Posts

8 SEO Tricks for Small Business Owners in Ohio

There are over 900,000 small businesses in Ohio. That’s a lot of competition you have to deal with on a daily basis. The best way to get your fair share of the spending market is through strategic SEO tricks.

SEO refers to your ranking on search engines. In fact, the abbreviation stands for search engine optimization. Improving your ranking on Google and Bing is the most effective way to find new customers, even for localized businesses.

Did you know over 1 billion people utilize Google to find answers, businesses, and products? You need to get your name and branding in front of these people, and SEO tricks are the best way to do that.

Here are our top 8 SEO tricks for small businesses owners in Ohio.

1. Build a Google My Business Page

The most important thing you can do is to create a Google My Business Page. When you search for a business, such as “chiropractor near me,” there are a select couple of businesses that appear on the right-hand side of the search results.

These businesses are the first thing that your customers are going to look at. In order to get your name and business in front of them, you have to create a Google My Business Page.

They are easy to do but can take time because Google will send you a letter. For that reason, it’s best to get started as soon as possible.

2. Encourage Online Reviews

After you’ve created a Google Business Page, you need to get some good reviews on it. People are much more likely to choose a business that has lots of good reviews than one that has none.

Find the best ways to motivate your customers to give good reviews. You could offer a free product or service, put their name in a drawing, or give them an extra stamp on their loyalty card. Whatever you choose, you just need to do it.

Sometimes asking after a good experience is enough to encourage your customers. Be sure to include your employees in the strategy. They can have a big effect on the customers as well.

3. Improve Your Site

The next step seems obvious, but it’s very important. You need to make sure that your site runs smoothly. Search engines like Google, penalize companies big time for errors in codes or links.

Some simple ways to improve your SEO is to improve the page speed, remove broken links, and fix formatting errors. By following these steps not only will your site run more smoothly, but people will stay on it longer as well, which is great for rankings.

Even the best SEO sites still need good creative designs, however. Do you know why?

4. Add About Pages for Your Team

For certain businesses such as physicians, lawyers, artists, etc., it’s not only important to market your business but also your employees. Writing about your employees’ specialties will help you to gain more traction on SEO as well.

Depending on the length and the number of employees you want to highlight, you can have one about page or multiple. It’s crucial for all businesses websites to have a clear about page with their employees and traits.

Be sure to include your location in that description as well.

5. Geotag Your Photos

Did you know you can mark where you are in your photos? While private and personal accounts don’t typically use this feature, it’s great for businesses.

You can upload your photos to your Google Business Page. This will add a lot of credibility to your brand. Not only that, but it will also help people to see what your shop or office looks like.

This is a valuable feature because it can make finding your business easier both on the web and in real life.

6. Improve Voice Search

A new trend that is emerging is voice search. With new technologies such as Alexa and Echo, people are now able to search and find answers just by talking.

Optimize short passages that Google can read out loud. Often Google only chooses one place of information to answer a question. Make sure that you qualify by using the right length and word phrasing.

7. Petition Local Directors and Sites

Our next SEO trick can have a big impact right away. Petition local directors and sites. There are companies, such as Yelp, that have worked a long time to build up their user base and give them good information.

If there is a site that caters to your audience already, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, try to get some quality coverage on that site. You’d be surprised by how much traffic you’ll start to receive.

Every site has different requirements, so be sure to do your research first. In fact, Yelp is based on others reviews of your product. It’s illegal on their site to reward positive reviews.

Knowing simple rules like this will help you to navigate the best sites and get the most out of their platform.

8. Create a Localized Blog

The last trick is to create a blog. While there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, many are not localized for the area they are in.

You can do this by adding in location-based keywords, such as “Ohio baker” or the name of your city. Be sure to combine both locations and the keywords you want to rank for in one blog.

This will ensure that not only are you getting more traffic, but you are getting the right kind of traffic as well.

Find More SEO Tricks

SEO can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to learn and so many different ways to work on it. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Hiring a digital advertising agency can help you get the hang of things and learn even more SEO tricks.

Find out what a digital advertising agency can do for you and how you begin improving your bottom line right away. Contact us for more information.

