I’ve discussed the value of SEO for B2B distributors and outlined best practices. Most of those involve your website, such as fast page-load speeds, optimizing for mobile and using a keyword strategy. But if you are a distributor on a quest to get on page one of Google, don’t neglect the importance of being found locally. The practice of optimizing your website so that you appear when someone in your area searches for you is called Local SEO.
Local SEO works a little differently than organic search. To avoid getting too technical, Local SEO takes into account how close the business is to the person looking for it, how popular the business is in the area, and how relevant the business is to the searcher.
This is especially important if you have multiple branch locations. Optimizing so that someone who searches for a product in a specific area will land on the location most relevant to them will positively affect user experience. In fact, SEO and UX are connected.
How do you get started optimizing for local search?
Start with your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business is a free tool that businesses can use to help customers find their businesses. The Google My Business listing appears to the right of search results.
Claim your Google My Business listing for each branch or store. Bing Places for Business is a similar free listing for the Bing search engine. In fact, you can directly import your information from Google My Business into Bing Places for Business.
Including all relevant information and text, and uploading the appropriate types and sizes of images, will improve these listings and help your branches rank locally. The more in-depth and specific you get about those locations’ offerings, the better. If some locations have specialties, for instance, add that information to your listings.
Encourage customers to provide reviews on Google My Business, and then interact with each review that comes through. Engage with all feedback, positive and negative; responding to feedback improves your visibility. And it makes it more enticing for others to leave reviews when they see you responding. If a review happens to be negative and the reviewer isn’t happy with something, be proactive in offering publicly to resolve the issue if possible.
Other items you should include in your list include:
- Product information
- Company pictures and videos: Images help customers see what the branch experience is like when they’re researching online, which has become even more important with COVID-19 restrictions.
- Questions and Answers: This is a feature embedded in your listing. Include Frequently Asked Questions here.
- News: Share blogs or other content through your listing.
Read detailed directions on how to claim, setup and manage your Google My Business listing from our partners, 3 Aspens Media.
Optimize your presence on Google Maps.
Your Google My Business listing is the top factor driving where you appear in Google Maps rankings, which some surveys put as used by upwards of three-quarters of searchers in finding local sources.
When a search is completed on a smartphone, Google takes into account your location and the device you are using. The results returned are customized to be most relevant for the user. The more information you have about a local branch or location, the better Google can provide relevant results. That alone is a major reason why every distributor needs to place emphasis on optimizing Local SEO.
Get listed in online directories.
The Yellow Pages of old have been replaced by several online directories, all of which, if you appear in them, can increase your chances of showing up when a local customer searches for your products and services. Moz Local is a great tool to ensure your presence in the most important directories. Simply input your information to Moz Local and the tool uploads it to local directories at once. When you update the information, it delivers those changes to the directories. Moz Local also includes review management, social media integrations and notification alerts.
Make sure your name, addresses and phone number (known as NAP) are consistent across every directory, as well as anywhere else your name and contact information appears. Even minor differences (ABC Supply vs. ABC Supplies) matter. Google will appreciate the consistency and it will be less challenging for search engines to find you.
Optimize for voice search.
Voice search allows users through an app such as Google Voice Search, Siri, Alexa or Cortana to simply state what they’re looking for or the question they need an answer to, rather than type it into search. As nearly 60% of consumers have used voice search in the last year (Source: SEO Expert), voice search is the future, so setting up your website’s content to answer some of your customers’ most common questions is critical.
To do this, go beyond features. Describe benefits, offer instructions and how-to articles, give advice for relevant concerns and activities, and answer frequently asked questions. The more your website answers specific questions a customer would ask, the better and higher you’ll appear in Google.
If you’re not sure where to start, I always suggest starting with employees who are at the store. Ask them each to write the top five questions they get, and build your content around the answers to those questions.
Prioritize Local Search
Nearly half of Google searches are from users looking for local information, according to Hubspot. And it’s no surprise that to most distributors that more than half of B2B searches are made on smartphones, according to Google and The Boston Consulting Group.
Another astounding statistic from the same report: 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using search results, such as through the click to call option.
The SEO Arms Race is real. Leverage these tools to get started on optimizing your business’s online presence for local search. Need help? Reach out to me to discuss how Local SEO fits within a successful digital strategy.
Dean Mueller is Independent Consultant at Distribution Strategy Group. He has more than 30 years of experience in sales and marketing and helps distributors build holistic digital strategies that drive a significant shift to online sales, improve profitability and grow customer satisfaction. Take your digital strategy to the next level. Contact Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.