Learn about the common local citation myths and how to dispel them.

Citations, citations, citations! There, I said it, and I’ll keep saying it until I have managed to convince every business on the web to fix their bad data. As you know, I’m passionate about helping local businesses get found in search results. As local marketers, we can’t do our job and help these businesses if they have citations that are inaccurate or of low quality.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

A citation, as you know, is any mention of any business offline and online. While we all love when a citation includes the address, phone number and website link alongside the business name, this isn’t always the case.

Inaccurate local citations damage both consumer trust and the trust search engines have in a business. This bad data is causing consumers to get lost, call bad numbers and ultimately choose the competition – you know, the competitor that actually has their local business data listed correctly on the web.

Citations and Local Ranking Factors Unite

In the most recent local ranking factors study, we learned that citation signals are 8.41 percent, Google My Business signals are 8.85 percent, review signals are 6.47 percent and social signals are 3.47 percent.

The biggest number is link signals, coming it at a whopping 27.94 percent. There are plenty of other signals to share with you that make up the 100 percent, but today I wanted to draw your attention to the big ones – the ones that are driven by citations. With all of these signals, they will usually include a mention of the business or a link to the business somewhere and somehow.

This is exactly the reason I’m talking about citations again and sharing this easy-to-digest citation myths infographic. Earlier in the year, we talked with you about citation myths and debunked quite a few in-depth. Today, let’s take a high-level approach. Are any of these myths impacting your clients’ placement in search results? Request a demo and find out how we can help.

Local Citation Myths vs. Facts

Get the Local Citation Myths Infographic and the Facts

While I only dove into six citation myths today, they are big ones that impact local businesses placement in search each and every day. Request a demo and find out how we can help you better help your customers.

Are You Falling for These Local #Citation Myths? [#Infographic] by @BernieColeman #SEO
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Join my quest to rid the web of bad data and share this citation infographic with your friends and customers. I’ve even made it easy to embed this infographic on your website through the code below.

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This survey found out more about people’s voice search habits and how often they rely on it.

Tired of hearing about voice search? Well, buckle up, because there’s still a lot of ground to cover! Today I’m about to reveal just how important voice search habits are to local businesses.

If you thought you already knew how and why people use voice search, just wait until you learn more about this recent survey, conducted by Chatmeter in collaboration with Sapio Research and Hotwire Global. It puts even more emphasis on understanding local consumers and what they want from businesses (and voice search).

Why Do People Use Voice Search?

We know that more and more people are using voice search, but it’s important to understand why. Tapping into people’s motives gives businesses a better idea of what customers want, what they’re expecting and how businesses can provide them with results. Obviously, customers are looking for something: what is it?

According to Chatmeter, 52 percent of consumers prefer voice technology simply because it’s convenient. There’s no typing or dealing with autocorrect, and it pulls up an answer straight away. Thanks to hands-free voice searches, users can multitask while asking the Google Assistant for answers, using it when they’re washing dishes or driving. Another 23 percent of the people surveyed said they enjoy the novelty of the technology. It’s one step closer to the technology-driven future we’ve all envisioned.

What do these survey results tell us? Consumers want fast results in an easy-to-understand format so they can spend as little time and energy searching as possible. Local businesses should take advantage of the reason why consumers are using voice search.

  • Are they looking for directions while driving? Make sure the business is listed on mapping apps like Apple, Waze and Garmin.
  • Are they looking for a phone number? Make sure the business’ NAP (name, address and phone number) is accurate and syndicated to all major data sources, including data aggregators, business directories and vertical-specific directories.
  • Do they want to impress their friends by getting an answer to a specific query? The business should focus on getting as many featured snippets as possible! 

How Many People Are Using Smart Devices?

You might think voice searchers are a small part of the population since they must own a smart speaker (like the Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod or Google Home) or a smartphone. Not everyone has those. However, the number of people with access to these devices is growing day by day.

Chatmeter found that 61 percent of consumers today own a smart speaker, with 51 percent of them using it daily. These aren’t just fun devices installed or purchased to impress people; they’re useful objects that have become an everyday part of how people shop, eat, research, travel and take care of themselves. Even if people aren’t using their voice assistants on a daily basis, a solid 29 percent of them are using it at least once a week.

It’s no surprise that most people have voice assistants on their cellphones. Nine out of every 10 cellphone owners use voice assistants on their phones. Roughly 51 percent of these people use the assistant for voice search daily, while another 33 percent use it at least once a week. Do these numbers surprise you? Keep in mind we always have our phones in our hands.

Before you know it, almost everyone in the United States will be relying on voice search. Failing to optimize for that future is a risky move, especially on the part of local businesses.

Where Does the Local Aspect Come into Voice Search?

Why do I say that local businesses need to optimize for voice search more than any other kind of company? Because people use voice search to find things that are close to them. Chatmeter found that about 27 percent of those surveyed use their devices to find a restaurant, shop or business within their vicinity. The “near me” phrase is completely changing how people search, especially with voice assistants.

According to a study by BrightLocal, local businesses must meet the following criteria to show up in SERPs for voice searches.

How Close the Business Is to the Searcher

Because so much of voice search revolves around people searching for businesses near them, it’s vital that local retailers, restaurants, and service area businesses indicate that they are nearby. Even if people don’t specifically search for something “near me,” the Google Assistant will still base its voice search results on proximity to the searcher. I can’t overstate the importance of establishing a local online presence with complete information, including the business’ address.

How the Business Interacts With Reviews

Managing and responding to reviews, both good and bad, can give businesses a stronger local presence and encourage nearby customers to connect. Many local businesses only respond to negative reviews that drive their ratings down, but the smartest ones establish connections with both happy and unhappy customers.

How Many Backlinks the Business’ Site Has

Google wants to pull voice search results from websites that have established their authority on the subject matter. SEO and backlinks go hand in hand, and that doesn’t change just because people are searching with a voice assistant instead of typing. Link building allows web crawlers to find a business’ content, index it, and decide if the website has a good reputation.

How Active the Business Is on Social Media

Search engines, including Google, usually only pull voice search results from the top three listings or the featured snippet. Therefore, placing high in search results is vital for local businesses. One way to improve placement is to share content like blogs, press releases and newsletters across social media. Optimize the business’ social media profiles and don’t be afraid to engage with local customers via Twitter, Facebook and other relevant platforms.

How Visible the Business Is on Industry-Specific & Local Directories

As I said before, claim your listings! We’ve talked about this hundreds of times, but whether you manually submit to directories or use aggregators, it’s vital that local businesses establish a presence within all relevant directories. People simply won’t trust a business if it doesn’t have a Google My Business listing, for example.

The above criteria is important, but local businesses must pair these strategies with other voice search ranking factors, like having a secure site, a fast loading time, informative content and authority.

