Is 2017 Your Last Opportunity to Make Your Mark With Local SEO?

With 2017 well underway, it’s time to review the effectiveness of your local SEO. Are you seeing an increase or decrease in traffic this year over 2016? It’s not too late to start working on your marketing plan.

Google’s Major Change in Local Searches

Last year when you performed a Google search, Google would return seven local businesses to consider. In 2017 they chose to limit the return to three local businesses. You are not the only company aiming for one of those three free positions, and the odds of winning one of them are growing slimmer every day.

So how do you compete with the constantly changing landscape known as search engine optimization? Most companies are opting for a multi-dimensional marketing strategy for 2017.

Focus on Local SEO

Your local business is looking for walk-in traffic, so you must continue to focus effort on your position in the local listings. The following items remain important. Check your web site for completeness and accuracy.
Does your website meet the minimum basic criteria? Is it logically broken into pages and subpages? Has every word been checked for grammar, spelling, and punctuation by an expert in English? Is it readable on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone devices? Can the search engines find you? Have you generated an index for the site?
Your contact information is critical. Does your “Contact Us” page contain the complete name, address, and phone number of your primary location? Visit this link and consider whether you should add a Schema markup to your location data. Your phone number should be prominently displayed on your website and clickable on mobile devices.

How to Create Unique, Search-Friendly Content

Never post content you copy from another website without linking to the article you used for your research. Here are several great suggestions on how to create your unique blogs.
☐ Add testimonials from your customers on your website.
☐ Include a blog and keep it rolling. Freshness improves your ranking.
☐ Videos and Images are page content, but they are not searchable. The tags and label boxes where you import the photos are searchable, and they are what add visibility to your images. Do not skip filling in those keywords.
☐ Post information that is specific to your community on your city pages.
☐ Include the biography and photo of your staff members.
☐ Sponsor events, teams, and charitable organizations in different cities, and feature them on your blog.
☐ Interview experts about activities going on in your city or products you sell and post the interviews on your blog.
☐ Offer tips that apply specifically to your customers or your city.

Cultivate Strong Reviews

Another way to elevate your position in local searches is to actively develop strong reviews. Encourage customers to post reviews by adding links and instructions on where and how they can do so.
In addition to sites that may provide reviews to your particular industry, add links to some of the general review websites such as Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google+ Local, Amazon, Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, and Yellow Pages.

What are your customers considering?

☐ Put yourself in their place. Where are they focusing their search time? How can you get information about your business in that space?
☐ Know your competition. Research what other websites are targeting the same keywords you use. A company called STAT has designed a great tool to do this for you.
☐ Voice searches are beginning to add a new dimension to online searches. Read this report by Stone Temple to learn more about voice command searches and how they may impact your local business.
☐ Add “near me” to all your keywords as additional variations of your search terms.

Do You Need Social Media?

☐ Try to identify which social media sites are popular among your colleagues and customers, and choose the ones you believe you can legitimately stay active on. Opening an account and never adding anything to the platform is a waste of time. You must be active on all the social media sites you set up.
☐ Remember that social media sites are not your company website. They are intended for social interaction. Don’t pitch sales on your social media site. Instead, try to shine as someone who wants to help people. Answer questions people may have been asking you, list a great resource or do something to raise someone’s spirit.

Be the Best You Can Be

Anyone with a website has seen terrible reviews that were not true, but how do you unring the bell? Once it’s out there, it’s gone. To avoid this, hire the best, train the best, and supervise the best. If everyone puts in 110% every day, there should be nothing for anyone to say about you except how wonderful you are!

Quality control seems to be missing from many local businesses. Be sure every member of the team has the same work ethic – open on time (this is a big one), do it now, do it right, do it on time, do help the customers.

Wrap Up

Are you totally confused and intimidated? A third set of eyes is always a good way to make sure your site is properly optimized. SEO Expert Brad is here to help.