In the modern world, consumers are now looking online before purchasing goods and services from businesses. This is driven by the fact that smart phones have become common and wi-fi is freely available in most developed parts of the world. As a result, more people look for businesses online before purchasing from them. Therefore, if you are a business owner, it is essential that you have an online presence and that you use SEO in order to get your website ranking highly in Google and other search engines. This is important because the businesses and websites that rank highly in Google get more relevant traffic to their website which can result in more customers and sales.
For example, if you have a business that sells car accessories in Gloucester, then your website should be optimized for keywords such as “car accessories in Gloucester”, “car accessory stores in Gloucestershire”, “Gloucestershire car accessories” etc. If you SEO optimize your website for keywords like these and you rank in the top 5 search engine results, your site will naturally get most of the traffic for those keywords. This means that you will naturally get people who are interested in buying car accessories to look at your website and business, which you can then convert into customers.
It is important to remember that having an SEO optimized site that ranks highly in Google and other search engines is not enough. You also need to ensure that your website is built to convert visitors into customers. So, you should have a site with high quality copywriting that thoroughly explains your business, your services and what you can do for a possible customer. You should make sure to have real testimonials and use lots of actual pictures of your business as well as videos throughout your site to help possible customers further understand your business so that you can gain their trust.
In addition to creating a business website, you should also create a blog as well as various social media business pages. More consumers are looking towards Facebook business pages, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles for information, so make sure that you create and constantly update these pages. You should have at least one social media manager to manage these pages and reply to people who comment in a timely and appropriate manner. Your social media presence and the content that you post will form your brand and business image, so make sure that you create an impressionable one.
As you can see, having an active online presence and SEO optimized website are absolutely essential for business success in 2016 and beyond. With that said, SEO does take time to work, so be patient and you will soon have more customers and business than ever before. Remember that search engine optimization is not a sprint, it is a longer race and one that might take a very winding road before you reach your goals.
All small businesses should have an online presence. It’s essential for local consumers to be able to find local products and services online.
Having a well optimised website is the first step, but it’s certainly not the last. SEO (search engine optimisation) enables you to put your website in front of hundreds or even thousands of potential customers online.
However, when it comes to search engines like Google, small businesses have to compete against much larger organisations with bigger budgets and more established brands.
So how do you level the playing field and ensure local consumers are able to find you online?
Welcome to local SEO
Local SEO, or local search optimisation, helps small businesses attract local consumers online.
If you search for products or services online, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo display not only traditional organic results, but also local results, which show businesses and maps in your area.
To do this, search engines will identify your current location via your IP Address and return the most relevant businesses within your immediate area.
Local Search Results
Local search results are probably already familiar to you. Google, Bing and Yahoo all return local results, and all have slight variations on the style and number of results featured. But for now, let’s look at Google:
Google’s local search results are known as the ‘local pack’, and also referred to as the ‘snack pack’ or ‘3-pack’. Although the display is likely to change over time, there are some elements that remain a constant:
- Map – shows the local area with highlighted local businesses
- Local businesses listings – Google shows three but we expect this to become two
- Local business info – address and contact information, reviews, website, directions
- Link to ‘more places’ – This directs to a ‘local finder’ page where more local businesses can be found
Google recently announced that they intend to replace one of the three local business listings with a paid result. This is huge news for local SEO, and with less space in the local pack it means that many local businesses will have to ‘pay to play’ going forward.
However, this doesn’t mean that ranking is impossible – it’s just a little harder. Even if you don’t rank in the pack, you can still feature in the ‘local finder’ page, which lists many more local businesses.
How to feature in local search results
So how do you go about getting your business listed in the local pack?
Luckily for us, every year a bunch of local SEO experts contribute to a study called the Local Search Ranking Factors. From this study we are able to identify the top factors that Google considers when ranking local businesses.
Overall Local Ranking Factors:
- On-page SEO – 20.3%
- Links – 20.0%
- Google My Business – 14.7%
- Citations – 13.6%
- Behavioural signals – 9.5%
- Reviews – 8.4%
- Personalisation – 8.5%
- Social – 5.0%
Let’s take a look at each of these factors and discuss what you can do to optimise and improve each ranking factor for your business.
80% of local SEOs say on-page SEO has a high / very high impact on search rankings. Having great on-page SEO means optimising all the elements on any given web page. This means optimising title and description tags, creating compelling content, having detailed service or product information and providing reviews and testimonials. Only once your own website is well-optimised for search engines should you then start to focus on external factors.
External backlinks are growing in importance for local SEO. Do you have relevant and authoritative websites linking to your content? Whilst the most valuable links are often difficult for small businesses to attract, earning links from your community like local authorities, clubs, associations and events is much easier and can be just as effective.