Connect with us

SEO

Three organic search opportunities for your local business

Published

on

Three organic search opportunities for your local business


30-second summary:

  • Following pandemic-driven shopping trends, lots of local businesses had to explore online marketing opportunities
  • Google offers a few great ways for a local business to get found through organic search
  • Local 3 Pack is Google’s search element containing top three local businesses based on your search query
  • To rank in the Local 3 Pack you need to ensure your Google My Business listing is complete and active
  • Third-party local business listings (like Yelp and Tripadvisor) may also drive some organic search visibility so it is a good idea to claim your business there

Local marketing has become even a more trending topic, following the pandemic. Lots of local businesses that used to rely on local footfall were forced to turn to the internet in order to get found by customers. This need for digital transformation brought a huge challenge to just about any local business – how to get found online? 

Step 1: Claim your business profile on Google My Business

Google offers huge organic search visibility to local businesses through the Local 3 Pack that shows up on top of organic results when search intent reflects buying (or doing) something locally.

Local 3 pack is Google’s search element that includes three relevant businesses from Google Maps results:

Source: Screenshot by the author

Ranking your business in the Local 3 Pack is no easy task. It heavily relies on the proximity of those businesses to the customer’s current location.

However, there are a few things you can do to improve your local rankings:

  • Make sure you have a detailed (and original) description of your business and what it is you do
  • Add your website (oftentimes Google would grab text from the associated website and rank a business based on that content). There are also a few great plugins allowing you to embed your local listing onto your website for better visibility.
  • Upload pictures and videos of your office, team, and work environment to give customers/searchers a better view of your business
  • Add your products and services (Note: Services are not believed to have a huge (or any) impact on your local rankings but why not add those anyway)
  • Keep your business categories as relevant as you can as they can harm your local rankings

 

Most importantly, keep an eye on your Google reviews

Business reviews are known to be crucial for your local (and hence Local 3 Pack) rankings, so make sure to keep an eye on your reviews and reply to all of them.

Note that Google may remove your review if they find you have been using manipulative or misleading tactics when getting those reviews, for example:

  • If that review is repeated across other business profiles on other sites (which, by the way, can be quite natural… I’ll be the one to admit that I may leave my favorite business the same review on a few platforms I am registered at. But again, I think we are talking about suspicious patterns here rather than one-on-one cases)
  • If you had a massive influx of reviews overnight
  • If Google suspects that you and your team are reviewing your business pretending to be clients.

While you may notice your competitors implement these manipulative tactics without no obvious negative impact on their rankings, I’d still suggest avoiding these at all costs. 

You can invite your customers to review your business on Google through a short URL that’s specific to your local business and even note that on your business card – you could use QR codes to facilitate this. But you are not allowed to request positive (five-star) reviews or segment your customer base to only invite happy customers to review you.

If you have a budget, investing in ads on Google maps is also a great idea. This could bring in more customers and reviews.

Step 2: Claim your business profile everywhere else

While claiming your business is generally a good idea to get better control over your branded content, it also gives you additional organic exposure because those listings may rank in organic search results and bring additional exposure.

Hence, your next step is identifying important local directories (like Trip Advisor and Yelp)and claiming your business everywhere.

Here’s a huge list of those you can consider.

Source: Brightlocal

Just about any local business out there will need to ensure a strong Yelp presence, for example, so that one will always be on top of your list. Yelp marketing is tricky but if you start getting reviews there, there’s a way to display those reviews on your site to boost your conversions.

When putting your business on maps

  • Make sure your business name and address is consistent across all channels, including the phone number format
  • Complete all available fields and use all available characters! More content generally means higher rankings for your listings!
  • Monitor your listings for reviews, add updates, ensure your business info is up-to-date

Step 3: Develop a hyperlocal content strategy

Similar to how foot traffic works for a local business (passers-by may check a store out of curiosity), a well-planned content marketing strategy can drive customers who never intended to buy anything or didn’t know they needed you.

  • Describe (location-driven) problems your business solves. For instance, a Seattle hairdresser publishes an article on haircuts that work well in the windy or rainy climate.
  • Address some problems that are common in your area. These work best when they are timed to a particular seasonal trend. For instance, a bakery in Albany publishes a checklist of foods to store at home to prepare for a snowstorm.

Here are a few ideas for hyperlocal content:

  • Ideas for local vacations and where your business can be of help
  • Local events and how your brand participates
  • Partnerships like local charities

Take note of local People Also Ask results because those are great sources of hyperlocal content.

