As the owner of a thriving business in the age of the Internet, you have plenty of opportunities to engage with your potential customers and grow your business. Understanding consumer local search behavior and realizing how you can use it to market your business effectively is paramount to harnessing the power of local search and building a thriving business.
Search is Transforming Life As We Know It!
Every day, with every passing minute, people are discovering the joy and convenience of search technology. If you think about it, it is almost as if we’re all living out of a sci-fi movie. We’re asking our phones to tell us how to do things, we have digital assistants that make finding information ridiculously simple. As consumers, we have a whole world of information that we can access to make informed purchase decisions. And due to this, local search has changed the way consumers find businesses around them as well.
So, before we get into determining what we can do to with our marketing efforts to scale on this behavior, what are these local search habits? Well, that’s a good question; let’s take a look.
Consumer Local Search Insights*
Based on studies and research insight, we amalgamated these insights that are central to rethinking the way we approach local search in terms of marketing. To map a brief summary of the change in search behavior, search has evolved in the following aspects:
- Search has become more intent-based
- With the rise of voice search applications, search has become more conversational.
- People are looking for local information more than before. This has aided in the rise of the ‘near me” searches.
- When consumers conduct searches, they are expecting the results to be relevant and specific to their queries.
In the following insights, you will find that intent, local information, conversational searches, and relevance are recurring themes.
- People are starting to turn to search, not only to make purchase decisions but to get a second opinion on more personal matters. There is an increase in the usage of words like “me”, “I” and “my”.
- No decision is too trivial or small to run a search on. Consumers use their smart devices to conduct searches for the simplest of tasks.
- People have gone beyond the simple and straightforward usage of search. People are using search to further their ideas and to get inspired. They search for “gift ideas” for specific occasions.
- Consumers are also searching for pre-set checklists.
So, now that we know how consumers are taking advantage of search applications, what are we going to do about it? How do we leverage it? It requires some work, but to put it in simple terms, you’re just answering questions that people might possibly have about your business. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to get a better idea of how to approach this. With some insight into this, you need to come up with ways to better your chances of discovery on these queries!
1. Accurate, Complete and Consistent Listings
Make sure that your listings are accurate, complete, and consistent across all your platforms. This is a basic task that can make all the difference in targeting local search queries. In case you have wrong or inconsistent listings, you are bound to have unhappy customers or worse misinformed customers who decide against engaging with your business.
You need to make sure that your business has correct contact information: name, address, phone number, email address, website information, etc. In addition to this, you need to make sure that your customer can find about every little service or amenity that your business offers in addition to your core services. For example, if you are a restaurant, you can specify if you have valet parking, a smoking area, vegan-menu, etc.
Here’s a list of particulars that you need to specify:
- Name, address, phone number (NAP)
- Directions (Apple Maps or Google Maps)
- Website (if any)
- Working hours (make sure they are updated on special holidays)
- Handicap Accessibility
Pro-tip: You can go about doing this manually or by means of a service or a local marketing tool. This local SEO checklist will give you a good idea of how you can do-it-yourself. In case you want to subscribe to a business listing tool, you can read about what Synup can do to help you.
2. Scale on Voice Search
Voice search: two words that are taking the human race one step closer to becoming a sci-fi reality. Voice-activated queries are quickly being adopted by people aided by the availability of smart devices. If you were to conduct a voice search, you’ll find that the results are narrowed down, and try to be as specific as possible. This gives users a specific set of options. Now, imagine if your business appeared to be on the results of these voice-activated queries. You will invariably boost your business presence online and appear on more searches. So, optimizing your online presence for voice search is absolutely important.
(You can read about optimizing for voice search by the Search Engine Journal.)
3. Google Q&A
Google’s Question and Answer option that appears on the knowledge graph for businesses is a great way for people to learn about businesses. This is basically user-generated content that aides in chat-enabled discovery. As a business owner, you need to start scaling on this option. You need to make sure that you answer queries as such. Google indexes this information and can help your business appear for specific search queries. Although this might take some time to scale, it is something that you need to add to your agenda to scale-up in the future.
4. Rethink Your Keyword Strategy Based on Personal Search Queries
Recently, Think With Google came up with a beautifully visualized content piece that illustrates how people are making personal search queries that are something you’re more likely to hear in conversations that people have with other people. People are conducting searches (mostly voice search) like, “How often should I wash my hair?” or “How much should I sell my car for?”. According to Think With Google, 60% of mobile searches are in the past two years have the aspect of a personal query with the phrase “… for me” in it; 80% increase in the usage of the phrase “… should I …”
Think of it like everyone has a piece of the Tony Stark’s Jarvis experience in their day to day lives. So, how does this fit into your keyword strategy? Well, your ads and your website SEO (both on-site and off-site), when incorporated with these keywords can appear on such searches.
So, how do you expand your keyword research? Here are some tips to get you started.
- You can start by looking at longtail keywords that have a conversational phrasing. Setting it to a broad match can help you find a better search volume.
- For an actionable tip, you can add these keywords to the structured data markup.
- Make sure you track the search volume for these keywords that pertain to personal search queries. Based on variable search volume figures, you can decide on when it would be best to target these keywords.
- You can always start with the repository of keywords that Think With Google published.
Once you narrow down on these keywords, you can create meaningful and relevant content to help your customers find you on the top of search results. Take, for example, the keyword “Should I get bangs?”. If you’re a beauty salon, you can create content to rank for such personal queries. This way you are likely to engage with your target audience.
5. Work on Building Your Business Reviews
If you wanted to go out to eat, and you conducted a search with a generic (longtail) keyword like “best restaurants around me”, you will find a result similar to this one.
You’ll find that the restaurants with the best star-rating appear in the local three pack. More and more searches are looking for the “best” options out there. There has been an 80% growth in searches with “best” in it.
To get your business here, reviews is one major aspect that can contribute to this.
(You can read more about the Local Pack here.)
6. Apply Structured MarkUp Data to Your Website
Structured data markup or schema markup helps search engines understand the meaning of a page and how the information needs to be presented in the search results. By applying structured markup data to your website with the correct keywords in place, you’ll see that your business is likely to appear in the local three pack.
(You can read more about how to implement schema markup data here.)
And that’s a wrap!
Understanding these consumer insights can help you restrategize your local SEO efforts and keep up with the changing trends. This is largely influenced by the transformation and ubiquity of technology. And search, as an application and a technology, is evolving fast, and by extension, is empowering every consumer. You need to keep your focus on discovery – appearing on these searches.
Let us know how these insights helped you out!
*These insights are derived from published results from the following references:
The Rise of Personal Search, Think With Google, 2018
No Decision is Too Small for Today’s Consumers, Think With Google, 2018
It’s All About “Me” – How People are Taking Search Personally, Think With Google, 2018
Why Shoppers are Turning to Search for Ideas and Inspiration, Think With Google, 2017