In our work with clients in the integrative medicine world, I often notice an assumption that could, if left unchecked, cost our clients dearly. Namely, they often come to us thinking that just having a website is enough. That if they build the site, the local community will just come.
This, of course, is not true. Just having a website is a good start, but it’s only one of the first steps in getting more clients coming in through the door.
And one of the most overlooked steps in the marketing practice is a simple—but vital—one.
If you’re going to serve your local community, you have to optimize your business for Google local search.
Because even though you’re local, people are still looking for you online. In fact, nearly one in three people will do a web search before visiting a local business.
That’s 33% of potential clients you’re missing out on if they can’t find you.
Fortunately, optimizing for Google local search is super simple to set up. Here’s how to do it.
1. Fill out the info
Go to http://business.google.com.
From there, you’ll set up an account (email and password) and then be prompted to enter your business information.
The important thing to keep in mind in this step is that the more info you can provide the better. And double check it after you enter it in… it’s very important that all the information is correct and consistent. Google will ding your searchability in the rankings if it finds discrepancies.
2. Get Geographic
A recent study on the impact of various factors on local search performance found “that the consistency of name, address, and phone number (NAP) on local business listings had a 16 percent influence in determining performance.”
Again, get granular with your details. Especially the simple physical ones that people are going to need if they want to find you—both online and in the physical world.
3. Target Keywords
Sometimes it’s tempting to try to target as big a segment of the population as possible. The more people you can reach, the more clients you’ll get, right?
You want to tailor the information you enter into Google local search to as niche an audience as possible. Why? Because in a world that’s as noisy as ours, the best way to stand out is to target the needle and forget about the haystack. So, the more granular you can get in the description of what you do, the better.
4. Hustle for Reviews (i.e., Get Others to Tell Your Story)
This one doesn’t have as much to do with actually setting up your information in Google as it does making a habit of getting your current clients to help boost your search rankings.
The best way to do this is to ask for reviews from them. Several of our clients have built this right into their program, and the results have been great.
[Real quick… here’s a great tutorial on how to set up a link that your happy clients can use to leave their review directly on Google: Create a link for customers to write reviews.]
Why does this strategy work so well?
According to Nielsen, 92 percent of customers say that they trust what others have to say more than traditional, paid advertising.
Or, in other words, people trust people far more readily than they trust businesses or organizations.
The one caution I have about this strategy is that you have to be careful not to incentivize your clients to leave the review. You can’t give them something in exchange for it.
But you can ask.
And you should.
5. Use Your Website
Make sure to enter your URL when setting up your Google local search profile. And, make sure that the information on your website matches up with the profile details.
Google is smart. And it hates spammy, fraudulent businesses. So, the algorithm is going to compare that info and make sure that it matches up.
It seems like a minor detail, I know. But optimizing for local search is a game of inches. And the easier you make it for Google to promote you, the more inches it’s going to give when it comes to your search rankings.