With the COVID-19 pandemic came many changes to the daily life of consumers. One change that is not discussed frequently is the change in local business shopping; 57% of consumers purchased from a local business for the first time in 2020. When choosing where to shop, the most important thing on customers’ minds was the availability of pandemic-friendly services such as curbside pickup. Consumers mostly found information about service options through a local Google search.
What makes a local search different from an organic one? In Google’s Local Pack, local results are displayed above organic results. Local results are highly visual in their inclusion of maps and star ratings, and they draw on Google My Business (GMB) listings to create results pages. Indeed, GMB listing factors are the most important in determining where in the search a business ranks. Following in relevance are backlinks and reviews, respectively.
Putting together a quality GMB listing is simple. All it takes are 3 easy steps. First, claim the business’s profile. Google can’t draw on a GMB listing that doesn’t exist. Next, complete every section of the profile thoroughly. Ensure business name, address, phone number, website, products, and more are clearly present. Once these two initial steps are completed, the final step is to keep the listing up to date. Ways to keep a GMB listing fresh include creating weekly posts, responding to customer reviews, and answering public questions. For a business with a single location, optimizing the GMB listing and linking it to their website homepage is sufficient to ensure standout search results.
When it comes to multi-location businesses, however, a few more items should be considered. Namely, local landing pages (or LLPs for short). An LLP is a standalone web page created for a specific business location. LLPs allow business owners to link each landing page to a separate GMB listing, ensuring all results are the most locally relevant they can be. Designing an LLP follows many of the same principles designing a website would. Include the most important information on the first 2 pages where consumers spend most of their time. Use clear, concise, keywords in the page’s headline. Ranking boosters that are specific to LLPs are many, and they include: hyperlocal content, location photos, location specific social media profiles, trust elements such as security seals, specific coupons/sales, geo tags, and a Google Maps embed.
Another thing for all business websites to consider is their website’s appearance on mobile devices. 84% of local searches are made on mobile devices. If a business’s mobile version is frustrating to use or navigate, the customer will not want to engage. Some features to consider using on a mobile site are floating call to action buttons, click-to-call phone numbers, and mobile-friendly coupons.
While many also hope the pandemic is nearing its end, clearly communicated safety procedures could remain prominent long after. Updating information regarding store hours for specific services (like delivery and takeout) and having convenient 2-way communication options are likely to still be appreciated.