We talk a lot about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and it's because SEO can have a big impact on the bottom line of your business. Google often changes their algorithm, making SEO more tricky — some of these Google's algorithm changes are small, and some are really big. The real winner in SEO strategy these days? Going local. We've seen this trend coming for some time, but Google's local focus is only growing as people search more locally and use their smartphones to search.
Here at Infomedia, I talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) all day, every day — it’s just that important. Google is always tweaking their algorithms to make sure they send searchers to the best companies to work with, and because these search rankings can have a huge impact on your bottom line, ignoring them can actually cost you money. Over the years, I’ve written many posts about SEO. The consistent theme? That there’s little consistency.
Google and Searchers Continue to Go Local
Some of these Google’s algorithm changes are small, and some are really big. The real winner in SEO strategy these days? Going local. We’ve seen this trend coming for some time, but Google’s local focus is only growing as people search more locally and use their smartphones to search. It got a big push last year, and Infomedia’s Jamie Parris wrote a blog about it called Local Optimization and Your Business to explain why local optimization is important and how it works. Want to harness local optimization for your business? Here’s a good checklist to start with:
5 SEO Techniques for Local Business
1. Claim and Fully Fill Out Your Google My Business Profile and Other Important Directories and Make Sure You Are Categorized Correctly
When someone does a local search or uses their smartphone to search, Google will buy information on you from big national data providers and smaller local and industry specific data providers. These data providers will build a profile on you whether you participate or not because they want to sell their data. As you can imagine, this information is typically incorrect or incomplete because it comes from public records, power bills, trade show information, other directories, etc.
If you’ve ever moved your business, have more than one location, changed your name, or have had any turnover in main contacts, there’s a good chance that you have a lot of bad information out there. This causes confusion with Google, and it means their algorithm will not trust your site. If they don’t trust you, they won’t send traffic your way.
The first step is to go to these directories and take control of the message and photos they’re sharing about you.
The second step is to fully fill out Google’s profile. Add everything you can possible add, including the maximum number of photos they allow, because Google shows favoritism to directories that are fully filled out.
The third step is to make sure you are categorized correctly. Take time to choose your category carefully. If you choose the wrong or less descriptive category, it will cause Google to have a difficult time understanding what you do.
2. Make Sure That Your Information Is The Same on All Directories and on Your Website
Consistent information across all of these directories and your website is another key that makes your site trustworthy to Google. Inconsistencies can be big things like an incorrect company name or address, but they can even be subtle things. Here are a couple of examples:
- Company name differences like “Steve’s Garage” vs. “Steve’s Garage Inc.” vs. “Steve’s Garage and Transmission Service”
- Tiny address inconsistencies like “4567 Main Street” vs. “4567 Main St.” vs. “4567 Main Street Suite 1”
All of this information needs to be exactly the same and it also needs to match the information on your web site exactly.
3. Get Reviews and Manage Them
Google takes the number of reviews that your business and website gets and the content of reviews into consideration when ranking you for local searches. (Read more about this on our blog post Why Online Reviews Are Important by Infomedia’s Lance Moore.)
Getting reviews are only half of the battle. You have to respond to the reviews. Responding to good and bad reviews shows that you are proactive and care about your customers. This is good business. (We do have tools that helps our clients easily get and manage reviews.)
4. Make Sure You Have Local and Relevant Content on Your Website
Google will not look favorably on your site if you do local business but you never come out and say it or mention the city that you work in.
It is important to help Google understand what each page is about, and Google only gives credibility to about one to three points per page. If you have multiple locations, it’s best to create landing pages about each location instead of trying to put all of that information on one page. The more laser focused those pages are, the better.
5. Continue To Get Links From Local Businesses and Organizations
Links from local chambers of commerce, associations, Local BBBs, and non-profits show Google that you are trustworthy and are involved in the community. These links usually aren’t difficult to get, since most associations want to link to their members. Links from local companies in your industry or surrounding industries show that you have clout in your area of service, so if you have relationships with other businesses, reach out to them and see if they will link to you. (If possible, don’t trade links for links — it’s best that you don’t return a link that a company gives you.) Quality links still play a very important role in SEO, so it makes sense that they play a role in local rankings as well.
Blogging about other local businesses can sometimes result in easy links to your website.
Not Brain Surgery, Just Hard Work
At least once a day, we tell our clients that none of this is brain surgery, but it is a lot of hard, sometimes tedious, work. Steps one and two can take a lot of time depending on how much misinformation already exists about your company, and steps three through five are ongoing — regularly performing them is a best practice for your business. Want to grab a cup of coffee and talk about how these strategies can work for you? Give us a call or shoot us an email to discuss your business.