When people search for your service on Google, they're only going to consider about three options. Well, at the very least they will rarely leave the first page. So when it comes to reaching potential customers through Google and other major search engines, your local business ranking is about as important as it gets. In this article, we're going to share three bonafide strategies for increasing your local business ranking, and what can happen if you approach each strategy correctly.
Ranking organically on online searches is important, especially for small businesses. Ranking highly among local business searches is especially important because this is where interested buyers look when they’re ready to make a purchase. Consider examples such as searches for “restaurants near me” or “office rental in Clark, NJ.” These types of searches indicate the searcher is informed about the product or service they need, and may be ready to buy. Not having relevant, updated information and uniform branding can hurt your chances of being seen in Google’s top three search results, even when your product is most relevant.
There are many things you can do to increase your local business rank on Google. We invest a lot of time in optimizing our clients’ online presences and driving more traffic to their businesses and websites. Our top three suggestions for increasing your business’s local Google rank are:
- Optimize your Google My Business listing
- Act smart to build positive online reviews
- Create relevant content for your business webpage that people love
Method 1: Optimize your Google My Business listing
Google My Business is a free and effective way to boost your local ranking, and its results can be immediate. While your business might already have a webpage and social media presence, Google My Business is what recognizes and categorizes it as a local business listing. If you’ve used other Google platforms like Google+ and Google Places for Business, chances are you’re already listed. If so, make sure business information is accurate and up-to-date. This includes your business description, physical address and hours of operation, which are also highly relevant for Google Maps searches. If you don’t, have one it’s easy to create a listing and will boost your business for free.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is one of the most effective ways to increase your local business rank on Google. There are several techniques you can use to optimize your Google My Business profile, including effective search engine optimization and location-specific details about your business. The more effective your Google My Business listing, the more likely you are to rank high and display accurate information on a Google Maps search as well. Google uses different platforms, and different information about your business across the web to create accurate, accessible search results. These include Google Business, Google Maps, and organic listings with relevant content and rich snippets of long-tail content.
Include relevant keywords that your customers are using. Including keywords is important if you want to reach your ideal customer. Keyword relevance is important both for professional web pages and social media accounts. Recognize the differences in the language you want to use in your formal branding, and the language your social media network uses online. Be flexible in adapting to both, and use keyword relevance optimization software for anything you publish to the internet, if possible.
Display professional photos of your business. When potential customers search for your business or local businesses like it, each listing will also have images to accompany business info. Customers often upload their own images of your business when they write online reviews. Displaying professional business photos on your page helps take control of the images that first appear in a search for your business. Professional photos can help you put your best foot forward in product images, location photos, and branding images.
Respond to reviews. Your online reviews are searchable, appear publicly, and have an immediate and credible impression on people who are searching for local businesses. Consumers tend to be swayed significantly by online reviews, so responding to them is key. When responding to reviews, keep these things in mind:
- Your tone should always be calm, professional, and kind
- Your language and approach should be representative of your brand values
- While not every review is going to be credible or articulate, it’s important that customers with complaints be heard. Even kindly redirecting dissatisfied customers to a more private method of contacting you can be received well by a review-conscious community.
- Kindly acknowledging exceptional reviews gives you an opportunity to interact with your customers and build customer loyalty. It also encourages others to leave positive feedback when it’s warranted.
Method 2: Act smart to build positive reviews
Business reviews, both positive and negative, have a heavy impact on your business’s search ranking. If you believe in your brand’s values and are passionate about the business you’ve created, that’ll likely be very clear as you start building online reviews. Positive reviews help to build your credibility and trustworthiness within the community and within Google’s search rankings. Bets of all, they’re free.
So how can you build your online presence and credibility through positive reviews? We have a few suggestions:
- Ask for reviews, especially from repeat customers. A genuine person-to-person request for reviews is always the most likely way to succeed in getting one. Finding customers for reviews is easy. Your repeat customers are familiar, comfortable with your business, and enjoying your product. Let them show the world their support for your business in their own words.
- Create a Google review shortcut link. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’ll direct your customers to exactly where they need to be to make the review writing process quick and painless. You can also make it accessible on multiple online pages as well as through email marketing campaigns for recent customers. Check out our step-by-step tutorial at the end of this article.
- Create in-person signage asking for Google reviews. Many patrons don't understand how critical good reviews are for building credibility. Asking for reviews in every person-to-person interaction may not be practical or possible, but posting review signals and review links are.
- Share a review page that has a button for your Google review shortcut link. You can do this directly on your webpage, or on your social media pages, or both! You’re simply taking the guesswork out of the online review process, and reminding guests how important it is to review your products and services.
Method 3: Write remarkable content for your website that people love
Much of your local business ranking has to do with "prominence", which Google can define using several metrics. In essence, the more activity Google recognizes surrounding your brand and website, the higher you rank. Things like likes, mentions, and sharing of your website content help you rank higher locally in a Google search.
So the question becomes, how do I know what long-form content people are likely to “like” and share? And the answers are simpler than you think.
