Remember the good old days…when gas only cost a quarter, the Kardashians weren’t on TV and Google would return 7 – yes SEVEN – businesses in their local search results? Aaaaah, the memories. Unfortunately, gas prices are skyrocketing, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney are all over the airwaves and as of last August, Google has trimmed down its desktop local search pack to just 3 measly results.
Well, we can’t help you with your fuel budget or do much to bring back quality television (sorry), but we can help you improve your chances of being one of those lucky 3 businesses featured at the top of Google. Interested? Here are 5 things you can start doing today to improve your local SEO in London.
First thing is, if you want even the slightest chance of being listed in one of those top 3 slots, you have to make sure that any and all information you can find online about your company is reliable and full correct. Google does its homework when pulling business information, and will look to the ends of the interwebs to find what it’s looking for. Start with your website and work your way out, checking any place where your business is listed, such as review sites and online directories. Make sure any discrepancies are corrected ASAP.
This opportunity should also be used to identify any relevant sites where your business should be listed but is not. The more you amass legitimate listings and connections, the more credibility Google will lend to your name, which means you can improve your chances of going up the local search ranking ladder. If you’re not sure which direction to go in, then Yext.com is a fantastic starting point.
Put your link building cap on.
Obtaining as many high-quality links that point back to your website is a vital part of SEO and can tremendously improve your ranking results. The problem is, not just any old link will count. In fact, if you’ve got a bunch of questionable sites linking back to yours, it could actually have the opposite affect and Google might even penalize you – the last thing you want, especially after all the blood, sweat and tears (mostly tears) you’ve put into your SEO efforts.
The goal is to get links from sites that are a.) relevant to your product, service or industry, and b.) have a high domain authority. We’re also going to let you in on a little secret. Despite what you’ve probably heard, “nofollow” links aren’t worthless. Yes, “dofollow” links are more valuable, but every link you get – provided it’s from a quality site – has the potential to lead to things like increased brand awareness, additional web traffic and more links, so don’t be a link snob.
Check out these 10 local link building strategies, for a more in-depth look at how to generate solid links to your site.
Build a loyal audience – organically.
Another local SEO strategy that can help boost your chances of landing a spot in the top 3 is to build up loyal readers, fans and followers to follow faithfully. This is best accomplished through the creation, publication and subsequent sharing of quality material, be it captivating photographs, insightful posts, infographics, photos, humorous memes or any combination of these. The key is to understand the needs, wants and pain-points of your target audience and then create content that addresses those areas.
To truly be effective, your content must be not only valuable to your audience (and, of course, keyword optimized), but it must also be consistently produced. If you only update your blog once every 6 months, don’t expect to amass droves of readers. On the other hand, when people know they can expect regular kick-ass content from you, chances are they’ll keep coming back for more. Getting your content shared is also important, so make sure you’re leveraging your social channels and always include social share buttons on every piece of content you produce to make it easier for others to spread the word.
Get others to sing your praises.
Let’s just face it. Your product or service is extremely damn fine. Yes, you have plenty of happy customers thinking the same way. Why not use the tool to help push your way up the ranks of local search engines? Online reviews are super powerful in terms of SEO so it should be a priority to focus on getting as many positive reviews as possible. The trick is, they’ve got to be genuine. In other words, you’ve got to be careful how you get them, and they really need to be honest, or it could backfire on you.
The good news is, online reviews do much more than just boost your SEO. They can also significantly improve your chances of landing new customers. In fact, according to a recent Zendesk survey, nearly 95% of those polled said that online reviews directly influence their buying decisions. So, it’s really a win-win. If you need some help in this area, start by asking your most loyal customers if they wouldn’t mind sharing their positive experiences online. And make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Position your business as a ‘specialist’.
Keywords are still an integral part of how websites are ranked in the results of the search engine, so it’s only natural to assume that this is equally important in getting your business into the local 3-pack. If you find it almost impossible to climb the ranks, or even stay on the first page, it might be because you are too general in your targeted keywords.
In some instances, it can be helpful to be more specific, such as targeting a particular niche or drilling down deeper into what you have to offer. For instance, rather than simply using the popular search term “contractor,” specifying the kind of contracting work you do, such as “roofing contractor” could dramatically improve how your site performs in the SERPs.
Most importantly, try not to panic. In reality, the same rules that have always governed SEO are still very much a part of the new 3-pack rule. It just may take a little extra effort to squeeze your way in to one of those coveted top-three spots. But, let’s face it, doing so will be time much better spent than trying to keep up with those darn Kardashians.