How to Set Your SEO Goals and Objectives

,

Meeting your marketing goals is a no-brainer. What’s a company without promotion, or a product without buzz? Whether you’re in the luxury auto business, oversee a chain of upscale hotels, or sell insurance, marketing is a crucial part of your business. Of course, you’re well-versed in the new age of online marketing, whether you came up from the beginning or are a digital native — but are you focusing on your SEO goals?Like pairing a choice cut of meat with the perfect glass of wine, your marketing strategy and SEO objectives should work beautifully together. But first, you have to know what you want your goals to be. Not sure where to start? Follow along. We’re going to walk through a foolproof strategy to crafting goals for your business that will take your ROI to the next level.

What Your SEO Goals Need To Accomplish

The end result of any SEO strategy is profit — plain and simple. You’re not in business to JUST make friends, even though that’s a big plus. On the road to increasing revenue, there are a few pit stops that don’t have clear dollar signs attached. However, they’re just as important as any measurable transaction. These are the KPIs to keep an eye on, so pay close attention!

Pulling Rank

Here’s why you’re taking a deep dive into the world of SEO: to be number one with a bullet on Google. In the U.S., Google reigns supreme, with a market share of 63.4 percent.

The second biggest search engine might surprise you — YouTube. Facebook is growing in leaps and bounds every day, too. Combined with Google, they represent a stunning 103% of digital advertising growth. It’s safe to say aligning your organic marketing and SEO strategy is something you can’t afford to ignore.

Getting Traffic

First comes rank, then comes traffic — but not immediately. Traffic is defined by how many people visit your site. Even those pages that break the top ten search results aren’t successful overnight, so be patient with this metric.

A great way to pull in potential customers is to make sure your meta description and title tag are appealing. Great content gets clicks, so align marketing and SEO with attractive content for maximum results. Getting eyeballs on the page is important, so it’s crucial to utilize search engine optimization to climb the search engine ranks.

Engagement And Relationships

This is truly the meat and potatoes of your SEO strategy – profit is just dessert. Engagement can be a like or a click, but your overall aim is to build a relationship. Website optimization goals can sound very clinical — metadata and tagging — but this is the part that’s very human.

Here’s the reason why building online relationships means more than ever: if a person feels a company aligns with their values, their sense of self, they’ll promote that company. Through a like or a share, driving friends to your site with Facebook links, they’re doing marketing for you. And you didn’t have to spend an extra dime. How can SEO help you achieve this hard to measure goal? By getting you in front of your audience…

Building An Online Community

Do your own search engine research and see what topics are associated with your product or service. Craft winning content around a narrow focus and promote it on your social sites. Don’t just think about plugging your products — people smell a disingenuous ad a mile away.

Instead, answer your clients’ questions; add value to their everyday life with a fun picture. Yes, the engagement metric is difficult to pin down and there’s no faking it, but if this isn’t one of your main goals, you risk being left in the digital dust.

Conquering Conversions

OK, so you’re in the top five search engine results, you’re seeing more people clicking onto your site, and you’ve built a nice online community. Now, how do you finish the deal?

All of the above is wonderful to have, but where you can really shine is by mastering conversions. First, you need a clear idea of what a conversion looks like to you. Is it a subscription to a newsletter? Is it a wholesale purchase? Once you’ve clearly defined that goal, line up your marketing and SEO strategies to really kill it. This is where you’re going to need to do some research on your customers — study the psychology of what leads them to turn over their cold, hard cash to you.

Tap Into Your Customers’ Mindset

If you’re finding this step in the process puzzling, why not ask your customers directly? Include an exit survey after a purchase, or send a follow-up email to gather some insight. You might not get a bounty of answers, but whatever you get back will at least yield a few clues. In turn, you can use that information to tweak your content and target what areas you rank highly for.

For example, if you’re selling golf equipment and you’re not seeing ideal golf ball sales, there are a few things you can do. Look into the purchasing habits of the customers that are buying them. Do they tend to prefer one brand over another? If so, feature that brand on your product page! Next, create content regarding the golf balls — things like “top five high performance golf balls” or maybe even try something funny, like “craziest places golfers have lost their golf balls”.