Understanding How Consumers’ #VoiceSearch Habits Affect Local Businesses by @BernieColeman #SEO
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Voice Search Optimization for Local Businesses

If you’re just now diving into the world of voice search optimization, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with an extensive roadmap on the subject. At Advice Local, we’ve been researching the voice search for a while, so we’re more than ready to help local businesses jump on the bandwagon.

Want to know if a business is voice search-ready? Take our voice search readiness test. And, if you want to know how we help local businesses get found in voice search, request a demo today!

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Get the Google Maps Ranking Facts

When it comes to in-store and service area businesses, appearing on Google is vital. When was the last time you visited a store that wasn’t on Google My Business? Chances are, if a location doesn’t appear on Google Maps, then it may as well not exist in the eyes of the majority of searchers.

Know Your Google Maps Ranking Facts

Not only does a business need to show up on Google Maps, but it also needs to appear in the local pack if it wants to compete with similar businesses. That’s where optimization of the Google My Business (GMB) listing comes into play. If a business wants to improve its rank on Google Maps, there are three factors every local marketer and business needs to consider. 

1. Location, Location, Location!

Ever since the Local Search Ranking Factors study by Moz in 2017, we’ve known that proximity to the searcher has a huge influence on rank. In fact, it was deemed the highest ranking factor that year. In an era of searches framed with the phrase “near me,” Google highlights location and distance above all else. The search engine even automatically calculates the business’ proximity to the searcher as soon as they load the results page.

Did you know that “near me” searches are up 900 percent from 2015? Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends Report revealed this in 2018.

One way to indicate proximity to the searcher, besides updating the GMB listing and other directory profiles, is to beef up the “service area” page(s) on the business’ website. Take as many strides as possible to indicate to Google where the business is and why it should rank in the top Google Maps results.

Plumber Search Example - Google Maps Ranking

Take a look at this example. I simply searched the word “plumber” in Google and it immediately gave me results that were less than two miles away from my current location. Note that I didn’t even specifically ask for a result near me – Google just assumed I was looking for something within driving distance because it prioritizes convenience based on observed consumer behavior. Although Google loves its reviews in search results, it loves proximity more. Make an effort to prioritize the business’ location, both on business listings and on the business’ website, content and social media posts. 

2. Keywords Matter Everywhere

There is one factor that can overrule location: relevancy. Google’s top priority when providing search results is to accurately gauge what the user is searching for. The search engine wants to instantly know if the business matches the search. This means that even if a business is 100 feet away, Google won’t include it in the results unless it specifically matches part (or all) of the user’s search terms.

Keywords can certainly help prove relevancy to search engines. The more a business can help Google understand what it is and what services it provides, the more likely it is to show up in relevant searches. For example, if I search “dance school” on Google, it pulls up three results that all contain relevant keywords such as “dance,” “studio” and “school.”

Dance School Example - Google Maps Search Ranking

Many businesses make an effort to place relevant keywords in their website’s content, but what about placing them in their business listing descriptions? Google needs to see what the business is about instantaneously, so scatter relevant keywords throughout every profile and post. Avoid keyword stuffing, but emphasize exactly what the business provides through careful word choices.

3. Prominence and Popularity Win Out

It’s definitely possible (and sometimes easier) for small businesses to appear in the top three rankings on Google Maps. Google does prefer to include businesses that are well known and liked, so each component of a business’ listing – like photos, reviews and links to the business – is important. Why? To put it simply, Google wants to provide reliable information to its searchers. Therefore, it pulls results that have gained plenty of positive feedback because they seem to be the most trusted businesses.

Gathering more reviews and ratings can undoubtedly increase a business’ likelihood of popping up at the top of a Google search. Prominent places, such as local hotspots or landmarks, will likely rank ahead of locations that are lesser known. In the same vein, big brands that people recognize may be placed ahead of unknown small businesses if they have better reviews and such. Bad data can damage a business’ trust in the eyes of search engines and consumers alike – no business is immune, no matter the size. In fact, BrightLocal’s Local Citation Trust Report revealed that 68 percent of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in online directories.

Grocery Store Search Example - Google Maps Ranking

When I search for a grocery store, Google automatically provides me with three different Google Maps options that are nearby, well-reviewed, and owned by chains. These seem like extremely reliable options, which makes both the user and Google more likely to recommend them. The small local grocery store I know about, just two miles away, doesn’t even appear in the first page of results due to its low number of Google My Business reviews and lack of popularity (among other factors).

It’s not that Google doesn’t like small businesses – it just doesn’t trust them right away. That’s why it’s up to the business owners and marketing team to build the company’s reputation and make it more prominent in the surrounding community. Give Google plenty of reasons to recommend the store in search results and very few reasons to ignore it.

Don’t forget that establishing prominence can be done on a multitude of platforms, from blogs to social media. Cover as many bases as possible so that Google can see just how widely recognized the business is. The business may also want to turn to guest blogging and backlinking, both of which establish authority online.

The Magic Trio: #GoogleMaps Ranking Facts by @BernieColeman #SEO #GMB
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The Bottom Line on Google My Business

Although many of us wish there was a way to game the system when it comes to appearing in the envied top three slots on Google Maps, there’s no way to buy or cheat your way into a spot.

In many ways, that’s a good thing; it keeps Google Maps authentic and reliable for searchers, which is something we all want. Plus, it means that no business has an unfair advantage when it comes to appearing in search results. Some might start out with a higher rank, but every business can work to improve its placement.

At Advice Local, we know how difficult it can be to improve a business’ rank on Google Maps. That’s where we can help. Schedule a demo today to see what a difference we can make!

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Digging into Why Voice Search Analytics Is Gold in the Hands of Businesses

I’m back again with more information about voice search! Surprised? Maybe not, since I’ve been touting the importance of voice search all year. Let me hop back up on my soapbox once again to talk about something slightly different: the specific importance of digging into Google Analytics and Google Search Console to help local businesses place in voice search results.

In order to do everything from rank with Google to gain more customers, businesses need to understand one thing: consumer behavior. Why do users do the things they do? What are they looking for? How do search engine algorithms adapt to this behavior? Understanding how a business’ website is getting found and for which specific keywords, the length of the search, etc. can provide valuable insights into creating content for desktop, mobile and voice search.

Voice search is changing customer behavior and helping us learn more about the way the average person searches. Keep reading to find out more about how reviewing analytics can transform what you create.

Digging Into Analytics to Understand User Intent and Voice Search

Since there isn’t a way to get voice search traffic analytics specifically, we must approach it in other ways. The number one reason businesses need analytics is to understand their customers’ intent when searching. We already know that the way people search changes when they use smart devices – they use lots of long-tail keywords and speak more conversationally. Understanding factors like these changes the way businesses understand (and adapt to) users’ wants and needs.

Using Google Analytics to Understan User Intent

Let’s break down this screenshot taken from Google Analytics over seven days and see what we can learn about the consumers’ intent.

