Local presence management is the practice by which a business manages the local listings, reviews and pages dedicated to their stores. It’s also a key component of a balanced marketing program, especially for businesses with a large number of locations. Since local listings appear in 46% of the searches on search engines (source: Social Media Today), they are often visited more than company websites themselves. It’s essential to make sure that the content related to all your locations is not only complete, but also up to date so that clients can find information on your brand. In fact, it’s a huge part of the customer experience. You’ll need to stay competitive in today’s marketplace to compete with other brands targeting the same clientele.
Below is a complete overview of the main factors that influence the online local presence of a brand, to help you both optimize it and enhance it. These are best practices for any brand looking to implement an efficient local presence management strategy.
Factor 1: Optimization of your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business)
The very first step to dominating your competitors locally is simply to take control of your local Google Business Profile (GBP) listings and make sure the basic information like your business name, address and phone number are up to date. It sounds so simple, but according to the Local Marketing Institute, nearly 56% of Google listings remain unclaimed by their owners to this day. However, having accurate listings isn’t enough.
While accurate data is important, it doesn’t necessarily help you dominate your local competitors. If a customer searches generic keywords, such as a “shoe” store, how can you make sure your location is shown above your competitors? Google’s three-pack is a coveted internet real estate – it displays the top results for a customer’s query, it’s essential to be listed in the three-pack if you want to be highly discoverable. Beyond this top 3, the click rate decreases drastically as it requires users additional steps to see “More places”.
To position your company in the top 3, you need to take the next step beyond accuracy and look into optimizing and enhancing your listings. You can do this by providing as much information as possible about each location via the different sections offered by GBP, for example:
- Carefully select your primary and secondary categories of business
- Provide details on the products and services offered
- Add photos specific to each location, showing the interior and exterior of the store
- Listing the amenities offered: access ramps, parking, etc.
- Publish frequent content via the Google Local Posts feature
Managing all these optimizations becomes a huge task, especially for a brand with hundreds or thousands of locations. Brands might want to consider a tool that will not only help update Google Business Profile listing information quickly and at scale, but that can also help understand your position among competitors. DAC’s proprietary platform TransparenSEE™ has a feature entitled Local Rank+, which hands brands detailed information about a location’s ranking relative to their competitors, and for a certain keyword search. It works by reproducing the behavior of users searching for a specific keyword within the area of the business. In the example below, we analyzed a convenience store’s rankings that are within 0.5 km in a busy city. When looking into a different segment, such as customers in a suburban area, changing the radius to 5 km may be wiser.
Having this data could be a complete game-changer for marketers. It allows them to know which locations should be prioritized. For example, if a location is ranking lower than expected, a marketer can take specific optimization actions to try and move that location into the top 3 positions.
Factor 2: Having a strong customer reviews and ratings strategy
After GBP optimizations, reviews are the second most important factor in achieving a strong position in local rankings. Consulting reviews is part of the normal buying process for 95% of consumers. Ideally, a company should achieve the following for each of their local listings:
- A large number of reviews: 43% of consumers indicated that products should ideally have over 100 reviews
- Mostly positive reviews: Having a high star rating is crucial. For one of our restaurant clients, we found that a difference of even 0.5 stars from the competition had a dramatic impact on the amount of impressions in local search
- Recent reviews: 44% of consumers prefer to look at reviews from within the last 30 days to make their decision
All 3 factors are taken into account by Google when ranking businesses following a local search. So, how do you acquire more ratings and reviews? DAC has developed three approaches:
- Situational approach: proactively solicit reviews in-store, directly from service employees, or by using posters
- Procedural approach: generate review requests automatically after a key moment in the customer experience (a trigger), such as after receiving an email, a phone call or creating a customer account
- Continuous approach: place calls to action to generate reviews in newsletters, on the website or in apps. While a slightly more passive approach, it may catch the attention of some customers
In any case, brands can use tactics such as a QR code as a simple and effective tool to acquire reviews on their local listings.
Factor 3: Having the local pages of each store on your website
Having a location page for each of your stores available on your website is the third factor that completes a strong local presence management program. For each local listing that you have, you can direct search traffic right to the local page that customer is looking for. By sending a customer to your home page instead, you’re having to make them work harder for information about a particular branch or location. In addition, Google also advocates directing users to local pages and will assess the listing to be of higher quality. Lastly, enhance these pages that drive further conversions like making an appointment online or driving them in-store.
Here’s a few tips:
- First, put essential information as high up on the page as possible, above the fold. Things like your address, phone number, access to directions, hours of operation, services offered, and an interactive map
- Important actions that a business required from a client to make need to be placed as high as possible as well
- Further down the page, add information offered in that branch: current promotions, new products, new services as well as local reviews and comments. The idea is to be able to efficiently and locally convert customers who come across one of the local pages via the local Google Business Profile listing.
- Keep all SEO best practices in mind that you’ve applied to the rest of your website. Make sure you page design is responsive as many customers view it from a mobile device
In short, local search is more than just updating your online contact information: it has great potential to drive traffic and conversions for your brand. Investing a little time in analyzing the data and making the necessary updates is all it takes to position yourself favorably against your competition. Using one of DAC’s tools such as Local Rank+ and TransparenSEE™ can give you a serious upper hand in your efforts.
Find out how we’re driving transformative growth for our clients through TransparenSEE™ which includes hands-on management and a unique suite of performance marketing services.
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