Using the PAA feature to boost local SEO visibility

Source: Screenshot by the author

Generally, answering local questions is a great idea.

Let’s take a look at this search query: “how far is Central Park from Times Square” 

People searching for this may not necessarily be looking to buy anything but there are still some opportunities here as your content may give them ideas on where to dine or stay.

Local search resultsSource: Screenshot by the author

The beauty of hyperlocal content marketing is that your clients don’t have to be in the area to find your content: They may be planning a trip to your area and discover your business prior to going. This is something local maps placement won’t be able to help with.

Using semantic search is another good way to come up with hyperlocal content ideas because it will help you identify location-based keywords that are able to generate organic traffic. Here’s how semantic search works:

Source: Screenshot by the author

Conclusion

Organic search provides quite a few opportunities for local businesses to generate traffic and get found by customers. Keep an eye on your local listings and keep creating hyperlocal content to generate relevant traffic for your local business. Good luck!

Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.





Source link

Continue Reading
Comments

SEO

10 Key Steps To Ranking Higher In Google Maps

Published

on

10 Key Steps To Ranking Higher In Google Maps


You’re searching for a lunch spot in an unfamiliar neighborhood, or you need a mechanic to assist with an unexpected flat tire.

Where do you look?

If you answered Google Maps, you’re not alone.

These days, many of us are turning to Google Maps to discover local businesses and make more informed buying decisions.

So how can local businesses rank higher in the place consumers are increasingly looking to purchase local products and services?

Here are ten steps to take in order to rank well, drive more traffic and secure more customers via Google Maps.

1. Claim And Complete A Google Business Profile

The first, crucial step in establishing visibility in Google Maps is claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP – formerly known as Google My Business or GMB).

You can do this by simply searching for your business name on Google or Google Maps and verifying your listing if you have not already done so.

Once you have a listing and are logged into your Google account, you can now edit it, even from directly within the search results.

Screenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Being a Google property, GBP provides a primary signal to Google of your business’ existence – and the information here is assumed to be accurate and up to date.

Google will cross-reference these details with those it finds on your website and in other local directories and resources; more on the importance of these in a moment.

2. Post Linked Content (Including Photos)

After you’ve claimed your GBP listing, your work is only partway done.

Google rewards active businesses with higher visibility in Google Maps, so it’s important to post regular updates to your GBP profile.

These updates may and should include special offers, hosted events, links to relevant blog posts, or general business updates.

Posting photos to Google Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Where possible, incorporating photos into your updates is also encouraged, as visuals are more likely to boost viewer engagement in terms of shares or clicks.

You should also be including links in your posts, ideally to primary product or service pages on your website.

3. Optimize Your Web Presence For Local Organic Search

If you want to rank well on Google Maps, you should ensure your web presence, including your website and external content, is optimized for your local audience.

You can start by performing a local SEO audit to identify where you need to focus your attention from a keyword, content, and linking perspective – as these are the three primary components upon which a presence is built.

Your website needs to be properly structured to enable Google to easily crawl and index your content, and the content within your site needs to be rich with relevant, locally-oriented, intent-driven keywords and logical internal and external links to the answers your audience is searching for.

Google rewards websites that lead searchers to answers in as few clicks as possible.

Websites must also load quickly and provide seamless navigation, regardless of device.

This is particularly important at a local level, as searchers increasingly begin their quests on their phones.

4. Use Local Business Schema

When it comes to structuring content, and especially business details, Google and other search engines prefer standardization – which has led to the development of schema.

Local Schema enables businesses to wrap code around their content to make it easier for Google to crawl and index.

Local business schema covers many of the same business details captured in a Google Business Profile, which Google will naturally cross-reference.

The easier it is for Google to validate your location, the more likely your business is to show up prominently in Google Maps.

5. Embed The Google Map On Your Contact Us Page

While it’s not explicitly stated that embedding a Google Map in your website will make a difference in terms of where you rank in Google Maps, it’s not far-fetched to assume this is Google’s preferred format.

Here again, Google is able to ensure a consistent user experience for its searchers, which should likewise be the aim of any business looking to please its customers.

6. Mine And Mind Your Reviews

Any business can create a GBP listing, ensure its basic business information is up to date, and post plenty of relevant, local content.

However, another critically important factor in determining if, and where, a local business shows up in Google Maps is customer reviews.

Reviews on Google Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Google pays close attention to both how many reviews your business obtains, and how active it is in responding to those reviews, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative.

Any business naturally wants to limit the number of negative reviews it receives and all negative reviews should be dealt with swiftly.

