Found Out Why Voice Search Readiness Is Important and How to Prepare Local Businesses

2018 is drawing to a close, and I think we can all safely say that the last quarter of the year has  been highly focused on the ever-evolving concept of voice search readiness!

There is so much to be said about voice search; it’s an innovation that is making its mark in every industry. Here are some of the ways that we are getting our clients and ourselves ready at Advice Local.

Voice Search Readiness is Changing How We Play the Game

To prepare for voice search readiness and to get local businesses found by voice assistants, you first have to fully understand it. Today, I’m going to give you an overview, plus a slew of resources to take a deeper dive.

It’s Not Just for Millennials – The Big Kids Like to Play, Too

As voice search continues its climb to being the top option for searching today, many assume that older generations are not interested in it. But here’s the thing…the largest age-group of voice search device users were between the ages of 35-44, according to Stone Temple Consulting.

Its simplicity and ease of use is narrowing the generational gap exponentially, which is huge! Having the answers to questions in seconds is making the entire population more digital, which will provide new data like nothing else. You could say it’s creating an entirely new generation – the Voice Search Generation.

Getting Business Listings Voice Search-Ready Requires Effort

At Advice Local, optimizing a brand’s or business’ listings so that the business is findable on both desktop and mobile search is one of the foundational pillars. This goes beyond the business’ name, address, phone number (NAP) and expands to their business hours, photos, customer reviews, and more.

For a business to be voice search-ready, it needs more information than the basic bases covered on a business listing. Leveraging features like the Community Q & A available through Google My Business (GMB) listings, or adding things like products, services, and menus will further help a listing get more exposure through voice search. Here’s the roadmap to getting local businesses found in search.

Voice Search Readiness Expands Beyond Business Listings

I’m sure you have heard the saying “Content is King” more times that you can count on both your hands. I’ve heard it and written it so much that it kinda makes me want to cringe, but it’s the truth. When it comes to voice search, content is in fact king. It drives which results surface and which don’t.

Content that is already in the top 10 results is more likely to be a voice search result, with featured snippets and answer boxes leading the charge. These results are typically what is read aloud by a voice assistant. As I have shared before, in order to optimize content for voice search, it needs to be conversational and include natural language. Keyword-stuffed content doesn’t equal results when it comes to voice search. Write for people, not the machine, to win in voice searches. When in comes to voice search and SEO, this is what local businesses need to consider.

Put a Google Assistant Under the Tree This Year

There are numerous devices on the market today to integrate voice search into everyday life. But, which one is the best? Well, in May of 2018, Stone Temple Consulting concluded that the Google Assistant performed the best of all mobile voice search enablers, with a 93% accuracy rate of all 5,000 questions it was asked.

47% of smart device users use their assistants beyond the everyday, easy questions like the current weather conditions. Think about all of the data that could be harnessed! But get this: Adobe Analytics concluded that after this holiday season, smart speaker ownership will rise to 48%. These devices are so popular because they make lives easier – now who wouldn’t want that for Christmas?

Get the Guide and Win More Voice Search Results

We are beyond ready to meet the challenge that voice search presents for local businesses, brands and franchises moving forward.

The question is whether or not the local businesses you represent are. We have the voice search guide and resources to get you and them there. Download The Guide to Getting Found today.

The #VoiceSearch Readiness Prep List: Helping Local Businesses Get Found by @BernieColeman #SEO
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Voice Search Readiness Is Not Optional

No business, no matter the size, can afford to opt out of voice search readiness! Run our free visibility report today and find out how the local businesses you represent rate with our voice search readiness test. Run our report and we’ll ask Alexa, Siri and Google for you!

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Get the Scoop – The Google My Business API v4.3 Is Here

Just this week, Google announced that they have updated their API for the third time this year. Google My Business API v4.3 is here, and we’re excited about it!

Google My Business API v4.3 Is a Winner – Here’s Why

There are quite a few components of the GMB v4.3 update to unpack, and simply put, these new, highly effective features further optimize GMB listings. Let’s get started.

Using Questions and Answers Is Now Easier

By now you’re probably aware of the Questions and Answers feature available within the Google My Business (GMB) listing. Originally released in August of 2017, when it initially rolled out it was only available on mobile and accessible solely on Android (through Google Maps). Now however it’s available on all mobile devices and in desktop searches.

With this update, we see the most significant changes in relation to Questions and Answers. Traditionally, business owners or managers of the listings could write and answer questions through the GMB dashboard only. With this API update, it allows for the retrieval of Questions and Answers for individual locations. In addition to retrieving the questions via the API, additional questions can be added, edited or deleted entirely through the API. This is great for multi-locations, brands, and franchises that have many locations to monitor and update.

