Updated: May 3, 2020
How do searchers find you online the first time when they need you?
Are potential customers confused by their search results when trying to find your business?
How many chances do you think they'll give Google before they simply give up?
Local SEO is how you bring your business presence to customers online when they're looking for it.
As an Allentown SEO company that works with many local businesses, we understand the world of local SEO is confusing and ever-changing.
Gain a competitive edge and boost your local SEO quality with these five facts no one told you about.
#1 Google Updates Google My Business
In little more than four years since its launch, Google My Business has transformed from a basic directory listing to a customer engagement and information platform.
Businesses can now directly respond to customer questions, create eye-catching posts and even display videos.
Here are a few ways you can take advantage of these updates:
Be responsive to Q&A posts. Google pays attention if your company interacts with current or potential customers on Google My Business. Answer questions thoroughly and invite the asker to further discuss the issue by giving your company a call or sending an email.
Take advantage of posts. Like Facebook posts, Google My Business posts should be short, helpful and contain a high-quality image. Posts display like clickable ads within your GMB listing, so make the most of them.
Invite customers to take action. Do you offer online ordering? Have a menu to display? Want visitors to book a reservation? Google My Business now allows to do so directly within your profile instead of clicking away to a different site. This is a great way to capture leads while you have their attention.
Photos and Videos. In the past month we have added 23 new Google My Business accounts and their competitors had not even 2 photos on the account. Pure laziness or uneducated - if it's the second one you can join our Get Your Business Online workshops
#2 Local Businesses Need Citations
Citations help Google determine how to rank your business in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Of course, your rank in SERPs helps customers decide if you're the business they're seeking, whether your brand is trustworthy and how relevant your business is to their search term.
5% of local businesses don't have any of the most popular citation sites. For tradesmen, this is 18%
Mastering local SEO, is that you appear above the Google SERP fold - No Brainer Right!
Though no one has exactly created a blueprint on how to accomplish this, studies show that the average number of citations local businesses in the top 3 positions have is 85.
What about picking which citations have the highest impact on Local SEO?
Businesses in the hotel, restaurant, bar, dental and medical industries had the greatest number of citations at more than 100 each.
Here are two ways you can boost your brand's citation count:
Standardize and proof your business listings. Review your existing business listings and local SEO strategy. Is the name, address and phone number standardized across all profiles? Proof your listings to ensure information is consistent and error-free.
Claim profiles on a variety of sites. Don't stick to only social media and industry-specific sites. Research has shown that sites like Yelp, Mapquest, YP, Manta, Yahoo!, Superpages and Whitepages second only to Facebook as the leading source of citations.
Make every new citation unique. Do not just keep coping and pasting 120 and 500 character descriptions from one to the next. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong - we would all say that's the easy way - right!
Local businesses who rank in the top 10 positions in Google Local have an average 81 citations
#3 Fake or Biased Reviews
Particularly when a prospective customer finds your brand online, the presence of fake or biased reviews can be a huge turn off.
Prospects consider the opinions of existing or previous customers before choosing to do business with your company.
Fake or biased reviews can seriously hinder your brand's ability to both rank highly in Google and convert prospects into customers.
Read Google's review policies. Google allows businesses to flag fake or biased reviews if they expressly go against Google's review policies. By understanding what the policies are, you're more likely to get the review removed when you reach out to Google via social media or the forum.
Don't flag legitimate negative reviews (and don't respond negatively, either). Ah, negative reviews. No one likes them, but the best brands use them as an opportunity to wow customers and turn the experience into a positive situation. Other people will see how well (or not) your brand responds to negative reviews, so keep the negative reviews intact but use them as a way to showcase your commitment to customer service.
Monitor third-party review sites. Review signals account for more than 10% of identified ranking factors. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Yellowpages and the Better Business Bureau are a few of the most important and authoritative hubs for online reviews.
#4 UX is More Important Than Page Load Speed
You get it. Page load speed is important. It's important for web browsers and mobile devices (not to mention that cumbersome bounce rate).
But, even more important than page load speed is customer experience.
The design and navigation of your website tells both Google and visitors how to look at your site and where to go.
Consider the following when reviewing your site:
Are visuals eye-catching and relevant to the surrounding content?
If your visitor has a question, how can they get support?
Are there any broken or dead links?
Is your most popular content easily accessible?
#5 Not Just Content, Great Content
When it comes to content, always remember that a pawn can checkmate a king.
You can have 1,000 pages of useless content, but one page of helpful, informative content will always be worth more (to Google and readers).
Create valuable content that your audience will read and share.
Google views content your audience thinks is valuable as worthy of high rankings. Keep the following in mind when building your site's content:
Keyword research. We're not talking about keyword stuffing of the black hat SEO era; we're talking about phrases your target audience are likely to search for online.
Audience personas. Who is searching for you? What do they do, where are they and what are their pain points? Don't create content for everyone. Create content your audience cares about.
Content diversification. No one wants to read 100 pages of text only. Similarly, image-rich content needs to have subtext. Diversify your content with a mix of visuals and text.
Answer specific questions with content. A single page of content shouldn't attempt to explain who you are, why you're in business and why customers love you. Focus on answering one specific question with each page of content.
#6 Local SEO Needs Links and Social Signals
Whew! You almost made it to the end. Before you go, here's a bonus tip: Social signals matter to your customers and Google.
Does that mean you need to be a social media maven to excel at local SEO?
Not at all.
Here is what you do need to do:
Claim business profiles on major social media channels. This includes the biggies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Even if your business is not using each platform, claiming your business profile will ensure you're findable when your customers go looking for you.
Include an image and location, at minimum. Business profiles on social media should include a high quality image, city, state and contact information at the very least.
Link back to your site. Don't forget to include links back to your website. These count as valuable citations that can help you rank higher in SERPs.
Getting the Social Signals – The search engines want to see love… your potential customers want to see love, get the likes, get the shares - give them something that gets them engaged and talking about your business; those are your social signals
When Customers Google Your Business, What Will They Find?
Whether you're new to local SEO or in the process of tweaking your strategy to improve rankings, the tasks associated with ranking highly can quickly become overwhelming.
Don't let that prevent you from doing them.
Need help? As your local SEO company, we can build and maintain a local SEO strategy designed to keep your brand's presence front-and-center online. Contact us today!