The modern consumer's short attention span and need for instant gratification are two big challenges that every business faces when building an online presence. If your business isn't showing up in the top three search results in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, then you're leaving a lot of money on the table. People want to be able to find exactly what they're looking for right away, and you have to give them a compelling reason to click over to your website, as opposed to someone else's. Following the steps in this blog post will send you well on your way to attracting more leads and customers through local search.
1) Research Keywords
"Keywords" are how potential customers find your business online. Whey they go to a search engine such as Google to find an auto repair shop, for example, they might enter something like, "bmw repair shop raleigh" or "german auto repair shop." Even if no city name is included in the query, Google does a pretty good job of figuring out the user's location and will show local repair shops in the search results.
A quick and easy way to research what keywords may be of value to your business is to go to Google (https://www.google.com/) and start typing a relevant query. As you type, Google will "suggest" various keywords that other people have been using to find the same or similar information. These are the keywords that you want to make a note of for the purposes of optimizing your content and website.
2) Optimize Your Content & Site
The keywords that you found in Step 1 should be a starting point for optimizing your content and website. Depending on the nature of the keywords, you could use them as topics for articles or blog posts, or you could use them on strategic pages throughout your website.
In this context, optimization simply means that your keywords should be used in your content and on your website so that search engines can determine what your business is about and where it's located in order to help people find it easily. It's critical not to over-optimize, though, because Google sees that as an attempt to manipulate the search results in your favor. Consequently, your website may be penalized, and no one will be able to find your business using appropriate and logical keywords that can turn browsers into buyers. (You might end up ranking for some worthless keyword instead.)
3) Get Listed On Local Search Listings
The "big three" search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!) have local listings that stand out from the regular search results. If you want to appear in their local listings, you have to sign up for an account with them and provide some information about your business.
That's not always enough, however. While your business might be in the database, it might not show up for popular keyword searches related to the type of business. You may need to work on getting reviews and ratings for your business before it gains the necessary clout to be ranked in the top three local listings. In addition to reviews, having active social profiles can help in this situation.
4) Optimize Your Social Profiles
Social profiles refer to your presence on various social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others. The same keyword principles apply here as well. You might also wish to place ads on these platforms to get more exposure. Facebook in particular offers a very sophisticated targeting system whereby you can show ads not only to people in your geographic area, but also to people who have certain interests. The level of detail is such that you can show ads to people who have read a particular book recently.
YouTube is another option. While it's not a social network per se, it does have a social element in that people can post comments on videos. Having a YouTube channel and optimizing your video titles and descriptions with your keywords (one keyword per video) will also help you get more visibility in Google search results.
5) Go Mobile
Internet-enabled smartphones and other devices are now ubiquitous. Many people have gotten rid of their bulky desktop computers in favor of doing everything on their tablets and phones. One negative consequence of this is that many websites were never designed to look good or work properly when visited through a mobile device.
If someone finds your nicely optimized website in Google and clicks on a link to go there, only to find out that they can't see or do anything because your site looks messed up, then they're going to leave. The solution to this problem used to be to have two separate versions of a website: one for desktops and laptops, and another for mobile phones. Today, the buzzword is "responsive design," which allows you to have one design that changes its appearance according to the device on which it's being viewed. Failing to use a responsive design may cost you a lot of money due to missed revenue opportunities.
6) Monitor & Analyze Results
In order to learn what's working in your business and what's not, it's crucial to have some way of collecting and analyzing website traffic data. Ideally, you'd like to know which third-party websites (e.g., Facebook) and keyword searches are bringing you the most traffic, which pages on your website are the most and least popular, and which of your marketing efforts are actually leading to conversions (sales, sign-ups, etc.).
There are several options for accomplishing this goal, but those solutions are beyond the scope of this discussion. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you in getting more leads and customers through online marketing and the 6 steps to improving local search.
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