In today’s digital market, SEO strategies for increasing local searches involve many factors. Since over 80 percent of today’s potential buyers begin their search for products, goods and services online, how your local site manages the functions of location and reviews are two of the most critical of these factors.

Increasing Local Visibility
Customers need to find you in order to spend money with you. In the case of businesses with multiple locations, the importance of maintaining a website (or web page, at least) for each individual location should not be underestimated. Here are some key SEO basics for ensuring shoppers are able to easily navigate to your business location.

Is Your Google My Business Profile Accurate?
To ensure you’re deriving the most benefit from Google products like Maps and Search, you need to populate your profile with accurate and up-to-date data. Make certain your name, as listed in your profile, is your exact business name and not some combination of name and keyword. The same goes for your business address and phone number and for your website URL. Fill out the entire profile. Choose the correct categories. Be consistent from one location to another.

Are You Providing Good Local Content?
This can be as simple as creating pages for such topics as customer testimonials or local news. A blog for each location can be worth its weight in gold if you are telling customers your story in an engaging and personal way.  Don’t hesitate to link to some of the clients and businesses with whom you work closely. Don’t forget to include images and video wherever applicable.

Which Leads Us to Reviews
Your reputation is everything. Promoting positive and honest customer reviews will allow your location to stand out and be noticed amongst all of your competition in your particular digital marketing environment. Whether you’re being rated by stars or some other rating icon, the mental signal the 1-5 point rating standard makes is universally understood. To assume potential customers are not checking out your ratings when they navigate to your location is a miscalculation you don’t want to make. Here are three key concerns when it comes to how you manage your reviews.

Be Honest
Set honest criteria and accept the honest feedback it elicits. Be ethical and authentic. Negative ratings and comments can be a signal that you may need to make some adjustments in your business plan. No matter what, don’t be tempted to write your own countervailing review as there are Google’s own algorithms that may detect it.

Be Timely
In any given time frame you want to receive enough reviews so everyone knows you’re still in business, but not so many that they begin to stack up and appear outdated. Remember, over 70 percent of shoppers don’t take a review older than several months as seriously as they do the one that was written today.

Be Proactive
As the owner of your business, don’t hesitate to address your customer’s positive feedback as well as their concerns and negative comments. It’s your chance to proactively tell your side of the story. Do so in a professional and dignified manner, letting them know of the solutions you’ve come up with to address their concerns. In the process you’ll come across in a way that may overcome any negative with a positive affirmation.

When it comes to SEO basics, the properly understood functions of location and reviews are a vital key in growing your business.