  • Those who searched “advice local” or similar searches most likely knew the business name they were looking for. Based on the lower bounce rate for four of the keywords, they were looking for a specific piece of information on the website and clicked through to another page(s) to find it.
  • The searches for “brownbook” and “get fave” were most likely seeking the specific directories, but since we had that directory’s name on a higher-ranking page on our site, they clicked through to it. However, based on the 100 percent bounce rate, the searcher did not find what they were looking for.
  • The searches for “business description example” and “google my business cover photo size” were most likely people wanting to know a specific answer. They both visited the pages for less than one minute, then bounced back to search results immediately.
  • For the “business description example” search, we may want to consider optimizing the page more by linking to a product page for the service we offer. Since there was only one search for this in the last seven days, we would need to look at the search traffic volume for this phrase and several other factors before taking any action.
  • For the “google my business cover photo size” search, we wouldn’t necessarily take any optimization action. Since we want to place in search results for “Google My Business,” we could add a mention on this page to drive traffic to a product page about our Google My Business claiming and optimization service.
  • The search for “claim google business listing” could either be someone wanting to learn how to create a Google My Business listing or someone looking for a company that provides this service. Based on the bounce rate, they didn’t stay on the site long enough to read the how-to, so perhaps they were looking for a service. We could optimize this post further by adding information at the top about the Google My Business claiming service we offer and perhaps benefit more from this type of search in the future.
  • The search for “data aggregator” was most likely someone wanting to find one. The bounce rate was 100 percent with less than one minute on the site, which tells me they did not find what they were looking for. Since this was a pretty generic search, while we like placing in the top of search results for it, it probably wouldn’t make sense to optimize further based off this search term at this time.
  • The search for “does posting on blogs or forums help with seo” was someone looking for a specific answer. Based on the 100 percent bounce rate and the less than one minute spent on site, we can’t say for sure if they found the answer they were looking for. They could have, perhaps, returned to search results to see what others had to say on the topic. If the bounce rate had been zero and the exit 100 percent, it would tell us they found the exact answer they were looking for and didn’t need or want to do additional research. If forum posting was a service we offered, we would need to dig into this search term much more over a longer period of time. Adding additional information or a link to a product page about the service would be a couple of strategies to utilize.
  • The search for “how to create a listing on foursquare” implies the searcher intent was to learn how to create a business listing on this specific directory. They are most likely a DIYer and not looking to hire someone. Before taking further action, I would want to look at this search term volume over a longer period of time. Once I had more information, we could devise a strategy to drive the user to our listing management services page.

Before any optimization strategies are determined or implemented, there are many more factors, like overall search volume for the term in a tool such as SEMRush, variants of the phrase, how much search traffic a specific site receives for the phrase, etc. For ease of explaining intent here, we only used a seven-day period. We actually would use a much longer time frame before taking any action.

When talking about user intent, the intent may or may not be explicitly expressed in the user’s query. Understanding which keywords are used isn’t the only important part of learning about user intent. Businesses also need to know where searchers land and what answers they were seeking, regardless of how they phrased their queries.

For example, maybe users in the business’ area have been searching for local “attorneys” when the company’s content and website have been using the term “lawyer” or “legal representative.” Understanding where users are trying to ultimately land for their answers will help businesses alter their tactics to provide instant, accurate answers to users’ searches.

As Jenny Halasz said in her contribution on Search Engine Watch, “Try to match your customers’ intent with your content, seek to answer questions, and provide details wherever possible. The same steps you take now to optimize for answer boxes are going to help you in voice search, too.”

Voice Search Analytics Influences a Business’ Content Strategies

User intent isn’t the only part of voice search analytics that impacts a business’ content. Learning to rank on Google with voice search and mobile search, as opposed to desktop search, is a different experience entirely. Businesses may rank well on a computer but fall short on other searches for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the site is too slow to load or appears unfriendly on mobile devices.

Using Google Analytics to Understan User Intent

Above is a screenshot from Google Search Console showing mobile traffic for specific queries over a seven-day period. While you can’t see the bounce rate or exit rate like you can in Google Analytics, you can see specific mobile traffic in relation to search queries. To understand and optimize content, it’s important to dig into not only Google Analytics, but also the multiple other tools available that relate to the business, such as Google Search Console.

Roughly 22 percent of voice searches are built around local content. Therefore, it makes sense for businesses to build content strategies that highlight location more than ever before, especially on mobile devices. Having access to statistics on how users search for local businesses can help businesses tailor their plan to accurately target nearby customers.

Additionally, voice search analytics can help businesses employ specific phrases that are commonly used by searchers. The more it can incorporate popular wording into their content, the more likely the business is to obtain customers via voice searches.

Let Analytics and Tools Guide Your Local SEO Strategies

Although some SEO tactics have held up throughout the increasing popularity of voice search, there are a handful of methods that specifically target voice search results. For instance, many businesses are now placing more emphasis on location due to the rise in “near me” phraseology in searches.

Furthermore, we’ve come to learn that 80 percent of Google Home results come from featured snippets. This information has encouraged more businesses to answer questions in a concise, detailed manner so that the content might be picked up in a featured snippet. Understanding more about how voice assistants select their highlighted answers can only improve businesses’ SEO strategies, especially as voice search becomes a more common method of looking things up online.

Using SEMRush, a business can identify which phrases have made the featured snippet. Here’s a screenshot showing how to apply that filter.

Using SEMRush to Discover Featured Snippets

As we said before, a large chunk of voice searches are built around local queries. Of the voice searchers surveyed in this 2018 BrightLocal study, roughly 46 percent said they search local businesses’ information on a daily basis. Considering that the use of voice search is steadily increasing, it’s safe to say that local businesses need to be on top of the latest trends and tools in the field.

Why #VoiceSearch #Analytics Is Gold in the Hands of Businesses by @BernieColeman #SEO
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To Sum It All Up

At Advice Local, we’ve been doing our best to research and understand voice search so that we can help local businesses optimize for the coming changes. Voice search analytics play a huge role in our development of SEO strategies and content plans. We’re continually trying to gain more insight into how voice searchers behave and what they want from businesses.

To find out if your business’ listings and website are optimized for voice search, schedule a demo with us today!

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How can a business without a brick-and-mortar store optimize for search engines? Check out these helpful tips.

Today, more and more companies are operating without a firm business location. Whether a business functions via an online website or from somebody’s house, it still needs to draw in customers just like any other company with a storefront does!

I’ve talked quite a bit about service area businesses (SABs) before, but since at Advice Local we’re all about getting local businesses found online – service area businesses included! – I thought I’d share more insights with you. Because service-based businesses function a bit differently from other companies, marketers often struggle with how to optimize them for search engines.