The New GoogleLocations Features Help With Accuracy

The new GoogleLocations report, available via API, will make it easier for local presence management companies like Advice Local to pull all the location data for a brand or franchise. We’ll be able to easily identify locations that have been reported by users for items such as “location is not an actual location” or “location is spam, fake, or offensive.” While some of these reports may be accurate, we’ll be able to confirm the accuracy more quickly.

The other GoogleLocations update will allow Google via the API to easily provide recommendations for locations they suspect a brand or franchise may own, but have not yet claimed.

Image Optimization Is Getting an Upgrade Too

At Advice Local, you know we’re all about optimized Google My Business listings, and this includes images. With images, each component is equally important – from the images’ relevance to the business, to being the right size, quality, plus licensing needs. Via the API, we can now offer a little context to each image, and we’re excited to share that! For those who think this is no big deal in the big picture, think again. The new media description feature can further showcase what a business’ location has to offer, and that absolutely pays off.

Using the best and right images is so important that we have written an entire article dedicated to the subject! Take a look at the “Best Image Sizes for Google My Business” now, if you haven’t already.

A Few More Updates Google My Business API Users Will Love

The Bulk-Read Reviews update is pretty straightforward. Now via the API, users will be able to retrieve an ordered list of reviews for a maximum of 200 verified locations in a single call. How useful is that?

API v4.3 will offer Price List specifications for businesses. Items can now be labeled as “Services” or “Food.” While a small update, the food service industry will certainly benefit.

Finally, no more wondering how many times an individual chain has appeared in search results. Chains_Queries will now provide this information.

Get the Scoop – The #Google My Business API v4.3 Is Here by @BernieColeman #GMB #SEO
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Why Are These Google My Business API v4.3 Updates a Winner?

Every time Google makes an API update, it makes it easier for us to better serve you – our partners – the agencies, brands, franchises, and SMBs that we represent. Google is committed to every business, large or small, and so are we.

We’re always here for our partners, so to find out why you should become one, request a demo today!

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Five Local SEO Myths That Are Causing Harm to Local Businesses

When it comes to local SEO, there are many myths and half-truths that people like to repeat – or things that were true once upon a time – before Google made a change for the gazillionth time. Outdated information in blog posts, slide decks and guides has left local businesses with a lot of misinformation.

Local SEO Myths That Must Be Dispelled Immediately

While some of these strategies may have been true or even worked well in the past, they are now definitely causing more harm than good. But don’t worry! I’m here to address this – and debunk a few local SEO myths along the way.

1.  Google My Business Is Not as Important

I’m not the bearer of bad news here, because facts are facts. And the fact is: Google My Business (GMB) is one of the more important parts of local SEO. If a local business hasn’t claimed or created their GMB listing, they are losing out – not only on potential customers, but also in telling Google what their business is about, where they are located, their phone number, business hours and much more.

If a business’ information is not updated – or if the GMB listing is not optimized – they have fewer chances to attract customers to their goods or services.

2. The Only Important Thing About Business Listings Is the NAP

The contact information (name, address and phone number, or NAP) of a business is absolutely essential. After all, that’s how they get found online and offline. But there are other aspects of a business listing that are just as important to attract local customers and beat out the competition.

Most business listings let business owners include descriptions, images, and offer deals without sending users to a website. Google My Business takes it even further by letting businesses add posts, create events, and offer promotions that a consumer can claim.

3. Google Penalizes GMB Listings That Break Their Guidelines

Google has specific guidelines that businesses should follow in order to represent their business on GMB. They include everything from eligible businesses to business descriptions, NAP and business hours.

One important aspect to consider on GMB’s guidelines is the use of categories. It is against the guidelines to use category names within the business name. This SEO strategy has gotten many a listing taken down.

Breaking this or any other rule could result in Google suspending the listing. There is no algorithm that Google uses to lower a business’ GMB ranking for breaking their GMB guidelines. Instead, they just suspend the GMB listing until the issue is resolved.

4. Backlinks and Citations Are the Same Thing

Thinking that citations and backlinks are the same thing is a common misconception, but that is most certainly not the case. Some people also think that when a business has online citations, they don’t need backlinks to boost their SEO. Both of these statements couldn’t be further from the truth!

I’ve talked at length about citations – and a business might want to try our step-by-step local citation audit! But long story short, online citations are mentions of a business in an online directory. They usually include NAP and the business’ URL – although this last one isn’t always available. The more positive mentions – or clean citations – that a business has, the more chances they have of reaching potential customers in their geographic area. It’s truly about quality citations, not just quantity.

