In Part I of Hibu’s Local SEO series, you saw some of the many parts that make up modern (or local) SEO – what it takes to optimize your website for both your customers and search engine crawlers, and why SEO isn’t just about optimizing your site anymore. Now let’s take a look at your other online properties that contribute to the bigger picture of Local SEO.

The Big Ones – Google and Facebook:

Between them, Google and Facebook dominate consumers’ time online. So it’s no surprise that the consumer journey often starts with a search on Google, or seeing an ad or a post on Facebook. There are two ways to make the most of these powerful platforms:

  • Claim your Google My Business (GMB) Page and your Facebook Page. Google and Facebook each have their own process for this, but they’re both trying to do the same thing — to make sure your business is legitimate, and that you’re the proper owner or authority for it. Having a claimed or verified Page is a signal to these services that yours is a legitimate, active, business — and that’s good for you, whether you’re running ads on either network, or just hoping consumers will find you organically (i.e. through a link that’s not a paid ad).
  • Make sure these Pages are complete and accurate. Just like with your website, you want to have all the important information and motivating factors on your Facebook and GMB Pages — and you need to keep them up to date. Having mismatched or wrong information is not only a bad consumer experience, it’s also a signal to the online crawlers that the information they find online about you isn’t trustworthy. And that can hurt your visibility.

The Rest of the Web

Once you’re set with Google and Facebook, it’s important to remember that there are hundreds of other places consumers can look for local businesses like yours:

  • Map and GPS services like MapQuest and Apple Maps
  • Online yellow page directories
  • Mobile apps like Yelp and Waze

These services get your data from a wide range of sources, some more reliable than others. Making sure your most important business information — like your name, address and number — is clean, accurate and complete across the Web should be next on your list. Just like with Google and Facebook, correct, consistent business information is important both directly (because of where consumers may find you) and indirectly (because it counts against you if Google’s crawlers see inaccurate information about you online).

Your Online Reputation and Reviews

We talked about complete content and motivating factors above. Now we need to focus on arguably the most important type of content — online reviews and recommendations from other consumers. There’s probably no single thing that’s a stronger motivating factor for consumers — or better at convincing them to do business with you — than lots of positive reviews from real customers.

Just like in offline marketing, word of mouth is huge online, and asking your current customers to review your business online is one of the best forms of digital marketing. Of course, once someone’s written a great review, you’ll want to feature it prominently on your website, and encourage your customer to post it on Facebook and Google — so prospects visiting your site or other online properties will see it.

Voice Search

Last but not least is voice search. Just as the mobile revolution changed consumer behavior forever (look how many people spend hours using their phones for things they used to do online, or via a phone call), voice search is changing things again. Voice search — whether that’s talking to Google on your phone or using an Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home speaker in your home or office — is getting big. It’s even making its way into cars through Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

The speed and convenience of using your voice is a big part of the appeal and, according to one study, 58% of US consumers used voice search to get local business information in the last year.

One huge difference in voice search versus traditional online search is the form of output back to the consumer. The paradigm for online search has been a search results page (or SERP) — a list of websites that match the consumer’s search query. That format displayed multiple websites and encouraged consumers to do some exploring and comparison. But what happens when there’s no screen, like in many voice searches? Simple — there’s only one single answer, so the one website considered to the best result is what the consumer gets back.

So, how do you make sure that your business is well represented in voice search and that you’re “the one” when someone’s looking for a business like yours? Fortunately, it’s largely a matter of executing well on all of the local SEO tactics discussed above.

When Google or Alexa need to decide which business is the best match, they want to choose the one that’s going to lead to highest consumer satisfaction — so they’re often going to choose one that:

  • Has well-tagged information on its bot-readable website that matches what the consumer is asking for
  • Has plenty of good reviews
  • Has complete and accurate information on its website and other online properties
  • Has a verified GMB Page and Facebook Page

Local SEO today is everything you’re doing to get seen online. Local SEO isn’t any one thing – it’s really a collection of tactics that together can have a huge impact on whether your business gets found online. The list of what matters changes over time, as new technologies emerge and as consumer behavior changes, but what’s really important is to keep on top of technological and consumer changes — or to work with a digital marketing partner that will do it for you.

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