Being a business owner while also keeping up with the latest Google Trends is hard.
Below I’ve listed six quick tips any small business owner can follow to improve their rankings on Google.
Before we start, let’s define local SEO. If you already know what local SEO means feel free to skip to the first tip.
Local SEO is optimizing your site to appear in the Google results for localized search terms.
Let’s say you run a bakery, most likely only people in your area or people visiting your area will be interested in visiting your bakery. Although it would be nice to show up on Google nationally for search terms related to bakeries, the visitors that matter most to you are searching specifically for bakeries in your city or town.
The good news for you is local SEO is typically EASIER than worldwide SEO.
Local SEO is generally easier than SEO done on a worldwide scale because you are not competing with the whole world but only your localized competitors. If done properly a local business can definitely see growth in popularity and an increase in customers just from having a good online presence and an optimized website.
Below we are going to go over a few strategies that almost any business owner can use to increase their presence on Google without breaking the bank.
1. Social Media
I think social media is one of the hardest thing to get right online, many small business owners have a misconception that social media can bring them a lot of traffic in a short period of time.
The truth is, social media is one of the most difficult internet marketing strategies for small business to get right and it will not result in lots of traffic overnight. In fact the opposite is usually true, social media generally will not result in much traffic at all unless you are consistent with it over a long period of time and regularly maintain it.
Nonetheless having a presence on social media is one of the first steps to making Google more aware of your business. Even if you don’t have the time to regularly post on social media I would still recommend you establish a business presence by creating an account on all the large social media sites. Having an account on all the large social media sites will further strengthen your businesses authority in Google’s Algorithm.
Many SEO companies won’t create social media pages for you, so you should be doing this even if you are hiring a SEO company to help boost your rankings.
Creating a social media presence for your business won’t result in a flood of new customers overnight. Although if you consistently post on social media you will begin to build a small but loyal fan base that will continually recommend you to their friends and family. Furthermore you will be reminding people about your business and the ways in which it can benefit them.
It is important to keep in mind that when people use social media sites they typically are relaxing. Remember to keep your social media posts light hearted and friendly.
Optimizing Your Posts for the Facebook Algorithm
As backwards as it may seem to many business owners, social media is not the place to constantly be promoting your business. Although it is a great resource to get in front of customers if you are only posting promotional content your post engagement will be low and never get seen by your fans.
Facebook’s algorithm is designed to show people content that they enjoy.
If you provide valuable information to your customers through social media about the industry you work in and your post engagement is higher more people will see your promotional posts as well.
Social Media Reviews
Arguably one of the most important parts of social media for any small business is the review section.
Make sure you ask all your happy customers to leave your business a review on your Google My Business page as well as on your Facebook page as Google pulls this data and can display it within the search results for your business.
2. Local Directories
Today there are hundreds of directories online where you can list your business for free. Being listed in these directories provides a myriad of benefits, these include:
Free Advertising: Many people visit directories such as Yelp to find businesses. Recently I visited Montreal with my brother and the first place he looked when trying to find a restaurant to visit was Yelp. The businesses that had created free Yelp accounts had all just received some free advertising. Those with positive reviews have probably translated that free advertising into paying customers.
Better Google My Business ranking: When you are listed in many directories you prove to Google that your business is legitimate and the location listed is accurate. Google compares your information across many sources online to verify that it is valid. Google takes this incredibly seriously as they don’t want to send users to the wrong address.
Businesses that are listed in many directories generally rank higher up in Google Maps when people search for them.
Better Website Ranking in the Search Results Page: If the directories you are listing your business on link to your website your website receives a backlink. Backlinks are a huge ranking factor in Google’s Algorithm and can have a large impact on how you rank on Google.
It is important that your business is listed correctly in all directories so be sure to keep your information consistent. If you are able to add a description you should be adding a unique new description to every single directory. If you are able to add photos to the directories take advantage of this as well as it can increase consumer confidence and help with your rankings as well. The more relevant the directory is to your business the better, for example a directory for bakeries would be great if you owned your own bakery or a directory for businesses located in Toronto would be great if you owned a business in Toronto. The more hyper focused the directory, the better results you will see in terms of your Google ranking increasing.
The most common directory listing mistake made by business owners
If you are listing your business in many directories it is very important to keep track of it. Create a file with a list of all the directories where your business is listed and the login details. If your business ever relocates to a different address you must update every single directory.