Some citations will include a link (aka backlink) and others will not. Backlinks are links to a business’ website pages or posts around the web. Not all backlinks will include a citation (mention of the business) with the link.

While there’s much debate around the topic, backlinks are one of the more relevant ranking factors for Google, but they are also a way to build authority.

5. Reviews Are Useless

Some people seem to think that nobody reads reviews online. For a while, fake reviews were a big issue in the online world. Unethical marketers and businesses paid people to write positive reviews on their own products, or negative reviews on their competitors’ products. Trusting reviews was an act of faith.

But consumers have gotten smarter, and people who write these fake reviews have not. Countless articles on spotting fake reviews on websites like Amazon, Yelp, or even Google My Business expose certain tell-tale signs that a review is fake.

In fact, according to BrightLocal, 93 percent of local consumers use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad.

Not only do consumers care about reviews, they are basing their decisions on them. Reviews are far, far from useless. And if a local business has negative reviews, it’s best to address them in a polite, apologetic manner instead of deleting them. This gives the business owner the chance to either apologize for a bad situation, or set the record straight.

Here are some ways that local businesses can get more reviews– and can address any negative reviews they may have.

Five Local #SEO Myths That Are Causing Harm to Local #Businesses by @BernieColeman #GMB
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Help Is a Click Away

It’s not always easy to distinguish a myth from the truth. Along with dispelling a few myths as we did above, to show you how much we care about getting found, Advice Local has an entire guide to help you tackle local SEO. Download the “Epic Guide to Local SEO” now.

Staying up-to-date with all the changes that are constantly going on around the web is not an easy task. At Advice Local, we have a team of dedicated local SEO professionals serving our agency, franchise and brand partners, plus our SMB clients. Request a demo today to see how we help local businesses get found online every single day!

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Citation Cleanup in a Nutshell – It’s Time to Clean Up That Dirty Data

When it comes to bad data or dirty data, just the sight of it gets my goat! It’s my mission – and my company’s – to clean up citations around the web. The reason is simple: Local citations can make or break a business’ online presence. That’s why they are so important to me and the team at Advice Local.

When a business’ data is accurate, citations are a great way of reaching even more potential customers in the business’ area. But when citations present inaccurate or old information, the business risks losing consumer trust. Did you know that 80 percent of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect contact details or business names online?

A citation audit is essential for any business, large or small, but particularly for local and multi-location businesses and brands. Businesses like these rely on accurate name, address and phone number (NAP) data for potential customers to find them online and offline.

Years ago, consumers would get out the phone book, rely on word-of-mouth, and walk or drive around to find a local business. But with the creation of search engines, why would you complicate a process that could be as simple as typing – or speaking – a few keywords?

Getting to Know Citations

To review, a citation is any mention of a business whether online or in print. With the “always on” focus of today’s world, we will take a solid look at online. Online citations typically include the business’ NAP data and the website URL.

Local citations help local businesses get found online in a specific geographic area. They also help improve SEO and visibility in local search results – particularly mobile. If a citation includes a link to the business’ website, that’s even better.

Citations can be found online in data sources such as directories, data aggregators, social media, review sites, and map listings like Google My Business and Bing Places.

Why Clean Citations Are Essential

If you didn’t shower too often, you couldn’t exactly consider yourself clean! The exact same thing happens with citations.

In order for a business’ data to always be correct, the information needs to be properly maintained –  essentially kept clean – not only for the main listings, but for every directory and data aggregator where a business is mentioned online. Inaccurate data on a citation not only reflects badly on the business, it makes potential customers lose trust.

An astounding 68 percent of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in online directories. Knowing this, can you imagine how many potential clients a local business can be missing out on? It’s frightening! We understand that clean citations are absolutely key for a successful business, and you should too.

Take a Local Citation Audit One Step at a Time

There are certain things a business can do to stay ahead of the game, and it all starts with an audit. Businesses need to make sure they gather all the citations they can find, and document any inaccuracies. Afterwards, they will need to manually go back to them and submit the right information. Take a look at the following steps:

  1. Search online for any citations that a specific business may have. Document all potential name, address and phone number variations. But hold on – don’t correct the data right away! That will come later.
  2. Use free tools to find business citations. Advice Local, for example, offers a simple, thorough and accurate free Online Visibility Report.
  3. Track down bad data with Google Advanced Search Operators. Use all the variations you documented during the first step.
  4. Find citations with incorrect business names. Search using the business’ phone number and a minus sign followed by the business’ name in quotation marks, to exclude results with the business’ name.
  5. Use the data collected to determine which citations need to be cleaned up. Start with those on the most popular websites, local directories, and industry-specific directories.
  6. Manually clean up the business’ data by updating their NAP information. Start with any government sources, then continue with the phone company and other utilities. Next up are the data aggregators – Infogroup, Neustar Localeze and Acxiom. Follow it with Dun & Bradstreet, Factual, Google My Business & Bing Local.
  7. Use Whois to find contact information for any stray citations that may need further attention. Any contact should be done through the business’ email address.