Switching things up and having a dynamic approach is part of that engagement thing we mentioned before! Whatever a conversion looks like to you, do your research and hone in on your strategy.

Going Beyond the Ordinary

Now that you’ve mastered the most basic SEO elements a company needs to focus on, you’ll want to go beyond the ordinary. That’s why you’re going to need to bookmark this article.

There are other strategies that many people overlook or dismiss, but are so crucial to dominating in 2017 and beyond. Get the aforementioned goals in place and you’re ready to move on to the next level.

Reputation Management

We can’t stress how important reputation management is, especially for local businesses. Have you ever gone on an epic rant on a business’ Facebook page and then…nothing? Or how about that time you took a moment out of your busy day to bestow a five-star rating, and it went totally unacknowledged? I’m sure you weren’t too thrilled.

Believe it or not, reviews play a huge role in the world of SEO. Today, reputation management is not an easy thing. If you think you can sit an inexperienced intern down in front of a computer and have them answer Google business replies, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. That leads me to my next point…

The Right Fit for an Important Job

Hire someone with experience in customer relations to take care of your accounts. You might have to invest a little bit more than you would by hiring a newbie, but it’s worth it. Think about it — what’s your business’s reputation worth to you?

Your ranking will soar if you have someone at the helm fielding those negative reviews quickly, as they pop up. Don’t neglect your positive reviews, either. A quick “thank you” goes a long way toward building a relationship with existing – and potential – customers.

School’s In

You might have a killer line that leads to conversions. You might have all your meta tags lined up. Your traffic might be rolling in and your online community thriving. But if you think you can still do more to boost sales, consider educating consumers about what you’re offering.

Maybe your product has a hidden use. What if there’s a service you offer that people don’t know they need? Talk up your business in a way that brings a great understanding of what you do. Knowledgeable content is more engaging and builds trust in your brand. It’s a good idea to include consumer education into your goal strategy.

Bonus SEO Goals

Here are a few more ideas that can help you match your SEO plan and marketing strategy, but be careful. Not everything is appropriate for your brand.

When posting to Facebook, consider using emojis where it makes sense. They’re a great way to help your brand seem fun and young. Make sure you know what each one means, though! You don’t want a smiley face scandal on your hands.

Is there someone in your field that’s popular with your potential clients? Consider reaching out to industry thought leaders and partnering up. Influencer marketing is a great way to build trust and give your popularity a boost.

Live video is a great way to get eyeballs on your page, but here’s another place to tread carefully. Before you go live, make sure you’ve got an appropriate setup and a confident person in front of the camera. Mistakes happen, and that’s the thrill of live video, but don’t set yourself up for failure.

Unlock Your Achievements

Now that you know what elements of your strategy to work on, here’s how you’re going to achieve them.

  1. Give yourself time to measure your accomplishments. You might see your day-to-day metrics rise and fall dramatically, but you need to think in averages — SEO results take time; it’s worth the wait.
  2. That being said, keep your methods flexible. SEO is changing all the time. If there’s a new research development that says live video isn’t ranking the way it used to, move on to what’s going to meet your goals.
  3. Apply the appropriate resources to your targets. Don’t expect to create a content-rich blog with just one beleaguered intern. Work with the resources that are available – or bring in the pros.

Here at iSynergy, we’re well-versed in crafting great SEO goals and helping you achieve them, too.

Which SEO ideas do you want to apply to your company’s marketing strategy? Have you ever used any of these methods? Let us know in the comments section!

The Benefits of SEO Outsourcing for Your Website

,

Running a business is a constant battle of efficiency vs profit margin.

As a business owner, you must always weigh the potential of return on investment (ROI). Which is why SEO outsourcing may not seem to make much sense initially. It’s just writing, right? How hard can it be?

The truth is, companies who outsource their SEO work see a much higher ROI than companies who keep their SEO projects internal. Outsourcing is time-saving and cost-effective, returning money on the backend that the company might not otherwise have seen.

What is SEO?

In case you are curious or just need a refresher, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It describes an industry dedicated to studying trends across search engines and creating content which takes advantage of these trends to drive traffic.

