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Local Business: You Are Who Google Says You Are

Kathleen Burns
Local Business: You Are Who Google Says You Are

When was the last time you clicked past the first page in a Google search result? Think back to when you needed to find something in your local area and had a specific need for something close by you that had good reviews. You typed in the location and a keyword or phrase, hit enter and then you browsed what came up.

Chances are you didn’t extend your search past the first ten that show up since you have no need to continue looking – you already found something relevant on the first page.

Customers trust the businesses they see on the first page due to the following assumptions:

  • The results are all relevant to the words inputted into the search bar.
  • The results have extensive traffic, so they must be good.
  • The reason the results are popular must be that services are exceptional.

This why businesses work extremely hard to show up within the first ten results in Google – they want to attract more customers. Although those assumptions have very little to do with how the businesses rank in search results. Instead, businesses spend time on proper search engine optimization to show up in the results as well as doing everything that Google likes such as mobile-friendly websites, image optimization, and filling out and claiming their local listings.

What are you doing to ensure your local business shows up on the first page?

Mobile First, Mobile Friendly

On April 21, Google enacted their mobile-friendly update on all mobile searches. What this means is that your business website might have a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. Although Google has assured that they will re-process your website once you switch to mobile-friendly, you will temporarily lose your place in Google rankings on mobile devices.

This is unfortunate for local businesses in particular, since customers are more likely to look for your services from their smartphone or tablet when they are out and about.

The mobile-friendly update includes the following changes:

  • Only affect your search rankings on mobile devices.
  • This affects all search results in every language.
  • Only applies to individual pages, not entire websites.

Visual Content is Key to Brand Visibility

Image-based search engines like Google Images can generate a significant amount of website traffic for a local business. People might be searching for a particular term, service, or keyword that relate to your business. However, if you have images on your website that are not properly optimized for search engines, no one will stumble upon your business.

Communicating important details about your images will improve a search engine’s understanding of your images and boost your image search performance. Know what keywords you are targeting for ranking and include the in the file names of your images. It’s the file name’s information that helps search engines understand what the images are about.

Since search engines can’t see images, they rely heavily on the information in the alt tag to help them understand the image as well as using the file name. The alt tag is the alternative text that shows if the image can’t be displayed. This is why it’s important to be descriptive about the image!

In addition to having an alt tag, be sure to reduce image file sizes to increase performance as well. Speed is a recognized Google search ranking factor, so how fast your website responds when opening pages is important – remember that most of your customers are finding you through their mobile searches.

Claim Your Local Listings

85% of consumers said they read at least 10 online reviews before they decide to trust a local business.

Google+ Local is one of the most powerful resources for reviews for a local business owner. It’s simple to set up – all you need to do is make a page under Google+ Local and anyone can review your business. This is one of the biggest advantages you have for search engine rankings; any time someone “Googles” your business, the search results will appear with the number of reviews your business has generated, along with the user review rating on a 5-star scale.

Not only do you build trust for your business, you validate your position in the rankings based on the words of previous customers backing your services.

Play by Google’s Rules

If you want a chance of increasing your local business rankings and show up on the first page, it’s time to strategize your brand’s presence online. Google is not the only search engine out there, but it is the one most widely used and trusted by people all over the world. Play by Google’s rules and you should see an increase in your brand’s visibility and sales!

What do you find when you Google your business? Let us know in the comments!

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Kathleen Burns is a former Community Manager of SEMrush.
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