November 19, 2014

How to Improve Your Local Search Results

How to Improve Your Local Search Results

Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard, speaking from a purely technical standpoint.  It’s mostly hard work, and just using white-hat techniques Google says to use. Sure, there are some things you can do to get more out of what you do, but just remember the bottom line when it comes to SEO:  focus on providing value to people who visit your website.

Most small business owners are so time-strapped, that they just don’t do these basic things that could greatly improve their Google local search results:

Consistent NAP Use

Your name, address, and phone number (your “NAP” information) must be 100% consistent across the web.  You see, Google trusts websites and businesses that have been around longer.  They want your website to be much like your physical business location – always in the same place, and easy to find.

One mistake you might make is to use “Suite” instead of “Ste.” when entering your NAP information online.  You can use either way, but just make sure it’s exactly the same. You can check it here to see what I mean.

Regularly Produce Content

Many business owners seem to understand blogging is important.  But because they’re strapped for time, you can often visit their website and see one update made 2 months ago, one 6 months prior to that, and nothing else. I’m not criticizing here (because I am also guilty), just discussing the facts.  You don’t have to go crazy with content.  About one 800-1000 word blog post per month does the job.  But, the more you do, the better.

And if you want to get highly active social media profiles and build a community that comments on your blog, you’re going to need several blog posts per month.

Have a Nice, Clean, Modern-Looking Website

This is important for SEO for a few reasons:

If your website looks too old, people might think you’re not in business anymore.  If they click on your website, look at it 2 seconds, and then leave, in technical terms, this is called a “bounce.”  If the percentage of people who bounce off your website gets too high (greater than 50% or more), Google might think your website isn’t a match for what they’re looking for.

Then, your rankings will take a hit.

The second important aspect of a website is how fast it loads.  A second or less is ideal, while 2 seconds or less does the job.  Google views a fast-loading website as offering a good user experience, and it wants those websites at the top of its rankings.  Slow load time also affects sales.

Digital marketing thought leader KISSmetrics conducted a study, which found sites that take around 4 seconds to load lose around 22% of their sales right off the bat.  That number falls to about 10% at 2 seconds, and 3% or so at 1 second.

Third, your website should be “responsive” in design.  That means it displays perfectly on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.  Google’s actually endorsed responsive design publicly, and it doesn’t too often make it publicly and distinctly clear what it wants from websites and SEOs. If it’s not responsive, at least make sure you have a mobile version of your site.

Finally, you also have to use the minimum amount of code behind the scenes to make this happen.  That’s highly technical so I won’t go any further into it, but know that less is more when it comes to code, and that websites have to be designed with SEO in mind from the start.

An example of a good website would be:

Looks modern

Simple, easy to navigate menu at the top

Good use of color to keep things interesting, without going overboard

Very fast load speed

Logo in the upper left tells you who they are and what they do immediately

Claim Your Google Places Account & Get Active on Google+

Here’s an article on how to if you haven’t yet. Also, a regularly updated G+ business page with a few social media posts monthly, could help increase the number of people who have you in their circles, and also potentially help you get more social shares (which are a significant ranking factor for Google these days).  Here’s a detailed post on a simple social media strategy time-strapped SMB owners can use.

Get Online Reviews

I wrote a whole post about getting online reviews.  Not only are good reviews a booster for your search rankings, but reviews allow you to do market research and see what about your business needs to improve to make your customers happier.

If you have a misbehaving employee, long wait times, or a product that breaks too often, people aren’t afraid to let you know online.  If you ask for feedback in-person, most customers are less truthful because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

You want to be above at least 4 stars, and ideally 4.5 stars or more.

So as you can see, although the website coding tip is fairly complicated, most of these are not.  Internet marketing is more about providing value to your website visitors and doing consistent hard work than anything else.

SEO
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