Whether vacationing in a new city, visiting friends or just looking for something new, all you have to do is pull out your phone, type in “Italian food” and numerous nearby restaurants with pasta dishes and pizza will be displayed. If you don’t want to make your decision based on the name and location alone, you can rely on the ratings of others.
47% of all searches are location-based, says Florian Hübner, founder and Co-CEO of Uberall in the DMEXCO interview. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for companies to rank well in near-me search results. Local listing management tools such as Yext, Advantago, Moz Local or Uberall can help in this regard.
How can management tools help?
Intelligent solutions such as Uberall synchronize, update and control all the information and data about the company’s location on over 35 online directories. These can include opening hours, contact data, product images or current job listings. In addition to this, the software solution helps permanently monitor customer ratings and mentions in social media. Optimizing all relevant data pertaining to the respective company location on numerous online platforms increases search engine findability and the chance of being listed in near-me search results. This increases online visibility and thus customer frequency on location.
The more locations there are to manage, the more worthwhile it is to have external service providers like Yext simplify and ensure that the same data is displayed everywhere on the web, including navigation systems and address directories. This kind of consistency across many platforms can hardly be achieved manually, but is important for Google. If the Google crawler finds different opening times on the internet, for example, it can have a negative effect or even result in entries being automatically updated incorrectly.
Many providers now also offer solutions that make it possible to control data such as opening hours and contact data on one’s own homepage using the tool. If the opening hours or the contact person is changed, only one change has to be made centrally in the tool and no site can be accidentally forgotten.
The benefits of the management tools are not only better visibility, search engine optimization and simple handling, but also a significantly improved customer experience.
What can companies do that have no budget for service providers?
Google users search over 5 billion times a month for restaurants, over 3 billion times for hotels and over 600 million times for hairdressers. For companies, this is a clear indication of how important it is to optimize their own Google listing. At the very least, the data stored here should always be correct. Here is a look at the steps required for this:
- Setting up a central Google account
Using Google My Business, owners can register with their business for free and create a central Google account.
- Confirming one’s own company entry
To ensure that no third party has access to the company entry and that the registered user is actually the owner, Google sends a postcard with a confirmation code following registration. This is used for verification via the My Google Business App.
- Entering, checking, adjusting and updating data
Whether menu, product information or photos, everything must be correct. All data should be thoroughly checked and as much information as possible entered into the company profile. The user experience is improved with every piece of information that is made available to searchers.
- Entering the right URLs and contact data
It is important that all links and contact data are up to date and work properly. Once a customer receives incorrect data, they are unlikely to return to the Google entry.
- Adding photos
According to Google, 42 percent of searchers display the directions if they see photos in the preview. Companies should use this to their advantage and upload appealing pictures of the outside and inside of their business, as well as of products, menus, etc.
- Interacting via Google
Google users can publish reviews right in their profile and share their opinions publicly. Companies should use this feature to make direct contact with their customers. For some time now, Google has also been offering a question and answer feature that allows interested parties to ask questions directly to the company. It is important that companies respond quickly to these questions.
- On-page optimization (e.g. mobile optimization)
In addition to optimizing the Google My Business entry, so-called on-page optimization is essential. On the one hand, one’s own homepage should always be checked for mobile applicability and, on the other hand, all information should be kept up-to-date here as well. Although the path to get there is taken through Google, a first impression of your own website is often decisive.
- Off-page optimization (e.g. rating portals and social media channels)
Everything that is published about you on the internet contributes to your reputation and thus to the frequency with which customers visit your actual location. It is therefore important to respond to reviews on rating portals like yelp, and keep an eye on these platforms as well. Have satisfied customers write reviews for you, thank them for the good reviews and reply to critics.
The bottom line
Online visibility is heavily dependent on Google and, to some extent, other platforms as well. It is therefore essential for local companies to set up their own Google My Business account and store the correct data there. As soon as several locations have to be managed, manual maintenance can become very time-consuming and prone to errors. From this point on, every company should consider using service providers and their tools.