Search Intent: Local Search Listings
According to Google, forty-six percent of all searches have local intent. (Google, 2021) Consumers are looking for open hours, finding availability of products, or making dinner reservations.
But, Google isn’t the only place that people search on mobile. They also search for businesses on a variety of other platforms that are critical to getting found on mobile. So, it’s not just about optimizing your own website for mobile, it’s also about optimizing your listings on other sites on the local search ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important listing sites.
Google My Business
If there’s only one listing that you can optimize, it’s Google My Business (GMB). Why? Well, if nothing else, it’s because, well…it’s Google. Google My Business is the single most important listing site that you should spend time with. Ensure that your listing in GMB is “accurate, complete, and engaging.”
Pre-COVID, more than half of shoppers (59%) use Google to research products even when they intend to buy in-store. And more often than not, shoppers are looking for information to help them choose a nearby retail location and make an in-store visit. In fact, mobile searches with local intent result in offline store visits within 24 hours more than 75% of the time. Nearly 30% of those visits result in a purchase.
A retail store’s appearance in search is a part of your customer’s overall experience with the brand. Yet a recent study found that 52% of local retail listings on Google (from a sample of 559 retail chain locations distributed nationally) were inaccurate and 56% were not claimed by the business at all! Listings in organic search and Google Maps had either the wrong address, phone number, business hours or a combination thereof.
Make sure your listing is up to date and that you use the same NAP (name, address, phone number) on your GMB listing as is on your website. If you don’t have a consistent NAP, Google may think your different details are actually different businesses, list them separately, and you can confuse the customer. When you have a tricky address (is my business on “First Street” or “1st Street?”), use the official postal address for consistency.
Google pulls data from a variety of sources and you need to do your best to control the information that it is pulling from. That’s why it’s so important to add, claim and verify your business on GMB. You’ll need to do this not only on Google Search, but also on Google Maps. If you have multiple listings, each one should have its own unique Google My Business listing.
According to Google, your listing should consistently update your open hours, you should respond to reviews and you should add photos and videos to your verified listing. Google determines your ranking by relevance, distance, and prominence. Relevance relates to the user’s intent. GMB allows you up to 750 characters in your detailed description so use them wisely to help your relevance rating. Distance refers to the proximity of your current location to the business. Prominence is indicated by how well your business is known and the reviews that your organization has received.
(Source — Wordstream.)
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the United States and the second most visited website in the world. If your business has videos (and it should), you are likely using Google-owned YouTube to host those videos.
There are several things you can do to win a YouTube video search:
- Optimize your title tags and descriptions with pertinent keywords that users search for.
- Name the video file with a keyword.
- Use the category feature.
- Provide a transcript of the video.
- Use the geotag.
- Link back to your company website.
- Be sure your NAP matches the information on your website exactly.
- Use the tag feature.
- Embed the video on your company website.
- Build links to the video.
Fun Fact: Here’s some trivia you can use at your next party. What was the first video ever uploaded to YouTube? The video “Me at the Zoo” was taken at the San Diego Zoo on April 23, 2005. This information won’t be required for your final project, but you can watch it here.
Yelp is one of those mobile-centric sites that is critical to the success of your business, especially for restaurants which represent 18% of all Yelp reviews. It is Uber-important to local businesses. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers will make a purchase after visiting Yelp. (Yelp, 2020)
Users of the app and website are highly coveted by local businesses. Exactly half of Yelp users have incomes in excess of $100,000.
To improve a business ranking on Yelp, one of the most important things an organization can do is to “respond to every review, even the positive ones.”
There’s also a potentially seedy side to Yelp. Watch the movie “Billion Dollar Bully” on Amazon Prime and you’ll experience some of the many complaints that have been lodged against it from advertisers who claim to have been threatened by it when their important rankings went south after not renewing a paid advertising contract. Because of Yelp’s unscrupulous business practices, many businesses choose to stay away from its paid advertising opportunities, but it’s importance cannot be underestimated.
TripAdvisor is not only an important listing site that you’ll want to monitor, but its impact goes beyond the site itself. Some TripAdvisor reviews may also display on your Google listing.
Imagine what a positive rating on TripAdvisor can mean for your business. Its ranking algorithm, “is based on the quality, recency, and quantity of reviews that a business receives from users–and the consistency of those reviews over time.” It places a higher value on quality and recency over the quantity of reviews.
TripAdvisor recommends you do the following to improve your brand’s presence:
- Claim and verify all of your locations’ listings.
- Monitor reviews and respond quickly.
- Share reviews on your website or Facebook page.
- Promote TripAdvisor reviews on your website.
Bob Bentz is president of Purplegator. He is also an adjunct professor at West Virginia University where he teaches the graduate level course in mobile marketing. Bob not only loves gators, but also loves elephants.