If you own a local business, you understand the importance of being found in the search results. You’ve probably heard that to show up in the local results you need to maintain a consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone). But that’s only the starting point.
In this session at SMX East 2016, we had four panelists share their take on Google’s latest update, insights to help overcome local search obstacles, and what to expect in 2017.
Google’s ‘Possum’ Update
The latest update from Google, Google Possum, is a continuation of Google using signals that are traditionally used for the organic algorithm and implementing them for local results. The main purpose? To prevent brands from dominating search engine real estate. Across the board of panelists, they felt that this algorithm update has been helpful to many businesses. Dan Leibson of Local Search Guide says he’s been calling this update “up and to the right.” Have you seen it impact your website the same way?
But this might not be the case for every business. According to Conrad Saam of Atticus Marketing, the companies that lose out from the update are those in multiple building locations. If you are a doctor that is located in the same building as multiple practices, this could cause confusion on Google and hurt your local results. The panel pondered whether businesses should start considering their office location based off of the other local businesses in the area.
I agree, moving your business location to accommodate the most recent algorithm update might seem crazy—and the panelists feel the same. You shouldn’t make such a drastic change based on an update since the algorithm is constantly changing. But there are smaller things you could do. Business names that contain the place name and primary keywords retain an advantage in the local results. Changing your business name might be easier than changing your physical location.
When someone enters a query, Google tries to figure out if a person is searching for a business name or a type of business. The long-term effect is that these businesses with optimized company names have an advantage. It’s important to note that changing your business name won’t hurt you, but you can’t simply change your name on Google Maps if you didn’t actually change your business name. This is when you could get penalized.
The update is still relatively new, and data is still being gathered. It’s recommended that you don’t make any drastic changes right away and keep an eye on your analytics to see how the algorithm has impacted your website.
How to Get More Reviews
Linking to your reviews is one thing. But how can you generate more reviews?
Chris Silver Smith, CEO of Argent Media, thinks that if someone is giving you a verbal compliment, hand them a card that asks them to review. But it’s important that you ask for a review on one specific platform—don’t hand them a card that promotes all of your review platforms.
Dan Leibson brought up another idea. He says you can try to get reviews without incentivizing the customer, but by making the customer feel like they are doing the technician a favor. For instance, if a company employee says “Leave a review with my name and I get a $10 bonus” the customer will feel like they are helping the employee.
According to Conrad Saam, you need to “understand how people think, and figure out how to apply that to what you do.”
Responding to Negative Reviews
Nowadays, reviews play a very important role for local business, which is why no company likes to get bad reviews. But there are ways to deal with negative reviews. If you’re trying to get a bad review taken down, look over the terms and policies. Is the comment defamation? Does it have copyright infringement? If it breaks the terms and policies, it will be much easier to get it removed.
How to Show Up in the Local Results
We hear from many business owners that manage an office outside of a city that they want to rank for that city. During the Local Search Roundtable, the panelists discussed the best techniques to make this happen. More and more, we see that Google is targeting the search results to where the searcher is located. Location proximity is important! While listing your target cities on your website’s homepage will definitely help with organic rankings, it’s not likely that you will be able to show up in the local pack for these areas.
Some of the best advice came from Conrad Saam, who said “own where you are, and advertise where you’re not.” It will be much easier for you to dominate the search results where you are located. Begin by focusing your efforts in this area and begin expanding into your reach areas with advertising.
What to Expect for Local Search in 2017
The world of local search is constantly changing, but to stay relevant, these local search experts suggest:
Utilizing structured markup throughout your website
Moving the focus towards paid search
Optimizing for mobile usability
The Local Search Speakers
Adam Dorfman, SVP, Product and Technology, SIM Partners
Dan Leibson, Vice President of Local & Product, Local Search Guide
Chris Silver Smith, CEO, Argent Media
Conrad Saam, Director, Atticus Marketing
Follow Us at SMX East 2016
Curious as to what our team is up to in the Big Apple for SMX East 2016? Follow them on Twitter @bluecorona or on our blog. Be sure to check out more SMX Live Blog posts from our team and the official conference Twitter (@SMX) and hashtag (#SMX).
About The Author: Katie is a content marketing specialist at Blue Corona. Outside of content creation and SEO, Katie enjoys stuffing her face with nachos, online shopping, and binge-watching Netflix.
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