59 percent of consumers use Google every month to find a local business. Of this group, 71 percent use the information they find to shape purchase decisions. With that in mind, putting your business in a position to be found on search engines like Google drastically impacts your ability to attract and convert new customers.
In order to ensure that customers are finding your business on Google and other search engines including Bing and Yahoo, you can either focus on search engine optimization (SEO) or a pay per click method of search engine marketing (SEM). SEO is a process of updating your online presence so that your website is more likely to be found organically as it ranks high in search results for certain search terms or keywords. SEM, of which Google Adwords is the most used service, means that you’re paying for being featured in these search results when consumers click on these links.
While SEM is quite straight-forward and something you can get started with quickly and see the impact from within days, SEO for your local business is harder to understand and takes time to accomplish. Those that can solve the puzzle can greatly benefit from it by getting access to the right type of customers already looking for your type of business.
What Is Search Engine Optimization / SEO?
SEO is an investment your business makes in making your website appear optimally on search engines like Google. Proper SEO means two things:
- It will help your business show up higher, ideally at the top, of search results
- It ensures you are being found under the appropriate search terms or keywords
1. Optimize your website for search engines
When it comes to SEO, you should first focus on your own website. In order to accurately portray your business information on Google, you want to properly display your website title. The title (title tag in SEO speak) is going to be the text that will appear as a link to your website on Google. This should be done on your homepage by displaying a primary and secondary keyword followed by your business name.
Your phone number should go on every page of your website, not only so that your customers have the resources to contact you, but also so that Google can index the number across your website.
For businesses with multiple locations, there should be a unique page for each location to make sure they are all indexed. The title tag on each location page should target the specific area and feature its unique phone number and address.
2. Manage your Google My Business page
When it comes to local searches on Google, having a My Business page is crucial. Information from your My Business page fuels Google Search, Google Carousel, Google Maps, and the Google knowledge graph.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your My Business page, you must spend some time making it stand out. When you create your Google My Business page, you should create a description with one or two strong keywords. Make sure that you add a profile picture, a cover photo, a link to your business’s website, and a strong description. Finally, driving reviews to your My Business page is extremely valuable. According to Google, businesses with reviews of 3 or more stars get 87% of local search clicks.
3. Update Other Important Local Directory Pages
In order to cross-reference the information Google indexes on your My Business page and website, Google runs what they call a NAP test. Your NAP, which is short for name, address, and phone number, is scanned across the major directories to ensure that the information found is consistent across the web.
The number of times your NAP appears consistently is a metric used to determine trust and popularity for your business. If your information appears incorrectly on any directories, that directory won’t be counted towards your NAP and it will lessen the probability that your business shows up at the top of the listings.
Two things that commonly hurt a business’s NAP score are the presence of old addresses and tracking numbers on directories. If you have ever been located at a different location or have multiple locations, make sure that all of your locations have an up-to-date address. Tracking numbers are great for measuring the effectiveness of various marketing campaigns, but they do not belong on local directories. Make sure that your tracking number does not appear on any local directories or they will not count towards your NAP score.
Where Do I Start?
88 percent of consumers who search for a local business will visit within 24 hours. That being said, optimizing your website’s SEO is something that you must spend some time on in order to drive traffic. Start with the free local SEO strategies outlined above and you should start to see increased traffic traffic. Update your title tag to ensure your website shows up how you want in the Google search results. If you don’t already have one, create a Google My Business page so that your business will appear on local search results. Finally, make sure that your business has a directory page on sites like Yahoo, Yelp, Mapquest and as many of the other major search directories as possible.