Everyone wants to know the secret to getting their site ranked higher in search engine listings, even more so those small and local businesses that are trying to figure out how to get noticed amidst the ocean of webpages that offer similar services (and may not even be on the same continent). In the last 20 years, digital marketing has become one of the most important ways to advertise… but reaching the target local market is a challenge, to say the least, and a functional online marketing strategy is certainly not as evident as putting up a billboard at a major intersection. So what’s the secret sauce, and how do some local businesses triumph over others with the gold trophy inscribed “I’m number 1 on Google”?
The unfortunate truth (at least for anyone searching for a quick and easy fix) is that there is no one “secret” magical solution that will solve your SEO dilemma. The algorithms that calculate rankings for major engines like Google are complex and are not published for the general public to view, so a guess at what actions carry more weight than others are as good as that: a guess, although it may be an educated one. One of the major reasons for this is to prevent black-hat techniques and to promote organic and honest ranking, which is the upside to this truth (if you are genuinely doing what you claim to be).
Increasing search engine rank in general takes a solid strategy, continued effort, resources, and (most of all) patience. Being a local entity adds a new dimension to the equation, and last year with Google changing its local search results from the 7-pack to the 3-pack and removing of reviews from results, the competition to be noticed on the WWW has become even fiercer.
While there may not be one cure-all ingredient that can bring you from the fourth page to the first page of a Google search overnight, there a few simple yet potent techniques that go a long way in boosting your ranking.
If you want to be found locally via your digital presence, it is obvious that somehow your coordinates in material space-time have got to be listed “out there” in the virtual universe. But the big question is, “Where is ‘out there’?“. Of course, putting your address on your website is a no-brainer, but this is just a drop in the bucket. Where else does one list one’s local business to increase virtual presence? To this end, there are several local search engine directories (such as Yelp or the online version of the Yellow Pages) that serve this purpose, and there are also certain social media platforms that encourage your business page to list its address (like Google My Business).
So often I see (not sure if you want me to write in the first person or not) local and small businesses recognizing the value of having a website for their marketing purposes. They immediately jump on the bandwagon, have an exquisitely professional website built for them with all the dynamic bells and whistles, and make sure to update the website regularly with events, new services, and the addition of members to the team. But time and time again there is one thing missing: A blog that has frequent entries offering interesting content that provides relevant value to the site visitor. Having a wealth of educational content on your site that responds to questions that a potential client might have about your particular industry will draw in your target audience and create the potential for conversions.
Digital link building —getting your website linked on external pages—is one of the more difficult but highly rewarding SEO techniques. Not only are new pages discovered when search engine spiders crawl the web and see websites linked on another page, but the number of times a page appears as an external link is also recorded by search engine databases. Subsequently, this data is fed into machine learning algorithms, creating the digital metrics that decide who’s who and where they belong in the virtual hierarchy, building link profile and reputation according to quantitative analysis.
Citations are similar to link building in that it indicates that an external website gives mention to your business name and address, though it does not necessarily provide a link to your website. Of course, the regular local search engines (as discussed above) achieve this goal, however this is akin to the low fruit on the tree. There are certainly much more interesting citations available , such as being cited in a Wikipedia article or in the digital version of a local newspaper. As with link building, this technique requires more strategy and time to implement since it is a true, honest, organic white-hat indicator of the worth and notability of businesses.
Are you scratching your head about how to begin marketing your local business online? Keep browsing our blog for more resources that can guide you through the process, or set up an appointment now with one of our SEO experts. We are ready to meet all of your SEO needs in the most efficient and effective manner available on the web!