Updated October 7, 2020
Every local business needs ways to increase their online presence without having to spend money on every little thing. This article covers some of the most common and easiest ways to immediately boost your local presence.
When you start the process of SEO, keep in mind that there is no instant solution or guarantee. Companies that promise you'll get quick results are lying to you. The SEO process takes time and legit techniques to achieve the results you want. Never settle for cheap tricks or techniques, they will only result in your site getting flagged and worse ranking than if you did no SEO at all.
- Create and Verify your Google My Business profile.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can benefit your business, but it goes beyond getting your website ranked for various content and keywords. Google My Business provides local SEO with a twist.
When you search for something like “restaurants near me” you’ll see a map at the top of your screen and information on shops listed in the main search results such as the name, address, website, phone number, and reviews for each business based on your location.
Most people don't realize that the information does not come from the businesses website… it comes from their Google My Business profile page. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile set up and verified, you're missing out on an easy and valuable opportunity to get in front of local customers.
Google My Business is free and they take about 20 minutes to create. Click here to learn more and get set up today.
One important note, don’t forget to verify your profile. To many business owners forget to do this.
Not only is verification critical to getting your business listed, but also helps verify you’re the valid owner of your business page. This also helps for any future edits to your business profile you may need to make.
Google will send you a postcard with a verification code to the business address only. You’ll need to enter this code in order to verify your profile. Another important note, don't use a fake address or PO Box. This will actually hinder your listing from showing.
- Check for Duplicate Google Business Profiles.
Don't be surprised, but some time in the past you may have set up a Google My Business profile and don't remember it.... or worse someone else from the company may have done it for you trying to help out and you simply don't know about it.
You can easily find out if you have your page listed more than once on Google's My Business listings map by using the Moz Local Check tool. If you find duplicate listings for your business, contact Google immediately to get it removed so your rankings don't get penalized.
- Add Details such as: Categories, Description, Hours, Products/Services, and Photos.
Once you've verified your Google Business, searched and reported any duplicate listings, it’s time to start working on your profile.
Categories: Setting your profile up with relevant categories is a critical step to improving your rankings. Categories are like sections of the Yellow Pages. The more sections you are in, the more likely your business information is to get in front of prospects.
Make sure that the categories you choose are actually relevant to your business, it’s against Google's Guidelines to include irrelevant categories. However don't just choose a category just to choose one. A few very specific categories is better than a bunch of vague one's.
You can search this GMB Category List we have shared to find all the relevant categories for your business. Alternatively you can review categories other top-ranking local businesses have selected in their profiles and use the same ones.
Description: You can add up to 750 characters of text in your Google business profile. You should take advantage of this by adding a detailed description of your business, services, and products.
Products & Services: Google also allows you to add detailed blurbs about specific products and services. We recommend filling out these sections as it will only help guide consumers to informed decision.
Hours: List your business hours, and make sure they match the hours on your website and other online business profiles. If you already know your holiday schedule, you can also go ahead and add that.
Photos: We also recommend adding photos to your profile. The majority of consumers say local search results with good images help guide them towards a decision.
- Ask For Google Reviews.
Reviews are a great way for your business to stand out from the competition. Your goal should be to increase the number of reviews, the average rating, and the frequency of them.
Most businesses struggle to get customer reviews. This is often due to the additional effort it takes on your customers end to do this. The reality is though, reviews are extremely important for your online credibility and help improve local rankings on Google.
Make It a Part of Your Business Process
You need to consistently ask your customers for reviews (by email, call, or in person) and the process needs to be easy. We've personally made the process simplified with our online reviews form which prompts them to also leave a review on Google and Facebook by incentive (we offer 30 days free website care for each review they leave up to a max of 60 days).
Sometimes folks get busy or simply don't want to leave a review, and a short email follow up with a question like: How would you rate our service and what did you like most? will allow for some feedback and a potential social spotlight you can at least provide.
Remember getting positive review can be a slow process but over time it will add up and give you an advantage that's difficult to duplicate.
If you ask for a review, you're more likely to get it.
Ask Customers to Be Specific
Ask your customers to include references/mentions to specific services/products in their review. Google is more likely to highlight your listing for a particular service if a reviewer has referenced that service in their review.
- Make Sure Your Business Details or NAP is Correct.
NAP or Name, Address, and Phone number are extremely critical to your local ranking. It's important that this information is correct both on your website and your Google My Business profile. Google uses this for enhanced credibility.
Be sure to carefully review your Business profile and Website, make sure the Name, Address, and Phone number are the same anywhere it's placed. Mismatched info can not only confuse customers, but also lower your local search ranking.
Other Business Listings
Google compares the contact information or NAP that's on your website to other business listings on the internet. When we say business listings, we are talking about other 3rd party business directories that may also display your business information publicly.
As previously mentioned, use the Moz Local search tool to help aid in checking for incorrect NAP information on your business. This tool doesn't list every possible business directory, but it's a good place to review the most popular ones being used.
Slight differences are okay such as Street vs St., or Highway vs Hwy. It's the major errors we are looking for such as a wrong street name, business name, or phone number.
- Build Your Citations.
When an online directory or business directory lists your business NAP on it, this is referred to as a Citation. Some examples of other citations would be Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie's List...etc. Most are free and others are not.
Submit Your Business to Directories to Build More Citations
Most likely your website isn't listed on several important directories that would help boost your Google local search ranking.
You can use the tool we've mentioned, Moz Local search tool, to see if you're business is missing from the major directories. Moz's tool doesn't list every directory, but just the top 10. Once you use their tool, see what opportunities you have to add your business information to their listings.
There's also also several websites that provide lists of local citation sites you can also add your business information to. Here's an example of two updated lists for 2020: The Top Citation Sites That Publish Your Listing Instantly and Citations by City.
- Add Keyword Relevant Content to your Site.
Boosting local Google ranking has a lot to do with your site also. So while your website and Google My Business profile are two separate things, your website does have an impact on your local ranking.
Google will often use keywords you've listed on your website on the map listing if they feel it's relevant to the search.
If you're wanting to improve your chances of appearing in local searches, your website should reference all the different services you want to rank for.
For example, you would want to build a separate page for each priority service with 500+ words with quality content including common questions with answers that potential customers may ask.
A further way to increase relevancy is through frequent blog/news posts of content that pertains to your services. This could include answering common questions potential customers may have, showcasing products or services you offer.
- Mobile Friendly Web Design.
Now in 2020, nearly 60% of online searches are carried out on a mobile device. And HubSpot found that 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly website.
Way back in April 2015, Google updated their algorithm to include mobile-friendliness signals in their ranking algorithm. And then, in July 2019, Google made mobile-first indexing its standard for all newly indexed sites. But many businesses still haven’t adapted. It is imperative to create a mobile-optimized website in order to compete in the local search results.
SEO, whether local or on a bigger scale, takes consistent and dedicated work. You have to not only be diligent but also stay on top of your business ranking and current standards. This means you need the tools and time to properly dedicate towards this.
Most companies don't have the time to do this or employees who know how to correctly engage in SEO tactics. We can help. Scroll down and contact us today to start your SEO today.