Help Customers Find Your Services
The same way you want to find a prime physical location for your brick-and-mortar business, you should strive to have a prime location in search results online as well. Local customers tend to be higher converting and more loyal than other traffic that you may draw to your website. In order to make sure your services are easily found by those who search for them, you have to set up your online presence using local search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Improving local SEO will help your business profile rise to the top of the results page in Google. The higher your profile is above competitors, the better the chances are that a searcher will solicit your services. Local SEO helps you bridge the gap between local searches and an ultimate sale, and luckily for all of us, it is simpler than it seems.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of making technical improvements to your online business profile which help search engines identify your business and services. When this is successful, they will display your business as relevant search result for potential customers. This is specific to only local searches and differs from a generic search for goods, which can be much harder to rank in. For example, if a customer searches “best car services”, your small business may be out-ranked by larger chains. However, if a customer searches “oil changes near me”, Google will populate a list of relevant local businesses they can choose from. When using local SEO tactics, you can ensure you are being seen by these high-intent searchers who are likely to be ready to make a purchase now.
What is the Google Algorithm?
How do the search engines decide which businesses to show first? In the case of Google, they have developed an elaborate program that sorts business results for each search query based on three main criteria: relevance, proximity, and prominence. Based on information provided by you as the owner, reviews from others, information found on your site and much more, this program decides if your business is the best match for the query, if your business is trusted and if you are physically nearby the searcher. Working on your local SEO involves building up the information about your business with the search engines and on your website to better match this algorithm and in turn, help your profile to show more frequently at the top of results. Working with a marketing partner like Strategic Marketing can help you navigate the important changes you can make in each of these categories to improve your business’s position with Google.
Role of Citations
Your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) can show up on a myriad of different websites, directories and platforms. These listings are referred to as citations. The general accuracy of these citations is important so that the customer can reach and find you, but they play an even larger role in local SEO. Structured citations are places like directories where your NAP is displayed together as a listing. Unstructured citations are usually found on social media, in website content or other areas where the formatting may not be as clear cut.
The more citations you have available online, and the more Google sees your business as relevant and useful to the consumer, the more likely your business will come up in search results. Having prominent and reliable websites feature your NAP can give you major points toward your local SEO. However, inconsistent or incorrect listings will actually hurt your rankings. Keeping track of all of these is a large undertaking, but agencies like Strategic Marketing have tools that automate this clean-up process for you. Leveraging these tools will ease the burden of tracking down and updating your citations found online.
Reviews with Google My Business
Your Google My Business (GMB) page is snapshot of your business listing that is shown to customers searching your products, services, or general business information. Two of the most important factors here are the reviews left by customers and the star rating shown prominently below your business name. This will be the first thing a searcher will see about your business and a low review rating is a big deterrent to potential customers. As a local business, reviews are vital to inform future patrons that your business is worth using. Your responses to the reviews also provide a way for your customers to interact with you, the ability for you to showcase your brand identity, and your chance to manage any negative feedback. Furthermore, Google will use these reviews and ratings to sort whether your business is worth showing to searchers.
For local SEO, being proactive about getting and responding to reviews will have a dramatic impact on how you appear in local search results. A low number of reviews, even if they are positive, will hurt your rankings since it seems as if your business is not popular. There are a variety of ways to solicit and encourage positive reviews and tactful ways to handle negative ones. Already have a poor rating listed on your GMB? The best way to improve it is to earn more positive feedback from your clientele to even out the low scores. Review management will be one of the most important factors of success for your local business.
Your actual website works in combination with your local SEO. Appropriate keywords, technical data, and other factors found by Google crawlers will help the search engine determine how relevant or useful your business is to potential searchers. Studies show that customers still rely on heavily on the business website to make purchase decisions. Localizing your website content, improving mobile optimization and technical SEO enhancements are great ways to improve your local SEO. These enhancements also improve traffic to your website, how people navigate it, and in turn will lead to higher conversions. On-site SEO is complex and will be unique to your business. For help getting your website up to speed, Strategic Marketing has years of experience in optimizing sites for their clients’ specific goals. Working with a partner will be instrumental to your success.
Final Local SEO Notes
In order for customers to use your business, they have to be able to find you. In an increasingly technological world, customers are using Google and other search engines to quickly find what they are looking for. Improving local SEO will help loyal, ready-to-buy consumers find their way to you – EASIER. By bridging the gap between your business and the customer, you can win the customer ahead of your local competitors and drive business for your company.
The list above only covers a few of the areas that affect local SEO. For an in-depth and tailored look at how your business is performing in search, contact Strategic Marketing or visit www.thinkstrategic.com