Local search and mobile devices allows customers to be both spontaneous and calculated with their shopping decisions. Whether they make an impulse decision to try out a new restaurant or need to set an appointment for a haircut later in the week, local search is there for them.
Through search engines and apps like Google Maps and Yelp, customers can find any type of business they need with all the information necessary to make an informed decision; all it takes is a simple search and they have an endless number of qualified options to choose from. The challenge for businesses then is finding a way to stand out. How can you grab the attention of these online searchers and convert them into in-store customers?
The Customers Process from Online to Offline:
No matter the industry, from clothing stores to automobile shops, the path a customer takes from online to offline is relatively constant.
First things first, they recognize a need. Either they get hungry, the check engine light on their car comes on, or they decide they want to go shopping for a new pair of shoes. From here they turn to sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook. The latest census data shows that around 90% of retail purchases are being made through brick-and-mortar stores, making local search a primary avenue for customers looking to find a business to satisfy their shopping needs.
Once customers have queried a search for a local business they begin comparing the star ratings, reviews, pictures and attributes of the top results. This entire process takes less than a few minutes before they have made their decision and are headed off to a business (hopefully yours), where 28% of them will inevitably make a purchase.
Turning those Searchers into Customers:
The competition among local businesses in today's market is tough. With the internet, customers now have access to an unlimited amount of options and more information than ever before. With so many options to choose from, customers rely on search engines to give them the most reliable and trustwortyh options. People trust search engines so much that 95% of those searching on Google make a decision without having to scroll past page 1.
Your online business listings are the first impression customers will have of your business. How can you make a sure that first impression is a good one and show customers your business is the one they should choose?
Claim your listings and ensure accurate NAP information:
First and foremost you need to create and claim your business listings on the top sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. If you aren’t on these sites, it’s safe to say that customers are going to have a hard time even knowing that your business exists.
Once you have verified and claimed business listings on the top search and review sites, the next step is to build accurate and consistent listing information across all of these sites. This means your business name, address, phone number (NAP), website and operating hours should be identical and accurate across each site. For brands and chains with multiple physical store locations, this step alone can be nearly impossible to do on your own, in that case we would recommend looking into a qualified listing management firm.
Having accurate and consistent listing information will ensure that when customers do choose to visit your business, they are showing up at the right location and will find your business is actually open when Google or Yelp says it will be. There’s no faster way to lose a sale and potential long term customer then sending them to the wrong location or providing them with inaccurate/outdated business information.
Manage your Business Attributes:
The new and improved Attributes section on your GMB listing has replaced what used to be the descriptions section. The attributes section on your Google listing is similar to Yelp’s attributes, depending on your business category, both will highlight specific features of your business such as: which payment types you accept, the ambiance, different amenities and whether or not you offer Wi-Fi. Google’s attributes are both crowd sourced from actual customers and added by the business itself.
The attributes sections on sites like Yelp and Google are becoming more and more popular and they are a critical section in your business listing. Attributes are a fast and easy way for customers to understand whether or not your business fits their needs and desires.
Google My Business: Yelp:
User Generated Content:
Another critical component of your business listings is user generated content (UGC); this includes all of the reviews, photos and videos posted by your previous customers. UGC is some of the most influential content that will either encourage or dissuade potential customers from visiting your business.
86% of people will not buy products or services from your business if your online listings are associated with negative ratings and reviews. On the other hand, customers will spend 31% more at a business with positive reviews. When it comes to converting searches into sales, the reviews associated with your business listing really are the key. Potential customers are turning to reviews for social proof that your business is one that can be trusted and will provide a great experience.
In addition to reviews, photos and videos have a huge influence on whether or not customers will visit your business. This rich media content allows people to see and understand what your in-store experience and atmosphere is actually like.
(Click Here for our top 5 tips on how to rank higher in the local search results)
The Final Step:
Accurate listings, consistent attributes, and raving reviews are enough to drive the customers to your store, but once there, the rest is on you! Now that the customers are at your door, it is time to WOW them with an experience and products that are worth raving about. Do that and you will see just how powerful a tool like Local SEO can be for increasing your revenue. Giving your customers an experience they can brag about online will only lead to increased online visibility, better ratings and reviews and ultimately, more sales from online searches - It’s like an upward spiral of positivity and sales!
It is crucial that your business capitalizes on the opportunities presented by local search. Every day customers in your local area are searching for businesses just like yours, it is up to you to make your listings visible and appealing to them. However, we know these steps can be incredibly time consuming and difficult to accomplish which is why we are here to help! Schedule your FREE demo with Chatmeter and learn more about our complete Local SEO and Reputation management strategy. Chatmeter partners have access to industry experts that are their to help determine the best way to optimize your listings and help you turn more searches into sales.