Every day , consumers search online to find local businesses near them. You search, navigate and find with Google. The  number of search queries is  growing steadily as digitization progresses . Companies that mainly serve local customers or want to be found by potential new customers on the Internet must therefore also appear in the local search results. In addition, Squared Online has analyzed the latest SEO trends 2018 for you   in a blog post. 

But how can companies further improve their findability via search engines in the city and region? The solution: local search engine optimization  as part of the digital marketing mix to  set yourself apart from other providers in the immediate vicinity. 

In 7-10 minutes reading time you will learn more about:

  • What is Local SEO?
  • What potential does search engine marketing have in your city?
  • How do your customers search for information?
  • What are simple steps, tips and tricks for optimizing with Google MyBusiness?
  • MOZ SEO trends and ranking factors 2017 for local optimization

“Nearby” – This is how Google recognizes search queries in the immediate vicinity

Local SEO means optimizing your own web presence for local search queries. Google tries to provide users who are looking for products or services in the immediate vicinity with the appropriate results for their query. Google uses the IP addresses or Google+ profiles to determine the location of users. This means that generic search queries, such as “French restaurant”, can now be served with the correct results in the immediate vicinity. The same applies to inquiries that are aimed at a specific city or region, such as “Eisdiele Hamburg” or “Hotel on the Baltic Sea”. This strong personalization is an important and growing trend for regional companies and service providers in 2017 – especially in the area of ​​hyperlocal marketing.

Why it is like that? Customers are more likely to search for the specific name of a product or service than a business name. Below you will find an example of how users are increasingly combining their search with a geographical limitation. Also, check out the growth in Google Trends searches for “…nearby”  :

What potential does local online marketing have for your company?

Ed Parsons, Google’s geo-specialist, announced back in 2012 at the “Google PinPoint London” conference that a third of search queries on Google have a local connection – and the trend is rising . What does this mean for local service providers and companies? The higher the placement in the search results, the more potential customers can be won.

Google has dedicated areas on the search results page and services like Google Maps to present appropriate results. These opportunities can be exploited and used to your advantage. You create a suitable answer to your customers’ questions (user intent) or improve the customer experience ( user experience)  on your website. In the regional market, this can become an important competitive advantage. 

But does the search also lead to the desired customer behavior? The report “Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior” published by Google provides valuable insights . Because 43% of potential customers follow corresponding actions within  1 hour . For example, when making a purchase decision. Local search queries are therefore associated with a significantly higher interest in buying than the “normal” search. 

So, optimizing local searches will help you generate more qualified traffic and get relevant inquiries (leads) via phone call, contact form, and email. You can also attract more foot traffic through your listing on Google Maps. The possibilities are manifold and lie in your hands.

For example, you can support your customers in every step of the Google search with the right information at the right time. Because customers get inspired, look for information or make a purchase directly online. These are steps of a customer journey on the way to the appropriate, locally available product or service. But when and how often do potential customers ask for information? The following graphic should help to better understand the search behavior of your customers:

You can also use local online marketing to enter into direct dialogue with your customers . For example, by responding to customer reviews or by providing direct feedback from visitors through experience reports. Customer requests and feedback help you to optimize your business model. Hubspot, for example, has put together a brief overview of the correct way to deal with customer ratings and experiences . You can also establish direct face-to-face contact with your customers using Google+ and Hangouts .

These are the most important results of the Google study (2015):

  • Retail (51%), Media (46%) and Tech (39%) are the top verticals for local search
  • The purchase price is the most relevant aspect for decision-making
  • More than half of the users would like individual, regionally oriented Google ads for their city, postcode or in their immediate vicinity
  • According to Google, the most important information is; Price, rating and rating

One aspect that is difficult to optimize: the proximity to the desired location. According to MOZ author Darren Shaw , this is sometimes more important than content, links or the entry in Google MyBusiness. Even if you cannot change your location directly – there is enough potential elsewhere.

With these free steps, your company will be found faster

How can companies improve local search engine optimization quickly and easily? Which measures influence the  ranking  in the search? You can create a  first basis with Google My Business – for free.

With Google My Business you can store photos, ratings or opening times as relevant information for the search engine. Once you’ve signed up for  Google My Business  , managing your company’s online presence is simple. A tip: Take a look at the Google MyBusiness quality guidelines and create a serious presence on the World Wide Web.

We have put together tips and tricks for you for Google My Business to place your company better in the ranking. With these simple steps you will appear on the search results page and on Google Maps:

How to get started successfully with Google MyBusiness

Company Name:  Use your actual company name. Avoid including keywords in the name. This is devalued by Google.

Address:  Make sure Google displays your address correctly. If not, report this problem under: “Report a Problem”

Telephone number:  Use a common writing and design rule, such as DIN 5008, to store the number.

NAP:  Name, address, phone number are considered very important components. They should be used consistently across your website, Yellow Pages, Das Örtliche, Yelp or Qype.

Category:  Describe the core business of your company as concisely as possible.

Service overview:  Describe your products and services. For example, add links to your website that describe your product portfolio more specifically.

Catchment area:  Define the catchment area in which you offer your services and products.

Opening hours:  Pay attention to the deposit and, if necessary, adjustment of the opening times. Use these consistently on your own website as well.