This time, I want to give you a comprehensive overview of our top beginner steps for service area businesses. These tips are vital to making businesses safe and profitable.

The Basics for Service Area Businesses

According to Google’s most recent guidelines, service area businesses can now remove their address from their listing or hide it. This is especially beneficial to SAB owners who operate from within their own homes.

Because SABs can still use Google My Business (GMB) listings, even without a public business location, it’s essential that they focus on obtaining local organic results. Basic information like names, addresses and phone numbers (NAP) should be correctly listed in multiple directories.

One thing service area businesses need to consider is how local users will find them if they don’t have a brick-and-mortar location. This is especially important to think about when the company has multiple service areas or branches. In many ways, SABs need local search engine optimization more than any other kind of business. People must be able to find the company naturally, even if they never visit an office or see the business in person.

To sum it up, the first basic step is to begin optimizing for search engines by creating accurate listings with directories like GMB. It’s a simple first step, but one that has massive, long-lasting benefits. Here’s a walk-through for optimizing a GMB listing for service area businesses.

SABs and Voice Search Optimization

Now that the SAB is listed, it’s time to think about the future and voice search optimization. According to a study by BrightLocal, roughly 58 percent of consumers have used voice search to find a local business’ information in the last year, and about 46 percent of voice search users look for local businesses daily. Voice search isn’t a passing trend – it’s a tool that will change how local businesses reach customers for the foreseeable future.

A large chunk of voice search users rely on the phrase “near me” when posing a query to their smart speaker or voice assistant. That’s where the local aspect comes in; Google loves providing users with answers based on relevancy and proximity.

Because service area businesses often do not have brick-and-mortar locations, they should consider additional ways to establish this local presence to appear in voice search results. This can be done through locally relevant content, listings that indicate areas served and a strong presence on social media. I’ve written post after post on voice search optimization strategies, produced a voice search guide and created the first-of-its kind voice search readiness algorithm and voice search readiness test, so when I say voice search is important, it’s no joke.

Why the Featured Snippet Matters to Service Area Businesses

You’ll never see Advice Local downplaying the significance of Google’s coveted featured snippet. It’s like being dealt a winning card when it comes to SEO and voice search. Not only is it the first thing people see on a desktop search, but it’s also where Google usually pulls answers for voice searches. Therefore, obtaining a featured snippet gets local businesses (including SABs) a substantial amount of attention from potential customers.

There’s no “right” way to snag the featured snippet, but there are a few things that will increase a business’ chances. Answering questions like “how to…” and “what is…” is a smart technique because it appeals to the phrases people typically use to search. Keep the answers short and concise, but also include the important answers in long-form content to establish authority.

The Yelp Strategy

Every local business needs reviews to survive, including – and especially – companies without a storefront that rely on recommendations to get more customers. That’s where websites like Yelp come into play. These sites allow SABs to interact with customer reviews and establish a positive reputation with locals.

Don’t have a profile on Yelp? Claim it ASAP by creating an account. You don’t even have to be the business owner to do this, just a verified representative. Check out our guide for more help creating a listing with Yelp.

Remember to add photos to Yelp and other review sites, even if there aren’t pictures of the business’ storefront location. High-quality images of products, company members and services can go a long way toward establishing authority and trust with local consumers.

Respond to reviews in a polite, understanding tone. No matter how angry or unreasonable a reviewer might be, stay true to the business’ brand and keep things professional. According to BrightLocal’s study, a whopping 89 percent of prospective customers read the business owner’s responses to online reviews before deciding whether to contact the company. Show locals that the business cares about its customers and is authentic.

Social Media Platforms

People might not see SABs on the side of the road, but that doesn’t mean they should miss them on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Social media platforms allow service area businesses to establish an online personality that engages with potential customers and creates a local presence, even without an in-person location.

Use social media to post engaging photos that earn consumers’ trust. These photos are especially powerful if they highlight local relevancy. For instance, if the SAB provides landscaping services, post a picture of the work the company did on a local park or another location that viewers would recognize.

Social media also gives SABs the chance to connect with other local businesses. Online partnerships and interactions can bring many potential customers, especially if the interactions are only positive.

The Guide to Getting Found for Service Area Businesses by @BernieColeman #SEO #Business
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Advice Local Helps Service Area Businesses Each Day

We know that ranking against other local businesses can be difficult for SABs, but with our help, it is possible to get found online and establish a presence within the community. Our tried-and-true plan for service area businesses will get the results you need for the SABs you represent. Request a demo today to learn all about it.

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Local businesses can build trust with potential and current customers by placing an emphasis on human interaction and being transparent.

With fake news littering the internet and scams happening left and right, many consumers feel they don’t know who to trust. They want to rely on small local businesses, but how can they feel safe with a company most people don’t know about? How can they know they’re spending their money with a reputable business?

According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 48 percent of the general population trusts businesses. That means that for every two potential customers a business has, it’s likely that only one trusts the company. It’s up to companies to change that with smart marketing techniques, content production and local SEO tactics.

The Importance of Trust for a Local Business

Fortunately, 84 percent of consumers trust small businesses more than other kinds of businesses. Why? They like the customer service, convenience and ability to support local consumers. This makes it a bit easier for local companies to win over customers’ faith.

However, it still requires effort. People aren’t going to build a relationship with a business just because it’s from their local area. They need reasons to trust and hand over their money to a small company.

How Businesses Can Build Trust

Today we want to share with you some of the top ways in which local businesses can establish trust with their customers. Some of them can apply to large corporations as well, but most are specific to small companies that want to reach local customers.

1. Get Active Within the Community and Online

There are few marketing strategies that are as powerful as word-of-mouth, especially when it comes to local businesses. Get involved in local events and festivals. Market with other small businesses and establish a real presence with the people. You need people to start talking about the business and what it has to offer.

When it comes to the internet, the best thing a local business can do is manage its online directory listings. People need to be able to find the business online, regardless of where they first heard about it. Google My Business (GMB), Yelp and Bing Places are some of the top local pages to get on ASAP. There, local businesses can list their name, address and phone number (NAP) data and other valuable business details.

Another way to get active with the community via the internet is to optimize the business’ social media platforms. Are they filled out with accurate information? Can people easily find the business’ Facebook page or Twitter account? Becoming more active on social media will boost the local business’ online presence, while building links to the business’ website, which improves trust among search engines as well as consumers.

2. Boost Communication With Customers

No matter what industry a company is in, emphasizing positive communication with customers is a key step to achieving long-term success. Whether the business representatives are responding to a phone call or speaking with a customer in-store, the more they communicate, the better. According to PWC, 71 percent of Americans would rather interact with a human than a chatbot – make sure their interactions are pleasant.

Communication isn’t just about specific conversations, though. It’s also about conveying to the community what the business has to offer. Clarify the specifics of the business, its history and how it makes a positive impact in the local area and their industry. Ask yourself this question: What value does the business offer to customers that the competition doesn’t? Then, communicate the answer online, offline and throughout the business’ marketing and branding efforts.

