Google estimated roughly 4 out of 5 people use Google to conduct local searches. When users search for things like a restaurant, dental office, hair salon or a chiropractor, they aren’t searching for one 1,000 miles away. They are searching for a business that is just around the corner. This is why it is incredibly important for you to dedicate some time to your business’s search result placement. You don’t want a rivaling local business to place ahead of you in Google after all.
Sadly there is no simple and steadfast way to gain better visibility in local search results as there are over 200 factors (that are constantly changing in importance) Google takes into consideration when they choose what pages get placed in the top of the results. Google hasn’t exactly told us what it takes, but we have some proven tricks that are designed to help move you up the Google ladder!
Search engines want to provide users with the best local search results. It is important that your pages are geographically complete. Sprinkle your address, city, zip code and directions to your location copiously across all of your business’s pages and make sure the information you are spreading out is consistent and correct. You do not want to frustrate potential customers and risk them choosing a competitor simply because Google lists a different address than the one listed on your website.
If your business has multiple locations serving the same purpose, create separate pages for each location to maximize local SEO. These pages should not be identical; instead, make each page have location-specific content such as the address, reviews, news, staff information, etc. Consistency is key across all of your location pages. For example, do not put “of San Diego” behind your location in San Diego and “of Carlsbad” behind your other location. The name and category should be the same across the board.
Directories and Business Listings
Claim/create your business’s directory pages on sites like: Google, Bing, Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn and link these wherever you can. Spreading your business across all of these platforms will help you tremendously because Google uses outbound links like these as trust signals to boost your search result placement.
Google My Business is a pretty important directory. It’s free and can provide you with a lot of exposure. You’ll be able to easily keep your business information updated on Google, track engagement and identify where your users are coming from. There are a ton of other great benefits for Google My Business users which you can read up on here.
As of the third quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.27 billion active users so it’s not going to surprise you when I tell you that you cannot afford to ignore it. Facebook has improved on local search functionality recently and will reliably consider a user’s location when returning search results. This is a great tool for you to utilize if you want to improve your ranking. Complete your Facebook page info entirely and optimize it by scattering around keywords where they make sense. For example, if you own a hair salon called “Shampoo” make your Facebook name “Shampoo Hair Salon” because chances are a majority of searches aren’t going to be for your business directly, rather for “hair salon”. (Source: http://bit.ly/2KWvnso)
While Google accounts for nearly 75% of searches, Bing is still incredibly useful and you should optimize your pages for it. Bing Places for Business offers you tools similar to Google. Bing is optimized to show local results now, giving your business a better chance of visibility.
If your business has multiple locations, optimize these pages and create them each a designated directory and business listing. If your businesses serve different purposes, then these rules do not apply to you but do create each a unique designated page, directory, and listing!
Reviews and Ratings
Take advantage of any and all positive ratings and accolades you’ve earned. Sharing good news online can make an impact on consumer decision making especially when it is used where they are most likely to see it.
Google published their own article on how to improve local ranking stating: “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility”. With this quote in mind, and understanding how reviews and ratings affect consumers, it seems likely that Google uses ratings and reviews as a way to rank you. Use this information as an opportunity to ask your customers to review you on Google and Facebook. Try your best to respond to all of the reviews, especially the negative ones. (Source: http://bit.ly/2RCXXBF)
Get accredited with the Better Business Bureau. “The BBB logo is a long-established sign of good business”, meaning you are able to promote your business as honest and reliable. Not only are you going to have a spot on their website reflecting this, but additional links and listings, especially one on such a reputable site, gives you a great opportunity to move up in the search results.
The title and description of your website creates something called a featured snippet on Google which is essentially a little ad for your business that aims to answer a user’s question right away. A good idea is to insert very broad descriptors into your title and to stick your location in the description. For example, if you own a restaurant that specializes in seafood, have your title be “Whitney’s Seafood Restaurant” instead of just “Whitney’s” and throw something like “Serving delicious, locally caught seafood in Portland and surrounding areas!” in the description.
There are plenty of tools out there that will help you find out what your title and description might look like in Google.
Make yourself stand out over other local businesses by using terms in your description that consumers search for like: customer service, reviews, best, and award-winning.
You want someone to click on your website over a local rivaling company, so make sure to optimize your website and social media so that when search engines crawl your site, they can get the absolute best understanding of what your business is. There is no easy way to have your business ranked #1. Implementing strategies to improve your local search results is imperative to remain competitive in today’s digital landscape. Utilize these tips to help put you in front of people when they are searching for businesses and services like yours online; where people need to find you the most.