4 Ways To Maximize Your Local Search Results

One of the great advantages of mobile for small businesses is that when searching for a restaurant, store, or service while out and about, people are more likely not only to follow through, but also to try something new, whether out of curiosity or convenience.

The best way for a business to take advantage of that is to be visible and available when customers are looking. That's why it's essential to be aware of how mobile search optimization works, and how to make a business more visible in the places people look when they're on the go.

Without getting too technical, here are a few essential strategies.

Listen to Google

Most search still begins and ends with Google. In fact, it's not even close, as this chart from Business Insider Intelligence shows:

Luckily, Google's posted an extensive and handy guide on how to design a mobile-optimized website.

Much of it is a bit too technical for someone only familiar with the basics of html, but it should be an essential resource for developers working with small businesses.

Have a presence where people search

Google's not the only place people look when they're out and about. Particularly for restaurants and retailers, people use applications and ratings systems like Yelp to get a sense of not just what's around, but what's well regarded. If you're not on the service, then you're missing out on a large potential driver of traffic.

The same goes for Foursquare, which is increasingly transitioning from a place where people just check in to one where people look for great places to go.

Know where people look for businesses in your market, make sure you have a presence, and take advantage of the business tools they offer.

Good products and good service

When people look for a business on a service like Yelp, they're not there because the search function is better than Google. They're there for the ratings. Many will sort by some combination of proximity and high rating. And nothing draws the eye like a low rating coupled with a diatribe from a disgruntled customer.

Having 4 or 5 stars is one of the best ways to drive traffic. There's nothing you can do about some critics or people with an agenda, but quality comes through in the end.

Build a Facebook presence sooner rather than later

Facebook is increasingly becoming a mobile-first social network. Recent changes to its news feed according to its last earnings report make that eminently clear. Nearly 16 percent of its user base accesses the site only through mobile devices. That also means a push to provide more local results.

The company's upcoming graph search tool represents a big push into providing personalized results, and the more data and connections you have on Facebook, the more likely the tool will help people find you.

So have a social presence, make sure it's active, and make sure it actually says something about your business.

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