Google knows just how important it is for local businesses to communicate with their customers or potential clients. That’s why they included the Messages feature on their GMB mobile app. Now it’s easier than ever for local businesses to reply to inquiries and have an open line of communication with consumers right from their phones. Here’s how to use the messaging feature and other items available through the GMB mobile app, such as responding to reviews.

The Messages feature is only available for local businesses that have a claimed listing on Google My Business – just another reason why local listings are so important for local businesses.

3. Make Customers Feel Safe

Shopping online is a risky business nowadays with increasing cyberattacks and a lack of foolproof security on many sites. When a consumer visits a new site, they need to feel like the business behind it is reliable. Spam emails, confusing checkout processes and slow-loading pages can be concerning.

Even if a business is not exclusively online, there are ways in which they can make customers feel safe – like adding a SSL certificate to their site, for example. A HTTPS address not only adds a level of trust for consumers, but also for Google. The search engine ranks sites with secure domains higher than those without. Take every step possible to ensure that consumers feel safe while exploring the business’ services and profiles online. Here’s more on why a business’ website needs to have a HTTPS address.

4. Encourage and Respond to Reviews

We’ve been telling people for years that reviews matter for more than just that gold star rating everyone aspires to obtain. According to BrightLocal’s research in 2018, 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. The average consumer readers about 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a business, and most people between the ages of 18 and 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Not only do businesses need to establish a positive presence on popular review sites, but they also need to respond to reviews in a timely matter, regardless of whether they’re good or bad. Roughly 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, according to BrightLocal, which means it’s yet another opportunity for businesses to impress consumers and gain their trust. Here are some tips on how to respond to reviews.

5. Make the Brand Personal and Local

Regardless of their industries, businesses can always make themselves more relevant to their target audience. For instance, a local auto shop can pay attention to the weather and offer services that are specifically useful to people nearby. Local clothing stores can advertise for particular events and restaurants can offer residents special discounts. Partnering with other local businesses is a win-win situation and can have some other positive side effects, too.

The important thing is to create a local presence that makes the business stand out – but not at the sake of losing its authenticity. Develop a personality that appeals to the people without coming across as boastful or overly advertorial. Lots of times, it helps to put a real face to the business. Get the owners and team members out there with the community to breathe life into the business’ name and logo.

In a world full of technology, 59 percent of the people surveyed by PWC said they feel companies have lost touch with the human element. Local businesses can benefit immensely by presenting an authentic, relatable front to the people.

Five Sure-Fire Ways Local Businesses Can Build Trust With Consumers by @Advice_Local #SEO
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How Advice Local Can Help Local Businesses Gain Consumers’ Trust

You know what can really break people’s trust in a brand? A lack of presence online or incorrect information on directories. That’s where we come in – listing management is our thing!

At Advice Local, partners choose us to help them manage the local business listings of their clients on many different platforms. Request a demo today to see how we do it and why our partners love us!

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Voice search results are impacted significantly by certain factors, such as page speed, security, and the conciseness of answers.

By now, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing me herald the coming of voice search. The thing is, I’m not going to stop anytime soon. People are searching more and more with their voice assistants and smart speakers, and we all need to be prepared for that to continue. Voice search ranking factors are more important than ever to make sure local businesses are voice search-ready. Local businesses’ websites, blogs, and SEO strategies aren’t going to optimize themselves for voice search!

Last year, Backlinko conducted an extensive analysis of the factors that seriously impacted voice search rankings. Unsurprisingly, 11 different variables were tied specifically to results that the Google Assistant pulls up via Google Home. When I read their study, you know I had to do my own research to test their theories. After all, Google dominates the search world, so these ranking factors likely apply to other voice assistants, like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri.

The Gist on Voice Search Ranking Factors

For my research, I used one of Advice Local’s pages that is voice search-ready and ranking in the Google Assistant.

Voice Search Results Example

I tested all of Backlinko’s voice search ranking factors against our very own page.

Page Speed/Loading Time

We all know that websites need to load quickly in order to compete, and it’s no different when it comes to voice search SEO. Backlinko’s study reveals that the average voice search result loads in just 4.6 seconds. Typically, Google considers a page to be “mobile friendly” when it loads above-the-fold content in one second or faster.

Our page for “What Is Local Presence Management?” has a page speed of 3.02s.

Users want immediate results when they use voice search. Whether they’re asking for help with homework or looking up directions, their smartphone or voice assistant needs to respond quickly. As a result, slow-loading pages will almost never be included in voice search results.

HTTPS Websites

After Google did that whole thing over the summer with unsecure sites – you know, letting people know that a site was not secure before proceeding – it’s no surprise that site security is a big ranking factor not only for voice search, but for search in general as well. Google wants to protect its users, which means it’s more likely to send searchers to a secure webpage than one that’s questionable or unprotected.

What we didn’t know until recently is that secured websites are even more valuable in terms of voice search than they are in desktop searches. Backlinko found that voice search results tend to use HTTPS 20 percent more than other results on Google’s first page.

I can confirm that our website is and has been secure for quite some time, which adds value to Backlinko’s claim that HTTPS is a voice search ranking factor.

Brief, Informative Answers Inside In-Depth Content

 Now we get to the meat of what’s important when it comes to ranking in voice search. When you type a query on Google, you might browse the entire first page of search results to find what you need. When you ask a question to a voice assistant, Google provides you with one or a couple of answers that best satisfy your needs.

It’s vital that businesses alter their content to answer specific questions. The typical voice search result is only 29 words in length, although it may come from a blog or post that’s more than 2,000 words long, according to Backlinko.

The Advice Local article I used to test the theory contains 501 words, but our definition of local presence management is found in the first paragraph and is both brief and informative:

“Local Presence Management is defined as geo-targeted digital presence management that enhances a brand on the whole by optimizing all their locations’ information in their respective local markets.”

The answers hidden in long-form content need to be clear and precise, but that doesn’t mean the content should be short. While the content in our article was not too long, it was in depth and authoritative – like all of our content.

Marketers should also keep in mind that simple, easy-to-read content may help with voice search SEO. The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade level, which makes sense considering the brevity and simplicity of most voice search answers. Roughly 93 million people in America have “Basic” or “Below Basic” literacy skills – don’t exclude them by writing above their level. This isn’t the time or place to make pieces flowery. Stay on topic and keep things straightforward.

Authority Over Subject Matter

Since voice assistants only provide one answer to users at a time in most cases, Google needs to know that the answer comes from a trustworthy, authoritative source. In order to benefit from voice search SEO, content must exude expertise. For instance, Google is much likelier to answer the question “What are the signs of measles?” with a result from Mayo Clinic, an expert, than with a result from a mommy blogger.