SEO uses research to study what potential customers search for, and uses those phrases as keywords in content. Repeating keywords helps search engines like Google find a website and index it in search results. The more effective the keyword use, the higher a website appears in a search engines results.

It seems simple, but once you really get into the metrics and trends, the job of creating SEO content can easily take many hours a week. So why pay for SEO outsourcing?

Benefits of SEO Outsourcing

It’s true, you can absolutely hand off your SEO work to a current employee or hire someone in-house.

However, the magnitude of an SEO job is going to be a strain on any employee who also has other responsibilities within a company. Hiring someone to dedicate to the job is an option, but why pay an entire salary, complete with benefits and oversight, when you can hire a company of professionals?

Still aren’t convinced? Read on for the top reasons you should outsource your SEO.

1. No Overhead for a New Employee

The biggest problem with hiring someone in-house is the cost involved. Business owners know that while employees are the cogs that make the whole operation run, they do come with that pesky price tag.

This is all not to mention the cost and time associated with the hiring process, training, and oversight an in-house employee requires. Add in salary and benefits, and it’s an expensive proposition.

With SEO outsourcing, you can save time and money for you and your employees. SEO companies have trained writers, and you only pay per project — or as part of a package. Which means you don’t pay for what you don’t need.

2. Immediate Expertise

Many SEO companies keep dozens of writers on staff in niches from finance to health to education. What this means for you is that, for the cost of your service, you have excellent writers at your fingertips who know your industry and know how to take advantage of search trends.

Compare this to hiring in-house. You may find an SEO expert who knows your field, which is fine. But that’s no team. Having an entire company full of experts at your fingertips gives you the opportunity for richer content with more real-world impact.

3. Constant Analysis

SEO companies are constantly monitoring search engine trends so that you don’t have to. As these companies keep an eye on the metrics, they can see what keywords work best at driving traffic.

This sort of analysis takes time, and it helps to know what you’re looking at when evaluating the mountains of data. By having an SEO company do your content creation, you’ll have a strategy that is constantly updating to match the latest search metrics.

This way, your search traffic is constantly improving without you having to worry about the ins and outs of Google algorithms.

4. Higher Rankings and Traffic

The SEO experts are successful because they are good at what they do. Effective SEO drives you further up in search page results, which drives traffic.

Do you know how to get yourself onto the first page of search results? Maybe not — but SEO experts do — and they are great at it. It’s vital to remember that as search engine rankings climb, so does traffic. And as traffic climbs, so does your revenue.

This is where that high return on investment comes in. Hiring an outside company to ensure that your search rankings continue to climb helps build and secure a loyal client base. Which, in turn, secures a steady flow of capital for your business.

5. Set it and Forget it

Once you have secured an SEO company, content creation no longer needs to be a constant concern. Your job becomes merely an issue of providing topics (with some companies, you don’t even need to do that) and approving content before it goes live.

This gives you the freedom to take care of the parts of your business that keep it running, without having to worry about the behind-the-scenes work of keeping up with your Google rankings!

6. Confidence in Hiring

If SEO isn’t your area of expertise, hiring someone for that role can be daunting. You may not know what to look for or what sort of questions to ask.

By outsourcing your SEO to a company dedicated to content creation, that worry is eliminated. The writers and content creators have already been interviewed, trained, and screened. You can have confidence that they are excellent at what they do.

7. Timely Results

These types of companies work on deadlines. Because their employees aren’t tied up with any of the other workings of a business, they can dedicate their entire work week to creating optimized content for you.

This translates into rapid turnaround of quality work. There’s no need to start nagging employees to make sure that the latest blog post is done, no post scheduling, and no worrying that your online presence is falling off.

This also means that as new content is generated, search engines are constantly indexing your new material and your search ranking is continually improving.

8. Beginning to End Management

Outside of the initial contracting of the SEO company, there is little for you to do in terms of oversight. Once the project is in the hands of your SEO provider, they take over the management, from assigning a writer to proofreading and editing, optimization, links, and scheduling.

This becomes an entire aspect of the business that you no longer need to even think about. That leaves you with some valuable time to worry about other things — like the 75 emails you received in the past hour.

