Is Your Business Ready For Local Search?

Guest Post by Josh Wardini, Community Manager

The world of SEO is undergoing some fundamental changes. For starters, recent years have seen a global shift to the internet use on mobile devices. Forecasts for this year and beyond only anticipate mobile trends to exponentially rise due to a number of factors.

Aside from mobile devices becoming increasingly available, virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are getting smarter.

Plus, it’s hard not to get accustomed to the level of convenience that voice technology provides. Brands are continuing to develop everything from Alexa powered refrigerators to smart speakers with visual capabilities.

All of these combined have made it easier for people to rely on search engines for finding everything from how-tos to the restaurant with the best tapas nearby. And consumers are certainly making use of local search, with over 70% heading straight to a store once they’ve found the information they need.

Leveraging the Power of Local SEO

According to the research team at Serpwatch, almost a third of searches that happen on mobile are location-based. That’s a huge market share your business is missing out on if you fall behind on adapting your strategies.

This checklist will help ensure that you don’t. Read on for the fundamentals that’ll get you local-search ready.

Optimize for Mobile

A lot of local search happens on the go. So it’s crucial that your business is mobile ready too. Ensure that your website is properly adapted to smartphone views.

The same goes for your content. Structure articles in a way that makes information easy to digest. Keep in mind that users view videos on their phones mostly in portrait mode and use buttons with touch navigation. Invest in providing tailor-fitted online experience through responsive design.

Optimize for Voice

Your site might be optimized for SEO, but that’s no longer enough. Voice search queries are more conversational. You’ll have to tweak your strategies to include long-tail keywords. These are short phrases that more closely replicate natural speech. Instead of “carrot cake recipe,” the voice search equivalent would be more like “how do I bake a carrot cake?”

In that same vein, digestible content that’s neatly structured tends to show up more in voice search results. Loading time is another key aspect in voice search, with results loading much faster than desktop ones.

Clean up your Business Listings

Businesses fail when they overlook their listings. Various reports have found that not only do users search locally, they often act on the information they find. They’ll call the business number or even walk on over to the physical address.

Now, just imagine how it affects their perception of a brand when the information turns out to be incorrect. As it turns out, many industries fail on this particular point, from consumer protection companies to business attorneys, so make sure to exclude yourself by updating your company information.

Consider Signing up For Google Guarantee

As consumers, we love guarantees. Google leverages this in the Google Guarantee program. It offers a $2,000 coverage for “Guaranteed” businesses so that dissatisfied customers can always get their money back.

Imagine being on the business side of this deal. Not only does Google’s extra seal of approval add an “oomph” to your advertising, and the coverage makes hiring your company practically irresistible to customers.

Because Google is effectively staking its reputation on a business, getting that nifty green shield can be a trying process. It involves the business undergoing security checks, and not just online digital scan of some kind.

The inspection is on-site and includes social security number and criminal history checks. It extends to any employees that’ll potentially interact with customers. Once you pass inspection though, it’s worth it.

For starters, advertising through the program is charged on a per-lead basis – much cheaper than going through normal PPC ads.

5 Tips for Improved Search Engine Optimization

Everyone with a website has the same goal – to be found by people looking for them either specifically or in more general queries about products, services and needs. Here are five ways to improve the changes your website will be found by your target audience.

First, it is important to note that some aspects of search have fundamentally changed.

The First Search Results Page Has Changed

The traditional goal was to be in the top 10 results for specific keywords or search terms. That doesn’t work anymore.

Search engines now give real estate to more than results. There are maps, quick lists of advice, ads, and more. Even if you are in the top ten, your listing may not be on the first page.

Add to this, the impact of personalization.

Impacts of Search Personalization

Google and other search engines now personalize search results based on the location, device and search history of the person doing the search. This means that the same search performed by different people may yield different search results. Bottom line is that search rankings will differ so there is no such thing as earning a consistent search rank.

In this changing landscape, there are things you can do to support your SEO.

Tip 1: Use Google Analytics to Support SEO

In addition to visible page elements, there are background settings that impact SEO.  Log in to Google Search Console regularly to check for errors and incomplete settings. Clearing these ensures that the Google search crawler will get the best results for your site.

Tip 2: Keep Up with the Way People Search

SEO is about more than catering to the whims of Google. You need to keep up with how your target customer searches. Gone are the days of searching using logic to include or exclude words and phrases. Most searches today are informational queries formed as a question.

Search practices have shifted away from exact keyword optimization. “Long-tail” variations formed as phrases and questions are regularly searched. These commonly change by location.

Your content needs to match this way of thinking about information. Address the questions that your target audience has in mind and address the phrases they commonly use. You will improve your search results.

Tip 3: Pay Attention to Your Content

Search engines want to be the conduit to the best content. Offer the best content and you will do well. Easy!

Make sure you are providing quality content. Offer enough detail to be meaningful. Address questions and concerns. Keep it all updated.

Present the most important information first, at the top of the page. Make sure that your page speaks to the needs and interests of your target audience.

If you are a great source of information, trust me, you will rank well.

Tip 4: Practice Link Quality Control

Links to your website are still among the most important ranking factors. Focus on the quality of links rather than the quantity.

Not all links help your SEO. Be careful about who you allow to link to you. If the does not provide quality content that you are proud to be associated with, you don’t want to be linked. You can disavow links within the Google Search Console.

Tip 5: Make Your Home Page Helpful

Your home page does not need a lot of content for your site to rank well. Include enough content to state who you are, what you do, where you are location, and your core product or service. Couple that with a call to action that lets visitors know what to do next. The other pages of your site can do the heavy lifting of providing deep content to address all of the interests of your target audience.