It’s no secret that voice search is on the rise. Whether it’s “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google,” the ability to search the internet while driving or cooking is a convenience many people are happily embracing. It is crucial for marketers focusing on Local SEO to note this trend because voice search only serves up one or two results to the person searching. A typical visual search offers 8 to 10 options on the first page of Google search results.
– 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information within the last year. (source)
– 46% of voice search users look for a local business daily. (source)
-- 20% of all searches on Google are voice-related. (source)
As we analyze the voice search trend it’s also important to adjust our content to help Google accurately query our websites. SEO Expert Brad points out “People do not speak as precisely as they type.” As small business owners and marketers, we need to consider which keywords we prioritize into our content, meta descriptions, titles, and title tags.
The shift to voice search presents an opportunity for local businesses to connect with new customers who are in close proximity even if they don’t normally rank above their competition in desktop or mobile searches. In order to do so, you must ensure the company’s information is accurate online beginning with the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). This simple action is one of the most important parts of every Local SEO marketing strategy.
“Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations, like a grocery store or dentist's office, or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area, like an electrician or house cleaning company. This includes everything from claiming a business listing to ensuring a franchise location appears in a local search on Google (a process known as location data or citation management). It also extends to managing online ratings and reviews, local-centric social media engagement, and beyond.”
Google has a free opportunity for businesses to advertise online that launched several years ago and they continue to refine and improve this area of search. Currently, your Google My Business Page (GMB) provides a space for businesses to promote offers, link their website, list details about their company and provide contact information so people can call you directly from the page. It also syncs with Google Maps so including an accurate address is vital to connect with voice searchers who use the “near me” feature. This is a huge benefit to users of the Google platform and businesses.
Your GMB also provides a space for people to leave reviews about their interactions with you and for you as the business owner to reply to their comments. This is not a perfect process as anyone who has received a 1-star review from a disgruntled customer will tell you, however, Google does seem to be working on trying to remove fake reviews.
One thing we know for sure, Google tracks how many people interact with your GMB and contact you directly from this page. They have tutorials on how to improve your page and will even show you what your competitors are up to, so this is something you should not ignore.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one to rely on Google Maps while on vacation or after a recent move, only to arrive at an empty building rather than the restaurant or store I need.
It only takes one tiny typo for an address to index online incorrectly and it could take months to correct. Additionally, just because your address is correct in one directory does not automatically ensure that your NAP is exactly the same in every listing.
At SMA Marketing, when we partner with a new client, we often spend hours going through previous directory listings and requesting they remove inaccurate information and replace the listing with corrected content.
While this may feel like a hassle, it is vital to own your business listings and monitor and maintain them yourself. Alternatively, you can hire a marketing agency like SMA to take care of this, as long as you remain the owner of the listings.
The only way to ensure this is by adding every listing into a directory by hand. The best part is, you control the cost. While time is money, many listings are free, even the ones YEXT manages have free options.
When you own your listing and you keep a record of your login information you can go back and update the listing anytime you need to, whether that is to change an address if your office moves, to update a website, update a logo or update hours.
There is an additional benefit to adding your information into business directories. Every directory is an additional backlink for your website. In 2018, Moz listed linking signals as the number one search ranking factor.
When you choose directories, it’s important to select ones that are relevant to your business niche and will add authority to your site. Read more about why here.
Linking signals for Local SEO include internal links, hyperlinks that connect one website page to another within your website, and it also includes external links. External links are website links that connect your website to another site.
While, in theory, you can connect your site to any website you want, SEO best practices state that it’s most helpful for search engine bots to link your site to similar websites. This helps the bot readers to understand the context of your content.
By linking your website to sites that rank with higher authority than yours you are indicating your website is also important and should rank with high authority.
Read more about how to gain backlinks for your website on our blog post A Simple Link Building Strategy
Google wants you to rely on them when you need your questions answered. Who is the best dentist? Let’s ask Google. Where is the closest dry cleaner? Google will tell us!
One factor Google will take into consideration when ranking local businesses is the number of reviews and whether they are positive or negative. Google also wants you to interact with people who leave reviews. If you log on to maintain your GMB you will see a prompt for every review that doesn’t have an acknowledgment. You will also receive emails as soon as reviews are left on your Google My Business page. This is very helpful in that you can respond to negative comments quickly and professionally. And, don't forget to thank your customers for leaving a good review. It sends the message to future customers that you appreciate your customers and offer good service.
Read more about how we suggest you respond to reviews on our blog post How and Why You Should Respond to Customer Reviews
Your GMB is only one external link for your website. While it’s an important one, there are other places where you can gather customer endorsements and promote your company. The most common online spaces where businesses interact directly with current and potential customers are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Snap Chat.
Pinterest is another great space to promote content even though there is minimal direct interaction with other platform users.
Google indexes Facebook and YouTube links and images. In recent months features for Facebook and Instagram have been added which allow you to tag the location of your images and add ALT text to them. This feature is helpful for bot readers to understand the context of the content and helps your images appear in Images search results.
For local businesses, the option to tag everything with a location is helpful in that you can promote events and target a local audience.
Blog posts, videos, infographics, and images are all excellent opportunities to show future customers exactly what your business sells and what sets you apart from your competition. You can use content to help solve problems, answer questions, and feature all the ways your company invests in the local community.
Each of those links also provides an opportunity to add a backlink to your GMB, Pinterest, or to link to another website, as well.
Whether you have WordPress or Wix it’s likely you’ve encountered a theme update, plugin update, or broken link and have spent some time reworking and updating information or images on your page.
Part of the reason these updates occur is to combat potential hacking threats; part of the reason is so that your website will work efficiently with the search engines. For both reasons, it’s important to stay on top of your website maintenance by keeping everything up to date.
You also want to monitor your site for SPAM comments. These comments can cause your site to lose authority and, in some situations, could cause major headaches.
Part of website monitoring also includes checking to see if you have any broken links that you need to redirect. Finally, you want to check to see where you are ranking against your competitors. Just because you are the eighth HVAC company to open in your area doesn’t mean that you need to stay listed in the eighth slot on Google Maps.
Your meta descriptions and title tags on each of your website pages tell Google about your page content. You can use this as a short ad for your company and help Google understand the context of your page.
The more you can do to encourage people to click on your website the higher you will rank, however, if you mislead people and they click your links and then immediately leave your page this will harm your site rankings, so it’s best always to use SEO best practices.
Learn more about Meta Descriptions and Title Tags here.
Are you frustrated with your Local rankings? Download our Local SEO Website Checklist. It’s designed to help you uncover gaps and improve the website elements that will help attract the right customers.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.