Google My Business – Local SEO Strategies for Small Businesses
If you have a website or business on the internet, you are likely thrilled with any search traffic and rankings you might receive. However, if you are a local-based business, it’s all about ranking for keywords that are relevant to your location or specifically about your business.
In most cases, local businesses won’t really understand the metrics of SEO or how to improve their rankings in the search results. More often than not, they will simply be happy if they are appearing at the top of Google for their brand name, and also have a Google Business Listing with their hours, location and business details.
This is ideal… but there are definitely more opportunities for traffic, growth, and improvement — especially when you start considering online traffic and content options with geo-targeted traffic.
Google My Business is a great place for local businesses to start with their online journey, but it’s definitely not the beginning and end. Implement these three components into your content creation and marketing efforts to get even more out of your local business listings in Google.
Start a Website or Blog for Your Local Business
Most small businesses and local retail locations should already have an online website or blog, but many still don’t. Unfortunately, way too many businesses think that a listing in Google Local or Yelp is going to represent them well online — however, this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it could actually be hurting them in the long run.
Without an official website for your business, there is no way for your audience and customers to really get in direct contact with you. Any information that might be found on other websites or local directories might also not be updated or accurate. At the same time, without a website of your own, you are letting customers leave reviews on other websites that you have no control over.
With a site of your own, you are always in control over what people see, find and discover about your business. This is also a great way to make a better first impression (through a nice website, pictures and company info). Once the connection has been made, you can then showcase your best customer feedback and ratings that appear within your Google My Business page.
Wouldn’t you rather be sending people directly to your own website when they search for your brand online, versus sending them to another third party website? You should.
Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising
There are currently over 1.8 billion users on Facebook. While the social network has worldwide exposure, it’s also done wonders for localized businesses and brands in the process.
Through the use of both Facebook Page and Facebook Advertising, local businesses can reach audiences within their area, while also growing a following at the same time. This is why you commonly see flyers that say “Like Us on Facebook” in your favorite retail locations. It’s a simple, fun and easy way for brands to connect with their audiences, while also allowing them to build a ‘social mailing list’ in the process.
Advanced local businesses and brands can also take advantage of the demographic and geo-targeting options that are available through Facebook Ads. The same can be said for ‘custom audience’ targeting options, which allows site owners to display ads through Facebook based on visitors to a website or emails on a mailing list.
Keeping with the theme of how to maintain a great online presence and building up your Google My Business profile, Facebook Pages and marketing can also be a great way to lead people to your local search listings where users can leave ratings and reviews of your own. Since your audience is already following you on Facebook, there is a good chance their review and rating would be positive.
Focus on Local SEO, Content Creation and Competitors
The third and final tip for improving a local business’ presence online, is to simply know how to rank your site in Google. As mentioned, it’s not hard to claim your Google My Business listing in Google… but that doesn’t mean you are going to listed at the top of the search rankings for generic search phrases like ‘car repair’, ‘food services’ or ‘pizza’ in your area, even if the geo-location settings are turned on for results. To improve your rankings you need to understand how to do each of the following;
- Rank for Local Keywords – Ranking in Google is a science. If you don’t already know the basics of SEO, you can follow them here. In short, you need to create valuable content for your website and gain backlinks to your site. Those are the two most simple and straight to the point methods for explaining how rankings work in Google. The same thing goes for Google Local rankings as well… the more content and rankings back to them, the more likely they are to rank higher.
- Create Local-Based Content – A listing in Google is great for your business, but there is a lot more opportunity if you are willing to put in the time, work and effort. For example, think about the many different things your potential customers might be searching for in Google (besides your company name). Ratings, locations, coupons, how to’s, local events… you name it, all of it can be used for potential content ideas you can create through your own site.
- Know Your Competitors – As a local business, your competition is everything. If they have a bigger store, better advertisements and higher search rankings… you need to know! Tools like SEMRush and Google Alerts will allow you to keep an eye on the competition, both through search ranking movements and any new content appearing in Google your competition might be ranking for.
Another method that has worked for various businesses to help improve the look and activity of their sites, is to send geo targeted traffic to their sites. This type of traffic marketing will help with Alexa and SimilarWeb rankings. While these aren’t key components to SEO or determining how successful or big a site might be, they are metrics that brands and businesses do keep an eye on. Also, depending on the size of your business, this type of paid traffic can also bring in new audiences and customer to your website (and even local business as well).
Claim Your Google My Business Page, then Build Out Your Own Site
I’m all for having a Google My Business page for your local business, but don’t rely on that for everything. I always tell my audience the same thing — you want to own your own content! This is why it’s so important to have your own domain name and web hosting, versus starting a website on Blogger.com or WordPress.com. At the same time, you don’t want to have 100,000 fans on your Facebook page and not leading them to join your own mailing list of visiting a site you actually own.
No matter how much of your business is coming from local residents in your area, your online presence is of the utmost importance. Follow these Google My Business and local SEO marketing tips to stay ahead of the competition.
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