40 percent of consumers use local search daily, and this number is set to grow tremendously this year. Big brands are turning to local marketing because the numbers show that an increase in mobile devices correlates to an increase in local search.
As the adoption of smart phones, iPads, tablets and other Internet-friendly mobile devices continues to trend, we can deduce that the percentage of consumers using local search daily will also increase from 40 percent this year.
With the increase in mobile devices, online applications and local search intent, the playing field for local online marketing has and will continue to dramatically change.
Local SEO Welcomes New Platforms
The current strategy for local SEO has become very diverse; it combines at least four unique platforms to maximize online exposure for local business.
In 2013, Facebook, Yelp and mobile SEO play their own respective roles in local online marketing to compliment the “old skool” singular strategy of gaining exposure via a Google+ local listing. Here is how these new platforms are making waves.
1. Optimize For Facebook’s New “Local Search”
In early April of 2013, Facebook changed the name of its mobile app feature “Nearby” and renamed it “Local Search.” The social media giant did this for good reason — research from an independent comScore 15 mile radius local search study shows Facebook’s mobile app is the second most commonly used mobile app for local search behind Google Maps. In fact, the study shows that an astounding 24 percent of local search is conducted via Facebook’s mobile app.
Here is how you can claim a piece of local search via Facebook’s mobile app:
- Claim your Facebook brand page. Facebook returns Places results when it detects a query with local search intent. Primarily, Facebook accesses its own database of brand pages. Claimed brand pages have enhanced listings in search results compared with unclaimed pages, and they often appear higher in results listings.
- Add your business to Neustar Localeze. Facebook often pulls information from this directory to return in mobile search results.
- Update your Facebook page regularly and encourage local check-ins. When it comes to search, Facebook always sides with more popular and frequently updated brand pages. Today, more than ever, fresh content is important to both Google and Facebook.
2. Reputation Marketing for Yelp
In 2013, more consumers are turning to Yelp than ever before. Whereas the term “Facebook me” or “Google it” became an accepted part of the English language many years ago, the expression, “Yelp it” is on the rise.
Google was the first to recognize this search behavior and continues to give more real estate in its search engine to local business accounts on Yelp. For some industries, such as the auto industry or restaurant industry, you can expect to find nearly half of first page search results on Google to be various Yelp accounts.
The local search strategy for Yelp, as with Facebook, can become rather comprehensive fairly quickly. Here are a few basic Yelp marketing tips.
- Claim your business on Yelp. It may seem obvious, but many businesses still neglect to verify ownership of their business and are unable to respond to customer reviews.
- Encourage customers to leave detailed and accurate reviews of your business. A great trick is to embed a link in your email signature to your Yelp page for easy navigation. Posting a flier in your building with a witty tagline will also increase the number of reviews customers add.
- Respond to each review online and by the way you conduct service. If your law firm is lacking coffee in the waiting room according to one review, then by all means buy a coffee maker and provide premium coffee to your guests. Send a note to the author of that comment and thank them for their suggestion. Little things often make big differences.
3. Mobile SEO for Local Search
Mobile SEO and mobile marketing as a whole will become massive in the next few years. Think Cowboys-stadium massive in comparison to other sports arenas to get the right impression.
Mobile SEO is built around the concept that everything from search patterns to customer experience needs to change for a user that is on the go.
Specifically, user experience and conversion optimization is more important than traditional search engine optimization. In fact, Google recently made a statement suggesting the foundation of mobile SEO is responsive website design. Responsive design guarantees a great user experience regardless of other variables, such as the viewing device or operating browser.
An effective local mobile SEO strategy builds on the design of a website, which carefully hosts only the most important information at the top of the site. Mobile integration should include short cuts such as “click to call,” “book an appointment” or “click for directions” functionality. Your website should assume the job of a traditional salesmen, and it’s responsible for directing a client to your front door.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of local marketing, mobile SEO has many variables including your industry, current website, past SEO efforts and desired online exposure. Without question, two things need to be done.
- Plan a responsive website redesign: Responsive websites are the future of mobile SEO. Google has discontinued partnering with mobile website builders and is instead recommending quality responsive web design firms. Chat with a few different designers to gain a better understanding of all the advantages and the process of redesigning your website. Early adopters will win big.
- Build a mobile site for the time being. Responsive website design is very new and very time consuming. It may take three to six months for a design firm to finish the product for you. While you wait, get a mobile site built in order to hold position with your competition.
Alas, in 2013 it will be those local businesses who embrace holistic online marketing strategies that will win over new consumers, stomp out laggard competitors and grow bigger in this lackluster economy.