Being a local business owner is tough. Though you have the independence of “being your own boss,” with that independence comes the responsibility of finding your own success in a sometimes-uncertain marketplace. It’s a job filled with plenty of ups and downs, but one area of your business that you simply cannot ignore is your company website. Unfortunately, Google complicated things last year for local business owners with their infamous Pigeon update, making it even harder to show up in their search results. It’s not the first time Google has updated their algorithm, and it certainly won’t be the last.
What then is the average local business owner to do? Is it impossible to appease Google and earn that golden spot in the local search rankings?
In short: Yes, you can certainly earn your dream spot in local search results. It will take some patience and work, and as a business owner I’m sure you’re up to the challenge, but we’re here to help make your life a little easier. That’s why we’ve compiled the easiest – and most effective – ways to rank well in local search.
1. Content is, and always shall be, the King.
Unless you’re a writer by nature, chances are the thought of creating content is intimidating – but it’s actually easier than you think! You might not realize this, but you have a variety of sources to pull from, such as:
- Product reviews
- Customer testimonials
- Before/after photos
- Interviews and/or Q&A’s
- Frequently Asked Questions
The trick to consistently creating content is to not put all of the work on yourself –writing is hard enough as is! So leverage your client-base; let them rave about your business and your products. People love to brag – get them to brag about you online!
Another great method for developing more content for your website is creating separate pages for each specific service/product that your business sells. This will help build up the credibility of your site (because you’re able to answer a variety of questions) and it will help push more of your content in front of more readers. And if you are in multiple locations or serve several areas (think City, Suburb, Neighborhood, ZIP code, etc.) do the same thing!
If push comes to shove, though, and you have to write something for your site that only you can, don’t overthink it! Be professional, but try to let your personality shine through your writing. Your readers will connect with a human voice, which will, in turn, make them more engaged when consuming your content.
Remember: you are not writing for Google. You are writing for people, and they don’t want to read content that is overloaded with keywords (ironically, though, neither does Google).
2. Don’t ignore the bones of your site – they need you too!
Creating content, as important as it is, is just scratching the surface of optimizing your site for SEO and ranking in local search. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how amazing your content is; if your site isn’t fixed behind the scenes, it will suffer in the search results. Make sure the following all include targeted keywords, but don’t keyword-stuff:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- H1 headlines
Greg Gifford also recommends that you feature the city and street name in each of these areas to give your pages the extra boost they need to stand out in local search. It sounds like a small touch, but, as Pawel Grabowski notes, “the way your page is optimised has the most profound effect on its rankings.”
If you’re not sure that your site is hitting all of these notes, then you should consider getting an SEO Audit for your site! We’ll go over all of your pages and give you a checklist for your website programmer so that they can make the necessary changes.
However, it’s important to point out that page optimization is much more than just putting the right keywords and street names in the right places. Developing a clean and clear site hierarchy plays a big part in helping your site get indexed by Google bots – which will then help you rank better in local search results (and it will also help visitors to your site dig deeper into more of your exceptional content).
BONUS: A mobile responsive is a must-have in this day and age. It will not only help your visitors read your content on their smartphones and tablets, Google will actually reward your site!
3. Make sure your website is getting the credit it deserves.
This last point is a little more technical than the previous two, as it involves business listings and location information – also known as citations. These are integral to your SEO efforts because Google considers them to be a key ranking factor in their algorithms – and the more citations you have, better! Your site will appear to be more credible, thus increasing the chances that your website will show up in local search results.
So, how do you gain these citations? You could manually seek them out, but who has the time for that? Thankfully, there are amazing tools like Moz Local that designed to help the average business owner gain all the citations you’ll need to help legitimize your online presence. All you have to do is upload your information and it takes care of the rest!
Google My Business is another great resource to monitor your site’s performance. Whether you’re reading your reviews, or looking at Google Analytics, this is a suite of tools that you should not be without. As Albert Costill says, “Google My Business can be used by small business owners to engage their audience in one convenient location. Because of this, you can now respond to reviews quickly and keep your customers in the loop.”
Is that all there is to local search?
Not even close. Honestly, even the SEO experts sometimes have a hard time determining what is and is not relevant. Some have put together complete lists of Google’s 200+ ranking factors; others say that you cannot possibly narrow down Google’s ranking factors to any single list. Regardless, we believe that the three areas highlighted above are some of the easiest things you could (and should!) do to help your site rank better in local search.
Think we might have missed a good point? Perhaps you would like some clarification? Let us know in the comments section below! Feel free to also contact us directly. We know that digital marketing and SEO is a challenge, and we’d be more than happy to help.