A Bold Claim: How to Easily Influence Google Search Results (Without Breaking the Rules)
By: Brandon Tidd
“Think Globally, Act Locally.” Although this catch-phrase is rooted in environmental awareness, it has been coopted over time as a business strategy for brands nationwide as they compete for local market share. Since 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day (and 28% of those searches result in a purchase), it’s no surprise brands are racing to understand and activate more local dollars. Even Amazon, who once was only digital pure-play, has capitalized on the value of having a local presence. But oftentimes, a brand’s biggest ally in local connections, its Google My Business presence, is left neglected.
Growing your image online
Consumers crave local data, and when they are looking for a local solution, convenience, accessibility and speed are paramount. Staying relevant to the customer’s path to purchase requires a multifaceted approach and a commitment to continuity that many brands struggle to keep current. Ironically, the very process of growing a brand’s image online, if not executed properly, can result in decreased visibility.
Companies that allow their local affiliates to claim and ‘localize’ listings unchecked risk creating inconsistencies in style and messaging that could work against the larger brand.
The struggle for accurate data is compounded by new locations opening and old locations closing.
Google's support for local business has increased
Over the past year or so, Google has leaned into supporting local business owners. From offering small business owners free landing pages tied directly to their Google listing to hosting Grow with Google marketing events in cities across the country, the new focus seems to be empowering SMBs to provide accurate data. For the search giant, enticing businesses to engage with customers online is a win-win. The local brand gets more exposure, and Google gleans more accurate data.
It begs the question: If these tools are being offered free by Google, and businesses want to get this information into the hands of their customers, why do so many business profile pages go unclaimed? While this could happen for a variety of reasons, the most common hurdles come in the form of time, technical knowledge, and a general lack of understanding of the importance of accurate data online.
Taking ownership of your brand’s presence online can be a daunting task whether you’re a single-location brick and mortar or a national corporation with thousands of local affiliates, but the benefits far outweigh the cost of doing nothing. Once a listing is claimed and verified, opportunities for customer engagement increase dramatically. In addition to verified and consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) records, page managers are given the option to post photos, respond to reviews and, more recently, create posts to promote events, promotions and/or products. When executed properly, frequent updates help establish relevancy and build trust. “Set it and forget it” doesn’t work in this ever-evolving digital ecosystem.
Claim your listing and keep it updated
Customers can also interact more with a claimed listing, even sending messages to the business owner directly from Google (Google recommends downloading the free Google My Business app before turning this feature on). Depending on the customer need, this may be the only chance a company gets to capture their attention (and business).
As users shift to a voice-first approach to search, and with comScore predicting that 50% of all search queries will be voice activated by 2020, it’s more important than ever that businesses make it as easy as possible for search engines to find the information they are looking for. And though Google may be the industry leader in maintaining accurate data throughout the ecosystem of the Internet (including Four Square, Yelp and Bing, among others), being ‘number one’ on Google isn’t good enough anymore.
When it comes to voice, the new high watermark is the coveted “position zero.” The time to act is now.
If you’re struggling to find the right strategy for your brand’s local presence, BrandMuscle can help deliver exceptional results at a scale and budget that meets your needs. Because when a computer algorithm considers something as simple as abbreviating the word avenue to “ave” a variation and/or data mismatch, its incumbent for companies large and small to be thinking locally from the very first claimed listing.