This is also the case with a SEO topic like “What Is Local Presence Management?” The result comes from a trusted site that consistently crafts content related to local SEO, listing management and other forms of digital marketing.

One way to help build authority in a field is to share the content with others in the industry. Content with high levels of social engagement tends to perform well when it comes to voice search. Share the post on Facebook, get people to Tweet about it, and don’t hesitate to toot your own horn. Backlinko states that the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets. Those shares are indications to Google that other people trust and appreciate the content.

We are very active on social media. We share our content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, which also helps position us as an authoritative source in the SEO and digital marketing space.

Featured Snippets and High Rankings

Once again, I’m going to bring up the Featured Snippet. You’re probably groaning considering that I’ve brought it up countless times, but there’s a reason: it’s one of the most vital aspects to succeeding with voice search. Businesses are much more likely to be featured in a voice search result if they own the Featured Snippet for a particular query. In fact, according to the Backlinko study, 40.7 percent of all voice search answers come from Featured Snippets.

Of course, we have the featured snippet for local presence management.

feature snippet results example

When it comes to ranking with Google, many of the same rules apply to voice search as they do to desktop search. If one of the business’ articles is ranking highly on desktops, then it stands a fair chance at appearing in a voice search. The key is to reach one of those top three spots on Google – 75 percent of the voice search results come from there.

Strong Backlinks

This factor goes hand in hand with authority. Google wants to find voice search results that offer expertise in their domain. One indication of this reliability is a strong backlink profile. The more a website can establish domain authority, the more Google will believe it’s a trustworthy source worth passing on to voice search users.

Advice Local is a very cited source, as we are considered an authority when it comes to local SEO and other digital marketing topics. Our page about Local Presence Management has 19 backlinks from trusted sources. Advice Local as a whole has over 71k!

The Bottom Line on Voice Search Ranking Factors

 Right now, Siri is used on over 500 million devices. Google Assistant is used on more than 400 million, according to Voicebot AI. Voice search has steadily increased in popularity over the past couple of years, and all signs point to a future filled with voice searches.

Analyzing #VoiceSearch Ranking Factors by @BernieColeman #SEO #Search
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If you find that a local business is not voice search ready (have you taken our voice search readiness test yet?) pay attention to these factors, as they may be the reason why the business is not getting found in voice searches.

Now is the time for local businesses to begin optimizing their content and websites for voice search results. If you need help preparing your local business clients, request a demo today!

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Without online visibility, local businesses will likely fail in today’s competitive environment.

The days of competing with local businesses via storefront window displays and newspaper ads are long gone. Sure, traditional methods of advertising still hold value, but it’s pretty much impossible for any business to survive without online visibility – particularly a local business. It’s just the way of the world nowadays.

Without an optimized presence online, local businesses will struggle to stay relevant and appeal to local customers. In fact, a company’s online visibility (and presence on search engines) can make or break it. Here’s why.

Online Visibility Draws in Potential Customers and Profit

Shockingly, about a third (36 percent) of small businesses still don’t even have a website. This makes it incredibly difficult for customers to find the business through anything other than word of mouth or traditional advertising. Considering that most customers expect local businesses to have some sort of website, this is a risky move that can decrease a business’ appeal to future clients.

Additionally, according to Bazaarvoice, 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store. If a local company doesn’t have a website, or a presence with review sites like Yelp, Google or Bing, where will people find them?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many local businesses fail within their first year (20 percent). Another 50 percent will go under within five years, and roughly 80 percent fail within the first decade. It’s not easy for small companies to survive in today’s world, and finding new customers is a big part of that battle. Why not make it easier for people to find the business online? People don’t just rely on family and friends’ recommendations anymore; they do research and make decisions based on what they find online.

Getting a business listed in the most popular directories and data sources is the place to start. This list of the best directories can help with that. Companies like ours can help, too! Request a demo to see how local businesses benefit from our services.

Without Online Visibility, Where’s the Business’ Credibility?

Fake news and online scammers have left many consumers hesitant to trust businesses, even if they’re run by their next door neighbors. Local companies must first earn their customers’ trust before they can expect to turn a profit or be referred to future clients. How? They need to prove that the business is real, authentic and reliable.

Everyone researches companies before making a decision. When people research local businesses, they need to see that the companies are transparent and professional. Consumers should be able to find records of healthy interactions with customers and reviews from happy clients. It’s also positive if the local business has a visible relationship with the community. People love to see that small companies donate to charities, help out with events, or simply acknowledge local happenings and holidays.

Another source of credibility is original content. Blogs, interviews, videos, infographics and email newsletters can all help local businesses establish their place as an expert in their respective field. This boosts their authority and online presence while also gaining potential customers’ trust, all while improving the business’ place in search results.

Interacting With Customers Online Is Vital

One of the big reasons people love working with local businesses is that they’re more personable than big corporations. Instead of interacting with a chatbot or outsourced customer service representative, consumers can hear from the actual business and its employees. The company’s online presence can highlight this and win more customers who appreciate the personal aspect of business.

Obviously, social media facilitates a great deal of consumer-company interactions. That’s a smart start for local businesses, but don’t stop there. Reviews (and the local business’ reactions to them) can be extremely defining in the eyes of future customers. According to BrightLocal, at least 93 percent of consumers use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad. Furthermore, 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews.

If a local business lacks an online presence, how will potential customers conduct research? Where will they find reviews that tell them whether or not to trust the company? In all honesty, we wouldn’t trust a company that’s invisible online. Would you?

The Risks That Come With Online Activity – And How to Handle Them

Many local businesses fear exposing themselves to the internet. They see how powerful a negative review or social media disaster can be, and they figure they’re safer sticking to their old methods of customer interaction and advertising. Unfortunately, that train of thought will lead a small company to disaster in most cases.

In fact, most businesses are visible, whether they realize it or not. Their data is listed in government databases and these databases are accessed by other data sources such as directories. The sources list the business’ data on their websites, so whether the business is paying attention or sticking their head in the ground, they are most likely listed and simply not managing their data or reviews. Run our free online visibility report and find out about a business for yourself today.

It’s important to keep in mind that negative reviews offer businesses the chance to respond in a positive manner. Even if the review was unfair, people will appreciate an apology and a gesture of professionalism on the part of the business. Similarly, negative press via social media can be handled in a manner that actually improves customers’ view of the business. Customer service is extremely important to consumers, so don’t be afraid to showcase how the business handles problems in a public manner.

Another risk is the threat of online hackers and spammers. The local business should protect their website so that customers feel safe sharing private information or making purchases. Secure the website and indicate to users that it’s safe. Consider adding a third-party trustmark that indicates the website poses no threats. Roughly 84 percent of consumers have greater confidence in trustmarks they know and recognize.

