Today, there are four billion local searches conducted every month, almost half of which coming from smartphones. Not having control of your business’ local listings is one of the biggest mistakes brick and mortar companies make. By not having consistent data across the web, confuses search engines into thinking you are multiple businesses. Search engines prescreen their results based on what is called a quality and confidence score. Do people call your business now asking for a different company? If so, you have an issue with the quality of your business information that is on the internet. Fixing inconsistencies is not hard, but if you ignore these early warning signs you could be in trouble.
Here are our top 5 Do’s with local marketing.
1. Claim your Profile
This can be done a few ways. First, you can go to directories websites like Google+, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Citysearch and Foursquare and manually enter your businesses information. This method does take some time and doesn’t cost much, but it is well worth it because search engines will take that consistent information and apply it to their algorithm getting your business found and ranked much quicker for a consumer. Consider the categories that best fit your business. If you sell burgers, don’t list desserts are your main category. This boils down to “being there” when a consumer is searching for your product or service. If it is too difficult or frustrating for a consumer to find you they will abandon their search and look elsewhere that is more convenient for them. Remember the attraction of the internet is that we have access to anything, anywhere, at anytime so make it easy for them.
Additionally, if you are looking to save time and are willing to spend a little money, you can take the route of a data aggregator. Data aggregators update your information across a multitude of directories and you only have to input your businesses information one time and it is applied to all directories across the web, but again this is going to cost you a decent amount of money. With that said, if you have some time during the day spend it updating directories. Your business metrics will thank you for it later. If you do not have much time spend the money and get it done.
2. Maintaining consistent NAP
What is NAP? Name, Address, and Phone number. The three essential pieces of data that comprise how a consumer can find your business. Search engines like Google and Yahoo see inconsistent data as a negative signal. This means even if on one directory your business address is listed as “Drive” and another is listed as “Cir.” that is considered incorrect and will receive a lower priority in ranking or substituted for another business altogether. A great way to make sure your information is correct is inputting your information into data aggregators which scan the internet and deliver real time results that show you how fragmented your businesses information is. Again, from there you can take the route of manually updating your NAP or paying someone to do it for you, both of which are time/money well spent.
3. Publish Pictures
Everyone knows the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” When it comes to the internet a picture is worth a million words. Consumers will judge the heck out of you based on the content you publish. Whether it’s a low quality photo of one of your restaurant’s dishes or your dealership’s garage of Ferrari’s for sale taken with a 250 megapixel camera, you are going to be judged on what you put out and an impulse decision will be made to stay on the page or look elsewhere. This is a great way to demonstrate what your business does and why a consumer should choose to use your product or service. High quality images are a great way to keep a consumer on a site longer because if the content provided is compelling, it will more than likely lead to a conversion. On the note of compelling images Google also offers a “see inside” option for businesses. This allows a consumer to actually walk through your store, shop, or restaurant from their desktop or smartphone which is a great way to translate that you are up to date on the technological front putting your business ahead of the competition.
4. Offer Incentives
Providing incentives for consumers increases your chances of getting click throughs to your site or landing page. Offering a 2 for 1 deal on drinks or 15% off your next oil change are just a few examples we have seen to encourage customers to check out your product or services and ultimately lead to a sale. As we mentioned before some directories offer a “specials” option to run for a limited period of time which creates urgency because the consumer will feel as if they are missing out on something if they don’t act now. In order to give your business a chance to show customers that you can deliver the highest quality product or service, you have to give them something for free from time to time. From there, it is up to you as the business owner to ensure success for repeat business.
5. Take control of your reviews
Let’s be honest for a second, the only time consumers have ever written a review about something organically (meaning a business did not ask them to) it was more than likely a negative experience. People will go out of their way to write something negative if they truly had a poor experience with a business, especially if it was not handled professionally. No matter the extent of how negative the review, always respond! What that does is increase customer advocacy by double digits. When a consumer finds your business for the first time and see’s a negative review, yes it will suck. However, when that same consumer sees that the owner or customer service rep took the time to handle the issue and make it right, goes way further than a positive review does. Additionally, when responding to negative reviews there are a couple of things to make absolutely certain of:
- Respond as authentic as you can and stay calm, remember a negative review means someone had a poor experience and will not let it go unless resolved in a professional manner.
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes whether you think they are right or wrong. Telling someone they’re wrong after they just had a poor experience is dumping fuel on the fire, so don’t do it!
- Be the bigger person and apologize publicly. Other consumers that see how you operate when faced with a displeased customer goes a long way.
- Provide a detailed explanation of how you have or are going to resolve the issue. As a business that experienced a negative review should work twice as hard to make it right with the customer.
- Offer something to have that customer come back. “You screwed up why should I come back?” Again place yourself in the customer’s shoes, and take the journey with them.
- When appropriate, apply marketing efforts to all negative reviews, that is the first place consumers look and it’s what makes businesses real. If everything people see is rainbows and positive reviews it looks a little false. No one is perfect.
- Ensure to take the rest of the dialogue offline after publicly apologizing.
Here are our top 5 Don’ts with local marketing.
1. Inconsistent NAP
Yes this is in the Do’s section, but it needs to repeated because it is the most important aspect to local listings. It can be devastating to a business if this information is incorrect. Again, make sure your business name, address, and phone number are the same across directories.
2. Using a 1-800 number
When adding or updating business listings never use an 800 number because search engines have a hard time determining what number is for which location causing fragmented data and starting that ripple effect of lower rankings in search engines and missing out on opportunities. Always use a local landline or if you are just starting a business and don’t have the revenue for a land line use your cell phone. Remember, if you do take that route make certain you go back into every directory your cell phone is listed on and change it to the new landline.
3. Use a P.O. Box as your business address
This “don’t” follows right behind using an 800 number. Search engines have a difficult time understanding which address is relevant for your business. If you operate out of your home you have to bite the bullet and list your business as your home address. Additionally, always use your physical office address even if you get your mail sent elsewhere. The only time you would list a P.O. box is if you get your mail sent to the post office but local listings, list your physical location where you do business.
4. Post dishonest reviews
This is just as important as inconsistent NAP. Sure, you might be able to get away with posting fake reviews for a short period of time. Search engines are becoming more advanced at detecting fake reviews. When you do get caught (I say when because it is not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of time until you’re caught) posting fake reviews your business will be faced with penalties and plagued for a very long time in search results and ranking. At the end of the day, it is not worth the time or money you will lose. Everything these days on the internet is organic and content based. Encourage positive reviews from your actual customers through on-premise signage or in email communication.
5. Change your business name
Don’t change your business name from acme to acme LLC unless you need to. If this is the case you should update all the directories with acme LLC thus creating consistency with your NAP (name, address, phone). If you need to change you business name altogether, you should consider the effort of updating the previous listings you have built as well as the effort if will take to update new listings with the correct categories, etc.
We hope you have found this post helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, if you would like a confidential local assessment we are here to help.