Local SEO & Where to Focus Now

Written by: Jason Bayless | September 01, 2016
If there’s a single thing we all know about Google, it’s that the search engine is constantly changing. While there are other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, the giant is Google. It’s where most marketers put all their efforts. Those efforts have changed as the search engine giant has too. Basic, local SEO efforts has marketers redefining their goals as they try to keep up with the search engine.

Local SEO in 2016
Recently, Google made another change to the way they display search results. Instead of the top three results at the beginning or the “top pack”, there are only two in the top results. The third is a paid advertisement.

Most everyone understands and applies the basics to their SEO efforts too. This means that local businesses have to go a step further to get ahead of the competition. With only two spots available in the top pack, people have to scroll down further to see more results. If everyone applies the same principles to their SEO, how will Google rank them?

Plan Your Goals
If you’re a motel hoping to get more customers in your beds at night, you’ll want to focus on different objectives than the local clothes boutique.

For the motel, your goals should include getting reviews on third-party websites, so you can rank when travelers are doing a search. A clothes boutique will want to provide great content on their website for fashion-conscious individuals.

Rank Organically
There are many ways that a local business can go wrong with their SEO campaign and end up in a bad place with Google. Duplicate listings of the business with different addresses is just one of them. Once you’re in a good place with Google and your SEO is near perfect, you can rank higher than other local companies with traditional means.

Ranking organically means optimizing the content on your website. Focus on the searchers that do come to your website, not the ones you’re trying to get to view your business. Many business owners forget that there are people behind those keyboards clicking on the links that do rank.

Reviews for the Business
The reviews on your website are what help you rank in search engines, but they’re also the driving force behind the reason you have visitors to your site. Bad reviews or no reviews can be detrimental to your business.

It should be easy for customers to leave reviews, and you should be asking for those reviews each time a customer interacts with your business.

Review Links and Portals
Whether it’s a review widget on your website or a system like Infusionsoft that will email out review requests, you should have a system in place to gain reviews. Those reviews should be added to your website.

Customers want to see those reviews, but they have to be genuine reviews. Potential visitors won’t visit a company that only has one five star review. It’ll look like a fake review. There should be plenty of reviews for consumers to read to make a decision about your company. That’s why you’ll need to really go after those reviews.

Genuine Local Links
Instead of worrying about dozens of bad links, your business can see a jump in rankings with a few great links. Search for your city’s name in the search engine. If the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau comes up in the search, those are sites you can join. Forums and directories about your city are a good place to join too.

Participate in community events in a way that will get your company’s name in the local paper. That means it’ll be online too. You could sponsor an entire event in your community, or start a new event if one doesn’t exist. These are authoritative links that will rank you higher naturally.

With everyone focused on basic, local SEO efforts in 2016, you’ll need to go a step further and ensure you have a system for gaining reviews. Genuine links from authority sites are vital for ranking too.