It’s incredibly important for local business to be ‘findable’ in search engines – particularly Google, since it’s the default search engine on many mobile devices and has the largest overall market share. In today’s world, if you’re not visible on Google, you’re almost non-existent. Something a lot of local businesses struggle with is ranking well in Google for keywords relevant to their products or services. Luckily, you’ve stumbled across this blog, whether by chance, or maybe you were looking for answers to your problem.
- You’re not optimizing for mobile – Mobile search is huge, and getting huger. Desktops are quickly approaching obsolescence. People are on-the-go more and more. In fact, a recent study shows that 56% of mobile searches have local intent. Additionally, Google has directly stated that they give preference to mobile friendly sites in rankings; i.e., all other things equal between you and your competition’s site, if you have a responsive website, you’ll rank higher.
- On-page signals aren’t sending the right signals – Is your website’s meta data set to the CMS defaults? Are they unique on each page? Are they stuffed with every possible variation of keyword? Would a human be confused by the verbiage used? If you answered ‘yes’ to any/all of these questions, you’ve got some work to do. Each pages should have unique meta data, as in don’t copy the same text throughout the site. Product or service pages should have specific, relevant page titles, <h> tags, and meta description. You should also mention, via meta data, the location of your business. Here’s an example: Bad page title- “New York City Pizzeria |
Pizza in New York City | Pizzeria NYC | New York Pizza | Pizza Pies in New York City | New York’s Best Pizza”. Kind of beating it to a pulp right? Here’s what it should look like- “NYC Pizzeria | New York’s Best Pizza”. It’s simple, it fits in the character limit for the Google search result, and it doesn’t look like it was automatically generated by a bot.
- Lack of citations and NAP consistency – This should go without saying, but you need to have a Google My Business listing, and it needs to be verified and have all the correct information. And while we’re talking about having correct information, all of your citations (you should be listed on every reputable ‘listing’ site you can find) should have the same information in terms of your business Name, Address and Phone Number, as well as other details about your business like hours of operation, parking info, and anything else that might be relevant. There’s a great post by another BEMer on all the recent changes with Google Listings.
- Reviews – This one is tough, a lot of local business owners are afraid to open up the gates of the review world because they don’t want any negative feedback out there. Yes, you are probably going to get some negative feedback, no business is perfect, but it’s all in how you handle it. If you respond (and handle it properly and professionally) to a negative review in a digital setting like that and it’s out there to see, they’re much more likely to do business with you than if you had just ignored the complaint or responded defensively. Of course you’ll also need to encourage your regular customers to give you reviews, but be careful about how you do this, it’s against Google’s guidelines to offer incentives to customers for a review. More often than not, a simple “Hey, next time your on the web, would you mind reviewing us on Google”. You can make this easier by offering up a vanity URL that takes users directly to the review site similar to what we’ve done with this URL: http://www.dedona.com/review – it redirects over to the review page, but it’s familiar enough, simple to remember, and easy include on print media.
- Links – Citations and links are very similar, and most citations will provide a link to your site, but you also need to have other links out there. Local based blogs, businesses across town you might partner with for special events, that organization your restaurant catered for last month, really anything you can think of. When your looking for sites that should link to yours, the question you should ask yourself is “Does this link make sense?” If you were a user on that other site and clicked a link to your site, would you have found it helpful, or would you have wondered why the link even existed? For example, remember a while back when ‘Rick Rolling’ was a thing, linking out to the video below with a different link anchor text….it didn’t make any sense for those links to be there and just frustrated people. For examples of relevant links that are helpful to the customer, look at the in-content links earlier in this post.
If you’ve been missing the mark on any or all of these items, don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one…..and now you know how to fix your Google visibility problem! Drop a line in the comments if you have questions or comments about any of the items mentioned above. Cheers, and happy local-optimizing!