This can actually become a valuable way of displaying your business’ commitment to customer service.

While there are many places customers can leave reviews online, including Facebook, Yelp, and other industry-specific review sites, reviews on GBP profiles will carry more weight when it comes to Google Map rankings.

Consider proactively asking your customers for reviews soon after you’ve successfully delivered a product or service when a presumably positive experience is top of mind for their customers.

There are services available to help automate review requests (via email or text) once certain on or offline customer actions have been completed (e.g. appointment completed, invoice paid, etc.) and review management across multiple sources through a central dashboard.

Automation can save busy local businesses a lot of time, and ensure positive reviews flow in on a regular basis.

7. Update Your Local Listings/Citations With Your NAP

The three most important pieces of directional information on your GBP, website, and across the web are your Name, Address and Phone Number or NAP.

It’s critical for both Google and your audience to have your NAP consistent and accurate across all of these sources.

These references to your business from third-party sites are also called citations.

To find and ensure your NAP is up to date, you can start by simply searching your business name and noting all of the places your business details can be found.

Check each instance and reach out to each directory or website owner to update this important contact information, as needed.

There are also free and paid automated local listings services, which will enable you to identify and update your NAP, along with other important business information like your website URL, services, or even relevant images, from one central location.

8. Build Local Backlinks

Backlinks or inbound links are effectively an extension of our NAP strategy, whereby you look to have relevant, local third-party websites link to your primary website pages.

Backlinks can validate your business from both local and product/service perspectives.

If you maintain listings with links in local directories, you will want to ensure those listings are in the proper categories, if category options are offered.

Ideally, these links to your website are “follow” links, which means Google will follow and recognize the source of the link to your content.

Most directories realize the value of “follow” links and therefore charge for inclusion, but you should also look for opportunities to secure links from other non-paid sources such as relevant partner, industry or service organization sites.

9. Engage With Your Community

Just as Google rewards GBP activity, it also pays attention to how active a business is within its community as a means to establish its local presence and authority.

Businesses noted to be engaging with local service organizations (e.g. Chambers of Commerce, charities, or sports groups), sponsoring local events, or partnering with other prominent local businesses are naturally deemed to be a thriving part of the community.

Engagement can include publishing and/or promoting linked content e.g. event announcements, partner pages tied to these partner organizations, and, of course, physically engaging and perhaps getting mentioned/linked in local news stories or other publications.

10. Pay Attention To The SERPs And The Long Tail

If you are going to optimize any aspect of your local web presence, you will want to monitor your progress in terms of whether or not and where you rank within Google Maps and the regular search engine results pages (SERPs) based on the keywords you are hoping to be found for.

You can perform your own manual Google searches (preferably in Incognito Mode and while not logged into a Google account), or you can choose from a number of rank monitoring tools, many of which enable you to specifically filter out Map rankings.

When considering which keywords to follow, be sure to consider and include local identifiers and qualifying keywords such as “near me,” “best,” and “affordable” – e.g “auto body shops near me,” “best auto body shop in Barrie,” or “affordable auto body work.”

Three, four, and five-keyword phrases like these are considered long tail, which means they may not have significant local search volume – but these volumes can add up, and any local business is well advised to focus on topical groups of related keywords rather than chasing more competitive phrases.

In time, if you’ve truly established your business’ local authority, the short tail top rankings will follow.

Put Your Business On The Google Map

So now, with your laundry list in hand, be like Mike and put your local business on the map.

Establishing your authority and expertise online is not really all that different from how it’s always been in the real world, but it can take time, as any real relationship should.

Google rewards those businesses that provide the best answers to their customers’ questions, deliver solid products and services, take an active role in their local community, have their customers say nice things about them, and provide a high level of customer service at all times.

If this describes your business, get out there and do it.

More resources:


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock





Source link

Continue Reading

SEO

Google Outdoor Play Area & Outdoor Games

Published

on

GooglePlex Outdoor Play & Games


Here is a photo from a spot at the GooglePlex where Google has set up a nice and comfortable outdoor play area with outdoor games.

This was shared on Instagram who posted “fun times at work.”

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





Source link

Continue Reading

Marketing

Turn Dry Data Into Rich, Relatable Stories With These Tips

Published

on

Turn Dry Data Into Rich, Relatable Stories With These Tips


One of the best things about being a content writer is that no matter the topic, we have a lot of insights at our fingertips. You can use it to provide perspective, validate ideas, give more context, etc.