Wow – not only did we just deliver a short & sweet how-to on finding and cleaning up citations, we have an informative infographic to walk you through the process!

Citation Cleanup In a Nutshell

Citation Audit and Cleanup Infographic

What’s Next in the Citation and Audit Cleanup Process?

We’re sure you noticed that this important process is easier said than done. That’s why we invite you to share this citation audit and cleanup infographic with your clients, customers and friends. Simply look down to the bottom of this post to embed it directly on your blog.

If you need more help with citation cleanups, you can also download the The Complete How-To Guide on Local Citation Audit and Cleanup. You’ll get a step-by-step walk-through and deeper insights on why citations are important, how bad data happens, and much more.

#Citation Cleanup in a Nutshell – It’s Time to Clean Up That Dirty Data #SEO #Infographic
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Help Is Always Available

When they don’t have the proper tools, a citation cleanup process can be stressful for local businesses. Here at Advice Local, submitting optimized and accurate business NAP data around the web is our mission – and our expertise. Request a demo today to see how our experienced team helps local businesses get found online every day.

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Beat Out the Competition With These Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday Traffic-Driving Tips

The holidays are just around the corner. With them comes visiting family and friends – and buying them presents, too! Retailers are already looking out for potential customers, not only for their brick-and-mortar locations – during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday® – but also online during Cyber Monday.

It may seem hard for local businesses to compete with retail and online giants like Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy, but more and more consumers are looking locally at smaller businesses to satisfy their needs. In fact, did you know that 90 percent of Americans shop at a small business at least once a week?

There’s no doubt that customers are eager to bring new business to local businesses, and the holiday season is the perfect time to do so.

How Local Businesses Can Captivate Their Audience

There are almost 30 million small businesses in the United States, which gives consumers a lot of options when it comes to holiday shopping. These tried-and-true techniques will help local businesses stand out from the crowd and captivate the attention of holiday shoppers.

Black Friday

Retailers everywhere are savage when it comes to Black Friday deals. It’s hard for small and local businesses to compete with their prices and hours. Each year they start earlier, with some stores now opening as early as 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

While Black Friday offers a great opportunity for local businesses to make some sales ahead of the holidays, it’s likely that consumers will choose big brands and stores to get what they’re looking for – but that doesn’t mean local businesses should give up and close up!

Tactics Local Businesses Can Employ on Black Friday

  • Release some deals, but not all of them – and certainly not the juiciest!
  • Use social media to entice consumers into wanting to visit their location. Posting graphics and status updates to let consumers in on their plans is a great idea. For example: Check back in on Thursday afternoon to learn more about our #BlackFriday deals!
  • Update current business hours on their website, online directories and listings. Businesses must absolutely let people know if they’re open or not, and their hours of operation.

Local businesses should save the best deals for Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express back in 2010 as a way to incentivize consumers to buy from small businesses. The next year, the U.S. Senate even passed a resolution in its support! Local businesses should roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of attracting potential customers to capitalize on this day.

Celebrate Small Business Saturday with a Bang

  • Set up pay-per-click campaigns that let people know the local business is offering some great deals at their brick-and-mortar location.
  • Update the local business’ website with information on the juicy deals they’ll be offering.
  • Businesses in a service industry can offer coupons that are redeemable at a later time. For example, a coupon for a free mold inspection within the next 90 days.

Local businesses that also have a strong online presence could take advantage of Cyber Monday as well.

Cyber Monday

On Cyber Monday, the big online companies come out guns-blazing. They just want to grab the consumer’s attention – and they’ll do it anyway they can. This certainly doesn’t mean that small and local businesses can’t play in the same space, however. Cyber Monday should be taken advantage of by the small and local businesses that have an online presence and a way for customers to shop or buy online.

And consumers really do want to be able to shop online. In fact, according to Google, in the past two years searches for “shopping app” have jumped 90 percent, while searches for “online shopping” have grown 180 percent in the same period.

These powerful stats should tell businesses that, while consumers are craving the physical interaction with the business’ products, they are craving practicality and ease even more.

How to Shine on Cyber Monday

  • Consumers want to see more businesses and brands that tailor their shopping experience to them. Using personalization to send them deals for things they’ve bought in the past (or companion products) can go a long way!
  • Bring online and offline together by adding coupons to the local business’ Google My Business listing, and give consumers the option to redeem them in-store.
  • Offer exclusive online deals through Google My Business and/or the business’ website.

