Category Archives: local website in search listings

10 Steps to Successful Online & Website SEO

online shopper finding business that utilized local seoKnowing the basics of search engine optimization (SEO)—and using the latest tactics—can be the difference between being lost online and generating valuable business leads. Successful local SEO gets a business found by local online visitors who are searching for information related to the business. Because search engines look for factors that cater to a better online experience for visitors, these tips can also convert visitors and give a business the edge over a competitor’s less-than-stellar web presence.

SEO can be broken down into two types: on-site and off-site. On-site SEO is the process of optimizing a website for search engines. This effort sets up a website so it checks off boxes on the list of search engine ranking signals. Off-site SEO are those checklist items that ensure a business shows up in search engine listings, such as a listing on an online directory.

While businesses have been using SEO for many years, SEO is an ever-evolving process with a changing list of ranking factors. To stay on top of those updates (and on top of the search engine results page), use these steps to get started and a professional marketing company to utilize the latest SEO practices.

On-Site SEO

Build a website with optimized structure and easy-to-use navigation.

Google has specifically stated that a HTTPS website is a top ranking signal. In addition to a secure HTTPS site, a website needs an optimized structure with an easy-to-use navigation. The latter is important for SEO and visitors. While SEO gets a website found, a website with an easy-to-use menu and conveniently positioned call-to-actions turns online visitors into buyers.

Consider website speed.

Website page loading speed matters, both to search engines and visitors. According to Google, when website page loading goes from one to three seconds, the chance of an online user leaving the website increases by 32%. That number almost triples, to 90%, when page loading speed goes from one to five seconds. The number increases to 106% when loading from one to six seconds. From one to 10 seconds, the chances of a bounce are a whopping 123%.

Make the website mobile-friendly.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of Americans have a smartphone. Google reports that more than half of online searches came from a search on a mobile device. Both of these statistics are the reason that a mobile-friendly site with fast loading time is a search engine signal.

Add optimized website content (for search engines and voice searches).

Optimized website content contains keywords that are relevant to online visitors’ searches. Basically, the website should contain information with keywords relevant to online searches—without sounding canned. This is another way that professionally-drafted website content can satisfy search engines and online visitors.

Select and optimize website images and video.

Website images are another integral part of a stellar website, both for online visitors and search engines. These images and videos should not be random media downloaded off of the internet (in fact, this is a huge online marketing mistake). Instead, the photos and video should be professional quality purchased or produced in-house. (These tips on choosing the right images for online marketing are invaluable.)

Add content on a regular basis.

New content regularly added to a website is a top search engine ranking signal. These types of content should be added on a regular basis to a website for optimal results. All content should be optimized with strategic keywords and information valuable to online visitors.

Off-Site SEO

Completely fill out a Google My Business listing.

Google My Business listings show up in searches when online users search for a local business. Businesses who claim a free listing can customize the information that shows up, such as the hours and listings. The claiming process is free, but does need to be confirmed by a postcard sent to the business address. For optimal results, take the process a step further by optimizing the GMB listing or outsource the task of creating and optimizing to trusted marketing professionals.

Claim review site listings.

Accurate listings on review sites are a valuable source of online traffic and a vital part of a business local SEO. This makes accurate and standard listings on Yelp, Manta, and the Better Business Bureau an important part of business’ efforts to get found online. Review sites should be monitored regularly (manually or with an automated system) to ensure that all negative reviews are responded to with excellent customer service.

Review company protocols to find ways to ask for reviews.

Positive online reviews build trust and earn customers. According to Search Engine Land, 88% of online visitors have reported that they factor online reviews into their purchasing decision. Businesses should make getting more reviews a top priority in daily operations; many of the asks for reviews can be integrated into daily operations.

Choose online directories.

Accurate business listings on online directories are another key to getting found in local searches. When claiming listings, businesses should make sure that the information is consistent on all sites. For example, an address with a street or suite should be written out fully or abbreviated the same on all sites. This effort can be done in-house or managed and updated by professionals as part of a comprehensive local SEO plan.

