If you’re running a business in the 21st century, you’re at an advantage. There’s never been more information freely available to your audience that’s working 24/7 to ensure that your business becomes successful, and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to your marketing efforts.
The average South African business owner has a keen grasp of the power of marketing and leveraging a business brand in an advantageous way. Despite this, too many still stick to the same old means of online promotion (SEO which is frustrating in a competitive industry and AdWords which is expensive in almost every industry), with many valuable tools getting left behind in the process.
Canvas any number of digital marketers in South Africa, and you’ll find that many of their clients seem to stick to these more popular digital marketing efforts (SEO and Adwords), leaving otherwise fruitful options on the shelf gathering cob webs.
One of these incredibly effective and yet sinfully under-utilised digital marketing tools is Local SEO.
Just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it…
Consider the following statistics:
- According to Google, a third of all online searches are location related.
- Over two thirds of people conducting searches on their smartphones prefer businesses that offer location customised information.
- While searches using terms like ‘closest’ and ‘nearby’ have dropped, searches using terms such as ‘near me’ have increased.
- The majority of people who conduct a local online search end up visiting a retailer within 8 kms of their location.
This tells us that while customers still want to experience a product in person before buying it, being able to locate the closest retailer and get their contact details and address online is critical. We can also see that customers now expect search engines to automatically use their geographic locations to provide them with relevant information, without them having to volunteer it.
Businesses should be falling over themselves to tell customers who they are, where they are, how they can be contacted and how a customer can get there. All this information (and much) more can be populated in a matter of minutes in a business’s Google My Business Listing.
And yet, the Local Search Association, tells us that 56% of businesses have yet to claim their Google My Business Listing.
A wasted opportunity indeed.
Tips for a better than average Google My Listing profile
Claiming your Google My Business Listing is pretty simple. It costs nothing, and you don’t even need to have a brick and mortal storefront to get it. Using a Google account, you can have yours set up and verified in two simple steps. The trick is not to stop at just the information required and instead to include over and above what’s being asked for. This could include the following:
- Asking your loyal customers for reviews. This will generate an average rating out of 5 that appears on your listing. Make sure that any less than stellar review is attended to and not ignored, as you’ll be judged on how you respond to these as well.
- Claim your map listing: Ensure your location information is accurate and that your map listing brings customers directly to your doorstep.
- Track and tag your location information. This will involve specialised SEO expertise, as it allows you to see what traffic is coming from map listings and searches as opposed to organically.
- Make it easy to make contact: Make it as simple as pushing a button for a customer to get in touch with you. Show them exactly what they should do to take the next step with your business without any confusion or ambiguity.
- Upload the right photos: Uploading a photo of your business logo is great. What’s better is including images of your product and service in use.
- Create a mobile only website: As mentioned earlier, many customers are going to be encountering your business for the first time on a smartphone-sized screen. Will your website load quickly if they click through to it? Ensure that you have one that’s easy to navigate, read and act on.
Finally, and most importantly, be prepared to actually convert any customer that ends up on your website into a sale. This means answering every call and email and chasing up leads. Be prepared to answer their questions to help them make a purchase and if they aren’t ready to make one yet, ask them if you can email them about future offers and promotions.
Within a few months you’ll be kicking yourself for not paying attention to your Local SEO sooner.