Over the last two years, consumer trends have shifted dramatically online and off. Some changes—like the influx of home delivery and takeout options—can be primarily attributed to the pandemic. Others—like voice search or advances in tracking customer satisfaction—signal the evolution of modern habits and technology.
No matter why these trends exist, or how long we expect them to last, businesses need to shift their local SEO strategy to be seen, convert leads, and stay competitive. That means landing on top of the search engine results page (SERP). If not, your tech-savvy competition will leapfrog over your brand and reel in those would-be buyers.
In the most recent Chatmeter Local Brand Reports, we dove into the impact of these trends. Our July 2021 restaurant-focused study discovered that there were 24.9 million searches for the phrase “food near me” every month in the U.S. Additionally, Sistrix analyzed billions of search results and found that 55.2% of all clicks in a Google search ultimately led to the first three listings.
Trends also shifted in terms of how people consume product and service information. Staying in the food industry, a 2021 study revealed that 57% of search users viewed an online food menu, and 45% looked up a restaurant’s location, hours, or directions.
If that information is incorrect or undiscoverable, a potentially easy conversion will likely buy elsewhere.
Even if you’re not in a food-related industry, statistics like these show why brands need to invest in solutions built to increase impressions, clicks, and conversions while maintaining impeccable accuracy. Failing to do so essentially renders your business unreachable to countless ready customers.
In 2022, ensure the right eyes land on your organization. Optimize your current local SEO and online visibility strategy based on today’s top search insights.
1. Create and Maintain A Google Business Profile
If you don’t have a Google Business Profile (GBP), stop what you’re doing and build one now! This recent blog about GBP can guide you through the process and offer advice on further optimizing your profile. (Free Tip: Claim your business!)
A Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) is the best way for people to find a location-based business on search. Google’s algorithms will push your company further up the SERPs with a completed GBP. It also offers fast, valuable information about your location.
But what does a completed GBP mean? It’s much more than simply filling out your name, address, and website. To make a real impact, remember the NAPWCHD:
- Name of Business
- Phone Number
- Categories (and relevant additional categories)
In addition to the NAPWCHD—now a well-established SEO best practice for location-based businesses—enhance your GBP further by adding:
- Your Business’ Opening Date
- Products and Services
Enhance your Google Business Profile further by uploading tons of high-quality photos and images designed to attract and inform users about your brand. Follow Google’s best practices for images such as including a photo of the outside of your business (to help users locate your storefront), correctly formatting cover images, and adding your current logo.
2. Build Accurate Google Business Profiles and Listings
For optimal visibility and conversion opportunities, accuracy matters.
Incorrect hours, phone numbers, or addresses do more than cue Google algorithms to drag listings down in the search results. It builds frustration for once-interested buyers who will instead run to a more accommodating competitor. A Brightlocal study turned up eye-opening information including how 63% of consumers would avoid choosing a business after finding incorrect information on its listing.
Important as complete and accurate listings are, maintaining them can be a time-consuming hassle—especially for multi-location businesses. However, they are critical in enticing your target customers and transforming them into loyal buyers.
Looking for extra listings management support? Explore solutions (like Chatmeter!) made to manage, analyze, and improve online listings with minimal effort—whether you’re a smaller chain with under 30 locations or a massive corporate enterprise with 30,000.
3. Get and Respond to More Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are increasingly critical to a successful local SEO strategy. First off, people are reading. One 2020 study reported that 87% of consumers read online reviews—and what they see influences your brand’s trustworthiness. The same study shows that 79% of users trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Additionally, Google itself confirmed that, if done right, “receiving and responding to reviews can be a significant local ranking factor—one that any brand can control. In 2021, a study from Whitespark’s Local Ranking Factors Report showed that 17% of a listing’s ranking weight was tied to their reviews. That’s up from 16% in their 2020 report and 15.44% in 2018, suggesting a steady climb in importance for a local brand’s online visibility.
A greater focus on review response and generation might sound like another task on your already full plate. However, it’s a relatively simple one that can lead to big conversion wins and higher revenue—especially when paired with tools made specifically for increasing online visibility.
4. Create a Better Customer Experience With Listings
The customer experience (CX) matters at every step of the customer journey. Today, that journey often begins with search.
Take advantage of the tools GBP and other listing services provide to improve CX. By keeping your profile updated, providing useful information, answering questions, and genuinely engaging with customers, brands will reduce friction and move customers down the conversion funnel.
A study from PwC showed that around 80% of U.S. consumers said convenience, speed, knowledgeable help, and friendly support were essential to a positive customer experience. A great Google Business Profile offers all of that and more!
Here are a few ideas on improving CX through your search listings:
- Answer questions on Google Q&A
- Respond to all customer reviews and feedback (the good, bad, and neutral)
- Share current sales, offers, and promotions on Google Posts
- Ensure information is up-to-date
- Post images of your business space, products, menu items, and employees
These are just a few ways technology helps build a more human and trustworthy experience for customers.
5. Track Conversion, Rankings, and Local SEO Metrics
Avoid making assumptions about your local SEO strategy’s success. Tracking, analytics, and reporting tools help companies better understand where they’re succeeding and where they’re falling short.
The Google Business Profile business performance report is a wonderful starting place with metrics like your GBP’s number of search queries, unique visitors, direction requests, website clicks, and total interactions. It can’t provide the whole picture of your local SEO success but can demonstrate whether you’re on the right track, or you need to shift your strategy.
Additionally, mid-size and enterprise-level brick-and-mortar companies should consider investing in tools and software made specifically for managing multi-location brand listings. These solutions offer local SEO metrics uniquely tailored to the needs of an organization with locations spread across a city, country, or even the world.
Ultimately, it’s YOU and your team who have the most power to control your online and in-store traffic. In 2022, try these five local SEO tips and watch your business listings rise up the ranks and lead more customers through your doors.
Curious where your business currently ranks online? Try our Free Instant Brand Visibility Audit! In seconds, you’ll see how your brand ranks on search and where it stands against the competition.