These are only a few ways that local businesses can capture more online visibility during the holidays – visibility that could result in additional revenue ahead of year-end!

Beat Out the Competition With These #Holiday Traffic-Driving Tips via @Advice_Local #SEO
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Turn Booming Holiday Sales Into Year-Round Growth

While these ideas will help a local business leverage popular holiday shopping trends, remember, helping local businesses get seen and achieve success needs to happen year-round! And we can help you make that happen. Run our free online visibility report today and identify the areas of opportunity where you can help them even more.

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Access the Voice Search Guide Every Local Business Needs

Voice assistants have been around for awhile, but only recently has voice search really started changing the way users consume information. From asking Siri about the weather, to asking Alexa to turn on the lights, voice assistants are turning into real-life assistants faster than we can say “OK, Google!”

Voice search is so powerful and important that we have integrated a Voice Search Readiness Score within our local presence management solution.

So, why does voice search matter to local businesses and local search? You’ll have to download our free voice search guide to find out – or just keep reading!

Voice Search Makes Everything Easier

Any assistant you use on your smartphone or in your car – why hello there, Echo Auto! – will allow you to narrow down your search to only the top results in the area.

Consumers are not only asking questions such as “where is the closest auto repair shop,” they also want to make sure they’re choosing the right place, using follow-up questions like: “what’s this business’ rating?” or “what can you tell me about this business?” Voice assistants are helping find places to go to, and they’re also helping to make informed decisions.

Why Is Voice Search Important for Local Businesses and Multi-Location Brands?

Voice search is so simple to use that it’s narrowing the generational gap, particularly as more and more people jump into the smartphone trend. Because voice search doesn’t require a screen, it means a person can find a local plumber to handle that leaky faucet without first hunting down their reading glasses!

When you think about it, it’s quite obvious why voice will be at the center of search in the very near future. Comscore already predicts that 50 percent of all searches will be done by voice by the year 2020– and this number will only increase.

Would you like to learn even more about voice search? Our guide is here to tell you all about it. It’s packed with stats, strategies and tips you can’t afford to ignore.

Within its pages, you’ll learn:

  • What voice search is, who is using it, and why voice assistants are important
  • How to increase the chances for a business to get found in voice search with content and listing optimization
  • Dissect “near me” searches, featured snippets, and what to do next

This easy-to-digest guide delivers answers to these questions and much more. Grab your download of “Voice Search for Local Businesses, Franchises and Brands: The Guide to Getting Found” right now! I promise you will be both fascinated and educated.

#VoiceSearch Is an #SEO Game-Changer – The Ultimate Guide to Voice #Search Is Here
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Our Newest Product Feature – The Voice Search Readiness Score

Being a CEO has its perks, and one of those is getting to share product announcements and exciting company news – and today, a new algorithm we have integrated within our local presence management solution – the Voice Search Readiness Algorithm.

And Yes, Our Voice Search Readiness Algorithm Is the First of Its Kind

We help local businesses get found online, so the reason for creating this score is pretty clear! Local businesses, brands and franchises need to know if they place in voice searches, and this newest feature achieves this perfectly.

Advice Local - Voice Search Readiness Score by device

To help these businesses get found, they must be showcased where potential customers are looking. Today, that is in desktop, mobile, and voice search, and many consumers are turning to voice devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, iPhone, plus the other Apple and Samsung devices.

 Did you know…

  • 58 percent of consumers have used voice search to find local businesses in the last 12 months.
  • Mobile voice-related searches are 3x more likely to be local-based than text-related searches.
  • 46 percent of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis.
  • 52 percent of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales and promotions from local businesses.

When a business is listed on many different directories and sites like Google My Business and Bing Places, it’s easy to lose track of so many areas of opportunity to improve the business’ online visibility. At Advice Local, that’s why our partners turn to us. We manage these multiple listings and all this data for them. With our report, it’s easy to see how visible a business is – and what must be improved to be seen by people who really matter: local customers.

The Voice Search Readiness Score is part of our Baseline Report, so even if a business isn’t listed through our technology yet, it’s easy to see if they are voice search-ready. A simple “Ready” or “Not Ready” result displays for the major voice assistants. Here’s an example of the breakdown:

Advice Local - Voice Search Readiness Score

Enter the Voice Search Readiness Algorithm

Let’s examine the options: A business can choose to wait to get voice search-ready, but they will be beaten by the competition. Even with the best services and products , and stellar customer service, if potential clients can’t find that business, how can they hire them? It’s either wait or act, and now is absolutely time to act!

