Part 3 in an 8 part series
Understanding Local SEO: a great way for a small business to grow
Being based out of a smaller metropolitan area like Albuquerque, New Mexico, coupled with our tech-based careers, Sistemo has the unique privilege of experiencing both hi-tech modern-day life as well as a slower-paced community lifestyle. With a high percentage of small businesses driving our local economy, we have first-hand knowledge of how to help grow a business beyond a local mom and pop shop.
Gone are the days of using the yellow pages and newspaper ads to drive traffic to your local brick and mortar store. With over 75% of Americans owning smartphones, local businesses now more than ever before need to create a web presence to grow physically, to increase local traffic, to close more deals, to get more sales. With over 85% of local business searches beginning with a google search, and with google quickly taking over the local services industry across the U.S., successful use of local SEO is becoming a hot commodity. I would recommend small businesses obtain three high profile links, register with google, and complete citations at various directories to maximize on your local SEO.
Obtaining high profile links
Link building is no easy task. I wish there was a true and tried the formula for getting other legitimate, influential businesses to link to your site. What I recommend is producing high-quality relevant content with a professional design so other companies are impressed and feel good about having an online association with your site and your brand. Additionally just to create links and get the ball rolling, go through your contacts. Review your list of business clients or identify other businesses that you work with on a regular basis and have developed a rapport with and ask them to take a look at your site. Offer to link to their site and have them a link to yours. Go that extra mile for a special accreditation in your field, engage in charitable work with a respected and well known non-profit and ask for these companies to link to your site.
For example say you have an electrician business. Some proactive actions you can take as a company might be to become an approved contractor for the state electrical utility. Here in New Mexico, PNM, our state wide electric utility offers small businesses rebates and discounts if your business reduces its electrical expenditure. PNM offers a list of approved contractors that businesses are required to use to get approved for rebates. By taking initiative and getting the PNM certification you can now have PNM link to your website, greatly improving your local SEO. If you can brainstorm and find two but preferably three well respected high profile businesses to link to your site you will guarantee a jump up in your local SEO ranking. Remember external links are like a stamp of approval from a third party and are one of the top three ranking factors Google uses.
Note: SEO SpyGlass is an online tool that lets you analyze your competitor’s backlinks and quickly compare their relevance to your backlinks with its domain comparison feature
Register with Google My Business
No matter what your line of work, it is imperative for every business to sign up with Google my Business. Signing up is free and after registering with google your business is now eligible for inclusion in the search results local people in your area conduct via google search. Google recommends filling out all the fields provided accurately and completely. Google also encourages businesses to verify their locations, list accurate hours of operation, add photos of your business, and respond appropriately and timely to customer reviews.
Although Google won’t reveal exactly how they rank businesses, Google has stated that relevance, distance, and prominence are the three major contributing factors in local results. Relevance – how well the result satisfies the query, distance – how far the service business is from you. Prominence is defined by how established your business is in your industry. Google has developed algorithms that illuminate each major cities local business landscape. Businesses that dominate their industry are reflected accordingly by google for each local service area covered.
Google launches local lead generation business through its local service ads campaign.
Google has expanded its services to local lead generation for service industry businesses that people need locally on a day to day basis. Local businesses like a house cleaner, painter, electrician and pet groomer are just a few examples of the types of service-oriented professions that will benefit from local service ads. Unlike pay per click advertising, local service ads only charge you for every service call you receive through the google platform. The cost varies from $6 to $139 per lead generated service call. Many local businesses who have participated in google local service ads have had very positive results. Customers are raving about the new ad campaign, indicating a noticeable increase in volume since starting. Currently, Google Local Service ads are in 78 metropolitan areas across the U.S. and are providing lead generation for over 30 service-related industries. If you are in a local service industry google is the lead generator of the future and it can only help your business to participate.
Google Guaranteed, this is a new feature where google guarantees any service technician on their platform that you use. If you are dissatisfied with the work performed Google will reimburse you for the job up to $2,000. There is quite a bit of fine print that goes along with this status, but if you are interested in the Google Guaranteed designation, please go to Google’s local services ads site: https://ads.google.com and search local services ads.
Citations and local SEO
Currently, there are hundreds of online directories. I highly recommend registering completely and accurately with business directories. Remember name address and phone (NAP) are the main information required.
Citations at the following directories will improve your local SEO
- Apple Maps
- Google my Business
- Yahoo Local
- AOL Business Pages
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
At the very least, each local business needs to create and manage an accurate listing of all of the above platforms, ensuring that they don’t have duplicate listings on any of them.