Steps 1 to 5 of how to rank better in terms of being a local business (steps 6 to 10 to follow on….)
Let’s starts this two-part article with a rhetorical question –
would you like MORE customers?
(sits back, makes more tea and dunks another biscuit)
Of course you do. Anyone running their own business would like more customers because, after all, that is what makes a business. And makes it successful.
Lessons in hard work:
- Running your own business is hard work
- Running your website is hard work
- Attracting new customers is hard work
- Maintaining this attraction so customers come back, is hard work
Add in to this mix the need for your website and online presence to be constant, consistent and up to date and you can be forgiven for thinking it is simply all too much.
But you are not the only local business to be in this position. Every day seems a struggle to get everything done but, we carry on regardless because at the end of the day, we are our own boss, we make the decision and the risks are acceptable.
Keeping on top of search engine optimisation (SEO)
A bit like keep the plug hole in the sink unblocked, staying on top of SEO updates and the like, will prevent a backlog that, all of a sudden, needs a professional or a lot of YouTube-video-watching in order to rectify it. Keeping that plug hole running clear and free from blockages stops that expensive call out to a plumber.
Keeping on top of your SEO as a local business also sees you outshine your competitors online thus, we have created 10 small-ish steps to improving your search engine rankings so that local customers find your local business…
Step 1: research you keywords
HOW will people find your local business? If you are a florist in Watford then you need to say so; if you are a speciality butcher and delicatessen in Newport, South Wales, then you need to say so.
However, we need to be careful that the obvious isn’t hidden in plain sight so take a moment or two to think about how, and what language your customers will use to find you. Google search terms are becoming a little more detailed in how they interact too, hence if a place is often known by its initials such as ‘New York City’ as NYC, it is beginning to tie these two search terms together.
You would be amazed at the number of local businesses that do not list their locality or location.
Step 2: optimise your website and content
What can happen with this step is people go from the sublime to the ridiculous; in other words, from not much content, to overstuffing every page with every keyword that they think hits their business. This looks awkward to both your customer and search engines, so stop it (if you are doing it) and don’t do it (if you are thinking of doing it).
High quality content all over you website is a the way forward, along with other soft technical such as keywords in meta titles etc. along with the other background stuff.
Some experts suggest that a ‘frequently asked question’ page is also a good for both customers and search engines too thus, if it is time to upgrade or revamp your content, then why not consider and FAQ page?
Step 3: Google Local
You will no doubt have come across these rather handy location maps when you have been searching for a business, supplier, etc. and getting your business on Google Local is an external activity to your website, but will obviously link to it, but is a great way of people being able to find your local business.
Think how you use Google… only the other week we were in a place we didn’t know, fancied a nice pub lunch, typed it in to Google and hey presto!, we found a delightful pub by the canal. Ignoring the sub-zero temperatures and the gathering rain clouds, we had at least 10 minutes of sunshine by the water’s edge and quite a nice lunch… all helped by the fact the local pub was on Google Local, and so in the corner of the tablet screen, the map bobbed up and away we went. It wasn’t far off the beaten track but you would not have known it was there otherwise.
Step 4: Local business listing websites
There are many different types, and trying to make sure you are on them all can be a bit like herding cats BUT, that said, if you do manage to list your business or update some of the information that already exists, it sends ‘good signals’ to both your prospective customers and the various search engines.
We typed in some key search terms and came up with these…
Really Moving – type in your local area, and local removal firms pop up… if you are a removal firm, are you on here?
Trip Advisor – in many ways, Trip Advisor is infamous for negative reviews that some businesses say are uncalled for, unnecessary and downright lies but, many customers are still using this website. Take a moment to surf around and you will see that the vast majority of customers are leaving helpful reviews (not always positive!).
There are many more review, business listing and location type websites, some better than others but take some time to have a look what is local to you and, more importantly, what people are using… but don’t forget to keep an eye on them, and respond appropriately to both negative and positive reviews.
Step 5: Consistency
One issue (among others…) that seems to crop up for local businesses online seems to be a lack of consistency when it comes to business listings etc. When people talk about brand, this is the kind of thing they mean.
You have a business name, a logo and a tag line – e.g. Locally – strategic thinking, creative web design – boom! Job done… keep using it.
Don’t decide to change it when you list it on Yell.com (Locally – really good web design and stuff), or on a local business directory (Locally – really good at all things website and stuff).
All these ‘descriptions’ need to be the same, over and over again… this might be ‘boring’. On that Friday afternoon when you were “doing the admin”, it might have seemed fun to add or embellish your business description… but it does impact on how all the search engines look at you.
These changes and differences in descriptions and tag lines could be damaging on your online search results.