In a survey by ConstantContact, the majority of small businesses (SMBs) said it was “important for them to be found on major search sites, local search apps and directory sites.” With that, 78% believe new customers can and will find them through these sites and apps. So why aren’t SMBs effectively taking measures to increase their local SEO (search engine optimization) rankings?
Local SEO strategies are different from your average SEO campaigns. Small businesses that rely on local customers and clients for sales need to show up in Google before competitors in the same area. When your customer base begins their journey to find the right company to fulfill their need, they’ll gravitate to the top three locally ranked businesses in their area. That’s why it’s crucial for geo-specific brands to maintain top positioning.
As SEO strategists who employ tactics that help businesses increase their local rankings, we are always working toward ensuring your customers have the best user experience possible. In turn, local rankings can boost significantly for many businesses with an experienced and knowledgable SEO team behind them.
In August 2015, Google reduced the number of search results to show three local businesses rather than seven, transforming the former 7-pack into what is now the local 3-pack. There were a few reasons for the switch, the main factors being that Google is continuing its shift to a mobile-centric layout, and it’s incentivizing the use of paid keywords.
While this means fewer sales for localized businesses that don’t appear in the 3-pack, it also correlates to more business for those that rank in the first three results. This is crucial for brick-and-mortar stores. When someone types a search query looking for “ice cream shop near me” or “ice cream shop Orlando,” there will only be three shops that appear in the local 3-pack. If your store isn’t one of them, you could be losing out on some pretty big business.
So what can you do to get your business in the local 3-pack? Local SEO marketing may seem like a complicated undertaking, but thankfully our SEO experts know just where to start. See how our dedicated SEO team can help you navigate to a higher local ranking.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is optimizing individual website pages in order to rank higher and be more relevant. On-page refers to the front-end content and the back-end source code, while off-page SEO refers to links and external sources. There is a substantial amount of SEO leg-work needed on your website before you can rank highly in Google. From meta titles and alt tags to H1s and H2s, your business’ local search marketing efforts start here.
You may be solicited by some SEO companies that claim guaranteed results for dirt cheap pricing, but be wary and do your research. Many of them use automated systems to pull information from your web pages, leaving your website’s SEO information either incomplete, inconsistent or just plain wrong, which can lead to penalties. On-page SEO must be customized and tailored to your individual business and website so that the efforts are genuine and can be rewarded with high rankings. Be sure to use a reputable SEO marketing company that can deliver the qualified results your website and rankings need.
2. Consistency of Information
Your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) must be consistent not only on every page of your website, but across all mediums in which you advertise, especially third-party directories which are difficult to control. Accuracy and consistency of your NAP is difficult when you don’t have the tools to monitor your information across the Internet. According to a survey by ConstanctContact, 70 percent of SMBs say they don’t have time to manage listings on all the sites their consumers are using. This simply means that these small businesses are missing out on the “rich” content that consumers typically seek when making purchasing decisions. Having inconsistent contact information across the web begs the question: how much business could you be losing due to a wrong phone number? Well, according to Moz, NAP consistency affects more than half of ranking performance.
3. Google My Business
Claim your business page on Google My Business. Optimizing this page through descriptions, photos, reviews, categories and detailed business and contact information will help Google identify your business and its information, in addition to increasing your local search rankings.
Local reviews are crucial in maintaining credibility among your customers and standing among your competitors. Start with Google reviews and continue to build your portfolio of testimonials across Yelp and other location-based directories. The main idea we communicate to our clients and practice ourselves is to acquire genuine and relevant reviews from clients and customers. Otherwise, it’s easy to see through which reviews are questionable or forged.
5. Link Building
Local SEO relies on your company obtaining backlinks from other local websites relevant to your business. When these local companies link to your website or talk about similar things to what you do, it helps your company get on their audience’s radar. When done correctly, link building gives your business the opportunity to connect with customers from another business that indirectly aligns with yours.
In addition, link building helps boost rankings in search engines. When credible websites link to your website’s pages, it means that your content is worth sharing with its audience. The more popular you are with other websites, the more search engines want to reward you with higher rankings for providing quality information.
Boosted rankings don’t come easily. A professional and detail-oriented SEO team behind your brand can help your business navigate the roadmap to the local 3-pack.
Put your business on the map and greenlight more sales. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service Orlando marketing firm that specializes in search engine optimization. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to deliver inbound marketing strategies that put your website ahead of the competition. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your SEO goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.