When you’re trying to help your website rank better locally there is a need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, think about what would inspire or make them want to use your company over another.
Always consider the value of what you have to offer to your customers. Set realistic online goals that can be easily actioned and measure the results. Understanding what has worked for you as a local business, focusing on this is key to building a strong local online presence. In a similar vein, if something hasn’t worked for you, try and understand why and learn from it.
Here are some steps I would take based on having a local website design business myself.
Local Website Search Strategy
1) Understand Google and the way it works for local search queries
Take a look at how people are searching for the products and services that you provide locally.
- What keywords do people use when searching?
- Look at associated keywords
- When on average are searches conducted the most – weekends, evenings, seasonal etc?
- Where does your business sit in the results?
- How many searches do keywords get?
Look at who your top competitors are, then try and work out why they are succeeding.
Google results are laid out in the following order. Adverts appear at the top, then organic results and then the Google My Business location map (the last two are something in reverse order).
So in reality, you have three parts to look at:
1. Which local companies are paying to advertise their services
2. Where you appear in the organic results compared to your competition
3. Are you appearing in Google My Business (see our guide to this here)
2) Make sure your website is mobile-friendly – 83% of searches when looking for a local product or service are made on mobile devices!
Local searches on mobile devices is massive – your business may be small, but even so, potential customers are researching businesses such as yours on the move. Make sure that your site works well on smaller devices, if customers have a great experience on them they’re more likely to stay on your site and not close the page and go elsewhere.
Further stats can be found on this great article.
Local SEO will help your website rank better locally, it’s important
3. Create your local Google business page and complete it in full – it’s free
Add images, contact information, business category, map with locator and get your customers to leave reviews.
Read our full article on the benefits of a Google my business page.
4) Google Local Search Hubs
Google, believe it or not also relies on other hubs of information to confirm and back up the credibility of its local business data. So when you’re listed on Facebook for instance, make sure all your data is consistent with what’s on your website such address, web link, telephone number etc. Moz has an excellent free (to a point) tool to allow you to check your online business results and where you’re listed.
Here’s a useful short video by David Mihm to understand how Google receives and authenticates your business data online. It shows that consistency is paramount to help your website rank better locally.
5) Get your business and website recommended
It’s generally accepted that around that 92% of people trust word of mouth recommendations (Nielsen Report). This shows the INCREDIBLE power of recommendations, especially to your business and helping your website rank better locally.
With that being an amazing piece of info, ask yourself, are customers able to leave reviews about your business online? Google Business Places can do this like other well-known review sites like Revoo, Trustpilot and TripAdvisor.
Even more revealing is that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That means visitors will trust reviews from people they have never even spoken too!
6) Following on from the above point, incentivise people to review your business to help your business website to rank better locally
Think about offering a chance to win a competition, a discount off a future order or simply a free coffee – just by filling in a short review online. You don’t have anything to lose by this, it’s “win-win”.
Handling negative critique and reviews correctly is just as important though. Don’t respond to a less than favourable review in a snide or aggressive manner. Be grateful that the review has been left and try and deal with it. It’s inevitable though, the more reviews you get the chances of getting negative feedback will increase.
With proper handling, it will show to other viewers that you’re human and are prepared to try and resolve the issue. Again, building confidence that you’re a great business to buy from – you care about your customers and go the extra mile.
7) Search results are starting to be more targeted to your location
If you’re looking for a bottle of wine, you’re not going to travel 10 miles for something that costs £4.99 (yes, I’m a cheapskate). The nearest supplier to your location is always going to be the most important, that’s why Google is placing a lot more attention to these types of searches now.
If you searched online now for an off licence you’ll probably be offered the closest to you, so making sure you’re online and set up correctly with the right address is very important.
Read part two of how to get your website to rank better locally, here.