Official Website:  The company’s website should be linked to the  Google My Business  profile and verified.

Reviews:  Reviews are important information for companies, searchers and for Google. Ratings are an important ranking criterion for Google. Try to specifically promote reviews and testimonials from your customers. Respond to reviews and engage in dialogue with your customers. According to BrightLocal, 84% of people trust reviews as much as they trust a friend’s personal recommendation.

Media elements: Product photos, pictures of your business and portraits of employees offer a good opportunity to present yourself and create an initial glimpse of your company. With Google Posts it is now also possible for small and medium-sized companies to create content directly for the search engine. A post with a picture, text up to 300 words, small events with a start and end date is a novelty and can now be realized via the Google My Business app. There is also a selection of Google services for your customers, such as the call-to-action buttons: “More information”, “Reserve”, “Sign Up”, “Buy” or “Get an offer”.  Photos should be at least 720 x 720 pixels in size and stored in JPG or PNG format. Use at least 3 photos for your company presentation.

What is your advantage here? 42% of businesses with photo listings receive more requests for directions on Google Maps. They also get 35% more clicks on links to their websites than companies that don’t post photos.

Still want more? With Google Business Photos 360 , your customers are immersed directly in the atmosphere of your company. A 360° photo provides an all-round view and an additional experience. Even a building plan can be submitted using Google Maps indoor maps .

How will we search in the future and why are images so important? Artificial intelligence will revolutionize your search on the Internet. Google Lens software , in combination with Google Assistant and Google Photo, will open up a whole new world of information. The camera lens of the smartphone recognizes your company. Ratings, menus, contact details and more can then be shown directly on the display. Augmented Reality is a revolution for information search.

To be able to manage your business on the go, you can download the Google MyBusiness app onto your smartphone or tablet. The app is available in both the  Google Play Store  and  Apple’s App Store . And which factors are also relevant when it comes to local search engine optimization? Read our article 10 Tips for Your Hyperlocal Marketing Campaign to position your business for local competition. 

Local SEO Trends 2017 – Ranking Factors for Local Optimization

As soon as Google MyBusiness is optimized accordingly, you can take many other measures. It is about holistic measures of Search Engine Optimization. A responsive and user-friendly website is an important factor here, since most local searches are made via smartphones. Google understands this and aligns its ranking factors with a personalised, mobile digital world that is as accessible as possible. You can get tips on this from Google itself : these range from the technical design of your own website to the development of qualified backlinks and content creation.

The SEO experts from MOZ conducted a study on this topic to find out the most relevant criteria for optimization in local Google searches . In the following, we have prepared the results of this study for you and added brief explanations.

MOZ Local Ranking 2017 – These measures increase the number of visitors to your website

According to MOZ, the following criteria are most important for improving search engine optimization:

Internal Anchor Text – Use internal links between the individual pages of your website. Do these make sense and support the customer experience on your website? Link pages that could be of interest to the user.
Linking Domain Authority – Check what other websites on the internet are linking to your site. Are these websites trustworthy and relevant to your content? Check Domain Authority with MOZ Toolbar – for free .
Number of linking domains – Not only the quality of the linking pages counts. In addition, try to add value to your site so that many relevant websites link to you.

On Page Signals – 24%

Presence of NAP – Use a uniform representation for telephone number, address and company name on all Internet pages.
Domain authority – Even your own website has a domain authority. This increases holistically if you present high-quality content and thus collect backlinks from other websites.

Behavioral signals – 11%

Click-Through Rate – How many users actually click on your business in the search results? Try to reflect the search interest with your offer as well as possible. For this, a more detailed guide on how to optimize the CTR .

Mobile Clicks to Call – Describes the number of clicks on your business phone number.

Personalization – 9%

Try to tailor and personalize your content to your customers. Understand and learn from and with your customers. Is your content satisfying in terms of search queries?

Citation signals – 8%

IYP (Internet Yellow Pages)/ NAP Consistency – They still exist: the Yellow Pages, Das Örtliche, Yelp or Qype are still available to customers on the Internet. Make sure that your information is also used consistently with the so-called local citation services. The business entry is your chance to be found in this way as well. 

Use available websites on the Internet for company entries on industry and rating portals. Because the number of directories in which you are listed is also taken into account in the ranking. However, make sure that NAP is used consistently.

My Business Signals – 7%

Category – Use the categories in Google MyBusiness to succinctly describe your business model.

Review Signals – 7%

Number, speed and diversity of the ratings – Here the number of different ratings counts as a ranking criterion for Google. Try to promote them further and encourage your customers to rate you. Google also rates the time at which reviews are posted.

Social signal – 4%

Google, Facebook, Twitter Engagement – Share, Like and Comment. Also look at the reactions of your followers and fans in the social networks. Get in direct contact with your customers and maintain your social media channels. Google also rates active dialogue and lively exchange as a ranking criterion.

Because Google uses over 200 signals when answering search queries, the elements mentioned are just the icing on the cake. In order to achieve the greatest possible success with your SEO measures, a holistic SEO or marketing approach is necessary. This also applies in general:  in order to maximize your business success,  a holistic approach should be sought for all disciplines of digital marketing.

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