I’m checking out @Advice_Local’s Newest Product Feature – The Voice Search Readiness Algorithm
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Helping businesses get found online is what we do. Request a demo today to see how we can help your clients or your business get found via voice search. Our team is standing by.

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Reaching the Impatient Consumer Through SERPs, Listings and GMB – the Topic on Everyone’s Mind

The digital era has come with many benefits. From easier ways to connect with people around the world, to getting anything delivered to your doorstep with just a click, consumers are now used to receiving what they want, when they want it and just the way they want it.

Have you noticed that delivery dates keep getting shorter? That’s because this new type of consumer is impatient, just a bit! You might remember when you had to wait 10–14 business days to receive something in the mail. But no one has that kind of time, or patience, anymore.

Do Impatient Consumers Have 200 Percent Less Patience?!

We know this because Google has seen a 200-percent rise in mobile searches for the terms “open” + “now” + “near me” since 2015. This statistic shows that consumers are impatient, and it also shows that they want things close to them – and that is great news for local businesses.

Now more than ever, local businesses need to understand this new consumer – the “super-empowered” consumer – and how to better serve them.

Three Things Local Businesses Can Do to Reach Today’s Impatient Consumers

1. Get Clear on What They Offer in Local Business Listings

A business must make sure they are clear on the products and services they offer, and where they offer them. Accurate and up-to-date information on Google My Business and other local listings and directories is essential. And yes, don’t forget to include images! An optimized listing that includes photos, reviews, and seasonal information like holiday hours and offers will convert at a higher rate.

Always give clear answers. Sometimes things happen that can stop a local business from performing the way they usually do. Changes in address and phone numbers, early closing hours and so on, should be made in real-time to give consumers information that is as accurate as possible. (Make sure you have a tool and process that supports this, btw.)

2. Take Customer Service to the Next Level

In this day and age, stellar customer service gets traction. You’ve heard the term “word of mouth.” Well, technology takes it to the next level. It’s about “world of mouth,” too. In fact, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

Through social media features such as Facebook Recommendations, the power of recommendations is placed right at the fingertips of its users. People can ask for suggestions via posts on Facebook, and their friends can contribute comments to help them. If the business you represent is offering stellar customer service, then it will be one of the businesses getting recommended.

Local businesses can also take advantage of social media tools that automatically reply to basic customer inquiries 24/7. For example, Facebook has a Response Assistant that can be set up to reply to anyone that messages the page privately.

3. Feature Seasonal Offers and Products

Advertising current products and services, focusing on those that people need most during that particular season, is the way to go. This could be done through pay-per-click and/or through content optimization.

For example, a plumbing company might want to highlight their “frozen pipes repair services” during the winter months, and downplay services that are more often needed during the summer, such as “sprinkler repair.”

But Wait, There’s More…

Invite Everyone to the Grand Opening with GMB

Having an online presence before a business officially opens to the public was once reserved for multi-location businesses that could leverage their existing social media platforms to announce new locations. But now, everyone gets a chance to do it on Google My Business.

This week, Google announced that GMB will now allow businesses that are not yet open to create a listing before their grand opening. Wouldn’t it be great to inaugurate the listing with a super deal announced exclusively on GMB? Businesses can also create an event on their GMB listing to invite everyone to their grand opening. (Remember, while most posts expire after 7 days, an event will not expire until it passes.)

Optimization Is Key Since Less Consumers Are Clicking

With the rise of voice search, local businesses need to find every listing and online directory opportunity they can and submit their information. They need to make sure their listings are optimized, that they are answering reviews – both positive and negative – and that they are replying to messages and giving accurate answers to any inquiries.

This is particularly important now that Google, Facebook, and other search engines seem to be diverting traffic from websites. Since all the information a user may need is now available directly on search engines – through featured snippets, Google My Business and Maps – it’s not surprising that people are no longer finding their way to a local business’ website.

The rate at which this is happening is alarmingly high, particularly in mobile, which is seeing over 60 percent of all Google searches resulting in zero clicks. So what does this mean? It shows that people are finding their information right on the screen, without the need to click on any of the actual search results!

In response, what can local businesses do to stay on top of the game? To begin: Make sure every listing, particularly Google My Business and Bing Places, is optimized with accurate and current information. As mentioned above, if a business has holiday hours, update them ahead of the holiday season. Share images from team members, from products and services, and from brick-and-mortar locations.

It’s Time to Implement Lazy Loading, Says Google

As you know, images and videos on websites can significantly impact page speed. Low page speeds are a definite no-no, particularly on mobile, because who wants to wait forever until an image loads? Not the impatient consumer I’ve been talking about today, that’s for sure.

