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Business Owners: Ignore Local Mobile Search at Your Own Peril

Brick and mortar local storeMy husband and I like to go treasure hunting in thrift stores, and I recently found a very nice long winter coat. It’s the kind of coat that would be comfortable in Dr. Zhivago, and it was a timely find. Living and working in Atlanta, I rarely need more than a light jacket in the winter, but I have some trips this winter that require a warm, professional coat. The coat was high quality and in perfect condition except for that musty smell that all thrift store clothes seem to have. Nevertheless, it was well worth the cost of dry cleaning.

So, I bought the coat and a week later I remembered to get it cleaned. Our last experience with a dry cleaner in our neighborhood was disappointing, so I decided to search for a new one. Standing in the middle of my kitchen, I picked up my cell phone and searched Google for “dry cleaners in Lithonia Georgia.”

It’s important to note that I was at home with an assortment of laptops, desktop computers, and tablets, but I still searched using my mobile phone. Why? For one thing, I already had it in my hand (Who doesn’t?). Secondly, I navigate using my phone’s GPS. With the address in my phone, I can easily access directions in a click or two once I’m in my car.

My search yielded 3 map results for my query, “dry cleaners in Lithonia Georgia.”

Screenshot of local pack results in Google SERPs with a map on a smartphone

As you can see, none of the top 3 local pack results had a rating or a link to a website, and only the 3rd local search result had a customer review.

Compare this to the search results for “dry cleaners in Atlanta GA.” You’ll notice that the top map result for Atlanta has 5 stars, lists 16 reviews, and links directly to the company website. With only this information to go on, which business would you trust?

Local search results for dry cleaners in Atlanta

Of the 3 local search results in Lithonia, only one had a review. I was hopeful. One good review would make this a simple choice.

Screenshot of a Google My Business listing on a mobile phone with a poor review

Uh … moving on. The 3 local pack results had been no help at all except to eliminate one business from consideration. Aside from location, I had nothing to go on, so I decided to check the organic results below the local pack.

Screenshot of local search results in Google on a mobile device showing IYP directory and local review site results

I would have preferred to compare prices and services on the dry cleaners’ website, but there were none listed in the search results. Every single organic search result on the first page was either for a niche directory or an IYP directory (IYP = Internet Yellow Pages). I clicked the link for and was presented with the following options:


Yellow Pages ListingSeriously? While Decatur, Stone Mountain, and Tucker are fairly close, there must be at least 30 dry cleaners within a 5-mile radius of my home. Unfortunately, none of them had more than a phone number listed. (Note that this was the organic search result in Google and not the result from using the search feature.)

As a local SEO provider, this was frustrating. A dry cleaner in my area could easily dominate local search with just the slightest bit of time and effort because there’s zero competition.

I decided to click on the next organic result in Google, which was a link to Yelp. When I clicked the link, my phone gave me the option to open the Yelp app, which was already installed on my phone.

Local business search results on Yelp

The top listing was in Decatur, but it had 5 stars and probably wasn’t that far. I clicked to see the review.

Ugh! According to the reviewer, the business listed the wrong address. Duluth is much too far to drive for dry cleaning.

I finally settled on Covington Cleaners because I was familiar with the shopping center in which they were located.

Yelp local business listing

I called them to verify that they were, in fact, there and open for business.

Like most consumers today, I had already made my choice before I ever called the business. Today’s consumers are much further along the buyer’s journey than you might assume, so it’s critical for businesses to pay attention to how they are presented online.

Search Google for the name of your company, and you may find that your small, locally-owned business is listed in all sorts of directories that you’ve never even heard of. Unfortunately, you may also find that your business information is inaccurate.

What’s important when it comes to local, mobile search?

Here are the cliff notes for optimizing your website for local, mobile search. If you do nothing else to promote your business online, do these:

  1. Check your business listings in the most popular IYP directories. There are hundreds of these, but you should at least make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number are listed correctly on the top 50 local citation sites.
  2. Pay attention to what people are saying about your business online. Negative online reviews have a tendency to linger, so encourage your satisfied clients to leave reviews. Never, ever pay them to leave a positive review.
  3. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Text should be large enough to read on a mobile device. Phone numbers and directions should be easy to find and clickable.
  4. Claim and verify your Google My Business listing. Make sure your business is listing in the correct categories.

There’s a lot more to local search optimization and mobile-friendly website design, but these are some of the basics.

Need help optimizing your site for local and/or mobile search?

That’s what we’re here for. Call 678-824-5560 to find out how to improve your local search performance.

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