9. Customizable for your Needs

The beauty of paying professionals to do the heavy lifting is that it is, by nature, entirely tailored to your needs. From post length to keyword saturation to post frequency, you get to decide what your company needs — after all, you’re the one running the operation!

If you only need one post a month, hiring someone in-house seems silly. Contracting one post per month is more cost-effective and makes more sense financially. By the same token, if you want to post weekly, an SEO company will be able to handle the workload and turn out quality content in a timely manner.

10. Definitive Strategy From the Beginning

You will often hear marketing experts talk about “SEO strategy”. For many companies, this can take time to develop and comes from many months of trial and error. Learning to link social media sites and follow search metrics to glean the best keywords takes time and effort from your entire team.

Contracting an SEO company takes care of all those factors for you. Because SEO experts already know what works and what doesn’t, they are able to take your key audience, match it to effective social media and keywords, and create an solid SEO strategy without any guesswork.

This takes a huge amount of stress off of you as a business owner, and allows you to concentrate on growing your business without feeling like you need an extra degree in digital marketing.

11. Expert Work for Less Cost

Keep in mind that SEO companies keep a varied staff, and because they take care of the overhead, they can afford to pay these experts while spreading out the cost.

What this translates to — for you as the business owner — is expert SEO work at a fraction of the cost of an in-house employee. Even if you gave the job to an existing employee rather than hiring new, outsourcing is going to provide you with timely, better-qualified content without sacrificing in-house productivity.

In the end, the answer is obvious. Hiring a company of SEO experts to provide better quality content that will in turn churn out higher ROI makes more sense than trying to take care of it in-house. This is even before other services provided by SEO companies like social media management and website optimization are taken into account!

Have you found your own benefits to SEO outsourcing? If so, let us know in the comments below.

2017 SEO Trends | What to Look For…

,

SEO, SEO, SEO… why won’t this term just go away? Well, friends, it hasn’t gone away because it’s SUPER IMPORTANT (shocker)! Why even have a website if people can’t find it on the internet? Below are some vital tips that are sure to impact your visibility in Google searches.

Rule #1 — GET GOOGLE’S TRUST

Google is the number one search engine on the planet, so getting noticed by them is imperative to getting your website seen by all. The only way to build trust with Google, however, is to build quality sites that have staying power. Bending the rules to get noticed/trusted more quickly rarely works with Google, so the best advice is to continue producing high-quality content with authentic images, the right keywords, and fast navigation (all while completing regular updates).

It may take years of link-consistency for Google to boost your search engine ranking, but this is ALWAYS time well spent.  It is imperative to not only consider the indexed age of your site, but also to focus on relevant, consistent updates to your site. Google’s algorithms are always logging, analyzing, and judging behaviors related to your site, its links, content, and so on… Google never sleeps!

Rule #2 — QUALITY > QUANTITY… ALWAYS

If you haven’t already started, 2017 is the time to move away from generating a ton of content on a daily basis to generating GOOD CONTENT as often as possible.

Google has gotten tired of deceitful websites and poor user experiences – which is where Google’s Panda algorithm comes into play. Its purpose is to lower the ranking of low-quality sites and return high-quality sites to the top of search results (consequently, you should steer clear of link-generating software and article spinners).

In order to achieve a respectable ranking on Google’s SERPs, focus on elevating quality over quantity. Engagement levels and the length of time visitors spend reading your content will send strong quality signals to Google and boost your exposure on their search engine.

Relevance of content is of the utmost importance, as viewers have become reliant upon Google to know that the first result is the best result. Competition for that top spot is fierce, so be certain that your content delivers real value.

Of course, other factors matter, too, but without great content, you will not rank. This doesn’t just include the creation of great anchor content on your site – you also need equally-great content that links to valuable, relevant information produced on a regular basis (blogs, ebooks, etc). This is known as content marketing. Need more info on content marketing? Forbes has a great article that will key you into the basics… or simply KEEP READING (we’ll be covering that topic in a minute).

Rule #3 — SORRY TO TELL YOU, BUT SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER

Short, sweet, and to the point – readers don’t have the attention spans they used to. Content needs to pack a powerful punch. But, be careful not to go too short on length, which cuts down your site’s value. Anything less than 1,000 words has a difficult time competing.

