Online search has become the number one method that consumers use to find local businesses. The days of opening the phonebook to find local services are deep in the past. As a business owner, you know that no matter how great your local reputation is, you can’t rely 100% on word-of-mouth referrals if you desire significant company growth. If your competitors’ websites are ranking higher than yours for relevant local search terms, they are taking all the new local customers! The organic process of optimizing your website to improve rankings on search engines like Google is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Keyword research, on-page optimization, website speed, and backlinks are just a few of the major influences on your website’s ranking ability. This guide will identify 5 things that you may be doing wrong if your website is underperforming in local search.
1. You haven’t done thorough keyword research
Keyword research is the first step in creating an SEO strategy. It means identifying the search terms that would likely result in conversions for your business. Imagine what consumers would type into Google when they want to find the products/services that your business provides. For example, if you owned a landscaping business in Austin, Texas, you’d want to rank for search terms like “lawn mowing service Austin” and “landscapers Austin, Texas”. You also want to choose keywords that indicate purchase intent. For local businesses, this usually means shying away from broader terms and focusing on more specific terms. While “plumbing” might get a high volume of searches, “sink repair company near me” implies stronger purchase intent.
2. Your website lacks on-page optimization
Once you’ve identified the best target keywords for each of your website’s pages, you need to optimize the content on those pages to rank for their respective keywords. Content optimization includes distributing target keywords throughout the content of the page and using them in H1, H2, and H3 headings. It also means using keywords in your meta-description, which is the short description that people see beneath your page title on a search engine results page.
3. Your website speed is sending prospects away
Slow websites don’t rank OR convert. Over a decade ago, Amazon released a shocking statistic based on their own research; one extra second of load-time would cost the online retail giant about $1.6 billion in sales per year. Studies have shown that most consumers will leave a website if it doesn’t load in just 3 seconds. Why would they wait for your website when your competitors are just a click away? It’s so easy to browse multiple competing sites on the web that you need to do everything you can to keep your visitors from leaving. PageSpeed Insights is a great tool created by Google that tells you if you have a website speed issue and offers suggestions to fix it.
It’s also important that your website is responsive on mobile devices and tablets. More than half of all Google searches now occur on mobile devices. If your website isn’t built to be fully responsive on all device types, you are losing a huge amount of your potential business from the internet.
4. You aren’t using Google My Business best practices
Your Google My Business listing is the most important online listing you can have. It has to be complete and totally accurate. This includes your phone number, address, website URL, business hours, professional photos, well-written description, and customer reviews. Google gives a strong ranking preference to companies that have a high number of positive Google reviews. You should be encouraging your happy customers to leave a review. One way you can do this by sharing a link to your Google Reviews page with your social media following and/or email list.
Besides helping with your search ranking, online reviews give you very real credibility. Bright Local’s 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey, which analyzes trends in local search, found that 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Take the time to check your online reviews and respond to them in a professional manner, whether they are positive or negative.
5. You don’t have a strategy for acquiring quality backlinks
“Acquiring backlinks” refers to the intentional process of getting other reputable websites to link back to yours. When Google sees that other credible websites have posted a link to your website, it gives you more credibility, therefore boosting your search ranking. There are several ways to acquire quality backlinks. One is to produce high-quality content and encouraging others to share it on their social media pages or websites. Another is to list your business on reputable online directories. There are some shady methods of acquiring backlinks that can actually hurt your search ranking. Make sure that the links you are acquiring come from relevant, reputable websites. We wrote a blog post on the subject of online directories. It includes a list of 10 websites we recommend every local business to list in. You can read it here: Do Online Directories Improve Your Search Ranking?
- The content on your website should be optimized with keywords that are likely to result in sales. Take the time to brainstorm with your team or with an SEO specialist to come up with the best keyword research possible.
- Check your website speed. Make sure your website is well-designed and responsive enough to load quickly on devices of all types.
- Follow Google My Business best practices and set up a complete and accurate profile.
- Get other trusted, authoritative websites to link to yours by sharing valuable content and listing with reputable directories.
Thank you for reading our blog post. We hope learned something that you can put into action today. SEO strategy, content creation, and web development are all complicated and time-consuming jobs. Plum Direct Marketing offers affordable services that help local businesses grow and thrive; from website design and optimization to digital advertising, social media, and beyond. Contact us at (508)-717-3509 for a free consultation, or check out our services for more information.