If you’re like most people, you’ve done your fair share of local searches in an effort to find something, be it for a local restaurant or even a roofer. Whatever the reason for the search, you made one. Likely you’ve seen the ads that cover the top of the page, especially since Google removed the ad sidebar. You’ve noticed the large map as well with local businesses. They may even have some good rankings and show up in the organic listing below the map. Local searches have a lot of options available to the person looking.
The way that you perform a search likely differs from the way other people search and by this I mean that what some people look for may differ from what you look for. However, statistics show that about 92% of people look at online reviews of businesses before they commit, according to a BrightLocal survey. A business’s reputation can be more important that the product or service being sold. Reviews are important, though there are plenty of other things that you need to be aware of if you want to succeed in the local search results.
Go the extra mile for your local SEO
When it comes to competition, you want to do better than them, not on par with them. In the local space, this means that you want to make sure that you’re using Schema markup regularly and properly, that you’re working on getting organic ranking improvements through SEO, make sure that your business listings are all accurate, and get some quality links, just to name a few. Taking each step seriously will certainly help put you above your competition to where they’ll have to step up their game if they want to compete with you.
Make Use of Schema Markup
First, don’t fret about not knowing what to do here as Google has created an easy-to-use tool called the Structured Data Markup Helper. With this tool, you’ll be able to quickly and easily create your Schema code that you’ll then simply paste into the <head> of your page. Once you’ve created your code, placed it in the right location, you can test the Schema using the Structured Data Testing Tool. Schema is very useful in making sure that Google has the correct data about your business such as emails, phone numbers, addresses, and of course, reviews.
As the header states, embrace reviews as they can be a big help to building your business. It can be difficult to figure out what you want to do in this area, however, creating a strategy together is a very good idea. You definitely want to make sure that you’re providing a quick and appropriate response to negative reviews and the Schema markup is in place. As stated, many people searching for local businesses will take reviews into account, even if they just see the stars as compared to reading the reviews, people may avoid your business if there aren’t any stars or if you have only one or two stars.
Check Your Business Listing Information
The first thing you’ll likely want to do is get rid of duplicate listings in Google My Business (GMB). You can check out this site for some help in that area. You’ll then want to make sure that all of your data is correct and that isn’t always easy. Thankfully Moz created a free Check Listing Tool for people to do just that. You want to make sure that Google doesn’t have any doubts about your information and the best way to do that is to fix everything that Google sees so that Google sees only what is accurate about your business.
Build Your Organic Rankings
Taking care of everything else is great, however, if you’re website doesn’t have a great user experience (UX), or isn’t ranking for much or anything, then you’ll want to work on that. Freshen up your main pages, creating additional content that focuses on the main point of that page and work on those meta items (titles and descriptions). A lot of effort doesn’t need to be spent here unless the site really needs some heavy work, though one important piece here is to make sure that you’re website loads fairly quickly as that can be a big negative factor on your local SEO.
Get Some Good Links
For this, you’ll want to develop a good social strategy as you’ll want to engage people with your website to get people to link back to you either through social sites or their own sites. This is likely one of the tougher aspects, but it is definitely a very important one. A lack of good links coming to your site is a flag for Google that either people don’t trust your site or that you’re not important enough to people. Other options here include getting links from local websites for various reasons up to an including your support of local events.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Once you’ve done all of those things listed above, you’re well on your way to being one of the top local businesses in your area, if not the best. There is a lot of hard work that goes into being one of the best, though it is absolutely worth it once people start to come to your website or your business and you see the benefits of that hard work. Spend the time it takes to get your business information correct, your website running smoothly, and you’ll be in great shape.
The next steps are really to just maintain all of that hard work, continue to be active in your website SEO, your social activities, and to always be looking to provide the best customer service you possibly can so that you can continue to receive those high ratings and reviews. You’ll be happy to have done all of this and so will your customers when they find you and see just how great you are.
–Doyle Clemence, Manager of SEO