A study of Google’s rankings determined that the first page of its SERPs with the top spots were all above 2,000 words. That being said, don’t simply stuff content into an article until you reach the 2,000 word mark. It needs to be well-written with a laser-focus. Being a great writer and being a great SEO writer are not the same things. Stay on point, and develop your content about a specific topic or keyword.

Rule #4 — KEYWORDS ARE KEY (BUT NOT THE ONLY KEY)

Keywords remain an essential element to building effective SEO content in 2017, but Google also wants to focus on easily consumable content that isn’t overstuffed with keywords. It’s a fine line, for sure… a line that is carefully guarded by Google’s Penguin algorithm.

So, in order to reach a higher ranking in Google Search, it’s important to use a combination of exact-match keywords and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. LSI keywords are relevant and similar keywords that make the writing feel more organic in nature.

Your goal is to maintain a ratio of 70-80% LSI keywords to the 30-20% of exact match keywords. Ensure that similar phrases to your primary keyword appear in a sufficient manner with a natural flow. Google’s core algorithms include over 200 factors, so try not to get overwhelmed. Focus on generating quality content that is long enough to clearly convey the message you are trying to send.

Rule #5 — ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES PROJECT (AMP) IS HERE TO STAY… WE THINK

Mobile searches are now outpacing desktop searches, and Google is furiously focused on mobile. Ever since its launch in February 2016, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) has been all over SEO news, yet SEO professionals are still wary of AMP being another Google fad. According to Google, however, AMP isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Google now links to AMP pages in all its search results, which shows the project is now pretty central to the company’s plans,” says Adam Greenberg, Global Product Partnerships – Search and Mobile Platforms for Google. Overlooking mobile usability when considering SEO will result in your site being left in the dust. Here are a couple of reasons why you should consider AMP in your strategy:

  1. AMP pages load 30 times faster
    Thanks to lighter HTML and CSS, and the fact that AMP content is cached in the cloud and delivered not from your server, but from the Google-hosted cached version, AMP pages load at super speed (the median load time is 0.7 seconds for AMP, and 22 seconds for non-AMP pages). This gives your users a better overall experience and lessens bounce rates.
  2. Positive effect on rankings and CTR
    According to Condé Nast’s John Shehata, AMP pages tend to perform better in search, both in terms of rankings and CTRs:“When we look at fresh content alone, AMP results account for twice as much traffic as non-AMP results.”

    AMP already dominates fresh content and its share will only grow. So, although AMP won’t immediately flood your site with traffic, it’s quite likely that building pages in compliance with AMP will pay off in the very near future.

How to Migrate a Website from HTTP to HTTPS

,

Before we start, let’s give a disclaimer: If you’re not already somewhat familiar with migrations, this probably isn’t the blog for you. Properly migrating from HTTP to HTTPS can be tricky even for an experienced developer – it requires time (probably more than you assume) and patience.

So, for the small business owner or online entrepreneur reading this blog, unless you want to lose access to your site or have your third party plugins malfunction, your takeaway here is this: get help from someone experienced in this process (because there are a lot of ways to mess it up)!

WHY HTTPS?

Because, Google says so. All joking aside, this transition has been in Google’s sights since early 2014, when they started using HTTPS as a ranking signal for SEO. More recently, though, the bigger motivation is a change in user experience.

As of January 2017, Chrome began indicating connection security with an icon (like above) in the address bar for HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit card information. Eventually, those warnings will become more prominent.

Long story short, Google is actively making the move toward creating a more secure web. So, you best get with the program.

HTTPS MIGRATION CHECKLIST

If you’re one of the people mentioned in the intro paragraphs with “experience in this process,” here is a list to keep you on track with the migration process.

  1. GET YOUR SSL
  2. INSTALL THE SSL CERTIFICATE
  3. DO A FULL BACKUP
  4. CHANGE LINKS TO HTTPS
  5. UPDATE EXTERNAL LINKS
  6. CREATE A 301 REDIRECT
  7. UPDATE URLs IN PPC LANDING PAGES
  8. UPDATE URLs IN EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
  9. UPDATE GOOGLE

Google (of course) has also created some best practices to follow. I’m partial to my list, naturally, but as always, Google provides a lot of good insight, including some common mistakes and tips.

