Search In The Age Of Distraction: Six Secrets To Standout Local SEO
A study conducted by Microsoft argued that today's digital distractions, predominantly smartphones and social media, have led to the deterioration of the human attention span. In 2002, our ability to concentrate on one task stood for a solid 12 seconds. Today, it stands at a measly eight seconds. That's one second less than the already ill-focused goldfish, whose attention span stands at a strong nine seconds. Undoubtedly, most of you reading this article have turned to other tasks by now. If the age of distraction significantly reduces our ability to concentrate on one task, how then are consumers able to dedicate hours binge-watching their favorite Netflix shows?
This kind of obsessive media consumption should be near impossible. And yet, Collin's Dictionary declared "binge-watching" 2015's "word of the year." The answer is simple, really. Our attention span has just adjusted to the numerous streams of media, increasing our yearning for immediate gratification and instant answers. How does this all translate into local search and local SEO?
Over recent years, Google has made more information available within the search results via the knowledge panel and various types of featured snippets, otherwise known as answer boxes. These rich answers are displayed for all manner of queries like "how high is the burj khalifa?" or "map of uae" and when users search for an organization's name. The emergence of these in search result page answers has reduced the need for consumers to click through to websites to get the information they need. Instead, answers are displayed for them in the search result itself- instant gratification.
For local businesses, the knowledge panel feature (which displays important business information like opening hours, location and telephone number) and the related "local snap pack" is controlled by the Google My Business tool. For businesses to better serve consumers in the age of distraction, a presence in these rich answer results is essential and the way to do it is via Google My Business optimization and local SEO.
Below are some of the best-kept secrets about local SEO- read on to learn how to employ standout local SEO and get shown high up and in the featured snippets of local search.
1. Leverage the link building power of local meetups
Sponsoring local meetups does more than just improving your ability to connect with like-minded individuals. Sponsoring local meetups is also great for local SEO. How exactly do local meetups improve local SEO? Sponsored meetups or events will often result in local coverage, particularly in the local press, which will further result in increased visibility and links to your website. This is an effective channel to get the attention of distracted audiences. As it builds credibility, it also allows your consumers to differentiate your brand from the ones they see online, and it provides a platform to get featured on local "what's on" websites, increasing coverage and links that benefit SEO. One of the fastest ways to find a meetup to sponsor is through meetup.com. When you do find the right meetup to sponsor and reach out to the event organizer, you'll receive a link to your website. To maximize your efforts, you should also do outreach to local press. This will promote your involvement, gaining your company more coverage.
2. Build credibility and influence through customer reviews
When determining Local Search Ranking Factors, Moz attributes review signals as one of the most important factors. Google also considers reviews as an important factor to the credibility of a business. In fact, data shows that when consumers read online reviews, nearly 70% make purchasing decisions. That's nearly two out of three people who use online review platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Foursquare and Tripadvisor to influence their decision-making process. It's evident then, that the greater number of positive reviews your business can acquire, the better. If you're asking yourself what the best way is to increase your positive reviews, the answer is simple. Ask for it. Request a review from your five most satisfied customers.
3. Make sure your business information is consistent across the web
One of the most beneficial things local businesses can do to impact their local SEO rankings is to claim and optimize their Google My Business (GMB) page. Some SEO marketers will argue that Google My Business is the heart of your local rankings. At the very least, a well optimized GMB listing is one of the most powerful drivers in increasing your local rankings. It's important that when you're listing useful information, it's accurate and consistent across all channels, not just your website and GMB. When the information pertaining to your business such as its name, address and phone number (NAP) is the same across the internet, Google's confidence in your business grows and so do your rankings. Do periodic checks to ensure all contact information is updated regularly across all channels.
4. Help search engines understand your site better by installing the correct local business schema markup
One of the most underused, yet highly effective ways to make search engines understand your site better and help drive better search engine performance is by adding structured data markup to your website. Statistics say only 31.3% of websites are using schema. This makes it a powerful tool to improve the richness of your listing in SERPs and stand out from the competition. When updating or building your website, make sure that installing the correct local business schema markup is one of your main priorities. Be sure to include the following data in your Schema markup: opening hours, Google Maps link, social media profiles, markup for menus and reservations. These are typically the types of information customers are looking for when they search for your business. The latter is especially useful for restaurants and hotels.
5. Hunt for competitors breaking Google's rules
To execute this highly impactful strategy, identify all the competitors in your market that violate Google's guidelines. The type of violations we're looking for here includes local listings that use fake addresses. Service businesses, such as Locksmiths or Pool Cleaning services, among others, often violate Google's terms of service. If your business sits within that space, or you encounter competitors within your space blatantly violating Google's term of service, you can report them for deletion. Use Google Maps to report them for their violation.
6. Build and earn quality local citations for your business
Moz breaks down local citations as any "online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business." These citations are found in numerous places, including websites, apps, social media and local business directories. It's the latter, local business directories, that we want to focus on. As an important local ranking factor, businesses will gain valuable benefits from getting local citations on local business directories. It's important to aim at getting listed on quality, industry-specific and city-specific citation sources.
So, how do you find the best local citations? One method involves a manual approach, using main keywords relevant to your industry and a location search. So, on Google's search bar, this would look like "main keyword + location." Or you can refer to Whitespark's comprehensive resources of citations by category and city. Once you've identified these citations opportunities add your business ensuring the name, address and phone number are consistent as I pinpointed above.
These six local SEO secrets, from leveraging link building power to earning quality local citation, ensure that your business stands out in local search despite today's age of distraction. If you implement these six local SEO secrets, I guarantee that your business will improve its results in local search.