Owned Media, SEO
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Look around. Your potential customers are on foot in your neighborhood and in cars driving past your office. But are you doing everything you can to reach your nearby customers?

If your business isn’t optimizing local listings, you’re missing out on potentially huge amounts of customers right in your backyard—customers that your competitors could easily lure away from you. To capitalize on the low-hanging fruit of your nearby customers, you need to optimize for local SEO. However, the best practices for local listings vary depending on which industry you’re in. Here’s a breakdown of local listings best practices for common B2C industries.

Restaurants, Cafés & Nightlife

Business owners in the food and beverage industry should focus on listing the information that people are looking for: prices and specific menu items, which 90 percent and 84 percent of people are respectively looking for when they search in this vertical.

Others want the ability to make reservations online, or order takeout or delivery for those nights when they just can’t get off the couch. Finally, for those who do dine out, make sure your store location is clearly stated; 67 percent of people ages 18-65 say they’re likely to look up locations or directions online.

For restaurants, cafes, and nightlife ideas, people are most likely to turn to Yelp. The percentage of related searches returning Yelp pages is 97 percent, and Yelp has an average place of 3.3 in the SERPs.

local optimization CafesDoctors & Lawyers

Doctors and dentists are the second-most searched businesses online (after restaurants and cafes), with searchers primarily relying on HealthGrades and Yelp for recommendations. Interestingly, however, Yelp is more trusted than Healthgrades. When searching for doctors, 45 percent of people are searching for information about quality of care (especially the accuracy of diagnosis) and 39 percent of people are searching for patient ratings.

Local Listings DoctorsMeanwhile, the Internet is currently the most-used method of finding a lawyer—even more popular than referrals. Yelp holds the title of most popular and most trustworthy site for finding reviews of lawyers. Internet users are searching in particular for information about their potential lawyer’s responsiveness, track record, reputation, and cost.

Local Listings LawyersHome Services

For contractors, plumbers, electricians and other trades, 63 percent of people trust the Better Business Bureau for reviews and recommendations, followed by Google (44 percent) and Yelp (38 percent). Readers want local listings to inform them about reputation, pricing, previous expertise and adherence to deadlines.

Local Listings HomeShopping & Retail

Even if you don’t have an e-commerce store, informative digital listings are still very important for local SEO. Eighty-one percent of consumers perform online searches about products before going to a store, and shoppers spend an average of 79 days doing research before a major purchase.

Facebook is a crucial platform for shopping and retail businesses. Fifty-eight percent of consumers who plan to buy products in-store visit the business’s Facebook page before they make a purchase and 62 percent of millennials use Facebook to research potential purchases.

On your actual website, be sure to include warranty information, pricing, model details and (if applicable) availability of financing. Your customers are also concerned about deceptive advertising, defective merchandise, failure to deliver, and problems with rebates, coupons, and gift cards. Luckily, you can address these proactively with robust FAQ sections, clearly outlined return policies, delivery guarantees, and a helpful customer service section.

Local Listings Retail

General & Platform-Specific Best Practices

Across platforms, there are a few general best practices you can follow to optimize for local SEO. First, claim your business name wherever you can, and fill in all available information fields (especially your address). Next, use targeted keywords when it’s appropriate and makes sense, always keeping the user/reader at the forefront of your content. Finally, add high-quality photos for aesthetic appeal. People spend an average of 2.5 times as long looking at Yelp listings with photos than listings without photos.

You can also follow these quick tips for local listings on specific platforms:

  • Yelp: Respond to both positive and negative reviews to show engagement with customers.
  • Google: Follow Google’s Business Quality guidelines, and choose the right categories when setting up your listing.
  • Facebook: Optimize tabs according to what’s important to your business, and be sure to complete your profile.

The Importance of Reviews

Reviews are so important to local SEO that they warrant their own section. Thirty-nine percent of people read reviews on a regular basis, and 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Once your searchers have become your customers, encourage them to leave reviews. You can request reviews via email soon after a purchase, partner with Yelp to host events with active Yelpers and encourage Facebook check-ins or reviews. Even flyers will do the trick.

If you do get a negative review, don’t panic. Studies have shown that businesses with only positive reviews can appear to have tampered with the accuracy of their reviews. Address the customer’s concerns directly and publicly. Then, if possible, solve the issue offline through direct messages and phone calls. If you see a review with false information, flag it as a false report.

Local OptimizationThe type of information that your business’s local listing should contain depends on your specific industry and what your potential customers need to know about your business. You can also follow best practices such as claiming your listing, adding photos and following each platform’s specific guidelines for local optimization. Finally, focus on encouraging customer reviews and responding to them as appropriate. With proper and adequate local SEO efforts, you can transition your neighborhood window shoppers into regular, loyal customers.

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