We live in an era of constant connectivity, where relevancy is more critical than ever. As a marketer, being relevant not only means being at the right place and at the right time, but delivering the right message at the moment a need arises. Local search provides marketers with the unique opportunity to offer prospects immediate solutions, and context is key in these moments.
From its inception, the tactic called local search has been focused on providing searchers with results relevant to their geographic locations. As the local search space has evolved, Google and other search engines have updated their algorithms in order to provide search results more tailored to searchers’ exact, in-the-moment needs. Creating effective context around your brand allows you to tap into the more than 4 billion local searches that occur each month.
Below you will find a short laundry list of how you can provide local context to users in order to improve your local visibility.
8 Tips for Improving Local Context
- Ensure your Google Places listing is as complete as possible. Make sure that your name, address and phone number are consistent across your website and local listings. Fill out as many relevant information fields as possible.
- Create a keyword strategy for your local listings. Optimize your local listings with relevant keywords that keep local and mobile search in mind. In order to build a keyword strategy that is well tailored to the local space, use the keyword planner tool and look at which geo-specific search queries are already driving traffic to your website.
- Include visually compelling images in your Google Places listing. Especially with Google’s rollout of the horizontal image carousel for local searches, it’s important that the images you place in your Google Places listing are visually interesting. Businesses that provide compelling imagery stand a better chance of receiving clicks, while those that have not optimized their Google Places pages are missing out on additional above-the-fold visibility.
- Add an address to the footer of your website. Adding in your company’s main address to the bottom of all your website pages allows the Google bots crawling your site to gather critical geographic information.
- Use geo-specific metadata such as title and description tags. Including location-specific keywords in your title tags and descriptions will also help you reach local searchers.
- Optimize your website for mobile. Optimizing your website for mobile devices ensures the best possible user experience for smartphone users. In a recent update, Google announced that its algorithm will actively favor well-structured mobile sites, while poor mobile experiences can be a roadblock to strong rankings. Google has reported that more than 50% of mobile searches have local intent. Neglecting mobile hampers your brand’s ability to capitalize on the immediate needs of mobile local searchers.
- Add local schema.org mark up tags to your website. Schema mark up tags are a type of structured data that help search engines organize and interpret information. Structured data is useful in providing context to both the search engines, which use mark ups to gain a deeper understanding of what a site is about, and to searchers, who via rich snippets better understand the value of your site before they arrive there. There are schema mark-up tags specifically for local businesses. Google has also recently added capabilities to the data highlighter tool that make it easier to add local schema to your website and quickly add more detail to your organic listing.
- Create a Google+ content strategy. Google is placing an increasing emphasis on social context in order to provide searchers with information that is not only tailored to them geographically, but is also relevant to their social circles as well. Google+ has been at the forefront of Google’s effort to provide social context as illustrated through the transition of the Google Places listings to Google+ Local and the capability of the new Google maps to display different results based upon a user’s Google+ network. It is important that a company’s Google+ page is updated with the correct information and that this channel becomes part of its social strategy.
To excel in the local search space your business should add as many layers of contextual relevance to its local presence as possible. The more moments your business is present, the greater your opportunity for conversion.