As complex and data-driven the world of SEO may seem, at the end of the day, it’s all about understanding your customer’s emotions and desires--what makes them tick?  


Adam Ortman is the director of innovation and technology at Generator Media + Analytics, a fully integrated media agency. In addition to a decade in digital media, Ortman’s academic foundation happens to be in consumer psychology. He says ranking on page 1 of local search results is one key to landing on your customer’s radar, and thus, in your customer’s psyche. 


“With 3.5 billion searches occurring every day, being prominently placed and top-of-mind is key to making an impactful impression,” says Ortman.

There are two ways of achieving this coveted top spot:

  1. Organically – Referred to as search engine optimization (SEO), this process focuses on maximizing the number of people visiting a website by getting the site to appear high on the list of results returned by a search engine. SEO involves leveraging advanced knowledge of how search engines categorize and rank website attributes.

  2. Pay-to-Play – Referred to as pay per click (PPC) or search engine marketing (SEM), this leverages the respective marketing platforms (Google Ads, Microsoft Adverting, etc.) to align paid advertisements with search engine searches.


“With so many searches taking place, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and startups need as much visibility as possible to remain competitive,” Ortman continues. 


As you can see in the chart below, the volume of traffic driven to a brand’s website dramatically decreases as a brand sits further down the search engine results page (SERP).



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The primary space to adjust your local search information, and as a result, your ranking, is Google My Business. According to Ortman, this is the business profile created for Google to recognize and categorize your business within the Google search engine, Google Maps, etc.


Here is Ortman’s simple roadmap to improving a business’ local search rankings: 


  1. Always enter complete business data within your Google My Business company profile and verify ownership of your location(s).

  2. Keep your hours as up to date as possible.

  3. Manage and respond to reviews.

    1. Stat: “Business that don’t reply to any reviews earn 9% less revenue than average” (Source)

    2. Stat: “Businesses that reply to their reviews at least 25% of the time average 35% more revenue” (Source)

    3. Add photos and videos that show your brick-and-mortar locations and get creative here. Think of this as your brand’s digital storefront.

    4. As of recent, include any COVID-19 related aspects of your business that are relevant, such as if you offer outside seating, contactless payment, curbside pickup, or if you are increasing cleaning measures.


“Think of local search listings as a combination of a brand’s digital storefront, phonebook listing, and billboard all wrapped up into one,” Ortman says. “Ensuring that your Google My Business account has curb-appeal, is informative, and makes contacting the business simple is crucial to successful local listings on search engines.”