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Why Your Local Business Cannot Be Found Online

19 January 2019 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

Why your local business cannot be found online

Ever since I first placed the title of SEO on my LinkedIn profile and told the world of my occupation I've been inundated with questions on how Google works, thinks and where they get all the information. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is why can't I find my business when I Google "Insert Service/Product + Location", for example, Kitchen Renovation Cape Town. 

While the answer is by no means a simple one and I could ramble on for hours on how Google decides on what to rank I thought it wouldn't be beneficial to most of you. Having given this question some thought, I wanted to focus on what you as a business owner can do to encourage Google to rank your business for these location-based queries.

One of the search engines key indicators for ranking local business-related searches is a little thing called NAP.

You may be sleeping on your NAP

NAP stands for name, address, phone. NAP refers to the company name, address, and phone number you use on any site where you appear. A businesses NAP is essential for ranking well organically when a customer or potential prospect conduct a local search.

Your NAP encourages your listing for geo-targeted searches

Search engines use the name, address, and phone number information to decide which listings to show in a geo-targeted search. If you don’t include this information on your website and social media profiles, search engines won’t know to display your business when someone conducts a local search, near me search, or location-based search for your products or services.

Consistent use of your NAP helps verify your businesses legitimacy

Search engine algorithms aren’t public knowledge, but a ton of research and guesswork has gone into helping build best practices for assisting rankings to improve. Many SEO experts believe that major search engines like Google cross-validate the legitimacy of businesses by cross-referencing a business’s NAPs as they appear on multiple websites.

The bottom line is authenticity and consistency, and search engines won’t prioritize sites they don’t believe are legitimate. This is why NAPS are also crucial for SEO and local search queries because matching NAPs signals legitimacy and thus increase the likelihood that your business ranks well.

Additional benefits of accurate and consistent NAPs used appropriately within an SEO strategy include:

  • Better organic search rankings
  • More traffic to your websites from local searches
  • More leads 
  • More business

From nowhere to near me

So why are geo-location searches so important to your local business? Well, these are people closest to you, they are consumers physically in your area or looking for businesses in your area of operation. "Near me" searches have been on the rise globally and South Africa is no exception. Over the last 5 years, we've seen an explosion of near me searches and the trend will only continue to grow. If you are not doing everything you can do to encourage listing for local searches then you're missing out on potential leads.

Near me searches in South Africa

The growth of "near me" searches in South Africa over the last five years

To illustrate the growth and potential of local searches I've put together a list of the most popular topics and queries used by South Africans. This should give you an idea of what you could be missing out on by not competiting for local searches.

Most popular "near me" topic searches in South Africa

These are the most popular topics South African's search for using the near me keyword over the last five years

  • Restaurant
  • Retail
  • Delivery
  • KFC
  • Pharmacy
  • Cafe
  • Beauty salon
  • Nando's
  • Take-out
  • McDonald's
  • Liquor store
  • Dentistry
  • Sushi
  • Steers
  • Pet
  • Hardware store
  • Pet store
  • Gynaecology
  • Car dealership
  • Wimpy
  • PostNet
  • Automated teller machine
  • Car wash

Most improved "near me" topic searches in South Africa

These topics gaining popularity in South African for searches using the near me keyword over the last five years

  • Liquor store
  • Sushi
  • Steers
  • Pet
  • Hardware store
  • Pet store
  • Gynaecology
  • Car dealership
  • Wimpy
  • PostNet
  • Automated teller machine
  • Car wash
  • KFC
  • Pharmacy
  • Nando's
  • Take-out
  • Dentistry
  • Delivery
  • McDonald's
  • Retail
  • Restaurant
  • Cafe
  • Beauty salon
  • Café
  • Beauty salon

Most popular "near me" queries in South Africa

These are the actual search terms South African's used along with the near me keyword over the last five years

  • restaurants near me
  • shops near me
  • jobs near me
  • food near me
  • mall near me
  • restaurant near me
  • delivery near me
  • pizza near me
  • kfc near me
  • pharmacy near me
  • atm near me
  • game near me
  • dentist near me
  • spa near me
  • doctors near me
  • things to do near me
  • woolworths near me
  • salon near me
  • spar near me
  • sushi near me
  • nandos near me
  • garage near me
  • debonairs near me
  • breakfast near me

Most improved "near me" queries in South Africa

These actual search queries gaining popularity in South Africa for searches using the near me keyword over the last five years

  • jobs near me
  • delivery near me
  • kfc near me
  • pharmacy near me
  • atm near me
  • dentist near me
  • things to do near me
  • spar near me
  • sushi near me
  • breakfast near me
  • steers near me
  • fnb near me
  • hardware near me
  • clinic near me
  • food delivery near me
  • clicks near me
  • mcdonalds near me
  • salons near me
  • doctor near me
  • dischem near me
  • guest house near me
  • spur near me
  • clubs near me
  • hardware store near me
  • postnet near me

How to wake up your business from its NAP

Since your NAP is derived from all mentions, Google can successfully crawl and index online it means you need to make sure every single digital asset has the correct information. Having personally done NAP hunts in the past I'm well aware of how incorrect data can turn up in the strangest places. To make sure you've covered all your bases I suggest you make sure the following NAP's are on your checklist.

Own website

This should be your first stop and one of the easiest to correct. If you own a website make sure all mentions of your own name, address and phone number is correct. Review your sites contact page, its footer and any pages that may contain this sort of information. 

Social media accounts

Second, on your list would have to be your social media accounts only because of its sheer ease of updating. Check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin and any other niche social media sites you utilise to promote your business and correct any inconsistencies you may find.

Google my business

Third and probably one of the most heavily weighted in your favour is your GMB (Google My Business) listing. Since Google draws data directly from this submission to populate branded knowledge graphs and geo-related queries, it's important to make sure that your GMB listing information is correct

Third party listing sites and directories

Since many local businesses aren't necessarily creating regular content and attracting visitors to their site, it's a good idea to have your business listed on third-party websites and directories. Since they do the heavy lifting on their side to attract traffic for various searches and then refer those users to you, making sure your information on these directly listings is correct will make sure you don't miss out on referrals business and that Google can aggregate all these mentions to your business. 

In most cases, this is under your control with sites having their own user dashboards and self-service tools while other directories may not and you will need to mail the admin to have your listing updated.

Blogs and online mentions

If you've done some outreach in the past or you're lucky enough to have a site cover your business in a blog article or news article, then this will also need to be reviewed. These articles will stay up for as long as the site is live and incorrect information, especially on sites with high domain authority, will give you a welcomed boost. Should they have the correct NAP information and, it wouldn't hurt to link to some of your business assets like your website or social media pages.

Awake from your digital slumber

Google may be smart but getting smarter by the day but feeding it incorrectly or inconsistent information is not going to do anyone any favours. Now that you're aware of the mistakes and inconsistencies that would see Google ignore your business its high time you to take corrective action. Hopefully, it won't take too long to undo the damage and Google will begin to place your business in front of local customers more often. 

If you have any questions or tips you'd like to add, share them with us in the comments section, we'd love to hear from you.

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Tags: entrepreneur , startup, local business , marketing

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