Millions of customers are now using local search every day to find and research the best local businesses in their area. For as long as local search has been used to connect businesses with customers, companies have been deploying local SEO strategies to help them market their business online and get discovered by more of their local customers.
Many small to medium sized businesses have reaped the benefits of these strategies as they have helped them to compete with some of the largest chains in the world by improving their online visibility and generating more in-store customers from online searches.
Local SEO has become an obvious choice for brick-and-mortar stores looking to build authority online, drive more customers into their stores and compete in highly saturated industries, but what about the retail giants of the world? Some may question whether or not local SEO is really necessary for the brands like Walmart, Macy’s and Starbucks, who already appear in almost every search relevant to their business category.
When you consider the way customers use the internet to find nearby products/services and the multitude of ways local SEO strategies influence a business's online presence, the answer becomes clear: No Brand is too big for local SEO
How do your customers shop?
There is a reason over 45% of all searches on Google are now local. Local search is one of the most effective ways for customers to find nearby businesses that have proven themselves to be reliable and trustworthy. No matter which industry it is, the path a customer takes from online to offline is relatively the same: They recognize a need, enter a quick search on sites like Google, Yelp or Facebook, then compare the ratings, reviews and photos for the top results. After about a minute or two they have made their decision and are headed off to a business.
It is in that short time span that you have the chance to “WOW” searchers and convince them that your store is the best option. Customers don’t care if you are the largest brand or the most well known, all they want is a business that can be trusted, that will provide great service and is able to satisfy their needs - if they don’t believe you can do that (no matter how big your brand is), they will find someone who can.
How Local SEO helps even the Biggest Brands Win more Customers:
In the game of local search, it is not just about showing up as the number one listing on the SERPs, but moreover, you need to continue to communicate trust to your customers along every avenue of their online to offline journey; that means, at the very least, having accurate store listing information, raving reviews, frequent review responses and some great photos posted by previous customers. The companies that utilize every aspect of a local SEO strategy to its full potential are the ones who will win the most customers.
Here are 3 reasons you need a local SEO strategy, no matter how big or well known your brand is:
1. Maintain accurate listings across all search and reviews sites:
There’s no faster way to lose customers than sending them to the wrong address or having your online listings show your stores as “Open” when they really aren’t. Customers rely on your business listings for accurate and up-to-date information, and with the technology available today there is no excuse for not giving it to them.
The best providers of local SEO services will offer listing management in order to help you claim all of your business listings, remove inaccurate and duplicate listings and even update store information.
Whether you’re a large regional player with over 100 locations up and down the east coast or a nation wide chain managing 1,000 locations across the U.S., a local SEO strategy is important because it helps big brands maintain accurate listings for all of their stores across all of the top local search directories and review sites.
2. Back up great rankings with an even better online reputation
Just because you are a large brand and ranking one or two spots higher in the local search results doesn’t guarantee that you will win a customer's business. Search engines and review sites have made it so easy for customers to read reviews and compare them to the reviews of other top results that failing to manage your reputation could mean losing hundreds of valuable customers every day.
There is a host of things that could go wrong when you choose not to manage your online reviews. For example, let’s say one of your stores has an average rating of 4.5 stars and hundreds of raving reviews, but 7 out of the last 10 reviews gave it 1 star and were complaining about how terrible the service was.
Well, unfortunately for you “90% of people read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business”.
This means that 4.5 stars you worked so hard to get is now becoming irrelevant because all people online are going to read about your business is that you have terrible service. Managing your reviews for all of your stores allows you to immediately pinpoint problem areas and make necessary changes before they become an epidemic.
Your online reputation isn’t just about the reviews people leave, but also the way you respond to them. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, show customers that you care about what they have to say, are willing to make any necessary changes and are dedicated to engaging with them online. As a large brand, this goes a long way towards building a more intimate relationship with customers, something that was once reserved for the small boutique stores.
With hundreds or even thousands of stores, it becomes impossible to manage all of your reviews on a daily basis. The right tools can help you easily track and respond to all of your reviews, making it easy to show customers you care and helping your prevent negative incidents from happening over and over again.
3. Keep damaging media content from going viral
We’ve all heard it, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Photos can go a long way towards persuading or dissuading potential customers from visiting your stores. While reviews are powerful, photos are some of the closest things customers have to knowing what your store experience will actually be like.
You would be amazed to see some of the pictures that get posted in your stores, our platform has pulled in everything from employee posting inappropriate pictures on their lunch break to apartments riddled from floor to ceiling with cockroaches. The problem with most of these damaging photos is that the people posting them don’t specifically tag the store or business location, such as using the store’s hashtag or tagging the user handle, so chances are (unless you’re using a geotagging media aggregation tool), you have no idea they exist.
Tracking the photos taken at your business and using them to address potential issues is an important aspect of a local SEO strategy and something that could save your business from going viral in the worst way.
Local SEO is about more than just helping you rank on page one of sites like Google Maps or Yelp, it is about helping you control and manage every aspect of your online presence. By utilizing the right tools you can be sure that your brand is visible to customers when they need you and constantly communicating that you are the best option around. Schedule your FREE Demo with Chatmeter to learn about the most powerful local brand management platform for enterprises.