Getting found on google for local business'sIt's no secret that the internet is getting bigger every second of the day. Each day there are hundreds of thousands of new websites launched.
The internet is now a huge part of our lives but many local businesses are not taking full advantage of this.
I have put this guide together to help local business owners understand what goes into this thing they call SEO.
You'll be surprised to know it's not rocket science. There is no secret magic formula that some will have you believe especially those SEO experts that spam your mail box!
Local SEO as its known is also different to general SEO. With local SEO you are targeting a specific area rather than say a specific product.
Note: Many of the below SEO optimisations we include in our website creation and hosting package letting you concentrate on your business and building on the foundations of SEO that we lay.
SEO is not a one-shot deal
Many people still believe that SEO is something you can do once and that's it. This is not the case, think of SEO more like marketing, it's something you should be constantly aware of and working on.
Don't get pulled in by the so called SEO specialist
As noted above you will many times over, come across so called SEO specialist. There are of course those that do provide a good and experienced service but is it needed? often not, If you can work a computer and have a fair understanding of your target market and the internet then you can do your own SEO. Don't believe those SEO specialists who spam your mail box! We get at least one email a week from them suggesting they can get us to number 1 on google. Funny that we already are, they really did their homework! EDIT we got one 10 minutes after publishing this post! If you want to learn more, get it from the horse's mouth. Google has a great public channel for website owners with many helpful videos.
SEO is not a hands-off solution
If you're to take it seriously then you need to be actively involved in marketing your website on the internet. We noted above that it's not a one-shot deal. You need to be creating good well-written content across all platforms. And continue building upon this over time. Remember google is ever changing! They will always be changing their algorithms, how they rank sites and us as the website and business owners have to be aware of these changes so that we can continue to rank. Just recently google has put a huge weight on mobile friendly sites as an example. Dubbed as #mobilegeddon among webmasters, google now actively ranks mobile friendly sites in mobile searches higher than those that are not mobile friendly. You see there is no magic key, we are all in Google's hands and we have to play their game and by their rules.
How do I optimise my website for SEO?Before we get into the nitty-gritty it's important to note that there is a lot of upfront work that needs doing on your website. We like to call it the foundations, much like a house without its foundations you're likely to run into trouble. There is some groundwork on your website and code that need to be done first. SEO has many elements, It's not just about your website alone of course or if you have a facebook page. It's all of these elements put together.
Consistency is gold!
This is important, especially for local businesses! You need to make sure that you have a consistent Business Name, Address, Phone Number across the internet, also known as citations. Anywhere you list your business like directories, your social media, google business pages and your website needs to have the EXACT same Business Name, Address, Phone Number.
When we say exact we mean it. Even one letter or number difference and google sees this as not the same.
The more often Google finds your business information listed consistently online, the more it trusts that the information is accurate and it ranks your site higher in local search results. It's equally important that this information is on your website in the correct way, created in HMTL schema markup
Website structure and layout
It's important to put yourself in the user's shoes. We all know how impatient we have become as online consumers. We want what we are looking for right away. If we get slowed down by bad website design, fancy popups or slow loading websites we move on even if it only takes a second longer. The internet has made us hugely impatient!
It's important then to ensure that you have your website structured in such a way that users can get exactly what they want right away.
You will be surprised at how many users are not bothered about all the pretty bells and whistles. They just want clear concise content fast, no messing.
- Clear and to the point information on the homepage.
- A clear call to action on the homepage e.g contact us, get a quote, learn more about a service etc.
- No having to click through a tonne of links to get to what the user wants.
We're not telling the customer a story here. They want to know what service you provide, where you provide it, and how much it costs. All your customer wants to find is a cleaner that covers their area, is professional and affordable. They don’t care if you have an expensive website, that you have lived in the area for years or any other pointless information.
With this in mind, this is generally how we would suggest structuring your pages. Keeping in mind what your customer is searching for. If I were searching for a window cleaner I am more likely to be searching “Window cleaner in area” it makes sense then that you play to this, as google will list your site for that search term.
For an example, if your business was called clear view window cleaning you would want your main homepage title to be like this
Clear View Window Cleaning – Window Cleaners in area you cover.
So the searcher will search window cleaner in area and your site is more likely to come up. They are less likely to be searching clear view window cleaning if they do however you have that in the title as well!
- Window Cleaners in (one or two main areas you cover)
- Conservatory cleaners in (one or two main areas you cover)
Page URL mywebsite.com/conservatory-cleaners-area
Keep in mind we are not writing a story.
- Heading of page e.g Conservatory cleaners in (one or two main areas you cover)
- What is your service?
- What are the benefits of this service?
- How much does it cost? Or how can they get a quote
- How does it work/what methods do you use.
Google My Business
It makes perfect sense that if you use google my business the big google is likely to favour you. Here I will outline some of the important aspects of using this service which again we setup for all our customers on hosting packages.
If you want to be in the above local listings then read on. Google my business is what feeds these listings. Remember when we said above about having a consistent Business Name, Address and Phone Number? This will be the result of doing that and using the correct schema markup on your website.
In the above image, you will also see rating stars under those listings. That's because those services have gotten reviews from customers on their google business listing.
Reviews on your google business service don't affect rankings as such but they do in a round about way! Let me explain. Although these reviews are not a direct ranking factor in googles algorithm they do help with ranking.
You see traffic is a ranking factor. People tend to trust services with reviews more, especially if you have lots of good reviews. They are more likely to go with you than another listing that has no reviews. With this, you are then gaining more traffic which is a ranking factor so in a roundabout way reviews do help ranking although not directly. It's important then that you utilise your google my business page and get customer reviews.
Hold your horses, before you go spamming your link all over. The days of link building as we used to know it are far gone and actually can damage your site and reputation.
It's not to say link building is dead, we just need to do it the proper way!
Gone are the days where you could post your link all over the place, in forums, on chat sites etc. We now need to be more focused and relevant.
We would suggest local directories, use of social media linking from your social account in posts to your site as well as local groups like facebook groups.
Below is a list of the most important directories that we suggest. Remember to keep your consistent Business Name, Address and Phone Number. Of course, there are likely more but these are the main ones. Don't underestimate physical local listings in local shops etc or even local media.
I have done all this and my site is still not ranking.
As previously noted we are all in the hands of google. If you have done everything you can then there may be a few things to note.
If your site/domain is brand new it is going to take time. That time all really depends on google. It takes time to build up links for google to crawl your site and others you're listed on.
It may be that you have a lot of competition in the area you are targeting. In this case, it may be worth seeing if you can narrow down the target area. So maybe you have targeted London and all your content and pages target London. That is a huge area and if there are a lot of other services also targeting London you're going to struggle, try narrowing down your target area. It's not to say you can't still serve those areas and still list London as a whole on your site. You just need to target your pages to an area that is still within London but has a little less competition.
Google is all seeing, all doing, all knowing. Sometimes for no apparent reason, we drop in rankings or suddenly go up. This at times can be because they have updated their algorithm or that they had a glitch.
Essentially if you can do all of the above then it's over to google. Remember as noted before, SEO is an ongoing process so don't just do all of this and leave it. Continue to pursue getting reviews. Listings online and actively engaging in social media.
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A Guide To Ranking Your Local Business Website In Google
This guide will help you understand what goes into getting your local website ranking well.