The Ins and Outs of Online #Visibility for Local Businesses by @Advice_Local #SEO
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How Advice Local Can Help With Online Visibility

Consumers need to be able to find local businesses online in an instant. Without a strong online presence, a local company might as well be handing out paper flyers to an audience with their faces stuck in their phones and headphones in their ears. Very few people will find or trust the business, no matter how authentic it may be.

At Advice Local, we recognize the importance of establishing a credible online presence from the get-go, especially when it comes to small companies. That’s why we offer a free online visibility report! Local businesses can see just how easily potential customers can find them. Contact us today to schedule a demo.

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Understanding how long-tail keywords work and how they can optimize content puts businesses one step closer to getting found in voice search.

When it comes to optimizing content for search engines, you might feel like there are a million things to remember. You know keywords are important, but when are you supposed to use them? Can you use multiple words or just one at a time? How do they help in the grand scheme of SEO? As a local marketer, you know the answer to most of these questions, but you also know voice search complicates things. Today we’re going to dig into long-tail keywords and how to use them to help local businesses place higher in search results, specifically voice search results.

The Long and the Short of Long-Tail Keywords

Do long-tail keywords have you baffled? You’re not alone. But don’t worry – we’ve put together a little guide to help you and other marketers, local or otherwise, with voice search optimization through long-tail keywords. After reading this guide, you’ll have a solid idea of why they’re important, what role the keywords play in a business’ online success and how to start using them right away.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

In a nutshell, long-tail keywords are keywords that are grouped together to make up a phrase – often in the form of a question like “How do I fix my leaky faucet?” or a statement like “best times to get an A/C serviced.” As you can see, long-tail keywords seem a bit more conversational.

We did a little experiment to test the difference between searching for a keyword and searching for a long-tail keyword. Take a look below.

keyword search example

We first did a search for A/C service. Since Google already knows we’re located in McKinney, TX, it pulled results for A/C repair companies in this area. Google has a hard time understanding intent just from the words “A/C service” so it also pulled information on car A/C repair and results on how to repair or service an air conditioner.

When we tried “best times to get an A/C serviced,” we got considerably different results.

long tail keyword search example

Google pulled a variety of sources to determine the best times to get an A/C serviced. None of the results were businesses located near McKinney, most likely because none of the local companies have created content to answer this question.

local-focused long tail keyword search example

When we modified the search to include “in McKinney” search results shifted back to showing local A/C companies. Since Google didn’t have an answer to the question in relation to McKinney, the search results shifted.

Long-tail keywords add a level of intent that is hard to achieve with shorter keywords. This brings me to my next point.

Why Are Long-Tail Keywords Important?

There is a single word to explain why long-tail keywords are important: intent. As shown in the example above, search engines have a hard time understanding intent from a single keyword – it’s not the same to look for “A/C Service” as it is to look for “best times to get an A/C serviced” or “best times to get an A/C serviced in McKinney.” Incorporating long-tail keywords into a business’ content will help search engines deliver more accurate results. Local businesses and brands that deliver content that answers these intent-based queries will rise above the competition.

Another important aspect of long-tail keywords is the growing popularity of voice search. Back in the initial days of online search engines, it was simple for people to type in one word and hit “search.” Now, with voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo and the Google Assistant) in one out of every six Americans’ homes, people are searching differently. They’re talking instead of typing.

Researchers have found that voice search queries are generally longer, with seven or more words included. Humans are more likely to speak long sentences than they are to type them.

Businesses need to continue to pay attention to important keywords for their industries, but they also need to pay attention to how people are using the keywords to search for their services with voice-enabled devices. If searchers are using multiple words or a certain phrase repeatedly, it’s time to optimize for that popular search query.

The Pros of Long-Tail Keywords

Let’s be honest: cramming keywords into a blog can feel unnatural, and when Google and readers stumble across the content, they can tell it’s forced. That’s why content writers love long-tail keywords. It’s easier to build high-quality content around conversational phrases than around a handful of words.

Additionally, long-tail keywords are more specific, which means consumers can find answers easily and quickly.

Because algorithmic updates and voice search have recently changed how search engines function, businesses can get ahead of the competition and stand out to more searchers. People use voice search when they’re on mobile devices, sitting at computers or walking around their smart homes – businesses should consider these search habits and optimize for them to be the real winners. 

How Do I Research Long-Tail Keywords?

 Businesses have been checking for LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) for many years now, but how do they find the long-tail keywords that will best benefit their sites? Here are four ideas.

  1. Use the autocomplete results on Google. For example, if a business does listing management services, like we do, one of our main keywords would be “citations.” We typed the main keyword into the search bar and saw phrases like “citations needed” and “citations definition” appear, giving us an idea of potential long-tail keywords we could use.
  2. Another option is to use the “People also ask” section on Google. When we searched for “citations”, a keyword we would definitely want to optimize for as a listing management services provider, the below questions came up.

suggested questions example

  1. Google AdWords has a “Keyword Planner” that can help generate ideas for relevant keywords, both short and long. By typing in a single word, the user can easily find dozens of others that relate to the topic.
  2. To find other pertinent long-tail keywords you can examine what other businesses in the industry are using. If a competitor is ranking highly with a specific long-tail keyword, then other similar businesses would probably benefit from it, too.

Ways to Incorporate Long-Tail Keywords in Posts

Although including long-tail keywords in any way can be beneficial, there are certain places in content where they’ll do the most good. For instance, including strong long-tail keywords in headlines can make the content shareable and easy to find on search engines. Additionally, these keyword-rich headlines will appear more often in voice search results.

As with any kind of writing, businesses need to use natural language and make their content easy to read. Above everything else, Google cares about its users’ experiences. As a result, it won’t place highly if it’s littered with forced keywords, no matter how short or long they may be. Keep the content smooth and organic without forcing in the long-tail keywords.

Furthermore, it’s vital that businesses share their posts in engaging, strategic ways. Producing engaging content is only part of the work; the rest is up to social media, email marketing and other forms of content sharing.

The Moral of the Story When It Comes to Long-Tail Keywords and Voice Search

Remember that most humans don’t type as they talk. There’s a difference between a typed search and a voice search, and that difference is key when it comes to creating and optimizing content. Comscore predicts that, by 2020, 50 percent of all online searches will be made by voice. This isn’t a passing trend – without voice search optimization, businesses will lose their chances of ranking highly and gaining conversions. We have a downloadable guide on voice search optimization you may want to check out, too.

The Ultimate How-to Guide to Long-Tail Keywords and #VoiceSearch Optimization by @Advice_Local #SEO
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At Advice Local, we’re experts at determining if a business is voice search-ready! Our revolutionary algorithm, the first of its kind, in our Voice Search Readiness Score can indicate how likely a business is to get found online, and the results are simple and straightforward. Run our free online visibility report today to see how findable your local business clients are in voice search!