When it comes to websites, it seems that we have Google’s blessing to get lazy. And by “lazy,” I don’t mean you should avoid uploading images or videos, and just leave web pages with a big wall of text and not much else. (Come on, this isn’t 1999!) When I say “lazy” here, I’m talking about lazy loading.

Search Engine Journal’s Matt Southern shared guidelines created by Google that give advice to SEO experts on implementing lazy loading for images and video. “Lazy loading refers to the technique of deferring loading of non-critical or non-visible content,” writes Matt.

As this could be a game-changer for local businesses, I wanted to dig a little deeper on this topic, and found an interesting article published on Google’s Developer Web Fundamentals. According to the article, “non-critical” content refers to “off-screen” content. This means that lazy loading is just a way to improve page speed by not loading images and videos until the user gets to them. You’ve probably experienced this technique in action as you’ve scrolled down a web page yourself.

Reaching the Impatient Consumer Through SERPs, #Listings and #GMB by @BernieColeman #SEO
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Help Is on the Way – Always

Fortunately, helping local businesses optimize their listings, their content, their page speed, and their contact information everywhere on the web is our area of expertise. Request a demo today to see exactly how we can help you to help these local businesses!

The post Reaching the Impatient Consumer Through SERPs, Listings and GMB – the Topic on Everyone’s Mind appeared first on Advice Local.

Listing management and SEO are exactly what your clients need ahead of the holiday season.

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about gifts for that special someone – by “that special someone” we mean your clients, of course. While receiving a voice assistant might be neat, nothing will be more appreciated than listing management services.

People are accustomed to seeing the holiday season as the time of the year when they spend the most money. But what if your clients could receive a gift that would result in the exact opposite?

Help Your Clients Make More Money This Holiday Season

I’m talking about a gift that would increase their online visibility, website traffic and sales. The answer is simple – believe it or not, it doesn’t involve magic (even though our real-time data syndication may feel like magic) – it is local listing management services. Let’s take a look at why.

The Gist of Local Listing Management

In this day and age, the best way for any business – but particularly for a local business – to get found in this online world is listing management. People are no longer just browsing to be browsing – these people are super-empowered consumers who want what they want when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. They are not easy to please because they strive for tailormade experiences that feel personalized to them, to their lifestyle and to their area.

The best way to reach this super-empowered consumer is not just through a shiny storefront, but through a smart, catchy online persona that offers them exactly what they are looking for. Of course, finding consumers is harder than it seems, which is why the best strategy is to let them find you – or your clients – instead.

Local listing management is exactly that. Getting listed – and having accurate contact information – on the most important online business directories will give your clients the visibility they need and make it easy for their potential customers to find them.

Listing management isn’t the only gift idea we have for you this holiday season. Keep reading for the other gifts that will bear way more results than the traditional fruit cake.

Four More Gifts That Will Reap Rewards for Your Clients

Businesses need an integral strategy to attract more customers to their website and brick-and-mortar location, and ultimately to buy their products and services. Here are a few things to ensure that their holiday season comes with more presents than expenses.

1. On-Point, Local-Focused Content

The holidays come with the special opportunity to handcraft content that feels seasonal and that potential customers can relate to. For example, a plumbing company might want to write content about frozen pipes for the winter months, while a local restaurant might want to make a note of their upcoming holiday special menu.

2. Seasonal Google My Business Optimization

Google My Business (GMB) has a lot to offer to local businesses. Not only is it a chance to get their business found online in Google Search, but also to feature content in the form of Posts, Events and Deals. Businesses should use the holiday season to capitalize on the additional content exposure that GMB offers, from crafting holiday-specific posts to uploading their upcoming events and deals.

Offering online-to-offline coupons is always a good way of grabbing consumers’ attention and merging their online experience to the business’ brick-and-mortar locations.

3. Local Search Engine Optimization

Keywords are constantly changing. Users probably will not look for lawn chair deals during the winter months, so someone in the lawn chair business needs to find a way to stay relevant during the holiday season. A way to do it is by including seasonal keywords on their websites. An example of this optimization is: instead of saying “lawn chairs for sale,” say “lawn chairs are the perfect gift for the football fanatic this holiday season.”

4. Voice Search Readiness

Consumers are switching to voice. While they might not yet trust voice assistants with purchases, they trust them to find businesses in their area. If a business is voice-search optimized, the chances of local customers finding it over the competition are that much higher. Not sure, how to make this happen? Here are the specifics on how to help a local business get found in voice search.

It’s All About the Perfect Gift – And It Starts With Listing Management via @Advice_Local #SEO
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It’s All About the Perfect Gift

The holiday season is all about the perfect gift. For some that might be a new bike or a pair of shoes, but what about for your clients? Chances are that the perfect gift includes business-boosting strategies at an unmatched price.