This is incredibly important because Google will check your address between many sites and if it is incorrect in some places you will lower the confidence the algorithm has about your location and as a result rank worse in the Google Map results. If Google has any doubt about the validity of your address and is not confident in your address it can affect you greatly.
Finding directories to list your business in outside of the large ones (Yelp, Yellowpages.etc) is often a challenge for business owners. I have compiled a list of the top fifteen directories for Canadian businesses on my site.
I may make a post about how to find the directories your competitors are using in the future.
3. Network and Connect with other Local Business Owners
This might initially seem like it does not really fit into a list of how to increase your businesses visibility on Google. Although bear with me and I’ll explain.
If you have done any research on ranking your business on Google you have probably heard about the importance of backlinks and although directories are a great way to build up your websites backlink profile your site should have a diverse variety of backlinks. Having backlinks from just one source is never a good long term strategy. Another great way to get backlinks is through a partner’s page.
A partner’s page is simply a page where you link to other businesses in your area that you want to help promote. In return usually they will also link back to you.
This is a great strategy not only because it generates a backlink and increases your sites authority in Google’s Algorithm but because it could also be a secondary source of traffic to your site.
I would not recommend having your partners page featured prominently in the header of your site because you do not want to distract your site visitors but having it in the footer is a great place to put it and creates an easy way for you to promote your friends that also own businesses.
Creating a partners page on your website can technically be considered Grey Hat SEO or even Black Hat SEO depending on who you are talking to. Although a partners page can be a great way for two businesses to both share traffic, and if you are doing it for the purpose of promoting a business that you believe could genuinely be good for your visitors it is completely white hat. It is only considered black hat or grey hat if you are solely using it to gain backlinks and manipulate the search engine results page.
4. Hyper Localize the Content for Your Site
Instead of just writing general content for your site that would pertain to the world, localize your content and write it with your target audience in mind. Use the words that are commonly used in your community, and mention the city or town that your business is located in… A lot… You want Google to know that you are a local business.
For example if you owned a bakery instead of saying:
“We bake the best cookies”
You could say:
“We bake the best cookies in Toronto”
Simply adding the city into your phrase just made a huge difference in Google’s Algorithm, you have not only informed Google that your site is relevant to people searching for information about Toronto but you have also inadvertently targeted the keyword “best cookies in Toronto” which gets 210 searches/month within Toronto and is significantly easier to rank for than just “best cookies” where you could be competing on a worldwide scale with large bloggers and recipe sites.
Hyper localizing the content on your site is just the obvious thing to do if you own a local business and something that I encourage every business to do.
5. Ask for Reviews
I touched a bit on this earlier but decided to make it its own point because it is very important. One of the first things that consumers do when picking a business to shop at is check reviews online. If you competitor has more reviews than you and they are all positive in many cases the consumer is going to pick his business to shop at.
Today even location based businesses like restaurants need to have good reviews online, people will compare the two restaurants across the street from each other on their phones before walking into one. I know this because I have seen it happen. If you are not online and you are not asking every happy customer to leave you a review you are missing out on potential customers.
Many costumers might enjoy your services but forget to leave a review, even if you ask them to. One way to try and make the process easier for customers is to add a “review” button on your site that redirects them straight to your Google My Business review page. You could also have a separate button for Facebook or Yelp reviews, so the customer has the option of using their preferred platform.
Having many Google reviews will increase your presence for localized Google searches and in Google Maps searches.
6. Start a Blog
Every business should aim to become a leader in their industry, just like how Amazon aims to be the perfect ecommerce platform or Google aims to be the perfect search engine your business should always be striving to become the best.
One way that Google looks for leaders in an industry is by looking for those that share information about an industry. Just like we expect an author of a book to be an expert in what he is writing Google expects a business that shares information about their field to be an expert.
We have seen repeatedly over the past few years that Google loves content. In the SEO community a popular saying that is often repeated is “Content is king” because we have seen time and time again that just having lots of good relevant unique content can significantly improve the rankings of a site.
If you are a local business owner and run a blog that not only keeps your customers up to date but also provides them with valuable good information you will be rewarded. Especially if you are the only business in your area that does this. A blog in many places will set you apart from your competitors in Google’s eyes and truly make you a leader in your industry.
One of the biggest mistakes I see made by local businesses repeatedly is not having enough content on their site. A blog is a great way to add content onto your site without having to stuff all your pages with too much information.
I hope that you enjoyed this massive 2,000+ word post on 6 things that you can do today to increase your local businesses visibility on Google. If you did enjoy it I would appreciate you sharing it with anyone who might also find it helpful.