Just like fashion, search engine optimization (SEO) changes all the time. The struggle to stay on top of the latest topics and rankings takes more than a post (or two) a month. You have to invest the time and do the research to stay ranked and relevant.
With new competition entering your local market every year, it’s more important than ever to be easily searchable, informative, and consistent—especially as a small business. Finding easy ways to improve your local SEO can be a struggle for those just getting started as a small business. You want your business to grow, but being a small business can make that difficult. If your business and content aren’t populating when people run a local Google search, you’re missing out on the 97% of local consumers looking online for local businesses.
Mastering your local SEO is easier than you think! Here are five easy ways to improve your local SEO and help your small business rank higher than your competitors.
Crafting the perfect SEO title and meta description for your content is like going on a first date. You want to share enough about yourself to pique interest, but not enough to give everything away. It’s the same thing for your SEO title and meta description. You want to entice your customers with a unique title that shows them exactly what they’ve been looking for and a meta description that’s an extra bit of information telling them exactly what your page is about and why they should click through to your site.
Your SEO title and meta description are like a tiny ad for your content. They’re customizable elements of your HTML that reflect the content on your website. With Google’s recent reduction in search result snippets, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re using your space wisely. Just like your first date, you only have a short time to catch interest! For your title, it’s generally accepted that it should be between 50 and 60 characters, and your meta description should be between 160 and 200 characters. Make them short, sweet, and to the point!
The most important thing to remember when crafting your SEO title and meta description is that every character counts! Here are some tips to help you improve your local SEO:
If you’re not sure how your SEO title and meta description will look in a Google search, try using a source like Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress. This platform will give you an idea of how your title and meta description will look, and how many characters you’re using. In the world of SEO, crafting the perfect SEO title and meta description that are compelling and unique is an art form. You’re competing in a sea of options. Find your way to stick out in the digital arena and own it!
Note: Awkward pauses are uncomfortable, but you know what’s worse? Ellipses! You don’t want the dreaded ellipses to cut off your SEO title or meta description. Not only does that cut off essential information, but it also chips away at your credibility!
When is the last time you wrote a positive review for a company or product without being asked? No, really. Take a second and try to remember the last time. Most of us will rave about a product or service we love until we’re blue in the face, but never post a review. Taking that extra step to write a review isn’t difficult, but for most of us, it’s something we never think of doing until we’re disappointed by a product or service.
Don’t underestimate the importance of online reviews on Google and Facebook. Many small businesses are behind the times when it comes to asking for and responding to feedback posted on their Facebook Business page and Google My Business page. Asking your customers to write a review will not only give you helpful feedback and build a relationship with your customers—it will also give you credibility with future customers. In fact, 85% of local consumers trust online reviews they see on your page just as much as they do a personal recommendation. That’s a lot of trust!
Monitoring your online reviews is key in making your business stand out. Google suggests that positive reviews from your customers can improve your visibility, implying that it may factor into your search ranking. That means by asking your customers for reviews and monitoring their responses, you’re not only engaging your customers in your business, but you’re also improving your local SEO!
Note: Software like Hootsuite allows you to monitor and receive alerts any time your business is mentioned on social media platforms. It’s a simple tool to help keep you on top of your platforms and anything people are saying about your business.
For a small business, not claiming an online listing can mean lost potential customers, contradictory information, and a drop in your Google search ranking. Having an inconsistent listing is like sending out your resume with the wrong contact information. Your information is out there to reach and engage customers, but when they try to contact you, they can’t. Your phone number or address may be listed incorrectly, so customers get confused and frustrated—and move onto the next company. To improve your local SEO and make your business easier for your customers to find, you need to verify that your information is properly listed.
Your business’ name, address, and phone number need to be listed consistently and correctly on the top online directories, like Yelp, Citysearch, and, for local Lafayette businesses, Greater Lafayette Commerce. It’s also key that all your information is listed properly on every platform where it’s mentioned. Any inconsistencies—like incorrect punctuation, spelling, abbreviations, phone number, or suite number—can confuse Google’s search engine. If Google isn’t sure which information is correct, the wrong information could be featured, making your business that much harder to find and trust.
Go! Click away right now and claim your Google My Business listing if you haven’t already. Yes, it’s that important. Google My Business, or GMB, is free and can help your business get amazing exposure in your community. Plus, if you do it correctly, your business might be one of the first featured sites in a local Google search.
Claiming your business is easy. Simply visit your Google My Business page and request a verification. Once you’ve begun the verification process, Google will send you a postcard with a verification PIN number to your business. With the verification postcard, log in and enter your unique PIN number to verify the business.
Once you’ve claimed your business, the next step is to optimize your listing so you can improve your local SEO. To make your business page as helpful as possible for your customers and Google’s search engine, you’ll need to add a unique business description, business hours, logo, categories, types of payment, and every other field requested. Photos of your location and products or services are a great source for your customers as well.
Note: According to Google’s terms of service, only the business owner can claim a business. If you’re working with a digital marketing company, you can grant them permission to be a manager of your page. This is a safeguard for your business in case you terminate the relationship with your marketing company.
Content is the king, queen, and honestly the entire court. Creating authentic content that is unique, useful, entertaining, and informative will get you the crown every time with your customers. Your content is so crucial to your business that underestimating its influence can hurt your business far more than you might expect.
Creating and publishing consistently relevant and unique content with strategically placed keywords can ultimately help you improve your local SEO by exposing your brand to more digital customers and increasing your ranking. By writing useful and helpful content for your customers, your brand is creating authority and building trust with your customers. Your content is answering the questions your customers are asking, often without them even having to ask. When you’re creating content correctly, your customers will know that you’re a trusted source in your industry.
If your content is as amazing as we think it could be, your customers will pause in their constant scrolling and potentially even comment, like, or share your content on their social media profiles. Your amazing content could be seen by thousands of people through one outstanding social media post and the share button. The market is already saturated with brands pushing their sales, but by creating content and establishing your brand, you’re moving your customers through the buyer’s journey (often without them noticing)!
Note: Building a relationship with your customer base and having a sense of authority in your area will help you generate leads without bombarding your customers with sales pitches.
It’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed when you’re first learning to master the ways to improve your local SEO. Optimizing your business for search engines can be tedious at times, but the results are well worth all the hours spent deep diving in to your site. Seeing your business in the top rankings of a Google search will give you a feeling of pride and satisfaction every small business owner should enjoy!
Treefrog Marketing is an advertising agency focused on small business and located in Lafayette, Indiana. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram.