People aren’t looking you up in the phone book anymore. They’re going to Google to find the best local businesses in town. So, essentially, if you aren’t showing up in the top Google Search results, you could be losing potential customers.
It’s no question the internet is here to stay. If you aren’t taking advantage of what it has to offer, you’re likely missing out on some major digital real estate.
On top of having a website that is functional, well branded and professional, you need to take a look at your website’s SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is one of the most important investments you can make for your website. In terms of cost, SEO is the clear winner as the best marketing practice for ROI. This is because implementing good SEO strategies can cost very little, and if done properly, can bring you a ton of business. With that said, SEO can be a little bit different when it comes to local businesses.
Here are 9 ways to improve local SEO for your business’s web presence:
1. MAKE SURE YOUR NAP INFORMATION IS EASILY FOUND
We list this first because it’s essential that people don’t struggle to get in touch with you. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. Be sure to include this information on your homepage, along with all of your other business listings across the web, and make sure they are all correct.
Google cross references your NAP info from various places on the web to verify that you are a legitimate business. Therefore, it’s super important that you keep it consistent.
Additionally, make sure the phone number is clickable. Today, about half of all searches are coming from mobile phones. Don’t make the user try and remember your number while toggling back and forth between their browser and the phone app. This is easily achieved by adding a link to the phone number by wrapping it in a piece of code like this:
<a href=”tel:5555555555”>(555) 555-5555</a>
2. GET LISTED AND VERIFIED ON GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
As Google continues to dominate the front lines of the internet, it’s no surprise your business could largely benefit from officially listing with them. Optimizing your Google My Business page is similar to optimizing your website.
For starters, make sure you include the correct NAP information as discussed earlier. Consistency is extremely important here. The information displayed about your business on Google needs to match the information on your website, along with any other places you may be listed on the web (Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, etc).
Also, it’s vital that you actually verify your business on Google. A good portion of businesses miss this step. Being listed on Google as a business isn’t enough, you need to go through the verification process to let them know you’re legit.
3. CHECK YOUR SITE INDEXING
The last thing you want to happen is to build a website that no one ever finds! This is why you need to check if Google is indexing each of your web pages. Sometimes there are items blocking access to Google, which tells them you don’t want the page to be accessible to search engines – but, it’s an easy fix.
4. REVIEWS & REVIEWS ON WEBSITE
It’s pretty clear your business would benefit from getting legitimate reviews online. It not only signals potential customers that you’re of the utmost quality, but it also indicates to Google that they should take notice and bump you up in the rankings against your competitors.
What’s the best way to get reviews? Simple, just ask!
It may feel uncomfortable at first, but most people won’t mind leaving you a review if your good or service delighted them. You can simply say, “if you have a minute, we’d love to hear what you have to say about us.” Another option is to just leave a small sign or cards near the checkout stating that it really helps you grow as a business if someone leaves you a review.
5. GET REVIEWED BY LOCAL BLOGGERS
This is a local SEO hack of sorts. Many bloggers have already established themselves within Google’s algorithms and likely write articles about your city – so take advantage!
Reach out to them and give them your story. Get them to have a quick chat with you about your service and what you stand for. Explain the impact you make in the area and why you’re one of the top competitors. If you own a restaurant, for example, you can have them come in and try it out to see for themselves.
Getting a local blogger to write about your business will do wonders for building trust. As we mentioned earlier, most people trust online reviews as much as in-person referrals/recommendations. Utilize the SEO equity they’ve already built up!
6. HIT LOCAL KEYWORDS
Your content needs to include keywords that people in your local demographic are actually searching. It’s important to do some research here and find out what people want to know.
You don’t have to do anything super fancy here. Just remember to include text on your website that pairs your location with your good or service. If you’re a lawyer in Pittsburgh, you won’t want the text on your site to simply state that you’re a top lawyer… you’ll want to state that you’re a top lawyer in Pittsburgh.
This practice will help Google understand more about your business based on your location.
7. MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS OPTIMIZED FOR SPEED
In case you haven’t noticed, everyone has instant gratification these days.
Google is REALLY picky about which websites to display for given search terms. And, if your website takes too long to load, then the content on your webpage hardly matters at all. Very few people are going to wait 10 seconds to read info they can find in 10 other places just as easily.
If your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, the user is more likely to grow impatient and leave your site in exchange for another one (or worse, they’re going to leave and look at a competitor’s website!)
Google understands this and uses it as a big factor when ranking web pages against one another. This is why it’s extremely important that your website is optimized for SPEED. Don’t make people wait around for your page to load, make it quick so they can have a smooth experience with you from start to finish.
8. GET LISTED ON LOCAL DIRECTORIES
Many of the top positions for local search queries are taken up by local business aggregators. Try it out for yourself. Go to Google and type in “best restaurants near me.”
What do you see? For us, we get listings for Yelp, TripAdvisor, GrubHub, etc. It’s going to be important for you to get listed on as many of these directories as possible (as long as they relate to your business).
Also, don’t forget to keep your information consistent, and get reviews everywhere you can.
9. MAKE SURE YOUR SITE IS USER-FRIENDLY AND RESPONSIVE
Now, say you’ve successfully landed a potential customer on your website. You tell us, will they be impressed by your website? Or will they immediately get a bad impression and back the hell out of there?
I’m not saying your website needs to have an award-winning design. Rather, we’re saying that the information needs to be clearly laid out in a pleasant way that doesn’t aggravate visitors. Make sure they can find the most important information easily and without any hassle. If you need to hire a designer to make this happen for you, then you’re better safe than sorry.
There are also plenty of templates out there that can help you build a beautiful website pretty quickly if you don’t have a big budget.
Lastly, be sure that your website will look great on ANY screen size (phones, tablets and desktops/laptops). More and more people are making searches using their phones, so you need to make sure the images, text, buttons, etc. all adapt to fit the screen size your visitors are using.
Building a strong web presence can be a daunting task. There are many moving pieces in the puzzle, and we are only scratching the surface. But, you can be sure that putting these tips into practice will certainly help your business grow in your area. The internet isn’t going away any time soon, and if you’re not utilizing it yet, it’s time to start now!
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