Google+ Local Bible for Small Business

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Guillaume Bouchard has written a must-read article in Search Engine Watch if you’re a small business owner. He is the co-founder and president of NVI, a Montreal-based company specialized in interactive strategies. Founded in 2004, NVI has quickly become the largest web agency specializing in SEO and Social Media in Canada with over 50 employees.

Here’s what he has to say:

If you’re a small local business, having a Google+ Local profile is imperative to putting your brand – quite literally – on the map. Google Places was recently replaced with Google+ Local – a merging of Places and Plus that serves up your Google+ Local listing in Search and Maps results on mobile devices and traditional browsers. Whereas Places was a static listing, Local is dynamic and social.

A well-optimized Google+ Local page can benefit your digital marketing strategy in the following ways:

Outrank your competitors in local search.
Build the authority of your brand through +1’s and user reviews.
Drive traffic to your website.
Convert more visitors into leads and clientele.

Quick stats about local mobile use:

* 50 percent of mobile search is local.
* 61 percent of local searches result in purchases.
* 50 percent of smartphone shoppers use a GPS/mapping app to find a retail location.
* Only 33 percent of advertisers have a mobile optimized website.

With more than 1 billion smartphone users around the world, a number expected to reach 2 billion by 2015, it’s no surprise that mobile search is quickly becoming the number one way users search. And, when people search with their smartphones, they’re looking for something local.

How do you unlock the full potential of +Local? Follow these six steps to learn the dance.

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Mobile Search Outpaces Desktop 2-1 for Local Business

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Myles Anderson lays out another home-run on Search Engine Land with his data on how people use their smartphones to find local businesses. Since a lot of you read this blog to get exactly this kind of insight, I thought it was worth re-posting here. Be sure to subscribe to his Twitter feed at the links above to get more content like this straight from the horse’s mouth (and I still don’t even know what that phrase means…).

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The staggering growth in smartphone and iPad/tablet usage is changing the way consumers behave. Having these powerful devices glued to our hands 18 hours a day changes how we manage our lives, stay in touch with friends and consume media.

It also affects how we find and engage with businesses and services, and no more so than at a local level.

We (BrightLocal) conducted a survey with our consumer panel to find out just how consumers use their mobile devices  to find local businesses and what content was most important to them when using their mobile devices (we specified ‘mobile phones and tablets’).

We asked 6 questions and received 1,065 responses to the survey. The following charts and analysis represent the full findings of the survey.

Survey Questions

  1. How many times have you used your mobile / mobile device to find a local business in the last 12 months?
  2. Which types of local business have you searched for on your mobile device?
  3. Which type of mobile service do you prefer to use when looking/searching for a local business?
  4. What information is most important to you when you’re looking at a local business website on your mobile?
  5. Which of these statements about accessing local business websites from your mobile applies to you?
  6. Are you more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site?

 Survey Results

  • Only 29% of consumers regularly use mobile devices to find local businesses.

Mobile Internet usage is growing hugely; but, only 29% of consumers regularly use their phones/tablets to find local businesses.

Chart - How many times have you used your mobile / mobile device to find a local business in the last 12 months?

 

Forty percent (40%) of consumers say they have never used their phone/tablet to look for a local business.

This compares to just 15% of consumers who use desktop Internet to find a local business

However regular, repeat usage is relatively high with just 19% of consumers looking for a local business at least once per week, and 29% of them doing this once per month.

  • Pubs, Restaurants and Shops are the most commonly searched for business types on a mobile device

Chart - Local SEO - Which of these types of local business have you searched for on your mobile device?

Local consumers use their mobile devices to look for all different types of local businesses. The most popular types of business to search for on a mobile are:

  • Pub/Bar/Club — 32%
  • Restaurant/Cafe — 31%
  • General Shop — 31%
  • Clothes Shop — 26%

All these business types share some common traits:

  1. Businesses have high footfall traffic — so it’s not surprising they come out on top
  2. Consumers visit these businesses at their place of businesses — so Physical Address is key piece of data (see chart 4 below)
  3. Consumers make quick decisions about these businesses — unlike say, a Dentist or Accountant, which are more of a considered purchase
  4. Consumers visit these businesses within a short time frame of finding them on their mobile

Tip For Business Owners

It’s beneficial for owners of all types of local business to make themselves as findable as possible to mobile users. But, it’s especially important for bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels and taxi firms which have the most to gain by ensuring their presence on mobile in prominent and positive.

  • 89% of consumers favor using Maps apps & Browsers over Mobile Applications

Chart - Which type of mobile service do you prefer to use when looking/searching for a local business?

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of local consumers prefer to use either a maps app or an Internet browser when looking for a local business on their mobile.

Just 11% of consumers prefer to use other applications such as Yelp, Foursquare or TripAdvisor.

The volume of App downloads hit record highs in the final week of December 2012 (1.7 billion apps downloaded in 1 week* — fuelled by consumers receiving new devices for Christmas and activating them in the week after), but the preference to use apps instead of native mapping and browsers installed in devises is still low.

Maps and browsers come pre-loaded onto devices, so they’re ubiquitous and convenient for users to use. They also benefit from familiarity as these brands (e.g., Google Maps, Safari) are household names and have huge user numbers in the PC market.

