Half of consumers who do a local search visit a store within a day, and 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. In case it isn’t clear, local SEO is kind of a big deal. It’s no secret at this point that the cellular phone has become a bonafide human appendage. If you’re not throwing up a flag on the internet, you’re basically nonexistent to the growing portion of humanity that navigates life through their cell phone. Local SEO is a prerequisite for any store looking to wrangle some offline foot traffic.
The issue with local SEO is that digital marketers are all over the place when it comes to tactics, making it difficult to lay out industry standard best practices. Priorities span from on-site optimization to social media and email marketing to website design. If you’re new to all this, the confusion and lack of consensus can leave you scratching your head wondering how to leave your local footprint. A good strategy moves forward on multiple fronts. Luckily, we’re here to highlight the winning routes to building a quality local SEO strategy.
Snack Pack Gold Medalist
While the “snack pack” may sound like something that goes in a brown paper bag for recess, it’s actually code for “you won the local SEO lottery!” Google Snack Pack is the box of three recommended results that appears at the top of search engine result pages.
You’ll notice that these results include more than a standard link. They include business descriptions, reviews, location, contact details, and review star rating.
Clicks and traffic for listings in the snack pack outperform the competition, so it’s no surprise that it’s a coveted spot for digital marketers.
Physical proximity to the user is one major criterion for Google’s business recommendations that you can’t change, but some of the other criteria within your realm of influence include:
- Quality citations from authoritative sources
- Large numbers of high quality inbound links
- Great business ratings and customer reviews
- Keyword and content relevancy
Link Building is Back
Changes to Google algorithms led an increasing number of SEO specialists away from link building for a time. This has led to a current state of the industry where 35% of local businesses have no link building strategy in place. This is huge given that snack pack listing is determined by domain authority, which is related to local search ranking, which, in turn, is affected by inbound links and citations.
Old practices farming links are unlikely to pass by Google’s continual efforts to crack down on SEO gaming tactics, but quality links from authoritative sources are a winning front in the race to the snack pack.
Given that so many businesses ignore link building altogether, the arena where the competition is dropping the ball becomes your opportunity for an edge.
Talk of the Town
Eighty four percent of people trust customer reviews as much as their friends. That’s the kind of statistic that should provide a moment of pause if you haven’t been paying attention to your reviews.
The presence and quality of your reviews are part of a social proof strategy that warrants an entirely separate discussion, but for the sake of local, it’s enough to know that it makes a major impact on your ability to land as a recommended business.
Starting off, you need to make use of the Google Knowledge panel and any other platform that facilitates reviews in your industry.
Aside from employing great practices, you also need to facilitate, collect, monitor, and respond to reviews. These practices fall under the umbrella of review management. You need to be an active participant in discussions about your business, address concerns, and fight spam.
Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.
Snack pack ranking is not divorced from organic ranking. In other words, standard SEO practices still fit into your overall strategy for optimizing local search. Load times, relevancy, and winning content will all factor into your organic ranking and influence local search results.
Keep in mind that the staggering numbers at the beginning of this article related to local search are largely related to mobile users. People search businesses and services both from the comfort of their couch as well as on the go. This means that you need a mobile-first strategy to reel in the traffic on local search.
It goes without saying that running a great business is the best way to get great buzz. Innovating in your industry, providing great customer service, and pushing a quality product or service all stack the odds in your favor to rise up in local organic ranking and, ultimately, make the snack pack. Combining your winning business strategy with link-building, review management, and mobile optimization is the recipe to make a stellar business shine in search.