Click here to download an even more detailed, pdf version of our HTTPS migration checklist.

And, last but not least – CONGRATULATIONS! If you completed that checklist, your site is now actively using HTTPS, and you are officially projecting a safe, secure presence to your visitors (and search engines). It took some time, and it wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it!

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

,

Imagine that you’re an auto dealership, and you’re looking for a way to stay ahead of the curve (which isn’t easy, because auto is a highly competitive industry). Would you believe that there is a FREE tool hiding in plain sight (on the internet, of course) that can launch you well past that curve and, instead, make you leader of the pack? It’s a little thing called Google My Business (GMB).

Many businesses have yet to realize the value of this free tool from Google, but, the exposure it can bring is astronomical. By simply registering your business with Google, you are able to optimize your exposure on search engines – particularly on Google’s search engine, which just so happens to be the largest on the planet.

Likely, if you’re reading this, you’ve already discovered this star in the Google galaxy. So, let’s talk about how you can make the most of Google My Business for YOUR business. All you need is a website and an email to get started, so, let’s dive right in!

Is Google My Business REALLY that Important to Local SEO?

Two words: Yes and YES.

According to Kevin Gibbons, Co-Founder and Chief Executive at BlueGlass (a content marketing agency based in the UK), having a GMB listing is critical.

The increased visibility that Google has placed around Google local listing results on mobile has meant that Google My Business is essential for local SEO.

If you are searching on a mobile device you will see that organic results are now shown below the fold (you have to scroll down to see them), and there are now only the top three Google local results being shown – So, due to the on-page real estate Google local can take up, there are huge traffic opportunities for being listed for competitive searches.

What are the Most Effective Ways to Optimize a GMB Listing?

Can’t find your business? Improve your info! Below are some easy (and also some more advanced) ways to get the most out of your GMB page.

  1. Verify your business. Seriously, if you haven’t already done this, stop reading right now, go verify your listing, and then come back. Learn more about verification here.
  2. Confirm that your information is correct and consistent across all of your digital outlets. Nothing drives customers away faster than incorrect information about your business. It sounds almost too easy, but BE CERTAIN that your address appears the exact same way each and every single time – right down to using “St.” vs “Street.” It matters.
  3. Add pictures (or better yet, a Street View virtual tour… but we’ll cover that in tip #4). It’s a always a good idea to have at least three pictures of your business, because they make a BIG difference. Show off your goods or services and highlight your story. Google offers some helpful guidelines for uploading pictures. Check it out.
  4. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you will feel like you hit the jackpot with Street View. This is one of our favorite Google tools, yet surprisingly, its benefits are not widely known. Undoubtedly, Google Street View WILL set you apart from your competition. Street View gives a 360-degree virtual tour of your business, and provides an immersive view of products, location, or whatever else you want to feature (For some creative ways to use Google Street View, see our blog, Getting the Most Out of Google Street View for Your Business).
  5. Interact with your customers by managing and responding to reviews. Ask for reviews, you say? Yikes! What? Ask for REVIEWS? Relax. Yes – ask for reviews – they are great for your business! Your rankings will improve, and the more reviews you have (and the more positive they are), the more people will feel comfortable doing business with you! Again, Google provides some great tips on not only asking for reviews, but also  responding to reviews.
  6. Build up your business profile by increasing relevant citations. Services like Yext can help manage those citations for your local listing. But, what the heck are citations? Well, they are basically the backbone to search engine algorithms – they are places (sites, etc)  where your information pops up on the internet.A company like Yext makes creating a broad swath of citations as easy as three clicks. Once you have that broad base of citations, building a wider array of citations in industry-specific and locally-relevant verticals becomes the main focus.

GMB is a valuable tool that, when used correctly, can take your business into the next stratosphere. Once you’ve implemented the above six tips, you can then begin focusing on the analytics and Insights offered by GMB. Insights let you know how customers found you, and this type of information is invaluable when it comes to reviewing what works (and what doesn’t) for your business.