6-point Pigeon-proofing checklist for local businesses
1. Stay alert. Experts agree that the dust has not settled on this update, so this would not be the right time to react with a complete 180 in your marketing strategy. Stay tuned in to local blogs and fora and monitor the SERPs on a regular basis to watch things progress in the coming weeks and months. Based on past experience, I would not be at all surprised to see Google continue to turn dials up and down with this update. Don’t panic like a birdbrain and start making major changes, but do keep up-to-date!
2. If your radius has shrunken for your core terms, you may need to consider focusing more effort on less competitive terms to try to make up the difference. Among other things, this could include changing a category on your Google My Business page, building new content that proves your relationship to these topics and earning new reviews and links that cement your presence in reference to these somewhat lesser terms.
3. If your 7-packs have shrunken to 3-packs, striving to build greater organic authority may help you more than purely local signals like citations and reviews. No mystery here – make your website as clean, fast, usable and rich in information as you possibly can, and brainstorm for those ideas that will set you apart from more sluggish or boring competitors, making your business link-and-shareworthy.
4. If more spam seems to be rearing its ugly head in your important SERPs, report it! You have several vehicles for doing so. In Google Mapmaker, search for a spammy business, click the ‘edit’ link and then the ‘report this’ link. Provide as much detail as you can, documenting and proving that the listing contains spam. Or, while signed into your G+ account, find the spammy Google+ Local page, click the downward pointing in the row of icons beneath the business NAP, choose the report/block option and then fully describe the issue. If you notice widespread spamming, you might want to consider reporting it via a thread at the Google And Your Business help forum in hopes of getting the attention of Top Contributors and/or staffers.
5. Because Pigeon appears to be giving more emphasis to local business directories for more searches now, it is more important than ever to have clean, consistent citations across the board. Do your most important keyword searches and see which directories are appearing high in the SERPs for these terms. Be sure you’ve got a fully-filled out listing on these directories and that the data on it is good and correct.
6. Local SEO strives to build a web-based mirror-image of local business communities – but don’t forget that it is only a reflection of the offline world. Citation building, content development, link earning, review acquisition – these are all incredibly important tasks, but they do not take the place of the service you offer and relationships you are building in the real world with face-to-face customers and associates.
Becoming ‘a name’ in your neighbors’ households by dint of your excellence should always be your #1 priority. So, give that better-than-expected customer service, launch that new in-store campaign, join that local business association and go to those local events and seminars! Become a vital local resource to your neighbors and you’ll be standing in a strong place, no matter what updates may come your way.