Getting found online can be difficult for small and midsized businesses. We are often asked; “How can I compete with the big guys who have so much more time and money to spend on their online activities?”
The good news is you don’t have to compete with the bigger guys. If you’re a local business – the majority of your customers come from within a finite geographical area – you have a great opportunity to be found by people who are within close proximity.
That’s because Google prioritizes local search to help people find relevant businesses that are close- by.
If you concentrate on being found for these local searches, it won’t matter what the big guys that don’t operate in your local area are doing. Your goal for your online activities isn’t to beat out the top dogs; it’s to become dominant in your local trading area. Here’s how:
1. Create a “Google My Business” Profile
Google My Business is essentially a business Google+ profile. While Google+ might seem inconsequential, we assure you that it is far from.
A Google My Business Profile is crucial if you want to show up on the Google local search results.
This is an example of what comes up when we do a local search for pet grooming in Oakville: The red box shows a map of all the local results for our query. Now searchers know which local businesses are closest to them.
The green box highlights the local search results, as determined by Google. This is where you want to be. These results are in prime Google real estate on page one.
Plus, they are the businesses that show up on the map in the red box. You will notice that most of these results have Google+ pages.
Click here for more information about Google My Business pages.
2. Ensure Your Business Information Is Correct Across All Directories
Firstly, you should make sure your business is listed on all relevant (and high quality) online directories.
If your business isn’t listed, get to it!
If your business is listed, you must go through each directory listing and make sure your business information is correct and consistent. That means no alternate spellings of your business name (e.g. “My Business” vs “My Business, Inc.”), accurate hours of operation, and identical addresses.
Directories help searchers find you in two ways: 1) Anyone accessing that directory will have the opportunity to find you; and 2) Google will use that information to list you in search and to verify what you have listed on your website and on your Google My Business page.
Obviously then, your new Google My Business page should also be aligned with these directories.
Here is what your business information looks like on Google if someone clicks on your local result or searches for your specific business:
3. Google Reviews
You’ll notice in both examples that reviews are featured prominently.
The search results offer a rating out of 5 stars for each business that has Google reviews. They also give a link to read the reviews, indicating how many there are.
In the second image, you can read the first three reviews right on the search results page. If you have good reviews, this is a very powerful factor when a searcher is deciding whether to visit your website or your physical location.
Social proof and testimonials are crucial in almost all online marketing strategies.
If you can, reach out to your best customers and ask them if they could leave you a Google+ review. It really does make an impact, especially for local search; it can help you get ranked more highly in the organic search results.
Bonus: Mobile Responsive Site
Did you know about 60% of Google searches are now done from mobile devices?
If your potential customers are looking you up on their phone, you had better have a website that is responsive for mobile! These potential customers are likely on-the-go and looking for someone to do business with right now.
Google recently released an algorithm update that will clobber your website out of the mobile search results if your site isn’t mobile friendly. That means you won’t show up anywhere for those 60% of searchers who are on their phones or tablets.
Click here to learn more about this algorithm change and what you need to do about it.
>> Core Online Marketing is an outsourced online marketing agency with expertise in online strategy, lead generation, SEO, content marketing, and much more! Contact us or sign up for our free online marketing seminar.
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