Research has shown that those people who engage in local searches, are far more likely to actually visit a store. Furthermore, those who use mobile phones to perform local searches are 80% more likely to make a purchase. The same research has also shown that 92% of people now check out online reviews, and particularly when they research local stores. Additionally, people trust what they read in online reviews as much as what they do a personal recommendation. Put together, this highlights two key issues of importance for businesses who want to be successful online. Firstly, they must engage in online search engine optimization (SEO) and, secondly, they must emphasize reputation management.
Elements of Online SEO and Reputation Management
There are a number of key elements associated with both these online marketing efforts:
- It is about ensuring that company information is consistent across the board. This is particularly important if a business has multiple stores or branches. Details such as store information and contact details have to be the same across Google My Business, Google Places, and the various online directories on which the stores are listed.
- Monitoring any new reviews that are received, be they positive or negative, and responding to both in an appropriate manner.
- Ensuring that all web pages are optimized with local information, particularly if there are multiple stores or branches.
- Performing a regular audit of local search results, so that any inconsistencies can be flagged up, and so that conflicts and other issues across the different results can be resolved.
Consumers are relying on local search results more than ever before, and this has caused a switch in how search engine optimization is approach. Any business that doesn’t focus on local optimization is likely to miss out on business. It is also very important that businesses understand that there is a difference between local and global SEO, and that they must focus on both if they want to be successful.
Similarly, online reputation management is now far more important. No longer is it possible to ignore online reviews and mentions, because potential customers actively seek them all. The greatest shift this has caused is that businesses now have to actively encourage people to leave reviews, even if those are negative. They should have opportunities available both on their own website and social media channels, and through third party websites such as Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, where people can leave their honest opinions. Furthermore, businesses must respond to those, as this is something customers look for to determine whether good customer service is offered or not.
It seems that in today’s world of business, nothing ever stays the same. With rapidly changing technology and Google frequently adapting its main algorithms, search engine optimization and reputation management are now continuous processes. Only those companies that are able to respond to this, and to embrace this change, will be able to continue to be relevant in the modern era.