The search engines have changed drastically over the last couple of years. Google, in particular, are adamant about delivering local search results and this makes it important for local businesses to get their websites ranked for relevant searches. For some local businesses, not having a presence in the local search results can mean losing market share to their local competitors and even losing existing customers. But what can you do to actually improve your local rankings? Here are some strategies that can help.
1. Aim for Low Competition But Relevant Search Terms
Many local businesses make the mistake of trying to rank for competitive search terms like “Boston restaurant.” It’s a better idea to brainstorm other search terms that local users may be entering and see if you can rank for them. Search terms like “French restaurant in Boston” or “Boston French BYOB” can be great alternatives in this particular example. It’s not a bad idea to rank for competitive search terms but it will take a lot of time and effort to get to the top positions. It’s better to start out trying to rank for specific search terms relevant to your business as the ROI will justify your investment into local SEO.
2. Ask for Real Reviews from Real Customers
Reviews influence your local search rankings, so it’s recommended that you ask your customers for them as long as you can provide a great experience. If customers are satisfied with your product or service, ask them to give you feedback on Yelp and Google+ local. One of the things that make a search listing stand out is its review. Even if you have several websites that are ranked higher than yours, users will be more likely to click your listing if it shows that you have a higher review rating than the other websites. This article by Search Engine Journal shows how important reviews are: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/increasing-local-reviews-integrating-offline-marketing-tactics/89415/
3. Create and Optimize Social Media Profiles
Even though Google denies that social media presence affects your search rankings, there have been numerous experiments that prove otherwise. That’s why you want to create Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts for your business. You also want to make sure that you optimize them with the keywords you want to rank for and keep your business name, address, and phone number consistent across all platforms. Building followers on these social media accounts also seem to influence rankings, so it’s worthwhile to put some effort into social media marketing.
4. Get Your Website on Business Listings
Local signals or citations have always been a core part of ranking in the local search results. However, it’s important to focus on authoritative, quality citation sources according to Search Engine Land: http://searchengineland.com/survey-quality-of-citations-matters-more-than-quantity-171845. A survey of search experts revealed that citations are critical to local rankings and quality is of utmost importance. It’s also recommended that citations should be built over time rather than in mass numbers.
5. Create an Outreach Campaign
Citations are important but links will also help your website rank higher in the local search results. To get links, you want to create an outreach campaign. Try to find a list of local websites that are authoritative or have relevance to your business. From there, try to see if you can offer value in exchange for getting listed on these websites. Some great ideas include submitting guest content, offering a feature on your website in return, or asking for a mention in social media. Like citations, quality is more important than quantity.
Keep in mind that SEO isn’t suited for all business owners. Many business owners simply do not have the time to learn how to improve their search rankings and manage a search campaign. In this case, it’s best to outsource the campaign to a company that is capable of doing a good job. We some reviews you can use to distinguish from many of the leading service providers that are out there offering these types of services.