Crafting a strong online presence that has your company appearing in local business searches is no longer optional if you want your business to survive amidst a pandemic. It is not a popular thing to hear because it demands an investment of time search engine optimization (SEO), but we are in the business of solving problems and successful SEO solves this problem. Local seo is becoming a big cog in any business digital marketing machine.
I was speaking with a new small business owner earlier this week who said he couldn’t understand why his successful brick and mortar business was struggling to bring in online sales when it had an existing website and a strong customer base.
While I sympathized with his situation, his comment raised a red flag. The mere existence of a website is not enough to ensure visibility and sales when the whole world is fighting for online business. It takes a solid SEO strategy for webpages to rank on Google and show up in online local business searches.
After a quick inventory of the owner’s current marketing methods and several Google searches, the problem was clear.
• His strong customer base was no longer able to enjoy a personal shopping experience due to coronavirus restrictions which would likely require a pandemic pivot in terms of business strategy.
• A definitive lack of SEO was keeping the company’s website pages from ranking and reaching new customers via online local business searches. In other words, the website was largely only accessible to people who already knew the address.
In order to compete for new sales that will sizably grow your revenue stream, it is crucial that your company’s name appears in online local business searches. The best way to do that is to invest in best SEO practices.
WHAT IS A LOCAL SEO ANYWAY?
When an individual searches Google for let’s say “bakery,” the results provided by the search engine are formulated to be as relevant as possible. This means it typically spits out results based on location. So this is the general definition, but there are several different kinds of search results:
• Organic Search Results: These results yield unpaid listings of businesses that made their way onto that list by simply using SEO best practices.
• Paid: Some results will appear if a company paid for an advertisement through the search engine. These are usually marked with the notation of “Ad.”
• Google Specific: It is possible for other results to appear because companies are a part of Google My Business or Google Guaranteed Listings. Google My Business results are usually displayed in a box under a map while Google Guaranteed Listings are listed in text boxes with the word “sponsored” appearing just above them.
Obviously, the more a company invests in one or more of these methods, the more successful it will be at getting the name of their business in front of potential customers.
5 TIPS TO MAKE SURE YOUR COMPANY APPEARS IN LOCAL BUSINESS SEARCHES
To give you an idea of what SEO best practices might look like with the end goal of having your company appear in local business searches in mind, I put together a list of five of the basics we recommend to our clients:
1. List the business’ contact information on the website and it is consistent.
2. Weave SEO into every element of your website.
3. Ensure the home page meta title and description are functional.
4. Put your company’s name in appropriate business directories.
5. Make the most out of Google My Business.
LIST THE BUSINESS’ CONTACT INFORMATION
While it may seem like a no-brainer to make sure your business’ name, address, and phone number is listed clearly on the website, it has hidden value beyond the obvious. The address of your business gives Google clear information about your location which if you remember is one of the key methods Google uses to provide relevant results to searchers.
Include your address and phone number in a footer so that it appears on every page of your site. Don’t forget to create a “Contact Us” page for your website and list the same information there.
Once that is done, take the time to search your business on Google. Make sure any results that do come up do have the correct contact information. Even if one digit is off on a street address or zip code, it could skew results provided to online searchers. If you do find an incorrect listing, reach out to that entity and have the information corrected as soon as possible.
USE SEO BEST PRACTICES THROUGHOUT THE WEBSITE
The thing about SEO is that it isn’t a technique that can be used on only one page or in one department. To truly optimize it, SEO best practices should be woven into every aspect of a website. It makes it more functional and attractive to search engines that then put your information in front of potential customers.
Keep in mind that SEO helps Google better rank a web page. But how many web pages does your website have? One ranked web page is better than none, but the more ranked pages your website has, the more Google will sit up and take note. Better yet, the more ranked web pages your site has, the easier it will be for customers to find you.
Still not convinced? Search the name of your business now and see how many results Google spits out. Now, search “Vertical Web” and see what kind of results you get. Every single entry on the first page of results is either to our website or a listing of our company in a business or social networking directory. See the difference? This is what a website built with SEO can do – pun totally intended.
DOUBLE CHECK YOUR HOME PAGE’S META TITLE AND DESCRIPTION FUNCTIONALITY
Before we get too far into this one, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. A meta title is essentially bits of HTML code in a web page’s header. Translation, a meta title is designed to help a search engine know what a web page is about.
A few things to keep in mind when creating a meta title:
• Be intentional. It typically appears in search engine results, so make the meta title count. It may also show up in other places such as social media.
• Keep it relevant. A meta title should not be a cutesy phrase or gimmick. It should precisely reflect what a web page is about.
• It can be a marketing tool. If the meta title accurately tells searchers what your page is about, it can also be a tool for attracting new business.
A meta description is basically a summary of the meta title. A functional description includes what services you provide and motivates searchers to visit and click around your website.
Any SEO company worth their salt will tell you, that the right keyword placement within meta titles and descriptions can significantly help weigh the scales in your favor. This is just another example of why SEO needs to be woven through the entire website.
ENSURE YOUR COMPANY’S NAME IS VISIBLE IN DIRECTORIES
Once your company’s address and contact information are listed on your website for customers and Google alike, it is time to take the next step. Let Google do its thing, while you do yours which is getting your company’s name out there on the World Wide Web. While Google does pull search engine results based relevance including addresses, seeing that a business is out there on the web in multiple places can translate to credibility to your company online and off.
Some practical ways to increase your online presence can include:
• Join a Chamber of Commerce
- List your company in relevant local, national, or industry-based business directories.
• Create a company profile on Facebook and use it weekly at a minimum.
• Include your business in resource listings such as Yellowpages and Angie’s List.
• List your business with companies that review other businesses such as Yelp.
MAKE GOOGLE WORK FOR YOU
I mentioned before that some Google search results can be attributed to the search engine’s special services such as Google My Business. The first step to breaking in to this arena is to create a Google My Business page. Because the page has to be verified by Google to be eligible, it may increase the chances of it showing up as a top result in both organic searches and those specific to Google My Business.
Just like having a company Facebook page is only helpful if you use it, the same concept applies to a Google My Business page. To keep this page current and active, consider adding the following features to it:
• Display unique photos.
• Include posts from your website.
• Get customers to review your page.
• Craft a frequently asked questions section.
Another way to make Google work for you is to pay for search engine ads or participate in the Google Guaranteed program.
This is a very top layer list, it’s a good start for getting your company name to appear in online local business searches. And if you need a little help beyond this, please leave use questions below and we will answer them.