With the average small business set to spend $75,000 or less on digital marketing this year, your company needs to make your dollars stretch. If you don’t learn about the latest changes to Google Local Search, you could end up pouring money down the drain. It’s important to take a look at what changes Google made, how they can help you, and what you need to do to make the most of them.
Here are four things you need to know about the changes so you can stay ahead of your competition.
1. Keep Your Google My Business Account Active
With all the new features added thanks to local search, you’ll see more functionality for your Google My Business account than ever before. However, with more power comes more responsibility. You’ll have more work to do to make your listing work.
In the past, you wouldn’t have to check your listing on a regular basis to ensure that your information hasn’t changed. That’s not the case anymore. Now, data aggregators filled with bogus photos or trolling information require you to check the listing daily.
While Google made their Q&A to be helpful to businesses, it has some unanticipated results. For many users, it’s become an open message board where the public will leave reviews, go off on wild rants, and even include spam from bots.
In this context, real questions can get buried and never answered, which is always a bad look for a business.
You’ll need to dedicate frequent attention to your listing. This is good in that you won’t leave any contact to fall through the cracks. It’s irritating if you don’t have the time to manage it though.
2. Test Your Search Results
While everything might look good from the inside of your dashboard, you need to make sure results look good when your customers see them. While you might spend hours trying to pick and prune the ideal brand image, you might end up creating something that doesn’t appeal to customers.
Even the biggest brands in a market can end up with misinformation on their listings. If you’ve got a franchise, for instance, you could end up having one franchise that doesn’t list one of your essential products or services. If one person gets ahold of your listing and enters the wrong information, it can drag down the whole brand.
The location of your business could still be tied to another business that was in that location before. Make sure the pin for your map wasn’t dropped in the wrong location. Also make sure important details of your business aren’t coming up wrong in search results, like whether you take RSVPs or are open to the public.
Take the time to learn what your customers see when they search for you so that you can empathize with their experience. If you find it hard to find information, trust that your customers do too.
3. Fixate on Your Knowledge Graph
One of the most important sources of information for businesses trying to make the most of SEO is the Knowledge Graph. Google can help business owners to enrich and enhance their content via this graph. Rather than basic information and photos, there’s a is a wealth of information you could offer to potential clients and customers.
With the aforementioned Q&A function, you’ll get questions you can answer directly. Even your customers and other users can answer questions. This can help you to engage with customers and allow your most loyal devotees to build a community around your business.
Using Google Posts, businesses don’t need to seek out third-party software for creating dynamic content. You don’t need to worry about up-ending your most important, permanent content like where you’re located and how to get in touch.
You can use the Posts function to put out information about events or seasonal content. You can post text, photos, video, or any combination of this content to your client base.
Try Google Bookings if you need a scheduling agent. Going back and forth between Google and a third-party has now become redundant. With Google Bookings, you can make appointments, reservations, and any other kind of schedule that you need for your business.
4. Think Carefully About Ads
If you want to end up in the top of search results, you should probably buy some ads. Anywhere from a third to half of all local results have ads contained in them. You don’t want your business to get left behind.
With AdWords advertising now taking up a huge chunk of local search engine results, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can with them. If you haven’t purchased any AdWords ads yet, you should take advantage of what they can do today.
When you pay enough money and make strong enough ads, you’ll end up at the top of the page. That will give your posts an immediate sense of authority over the other posts on the search engine. AdWords give you a competitive advantage through Google’s own native advertising style and the way we always assume a list is in order of importance.
Google Local Search is A Powerful Tool
When used correctly, Google Local Search can be a powerful element of your marketing tactics. If you take care to implement it the right way, you’ll end up ranking higher than ever before. Local users, searching for products and services like yours in your own backyard, will now have no excuse to not know about you and what you have to offer.
If you want to learn more about the details of Google Local, check out our guide to the Google 3-pack.