Firstly, Google makes it easy for you to stay relevant by applying an algorithm that you must conform to in order to be seen. Marketing companies use programs that help generate relevant related search topics, topic clusters, and keywords to help meet the algorithm criteria. If you’re not a marketing company, and don’t use these programs, there are a few things you can keep in mind while creating searchable long-form content:
- Choose one or two long-tail keywords or a highly relevant primary keyword to populate throughout the user content piece. If your focus is on hardwood flooring, those keywords should be prominent throughout.
- Link internally in your long-form content and blog posts to other product pages wherever possible. Building backlinks not only generates interest, but gets interested visitors to visit other relevant internal links to your site. Make sure you're using quality link building to avoid unnatural links or language.
- Be sure to format your meta description well. Meta tags and titles, in order to create another hit point for Google. Try to use all characters that Google allows, without keyword stuffing.
- Just because you’ve optimized past content doesn’t mean it's still relevant, quality content. Because Google search topics and user content change so rapidly, returning to previous blog posts and other types of long-form content is worth the visit. Simple target keyword and topic cluster updates can help you sell the same products and services, reaching a more targeted and modern audience.
- Finally, make sure your blog posts and webpages are optimized for mobile searches! Even though we might be building our desktop content from a computer, customers are likely not. Mobile phone devices are ubiquitous and your piece of content needs to be adaptable, or it won’t be seen by mobile users.
Beyond SEO and Google’s algorithmic requirements, there are other things you can do to create remarkable content. These include responding to common customer questions publicly. These responses act in the same way as long-tail keywords for your blog posts. They keep the detailed content focused on all relevant aspects of the question, giving the searcher exactly what they’re looking for. Whether or not you directly answer consumers’ questions through your relevant content is important to Google, and your Google SEO rankings.
Create remarkable content that’s likely to be shared. It’s very likely that you, like the majority of your clients, spend time browsing the internet. Think about what appeals to you. Catchy titles that create a story arc or imply that they will answer a pressing question can help draw people in. Content that appeals to the viewer’s emotions, including joy, anger, sadness, frustration, and hope, gives social signals that are likely to enhance shareable content.
Giving your audience content that tells your story is a great way to encourage content sharing and brand familiarization. You likely have your company’s values and goals laid out for viewers somewhere in your branding. Adhere to those values and promote content that gives interested clients the opportunity to learn more about you, and potentially interact. This increases the quality of the user experience AND helps you rank higher in organic rankings.
Creating and promoting relevant content to your potential customer base is an ongoing task. Today’s consumer is interested in getting to know the brands they do business with, their priorities, and their role within the community. These are important facts to remember when creating online content you want people to love and be drawn to.
Ranking high on a local business search requires active participation. Ultimately, committing to keeping updated business information and visibility on Google is important. This might mean revisiting already published content, revamping your brand’s voice and communication style, or maybe even hiring a social media project manager to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s hot in business, and how to approach today’s online audience and prospective customers.
Keep in mind that online browsers will almost never leave the first page of Google’s search results. If you’re ranking on page two, they may never know what they don't know about you and your brand. Ranking high locally is especially important. In an increasingly globalized world, you’ll be invisible to local and online visitors if you’re not ranking in the top three search results relevant to your brand. Think of highly ranked search results as personal recommendations from the local online community.
- How do my negative reviews affect my local business rank on Google?
While negative reviews might hurt your pride and your local reputation, the truth is, the more reviews you have the better. Even bad reviews add to your visibility and the overall reviews that you’re receiving. This tells Google you’re here, you’re operating, you’re relevant and people are talking about you. It’s also a great opportunity to redirect customer interaction to a more private sphere, while responding with kindness and approachability.
- How can I create a Google review shortcut link?
First, make sure you’ve created and had verified your Google My Business account, so that you show up to Google and Google maps as a business. There are steps for that process here.
Next, create the external link:
- Go to the Google Maps Place ID Finder
- Search for your business
- Copy the place ID that comes up with your result.
- Paste your ID into the brackets in this link: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=[paste your place ID here]
Now, you can include a Google reviews page on your website or link out from your Google My Business listing. You can also use this review link on social media, along with other inbound links.
- How and where should I begin approaching my local business rank on Google?
First begin by optimizing your existing webpage, and reoptimizing previous content. If you don’t have a blog post, you should. It will increase your opportunities for ranking with relevant content. You know what customers most commonly ask about your products and brand, so start with posts that pertain to those common inquiries. Or, less common inquiries that still provide interesting insights to the industry or product.
If you’ve got a good understanding of branding and marketing, you might consider creating a plan for optimization and hiring a writer or social media manager to stay engaged with the material and customer base. These people are often well aware of optimization procedure and relevant language and formatting.
If you’re completely overwhelmed in the task or feel like you’re ready to rebrand, fret not. A good marketing company can not only redirect you toward high ranking and higher revenue, but can offer you options to fit your personal branding style. Full service marketing companies can offer a variety of optimization and branding services that don’t have to break your budget.
Splurge Media in Clark, NJ is your local branding expert (just check our Google search results) and we can help you tackle each of your optimization and content questions with confidence. If you have any more questions about local Google rankings, or are ready to watch us transform your online presence into real world revenue, contact us today to get started!