to navigate away to find what they are looking for. This may translate to less clicks for businesses, but less clicks doesn’t mean less conversions—especially if you have optimized your GMB listing (more on this later).
Below you’ll find a great example of a business that has taken full advantage of all the features in GMB.
This article by the Wall Street Journal talks about how Google struggles to shut down all the spam listings on its site because the volume is just monstrous. The best map spammers can post thousands of fake listings in a single day. The motivation behind the spam listings is to gain more visibility on Google Maps and to score more phone calls and conversions.
There are scammers out there creating fake GMB profiles to enhance businesses. Google is in “an arms race with an extremely motivated group of scammers who are constantly on the lookout to beat the defenses we build,” according to Google Maps director to Ethan Russell.
If you can manage it, creating and maintaining a strong brand presence on GMB is essential for gaining local visibility. This means completing your listing as fully as possible, scoring high quality reviews, and ensuring that your listing always remains accurate and up-to-date.
Creating a GMB Listing that’s Accurate, Appealing, and Complete.
To achieve the best photography for your listing, take photos at peak times to show your happy customers and/or during natural daylight hours where your business looks the most appealing. These photos should not feature any text, markups, or logos. There is a specified place in GMB where you should upload your logo, but every other photo should be clean of any embellishment.
Google now gives you the opportunity to list your products and services directly on your local listing. Even if you’ve got a great product page on your site, you need to take a few minutes to list those products in Google My Business so that the search engine can display them on the SERPs. It’s pretty straightforward to list your business’ services, as you just enter them in a list in the “Services” tab in GMB. When listing products, however, you’ve got a lot more options. You have to include a photo for each product listed, and you also have the option to add multiple product collections, product and collection descriptions, and a call to action button like “Learn More” or “Buy Now.”
To make the most of the changes to GMB, your business needs to make sure all your info on the SERPs is accurate, appealing, and complete. So, we have identified several concrete ways to take full advantage of all the new opportunities afforded you.
This feature is for publishing news, events, promotions, and announcements for your business. The rule of thumb here is not to do too much with any single post. They’re intended to be short and specific, so you shouldn’t include more than one promotion per post. Also, you’ll want to take advantage of call to action buttons like “learn more” and “buy,” as well as include photo and video whenever possible.
A Business Description.
Photos and images are arguably the most compelling way to attract customers to your business. Think about looking up a restaurant on Google—the photos they feature on their listing are probably going to make or break your decision to try it out. This goes for any business, and remember that your GMB listing is often a potential customer’s first impression of your business, so you should take it seriously! You’ll need clear, high quality photography of the inside and outside of your physical location, if applicable. You’ll also want to include photos of your team, product photos, and anything else that showcases what your business does or offers.
Here are just a few ranking factors that Google looks at when it comes to reviews:
Spam listings can range from fake businesses to businesses that are listed with a string of keywords in addition to the formal business name. And you can imagine how damaging these spam listings are for legitimate local businesses, as the spam is taking up prime real estate in the SERPs that they don’t deserve.
And it makes sense—Google values reviews as important ranking factors because they directly measure customer satisfaction. The search engine aims to interpret user intent so that it can give users exactly what they’re looking for. So when you search “best restaurants in birmingham,” Google would be silly not to show you a restaurant with 100 five-star reviews.
Users have the option to ask your business a question that is posted directly on your listing in Google, and if you see questions that have been asked, you definitely should answer them as fully as possible. However, above and beyond answering questions asked by others, you can post your own questions and answer them yourself, as questions are always anonymous. Think of it as an FAQ opportunity.