Customer behavior has shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and among those changes is an increased focus on buying local. More shoppers are interested in supporting nearby businesses right now. This is a good time for customers to know you’re close.
So, how can your small business increase your chances of appearing in local searches? Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at SearchLab, joined Better Business Bureau’s webinar series to provide simple SEO tips business owners can implement immediately.
It’s good to think big, but you’ll really pack a punch by hyper-focusing on your local area. Google looks for relevance, prominence, and proximity when generating its top results for a local search. (Skip to 10:32).
Understanding each of those facets is pivotal to taking control of Google’s algorithm. The beauty of Google is it levels the playing field – no matter the size of the business, high quality content is what’s key.
Greg offered these six tips small businesses should consider to increase their online visibility at the local level.
Does your website have all the attributes that the searcher is looking for?
Each search will vary from general to specific. Whether someone is simply looking for a plumbing business near them or someone asks how to unclog a bathroom sink – you need to keep yourself relevant to match what people are looking for.
Tip 1: It may be tempting to have all your services listed on one single page of your website. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for Google to sort through all that information. If you want to show up as a top search result, try to include individual pages dedicated to specific concepts/categories.
Tip 2: List all the services you provide on your Google My Business page. Remember that your primary category is the most weighted in the algorithm.
Does your website stand out from other search results?
“You have to think about what people are looking for…and it’s not just about answering the question, it’s about being the best answer to the question,” says Gifford. (Skip to 20:20).
Tip 3: Explain why your business is the best in the local area. Pinpoint what makes your business unique, why you’re the better option and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Tip 4: The most common mistake that Gifford sees are businesses using “boiler plate” summaries and paragraphs. One foolproof technique is to take your home page or “About Us” page, change the business name and city (we’ll talk about proximity next) to determine whether it works on another website. Your content should be completely unique to you.
Is your physical address located within the area the consumer is searching?
Proximity is the one variable that differentiates a local Google search from a traditional Google search. While it may be tempting to want to include a long list of all the cities you serve, it won’t be as likely for Google to select your website out of all the options available. You’re encouraged to prioritize and focus on the one city you want the most traffic from.
Tip 5: Integrate local information and terminology to make it clear you’re from the area and that you care about serving that community. Talk about how long you’ve been serving the area, programs you’ve initiated in certain neighborhoods, or philanthropy/volunteer projects you’ve completed.
Tip 6: Optimize your content so it’s clear to Google what services you provide and the area you serve. Add one consistent keyword for your main service, the city, and the state to all the following areas on your website: Title tag, H1 Heading, website content, URL, alt text in images, meta description. (Skip to 26:48).
Heads up to Business Owners. Did you know that Google is going to launch a major update by mid-June? The Page Experience Update are additional signals Google will include in search rankings. (Skip to 15:20 for an in-depth look.)