Learn how we can help you better serve your clients and provide the additional services they are craving this holiday season. Request a demo today to learn how and why to get started.

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Is Too Local Really a Thing? The Latest on Local, Mobile, Content and GMB

Have I ever told you just how important optimizing and maintaining a business listing is? Just a couple of days ago, a few users began noticing that Google My Business listings for certain service area businesses didn’t appear to have a saved address. What now?!

Turns out, Google’s guidelines were updated to incorporate the following statements: “You can no longer set your service area as a distance around your business. If you previously entered a distance around your business, you won’t be able to edit it. Instead, you’ll need to specify your service area by region, city, or ZIP code.”

Google My Business - Service-Area Businesses

Talk about a game changer for service area businesses! And one that’s hard to find when they’re not actively monitoring their listings. Now, service area businesses will need to rethink their strategy when it comes to adding their address to their listings. But considering location is as important as ever, adding different cities, regions and ZIP codes to their listings is a good idea.

Location, Location, Location

As I said above, location is everything. This is true for real estate, and also for mobile marketing. Location data will always – and by “always” I mean at least for the foreseeable future – be one of the most important aspects of a consumer’s mobile experience. It gives a power to mobile devices that no other medium has over consumers of any and every generation.

When it comes to advertising, location is key to delivering the personalized experiences that consumers so yearn for. But businesses have to be smart when they ask for location data from consumers. The super-empowered consumer is willing to give up their information, but only when it will result in making their life better, and their shopping easier through tailor-made experiences.

For businesses looking to grab the attention – and the location data – of the super-empowered consumer, here are 4 tips to put into practice:

1. Make Mobile-Friendly Websites.

Google’s mobile-first indexing shows the power that mobile has on the consumer. Google puts mobile-optimized websites over their desktop counterpart. If a business wants to reach the super-empowered consumer, it’s going to be through their phones, not their desktop computers.

2. Improve On-Location and Online Experiences.

Allow mobile-based payment options, hand out in-app deals and employ mobile-only promotions. These strategies will not only bring the business to the 21st century, but will also bring customers to the store.

3. Give SMS a Chance.

They might sometimes feel like a thing of the past, but the simple and cheap text message is making a comeback. Users tend to consider SMS less invasive than other forms of communication, making it the perfect way for businesses to target their audience.

4. Use Click-to-Call.

There’s nothing worse than having to copy and paste a phone number to make a call – well, actually there issomething worse… having to memorize the number and type it again to call. This can all be resolved if businesses incorporate click-to-call buttons on their websites – particularly on the mobile-friendly version.

Read more tips to improve a business’ local and mobile strategy. Check out Advice Local’s Mobile Guide: 18 Stellar Tips to Take Local and Mobile by Storm.

The Eternal Content Debate

It seems that the SEO strategy people argue about most is content. How many keywords should it have? How localized is too localized? Should businesses optimize their content for search engines or for actual humans? And of course, should they remove old content or improve it instead?

While we may never have answers for some of these questions – or the answers may change as soon as Google’s algorithm does – it seems we finally have an answer to what to do with old content.

Google’s John Mueller said that “sometimes it is not practical for a webmaster to improve content and removing content is a more practical strategy.” Of course, Google engineers may disagree with this, as they advise improving low-quality content instead of removing it.

So how are you addressing this issue? Do you think old content should be removed? Or should it be updated? At Advice Local, our strategy is to consistently revisit existing content to make sure it’s optimized for the most current algorithm and best practices. We give old content a facelift when possible, but we are not opposed to putting it out to pasture if it’s no longer relevant. We don’t want to mislead our audience by leaving old and outdated content on our website.

The best way to deal with content is to make sure businesses are focusing on quality over quantity. Quality content that exhibits the E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) characteristics will not have a low-quality issue.

Is Too Local Really a Thing? The Latest on Local, #Mobile, #Content and #GMB by @BernieColeman
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Sometimes It’s Better to Not DIY

Making your own Christmas ornaments? Great! But when it comes to listing management, businesses should consider going with a pro. According to the Local Search Association, 54 percent of small and midsize businesses are DIY-ing, but larger SMBs? They’re trusting the experts.

Only 11 percent of large SMBs manage their own listings, with only 6 percent managing their reputation, and 16 percent doing SEO. But what does this mean? Well, it means there’s plenty of business out there for agencies!

With our partner solution in hand, door-knock all SMBs that are not into DIY. Our solution will help you blow their minds – and better serve them. If you haven’t tried our partner solution, request a demo today and let us blow your mind with what we can do for your clients.

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