For the traditional brick-and-mortar establishments looking to stay relevant in this day and age, online visibility matters more than ever.
This is even more so when you consider the fact that physical business establishments lack the versatility of businesses with no physical addresses but a strong online presence.
While visibility is important for every kind of business regardless of whether it is purely virtual or has several physical locations, you will find that physical establishments, especially those that are not particularly widespread, wholly rely on local search rankings to stay on the map.
There are guidelines which, if you adhere to them, can work wonders for your local search visibility.
Are they different from what you’re already doing?
If you’re not ranked high in your local SERPs (search engine result page) for relevant keywords in your location, then the answer is yes.
Here are 10 golden strategies to ensure that your business stays on top of Google, Bing, and other major search engines.
1. Update Your Business’ Information
One of the best ways to see just how visible your business is, is to conduct a search yourself. Then, here are some questions to ask!
What did you find when you searched for your keyword + location (Local 3-Pack vs. Organic Search)?
Where is your business’s website ranked for your search in the 3-pack and Organic Search (i.e. 1stposition, 10thposition, 1stpage, 5thpage, etc.)?
Is all the information concerning your business aggregated in one result or spread across different pages?
If you have a hard time finding basic information such as your physical address and other contact information, chances are everyone else is too.
Google’s latest update on its local SERPs has without a doubt made things a bit harder.
The modification of the “local 7-pack” view to the “local 3-pack” view translates to fewer opportunities to remain visible.
This means that to feature on the top tiers of the search rankings you have to be at your absolute best. That means building a ton of citations, niche directory links, optimizing your Google My Business profile, and increasing your reviews on your GMB page is key!
2. Fill Out the Local Listings
Since listings can always be linked back to your website, they’re always a good way to bring in more traffic.
Furthermore, filling out listings, such as citations and niche directories improves your SEO significantly by creating an identity for your business at the top of every local search result.
If your information is restricted to directories that are based on your industry, creating a listing page would not be necessary as you could just claim the available listings.
For any citations or niche directories, make sure your information is filled out completely and everything is consistent across your business for each listing. For example, business name, address, phone number, website, description, etc.
Don’t just be listed anywhere, build citations and niche directories that add value. There are a ton of directories and citations created every day. Your business should be listed in the ones that can actually send you referral traffic.
3. Create Some Buzz About Your Establishment
Now that people can find you, all that is left to do is to give them reasons to look for you.
Creating a blog gives you a platform where you can effectively communicate with your local community as the authoritative voice of the business.
It is a great way to create lasting impressions and bond with your customer base. This is where a lot of local businesses fail. They will have a SEO company blogging for them creating shallow content that won’t rank for visibility.
Google likes very detailed, informative, and insightful content. That is what the search engine likes to rank at the top, especially when indexing millions of websites that have similar content.
4. Get the Right Local Keywords and Make Good Use of Them
An integral part of making your business more visible online is using the right keywords. The Keyword Planner is an invaluable free tool for your business as it helps you narrow in on the right keywords to use in order to target your local customer base.
In addition, a great paid tool that for keyword analysis is SEMrush.
However, don’t rest on your laurels just yet because finding the right keywords is half the journey.
When it comes to local SEO rankings, quality will always trump quantity. As such, a short, effectively used keyword, even if it appears just a few times, will still get you the kind of visibility you need while saving you from over stuffing.
Think about it, how impressed would you be if you read a blog stuffed with nothing but keywords and a few sentences here and there? Not very, I presume.
Nevertheless, Google particularly hates keyword stuffing and has created algorithms such as Hummingbird and Rank Brain to better determine the intent of visitors searches to return the best search results.
Therefore, even if you stuff your content with keywords it won’t match what the user is searching for and your money or time spent won’t add value to your business.
5. Ensure Your Website is Compatible with All Devices
If you’re looking to reach a wider market, it is important that you ensure your website’s design is pervasive and suitable for use over all platforms.
Test your business’s website on a number of devices to see how smooth and responsive it is. Does it adjust to the size of each platform?
Pay special attention to mobile devices because more and more people are accessing the internet on the go.
Google is also relying on mobile website’s performance to determine overall rankings on all platforms.
For example, if your mobile website’s performance is poor, then this may affect your desktop performance as more users are searching on mobile compared to any other device.
6. Interact with Your Customers; Ask for Reviews
Sites with more genuine reviews are typically considered before those with obviously spammed positive reviews.
Asking your customers to voice their opinions on sites such as Yelp and Google My Business might seem counter-intuitive at first but the higher your positive rating, the higher Google will rank your business in the local SERPs.
There are new tools, such as Bird Eye or Reviews that Matter, which allow you to ask customers for a review when they are in front of you, allowing them to leave a review in 1 minute from their phone.
This increases your chances of getting a review when asking someone by 40%!
Then continually monitor your reviews with Bright Local across all of your review platforms, so that you are able to respond to any negative reviews in a positive way. This is important for reputation management!
7. Make Good Use of Social Media
Does your business have a bigger following on one social media site than another?
If so, ditch the poorly performing page and stick to where you’re most visible. Creating a social media page is an even better way to connect with your customers in a way that they can relate to.
8. Visual Content is Important
Having pictures of your business, whether it is the premises, the insignia or the various products you sell, could mean the difference when it comes to putting you ahead of your competitors.
Never underestimate the power of well-taken pictures.
9. Strictly Abide by Your Hours
Nothing is as frustrating for customers who decide to pop in at your establishment only to find that you’re closed early or not yet open, despite the hours indicated on your listings.
You can easily alter the opening and closing hours on your listing if you intend to change them.
10. Invest in a Mobile App
Last but certainly not least, get a mobile app for your business. It might not seem like such a necessity but according to statistical projections, businesses with perfectly functioning mobile apps are bound to be more prominent and have a more authoritative feel.
Staying visible online might seem like a daunting task if you’re not particularly well versed with its technical side. Most local business owners don’t have time to understand all of this any way. The good news is that you don’t have to undertake all this alone.
Use these vital local SEO strategies and many more to ensure that local businesses such as yours stay on top of the search rankings.