85% of Consumers Search Online for Local Businesses. Here are 3 Critical Success Factors for Getting Found.

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Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably are aware that more and more consumers are using Google and smartphones to find local businesses. Local search is skyrocketing. What do you need to get on the not-so-proverbial Google Local Search map? An effective small business website is a start, but that’s not enough.

To be competitive, you must do more. Here are the three critical success factors:

1. A Google+ Business Page

A Google+ Business Page is probably the easiest of the three to accomplish. Some small business owners mistakenly believe that a Google+ Business Page isn’t that important because far fewer prospects use Google+ than Facebook. What they’re not taking into account is that a Google+ Business Page is critical to getting listed in local search.

But that’s not all. It also gives customers the chance to post and read reviews on your offerings, and these reviews are displayed on the search results page for all prospects to read. The other critical point about reviews is they help determine where on the pinpoint map list you will be positioned. More positive reviews and you could be first. No reviews and you could be last. So the sooner you get started on a Google+ Business Page, the better positioned you’ll be to get found when consumers are looking.

2. A Mobile-Ready Site

As a small business owner, you should keep in mind that while 20% of all searches are looking for something local (a.k.a., local intent), a whopping 40% of all mobile searches have local intent. This makes a user-friendly mobile website critical to your business.

So what makes a site mobile-friendly? There are many best practices to consider. Here are a few of the really important rules to consider:

Take Full Advantage of Mobile Website Features. These include click-to-call buttons, navigation menus, easy access to social media, check-in links for location based services like Foursquare and mobile-friendly images for optimal page-load.

Design for Fingers Not Mice. Fingers are fatter than mice. A mobile site must provide simplified navigation and menu options designed for the human touch. Stay away from “hover” functions that are designed for mice and not fingers. Remember branding is still very important when it comes to mobile sites. Don’t forgo your brand for functionality, it is just as important.

Focus on Conversion. Keep in mind that mobile users are NOT on your mobile site to browse as they would on a desktop. You need to make it easy and fast to do what they want to do, like finding locations, buying products, finding menu items and especially finding phone numbers. Minimize Scrolling. Do your best to avoid scrolling from left to right. This is not mobile-friendly.

Be Brief. While it is still critical to have the right content on your mobile site, it’s important to be concise. Subheads should be plentiful but short. Break content into digestible bites by leveraging secondary “child” pages, don’t try to place it all on one page.

3. Local Search Optimization

Programming your sites to achieve the optimum local listing is definitely the province of experts. But you’ll want them to make sure that they communicate the right information to Google about your business and where it’s located (all of your locations). There’s also some other critical items you’ll want the experts to know:

First, you know your business better than anyone. What are the search phrases prospects are likely to enter into Google to find businesses in your category?

Second, what information should prospects see in the search listing to get them to click through to your site? Hours of operation, address and phone number are often important items you should include in the search listing. This saves the prospect the need to click through to your site in order to start doing business with you. Sometimes if a phone number is handy in the listing a prospect will select you over a listing without the number.

Third, you’ll want to make sure that the people you hire for search optimization understand your business. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to make sure that Google presents your business properly in search listings.

All of the above information is important to getting your business positioned on local search. If you’d like to know more, read about local search and MESH LiveBuild website for small businesses.

Is your small business leveraging the Google+ Business Page as part of your marketing and sales strategy? Please share with us some of the results you have experienced.

 

About the Author:

Jennifer Kamerman is the Interactive Marketing Manager at MESH. In her role at MESH, Jennifer has driven marketing strategies and projects for small privately-owned businesses, as well as $80 billion international conglomerates. She is known for her strong work ethic, project management skills and a passion for social media engagement strategies. Any day of the week, you can hear her enthusiastically discussing lead generation campaigns, thin mint Girl Scout cookies, SEO, stiletto heels, pink (the color, not the singer) or one of our next BIG IDEAs for a client. Her trusty pink notebook plays an important role in tracking all marketing campaign details including scheduling, scoping, budgeting and resourcing.