Remember when your small business had to be in the Yellow Pages? When was the last time you used that big fat book to find a business listing? Exactly. These days, if you want new customers to find you, you have to be at the top of the Google search results page. Utilizing Google Local to help get you there is key. If you are unsure what Google Local is, or how to be included in the round up, let’s cover some basics to get started.
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In his Search Engine Journal article “Local SEO: How to Stay Competitive in Google’s Local 3-Pack,” Matt Southern dives deep into this arena.
As an example, try a quick Google search that would pertain to your local area, such as “seafood restaurant.” You will instantly get a handful of results that are within a hop and a skip away from you. You may also notice the list of top relevant results have gotten shorter. It used to be a “7-pack” and now it’s a “3-pack” of top hits (with an expandable section if people choose to read below the fold), making this spot pretty invaluable to local businesses. However, it’s not about wanting the 3-pack that gets you there; it’s dependent on your business and the searcher’s location. While this may not be the most ideal news, you can have plenty of control to influence your local business ranking on Google, with some key pieces of advice taken from the author’s article and explored below.
Know your main objective: If you want to be found, your primary focus should be feeding Google with all the information about your business that it needs. This should include several key areas, outlined specifically below.
Local search page content: Google needs to know where your business is physically located to be useful, so consider creating separate pages for each location you are in, but make sure the copy is unique and not duplicating. And, make sure these pages each have the right Google map and contact details like address and phone number.
Off-page signals: On-page optimization is half the battle, so you’ll also want to strengthen your off-page signals. How does this work? Consider solidifying your presence on local directories, utilizing helpful guidance from tools like SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker that identifies the best ranking directories for specific keywords. Once you get the listings, make sure they are consistent (different phone numbers will confuse people fast) and make sure to monitor the listings to see if they are working.
Google Maps listing: If your business shows up in a top-tier result, it needs to have the soup to nuts of information including your address, phone number, store hours, and reviews. Since reviews are so important to prospective customers, try your best to get your top people to leave positive reviews. If they are hesitant to leave a good one, it’s a great opportunity to see if there is a way to turn a negative into a positive before you take a hit in a public forum.
Local reviews on prominent sites: Take some effort to build up your presence on important review sties like TripAdvisor and Yelp, and be sure to keep a steady pulse on these pages to see what’s being said.
Offline marketing links: There are so many things you can do to boost your visibility that aren’t done online. While getting the golden goose .edu link is harder said than done (Google puts a weighted emphasis on these), you can support local charities and non-profits beyond financial contribution (instead, think about how your unique skill sets may help them move the needle), or join a local Chamber of Commerce. These all could lead to backlinks to your website.
Local backlinks: If you aren’t sure where to start on backlinks, start with your competitors. Tools like SEO SpyGlass can help determine the comparison between your backlinks and theirs, giving you some major inspiration for paths maybe not considered beforehand.
Where Do You Stand?
If you are a local business that offers products and services to the local community, what influence do you feel like Google Local has had on your organization? Have there been additional strategies not covered in this article that have helped improve your ranking?
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