Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | March 11, 2019

4 tips to rank your business higher with a local SEO strategy

We are living and operating in a world where customers are no longer brand loyal. Forrester research has dubbed this era “The Age of the Customer” wherein the customer has the power rather than the businesses. Digitally-savvy customers change the rules of business and have the ability to price, critique, and purchase anytime, anywhere. Businesses that can adapt and manage to get in front of these customers have an enormous opportunity in front of them.

In this Age of the Customer, customers know what they want, but they don’t really care where they get it. Businesses need to ensure their information online is visible in local search results for the non-brand loyal customer. The goal is to be visible. To help businesses navigate these new and possibly uncomfortable waters, we’ve laid out 4 things marketers can do for Local SEO they probably didn’t know about.

#1 Optimize for Unbranded Keywords

In order to reach new customers, bring more visitors to your business, and rank higher in more searches, brands need to be optimizing for unbranded keywords. This means determining what products, services, or menu items you’d like to optimize for and incorporating that keyword throughout your business listings and website.

There are many useful tools out there that can help you determine which unbranded keywords will have the highest impact on your rankings. Answer the Public is a great tool for finding the most asked questions related to your brand, services, or products. Neil Patel also has a great tool called Ubersuggest that gives you information on search volume and relative keywords.

The best places to implement your unbranded keywords to see the biggest lift in your local search rankings are:

  • Business categories on Google listings
  • Website headers
  • Website content under those headers
  • Alt tags on images
  • Backlinks with the keyword
  • Gaining reviews with the unbranded keyword mentioned
  • Putting the keyword in your review responses

It’s difficult for companies to gain backlinks and control what keywords are used in consumers reviews or what backlinks they receive. A great workaround for this is putting the unbranded keyword in your review responses. Those review responses are indexed the same way Google indexes reviews so it will have just as big of an impact as if a consumer wrote the keyword in a review.

#2 Start Responding to Reviews

Reviews without responses will affect a brand’s rankings negatively more than one may think. Review signals account for 15% of how Google ranks local businesses. After tracking our customers, we’ve seen that one of the quickest ways to boost your local search rankings is by responding to all of your reviews.

There is such a big impact because it shows the customer that care what they have to say and on top of that, it shows Google that you are a trustworthy business for it to recommend.

Here are our tips on how to respond to reviews:

Positive Reviews

  • Thank the customer. They just gave you a compliment, say thank you!
  • Get specific. Use the customer’s name or reference something in their review to avoid looking like a copy and pasted response.
  • Entice them to come back. Encourage the reviewer to become a repeat customer. One way to do this is by tempting them with a new or different product. This is a great place to plug the unbranded keyword you are trying to rank for as well.

Negative Reviews

  • Apologize and thank them for their feedback. Sometimes brands can learn more about their business from a bad review than a good one. Apologize for their poor experience and thank them for taking the time to leave feedback.
  • Respond appropriately. This is a public conversation, remember to be respectful.
  • Invite the conversation offline. Avoid going back and forth with an unhappy customer, instead, invite them to finish the conversation offline. Finish the response with contact information for support, we recommend an email and a phone.

#3 Expands Your Listings Strategy from NAP to NAPWCHD

When it comes to keeping online listings up-to-date, most local SEO experts refer to the acronym NAP which stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. However, it’s becoming more and more apparent that a complete and accurate listing needs more than just NAP presence.

The foundation of listing accuracy is growing from NAP to NAPWCHD accuracy. NAPWCHD stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Category, Hours of Operation, and Description.

NAPWCHD is the new normal for businesses since 25% of how Google ranks businesses is related to Google My Business (GMB) optimization which includes every NAPWCHD factor.

Google has such a high emphasis on GMB optimization because it allows Google to have no-click answers to search queries. A user can find all of the information they need about a business right there on the Google listing. Since this is the way consumers are deciding between businesses, you need to make sure your business is giving off a good first impression by having your NAPWCHD information accurate and up to date.

#4 Pivot to Local Social Campaigns

92% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more online exposure for their businesses and we’re living in a time when 97% of customers are researching physical stores online.

When customers are researching online, they value seeing updated and relevant content on your social media accounts to help them validate their decision in choosing your business.

It is time to transition from national social media campaigns to campaigns that have a more local focus.

Here are some of our tips for increasing a brand’s social media presence:

  • Post on a consistent basis. Create a content calendar and a posting schedule to help you stick to posting regularly. When setting up your posting schedule, try to be realistic. It’s better to post on a consistent basis rather than lots of posts at sporadic times.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags are a great organic way for people to find a business on social media. Take advantage of some trending hashtags by adding them to relevant posts.
  • Post about local events, location-specific deals and different employee cultures that are happening at each store to really help consumers understand your brand.
  • Engage with customers by starting conversations and responding to comments, questions, and brand mentions. That engagement goes a long way with both customers and Google.

The above are new strategies Marketers can implement to boost their local search rankings in The Age of the Customer. In order to implement the above strategies at scale, businesses need a tool like Chatmeter with features such as bulk review responding, white glove listing management service and geo-fenced social media tracking all of which are designed to increase your online visibility. Not sure where your local business stores rank? Run a Schedule a free brand audit  to see where you currently rank online and how you can improve.