Of course, all that data also is one of the worst things for a content writer. How do you dig out the story behind the numbers without getting buried under the mountains of facts and stats?

At Stacker, we shape our newswire stories around data and use it to drive all our storytelling. We’ve found the best-performing articles – regardless of topic – share similar strategic data-centered approaches. Here’s some of what we learned by creating data-driven content that engages audiences and earns links from other sites.

Go local and meet readers where they are

A story tailored to a region, state, or city feels instantly relatable and captures the attention of readers’ living in that geographic area. In fact, 71% of our publishing partners say their most-prioritized stories have local news angles.

Narrowing data-driven stories to a state or metro level may seem limiting. Content writers think the more hyper-focused a story, the smaller the reach. But presenting localized data doesn’t have to be an either-or choice.

#Content writers can use data to give stories both a hyper-local and national appeal, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

CNBC didn’t make a choice in their story about how much the top 1% of U.S. households earn each year. It mentioned the broadest geographic figure – the national number ($597,815 a year on average). Then it detailed the average for each state, from West Virginia’s $350,000 to Connecticut’s $896,490.

CNBC gives its data-driven story national and hyper-local appeal.

One of our top-performing stories for a brand partner looked at the rural hospitals most at risk of closing. It broke down the status of rural hospitals over 43 states, then distilled local versions that would feel most meaningful for targeted audiences from California to New York.

Takeaway: Data at a state- or city-level can have local appeal while still connecting to a newsy national trend. It also opens up your content’s promotion potential to national and local news sites.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Host a hometown showdown by comparing data

People love comparing their corner of the world with others. A recent Redfin report found an unprecedented 8% of U.S. homes are now worth at least $1 million. The story didn’t just reveal the top five or 10 cities but ranked 99 so readers can see how million-dollar neighborhoods compare to other million-dollar neighborhoods.

In this snippet of the comparison content, six of the cities are in California – half of which have a 50% or greater share of homes worth at least $1 million in 2022. Other cities at the top of the list include Honolulu, Seattle, and New York City.

A snippet from Redfin’s story that ranks home price data by state.

When people can see their cities’ results juxtaposed with others, it puts the information into a more powerful context. Ranking stories, such as states with the lowest income taxes or the cities with the highest rent, often perform well.

Ranking stories – where readers can see how their locale compares to others – perform well, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Writing headlines with phrases like “highest-to-lowest,” “biggest increase,” and “lowest-priced” also signals to readers the underlying numbers-driven methodology used in the content. They not only reinforce the data-first approach, but they build confidence in the prospective reader that the content is powered by data, not opinion.

Takeaway: Use data-driven rankings to tap into readers’ curiosity by showing how their region compares with others in timely trends.

Let time tell the story by thinking past the latest data

Many content creators understandably focus on building a story around the latest numbers or study results to be relevant and trendy.

But pulling in a bit of history through older data sets can add a richer dimension to the storytelling. Not only does historic information add more context to the latest data or breaking news, but it helps the piece become more evergreen. Long after a news headline fades, readers may be still interested in the richly layered content.

Historical data can lead to a more relevant story today, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

We did this with a story about how commuting in America changed over the past 50 years.

Stacker used historical data to highlight how the American commute has changed over time.

Without adding historical data, it would have been impossible to highlight that the average length of work commutes has increased 10% since 2006. This contextualization offers a perspective that wouldn’t be possible by only detailing the current average commute time.

Self, a credit-building app, mapped poverty levels state by state using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Instead of just mapping the country with the latest poverty rates for each state, the story also charted the rates over time. With this valuable context, readers could see how states’ poverty rates rose and sank after natural disasters, financial booms and busts, and ultimately COVID-19, giving a more thoughtful story that identified contributors to those poverty rate changes.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce tackled the value of higher education with another data-centered approach: It looked at the salaries of college graduates in 10-year increments since their enrollment. The findings, picked up by Yahoo! Finance and others, assessed how many decades it took for a student to earn a return on investment on the cost of their college.

Takeaway: Using data over time can add richer context to what numbers mean today – and make the content feel more evergreen.

Liven up humdrum stories with different data filters

Data-driven stories emphasize relatability – they can connect better with your audience and often present a new angle that stands out from your same old story approaches. You can find local angles, make a comparison, and use historical data to provide unique context.

Unsure what data to start with? Poke around government sites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Education. They can be great places to dig into and see how national-level data looks when filtered across industries, career fields, household incomes, metropolitan areas, and more. By adding focused data to your content, you can tell stories that feel more personalized – and meaningful – to your readers.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Liveseo.com