Local presence management – what is it and why does it matter?
Posted on 28th April 2023
Most business owners who are reliant on local trade are familiar with the terms ‘local search’ and ‘local SEO’. These refer to tactics that help your business become more visible in local search results on Google and other search engines, such as Yahoo! and Bing.
Local presence management isn’t quite the same thing. It involves managing all aspects of your company’s local online identity, including using specific tools such as local SEO. As you’d expect, the ultimate aim of local presence management is to boost your local search rankings and give potential customers accurate and up-to-date information about your company and it's products or services.
Why does this matter? We could quote all manner of statistics, but let’s keep it simple. 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information ¹. In the last few years, searches using the phrase ‘near me’ on mobile phones have soared by 500% ². 76% of people who do a local search on their phone visit a physical place within 24 hours – and 28% make a purchase ³.
These are serious stats. People really want to know about what’s available in their local area. Your physical location is just the beginning. Think about a customer who wants to try a new restaurant for dinner. They’ll want to know about opening hours, cuisine types, prices, the latest menu and specials, parking facilities, décor, ambience…the list goes on. If they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily: they’ll book (especially if there’s a direct link to online bookings from the search engine results page).
If not: they’ll continue looking elsewhere.
So, how can you big up your brand locally, attract new prospects and make your business the talk of the town? Here are our top tips for successful local presence management.
1. Get your local listings right, or your site don’t work
As a minimum, every directory listing should show the core NAP information – Name, Address, Phone Number – in a consistent format. Using a geographical phone number (rather than 03, 08 and so on) is recommended to further boost local search results.
The king of all business directories is Google My Business – or it was until last year. It’s still there, but the mobile app has gone. Now, you access your data using the Google Maps mobile app and Google Search. The good news is there are no changes to how people can see and interact with your Google Business Profile once they find you online.
And as most people use Google, claiming and optimising this profile is a key priority. Populate it with as much information as you can, including visuals (see below), direct links to your website and booking engine if you have one, and a live phone number that calls when clicked on from a smartphone. Keep it up to date and make any changes, such as seasonal opening hours, immediately.
Other local and national business directories are less critical but still very useful for local SEO. Create detailed profiles for all directories suited to your business, including trade-specific ones, and make sensible use of geographical and other relevant keywords. Ensure the NAP is 100% consistent, but avoid copying and pasting other details such as your company and product descriptions, as this could hurt your search engine rankings.
2. Invest in high quality visuals
People want to know what your business looks like. If they’re going to spend any length of time there, they’ll be interested in things like how spacious and comfortable your premises look, and the type and colour of your décor. They’ll probably want to know what your products and services look like, too, e.g., photos of a restaurant’s signature dishes, or a hair salon customer’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ hairstyle.
Logistical nuts and bolts are also important, so be sure to include images of the outside of your premises, so they can be easily spotted, as well as parking facilities and local landmarks. These can be easily uploaded to your Google Business Profile and most other online directories, as well as used on your website and in off-page SEO. Where possible, use short video clips as well as static photos for maximum impact.
3. Create local content
Creating bespoke landing pages to target customers in specific towns and cities is a ‘must’ for multi-location businesses. The information to include is similar to directory listings, e.g., NAP, opening hours, products and services, offers and promotions, links to key pages on your main website etc. When describing your business, avoid duplicating the content across different landing pages.
Writing locally focused blogs and social media posts will also boost your local online presence. Setting up a Facebook Page for each of your locations is another ‘must do’ for multi-site businesses. Make sure you engage with your local followers on all platforms, and respond to comments and questions promptly.
If budgets permit, geo-targeted Pay Per Click (PPC) ad campaigns and boosted social media posts will help your content reach new audiences and improve conversion rates.
4. Focus on reputation management
Did you know that 88% of potential customers check out online reviews before choosing local services? And 73% are more likely to trust a business with online reviews in place ² ? Reputation management should therefore be a huge part of your local presence management activities.
That means curating and responding to all reviews in a timely manner and encouraging happy customers to leave you a good review after you’ve closed the sale. Key platforms for B2B are Google and Facebook, with LinkedIn recommendations being number one for B2B companies.
On the (hopefully) rare occasions you get a bad review, respond concisely and politely – only apologising if appropriate – and take the conversation offline as soon as possible.
5. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Local and mobile search go hand in hand, with 61% of all Google searches performed on mobile devices⁴. So, it’s essential for your website to display correctly on smartphones and tablets. That includes downloads such as PDFs of menus and prices lists, and online booking forms embedded in your website. If a user finds you site hard to view or clunky to use on their mobile device, they’ll click away a competitor in a flash.
Need help with your local presence management? Ask it'seeze Warwick & Redditch!
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