But, mobile applications shouldn’t be dismissed. User numbers for applications are lower than maps/browsers, but data shows that application users are loyal and do a lot of searches:

  • Yelp — 100,000,000 users worldwide but just used on 9.2million mobile devices.** But, 45% of all searches on Yelp are done on their mobile application.***
  • AroundMe – 6 million users (April 2012) with 27 million searches per month.****

‘Physical Address’ & ‘Driving Directions’ are most important info for mobile visitors

Chart - What information is most important to you when you're looking at a local business website on your mobile

Mobile users are very action orientated when they look for a local business on a mobile device. They quickly want to qualify whether a business meets their requirements.

They want specific information that enables them to quickly:

  1. Determine if your business does what they want — ‘List of services: 33%’
  2. Determine if they can afford your services — ‘Price List: 41%’
  3. Find out where you’re located — ‘Physical Address: 54%’
  4. Find out how to get to you — ‘Driving Directions: 48%’

Softer and less ‘action’ orientated content such as reviews, photos and welcome message are much less important.

Interestingly, only 30% of users considered ‘Contact Details’ to be an important piece of info. Maybe because mobile users are looking for a business to visit, so their address is enough for them to act upon.

Tip For Business Owners

Make life easy and quick for your mobile site visitors. Display the most important data prominently on the homepage of your mobile optimized site. You can still include richer information (reviews, photos, etc.), but put this on other pages and link to it from the homepage.

  • 43% of consumers don’t expect a local business to have a mobile optimized site

 Chart - Which of these statements about accessing local business websites from your mobile applies to you?

Consumers are split on their attitudes to whether local businesses should have a mobile optimized site.

Forty-three (43%) say they don’t expect a local business to have a mobile optimized site, while 26% also say that all local businesses should have a site which is built for mobile.

A further 26% of respondents said they are impressed when a local business has a mobile optimized site.

  • 38% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site.

Chart - Are you more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site?

Thirty-eight (38%) of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site.

That would represent a significant bump in customers for any business and would surely justify the expense and effort in building a mobile optimized website.

Key Takeaways & Analysis

Mobile users behave differently from normal PC Web users, and this can impact on how they find a local business and which local business they end up contacting/visiting. Mobile users are very action orientated and will act quickly upon the results of their searches.

All types of local business can benefit from improving their mobile presence with 38% of consumers more likely to contact a local business with a mobile optimized site.

  • Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, shops, hotels and taxi firms have the most to gain from maximizing their mobile presence
  • Ensure that your business can be found prominently in relevant mobile search and map results
  • List your business on all leading local-social applications, e.g., Yelp, AroundMe, TripAdvisor, Foursquare
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices and display the most valuable information in your homepage

*Source: Flurry Blog

**Source: Yelp press release

***Source: Search Engine Land

****Source: AroundMe press release

Local Businesses are Leaving Money on the Table

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Matt Malone just posted a great article on Local Search. If you have a brick and mortar business, you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of his free DIY (that’s “Do It Yourself” in Internet parlance) tips:

Read the full article here.

90% of online commercial searches result in offline brick and mortar purchases.

This type of research makes it clear that many businesses have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books and most print advertising.

There are many different tactics you can implement to capture the attention of potential customers, but step one is increasing online visibility. Thanks to services such as Google+ Business, Bing Local and Yelp, this has become extremely easy to do. Just be sure to do it right.

Many business owners have local listings, but are doing it wrong. Simply typing in your business name and seeing your listing isn’t enough. Be sure to “claim” your listing so that you can complete your profile and business information in full. This includes pictures and videos of your establishment, types of payment accepted and even whether or not you have paid or free parking available. You can read about this and more on Google’s User Guide.

The entire process of claiming or creating your online business listing should take you under an hour. Start with setting up (or claiming) your business listing in all of the directories listed below.

Pro Tip: It’s very important for you, as the business owner, to claim the business listing before a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer does it and bashes the company within your own profile. I have seen this happen, and even though it’s reversible, it’s a headache for the business owner to deal with.

TOP FIVE LOCAL DIRECTORIES TO GET STARTED WITH:
Google+ Business: http://www.google.com/+/business/
Bing Local: http://www.bing.com/local/us/
Yelp: http://www.biz.yelp.com/
Hotfrog: http://www.hotfrog.com
Manta: http://www.manta.com

These are the highest-ranking directories for Google and Bing local searches. Maximize your search engine real estate and claim all of them. Then be sure to read through your reviews on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure you respond to any positive or negative comments you receive. An attentive, caring company will almost always be an equally respected company.

How to Use Mobile to Reach Holiday Bargain Hunters

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http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222378?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+entrepreneur%2Flatest+%28Entrepreneur%29

This holiday season, retailers are inundating cautious shoppers with discount offers to try to lure them into stores and onto websites. How can small shops stand out from all the clutter? Go mobile with your marketing.

Many bargain hunters are becoming avid users of mobile technologies for everything from Groupon deals to bar code scanners. But the mobile world still isn’t nearly as saturated with promotional offers as traditional media, giving small businesses the chance to grab shoppers’ attention — often right at the point of purchase.

Hit the link above for the scoop!