If you are a local marketer, agency, brand or franchise, request a demo today to learn how we can help you and each of your clients or business’ locations stand out in desktop, mobile and voice search results.

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Learn how to claim or create a business listing on Yelp. Additonally, dig into Yelp's other features such as the Yelp Q&A and activity dashboard.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it as many times as needed: reviews and customer feedback are more important than ever. Having a Yelp business listing is a no-brainer. Yelp is not only a powerful site but also an essential component of the Local Search Ecosystem; after all, Yelp makes it into the top three local pages within our listing management technology.

For search engines, review sites such as Yelp are considered the most authoritative when it comes to reviews, and no wonder! Since Yelp was founded in 2004, it has contributed millions of reviews for a variety of services, from restaurants to doctors and plumbing companies. It’s truly a hub of information for customers on the hunt for particular services. How often can you do a search for a local business without Yelp surfacing at the top?

Now that we’ve established just how powerful Yelp is, let’s dig into why a Yelp business listing is important for local businesses or service area businesses.

The Importance of Yelp to Local Businesses

Every month, 73.9 million desktop users and 72.3 million mobile users visit Yelp for help during their buying journey. Over 45 percent of consumers surveyed by ReviewTrackers Online claimed that they check Yelp before making a purchase.

This is exactly why local businesses can really benefit from creating and updating their listings on Yelp and monitoring their customers’ feedback. Not only does every business need a listing on Yelp, but every business also needs accurate information listed, including their address, phone number, hours of operation, etc. If a potential customer can’t find a business on their favorite review site, they will likely move on to a business’ competitor they can find.

How to Claim a Yelp Business Page

Before creating a new Yelp page, check here to see if a listing for the business already exists. If you can’t find the particular local business you’re looking for, then set up a new profile.

How to Find a Yelp Business Listing

1. Complete the Business’ Yelp Page Information

First things first: the company profile needs accurate details. Fill out basic information like the business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Include a website link as well. If the business has in-store hours or phone hours, list those, too.

Additionally, the relevant categories for the business should all be detailed in the “Categories” space. Try to cover as many as possible to maximize the business’ reach on Yelp, but don’t overstate services if the company doesn’t really offer them. Potential customers need to trust the business from the get-go.

How to Add a Business on Yelp

2. Upload Compelling Images

Once the basic profile has been created, it’s time to upload some high-quality images to give potential customers a better idea of what the business offers.

  • Include a minimum of five photos featuring the business’ location, exterior design, menus, services, interiors, products and anything else that might make customers choose this business over a competitor.
  • It’s always best to include detailed photos, so think of the pictures that would best benefit people on the hunt for the business’ services.

How to Upload Photos to Yelp

An analysis of customer activity on the business’ page – or on similar pages – will help determine what customers are looking for in a business’ Yelp profile, including certain keywords. The more we can learn about a business’ audience, the easier it will be to tailor the profile to the audience’s needs.

Moving Beyond the Basics of a Yelp Business Listing

Once the basics are done, like providing store hours or the correct address, using Yelp to educate potential customers on the company’s background and benefits is a must. Here are a few other sections to consider filling out.

1. Meet the Owner/Manager

Customers like putting friendly faces to businesses, especially when it comes to local companies. Yelp has a section for telling people about the business’ owner or manager and why they love providing their services to customers. Make this description uplifting and personal so that Yelp users can form a connection with the business and what the business stands for.

2. History

This section is especially helpful if the business has changed names or locations in the past. It also provides the opportunity to talk about the business’ values and how far it has come, and to share its roots.

3. Specialties

This section provides an opportunity to highlight specific services the business offers. This is the ideal place to include relevant keywords and make the business stand out from its competitors that provide similar services. 

Everyone Needs Reviews on a Yelp Business Listing

Although customers may look for information about a business on Yelp, they mainly visit the site for one big reason: reviews. If a business has just created a profile, then there are likely very few reviews for the business.

According to BrightLocal, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel like they can trust a local business. Therefore, the more positive reviews gathered, the better off the business will be.

Tips for Gathering Yelp Reviews

To increase the number of positive reviews, share the new Yelp listing with former customers, friends and family members. Since Yelp has a strict policy about soliciting reviews, we recommend that you proceed with caution.

Once the business has a dozen reviews or so, try to obtain more reviews in natural ways. Here are a few methods:

  1. Share the business’ Yelp reviews on their website and other platforms.
  2. Include details on how to provide feedback on email and print receipts.
  3. Consider using a third-party tool to follow up with customers after a service has been provided. It’s important to make sure the selected tool isn’t breaking any rules like review-gating.

Another word of caution: don’t come across as a desperate business soliciting reviews. Always be polite in the approach and try to get reviews naturally rather than forcefully.

Also: fake reviews are bad news, so don’t even think about trying to increase a business’ rating with falsified feedback!

Always Respond to Reviews – Both Positive and Negative

Whether a business receives a positive or negative review, a customer service representative should address the comment. Replying directly to a happy customer lets them know their feedback is appreciated, and the response draws more attention to the stellar review. When responding to a negative review, businesses have the chance to clarify statements made in the review and take action to make it right, which always improves the business’ appearance in the eyes of prospective customers.

Remember, these responses to reviewers should be public where other people can view them. ReviewTrackers Online also revealed that currently, 63 percent of consumers never hear back from a business after leaving a review. A business can stand out from the crowd by responding politely. Overall, this can greatly improve a business’ online reputation.

The Yelp Community Has Questions You Need to Answer

Back in early 2017, Yelp made it even easier for a business to communicate with prospective customers through the Yelp Questions and Answers feature. Users (the community) on Yelp can post specific questions about a business on their profile. The business and others in the community can respond to the questions.

This is an excellent way for the business to grow a loyal following, dispel myths about their business and clear up any misunderstandings. No longer does the business have to wait until they get a bad review to address common questions. Yelp even created The Business Owner’s Guide to Yelp Ask the Community. Check it out!

Dig Into Yelp’s Metric Dashboard 

As you likely saw when creating the business profile, Yelp has a metric dashboard that provides valuable information about users’ behavior when visiting the business’ profile. It may take a bit of time for traffic to pick up, but over the course of the next few months, the business can use the data to figure out its next steps.

Access Yelp's Activity Dashboard

The dashboard can also reveal how much of the business’ revenue is coming from Yelp, as well as total user views and customer leads. All of these numbers equip businesses with the tools they need to more accurately advertise to their target audiences.

Everything You Need to Know About #Yelp Business #Listings by @BernieColeman #SEO #Citations
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The Bottom Line

Now that we’ve provided you the top to bottom on a Yelp business listing, it’s time to help local businesses boost their online visibility and ratings, and attract more customers organically. Did you know that we create Yelp profiles as part of our listing management services? Learn how we help partners like you help their local business clients get found on Yelp and the other top directory sites by requesting a demo today.

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