Website Optimization: Why SEO Matters (and What Works!)

women looking at optimized websites on tabletWebsites are one of the MOST powerful online marketing tools; they serve as the only platform online where a business can truly tell its story. This is not an overstatement. With ever-changing algorithms that continually cut audience reach, not even social media sites can say the same. While social media is an effective way to increase website traffic and customer interactions, the foundation of a solid online marketing plan is still the website.

Modern business websites need to be optimized for the target audience and search engines, making the website planning and building process with carefully planned website SEO more crucial than ever.

Importance of Website Speed

Waiting is become incredibly unpopular in almost every aspect of life—especially online. The winding circle while waiting for an app or a website to load can be maddening; it also costs business owners valuable inquiries and, eventually sales.

The statistics back it up. According to Google, when the time for a website page to load goes from one to three seconds, the chance of an online user leaving the website increases by 32%. That number almost triples, to 90%, when page loading speed goes from one to five seconds. The number increases to 106% when loading from one to six seconds. From one to 10 seconds, the chances of a bounce are a whopping 123%.

A fast website is not a luxury anymore; it’s a requirement for every business website. The Search Engine Journal recently published shocking statistics from an Unbounce study. Almost seventy percent of consumers reported that slow page loading speed plays a role in their buying decision. Forty-six percent of online users put “waiting for a website page to load” on their mobile devices at the top of their dislike list, according to Google.

Other Website Features that Count

A fast website is only a part of a stellar online customer experience that leads to more inquiries and customer conversions. That fact is why, according to Search Engine Journal, a website’s excellent customer experience is an integral part of high rankings on Google.

With over a billion websites online, the competition for the top of search engine rankings is fierce. In addition to website speed, modern websites need to built with an optimized structure. A secure HTTPS website is now a top priority for any business looking to improve their search engine ranking. That’s just the start of the list; websites also need to be mobile-friendly (also not an option for websites any more). More than half of all searches are done on a mobile device.

For businesses keeping track, the list of website features that get a website in front of potential customers is fast website loading speed, a secure protocol, and mobile-friendly design. Also high on the list is top-quality content.

Importance of Content

Optimized content valuable to online users, both on a website and blog, increases the amount of time online users spend on a page. This makes content an important search engine ranking signal—and should make it a high priority for businesses (either produced in-house or outsourced to professionals).

Basically, content should be written and developed for online users and search engines—-and keep being written and published on a regular basis. Websites with regular and relevant content continue to be ranked higher on search engines (and subsequently, in front of more potential customers). The content should be written for the target audience (potential customers) and optimized with keywords relevant to the online viewers and business. (Note: this does not mean packed with keywords, which is actually detrimental to content performance.)

In addition to well-written content, images and video should be included on the page for an optimal customer experience. (These content marketing do’s and don’ts can also contribute to a successful content plan.) Regularly published content should be promoted regularly to increase website traffic and reach marketing goals.

Value of Off-Site Local SEO

An optimized website is only part of the search engine optimization process. Off-site search engine optimization is also a factor when trying to gain valuable rankings, especially for local brick-and-mortar businesses. There are several aspects to local SEO: an optimized Google My Business listing, complete listings on review sites and online directories, and a process for brand reputation management. (This local SEO checklist breaks the process down into manageable steps.)

The process starts with claiming a business Google My Business listing and filling it out completely (this step-by-step guide for Google My Business is helpful). In addition to Google My Business, businesses should also strategically choose and add listings to online directories and review sites that are relevant to the business. Every listing should be filled out consistently with the exact same business name and address (i.e. Street versus St., Ste. Versus Suite).

Search engines list these review sites and directories (with the specific business listing) in relevant search engine results, such as in the “restaurants near me” or “flooring stores near me” searches. For that reason, businesses should concentrate on eliciting positive reviews and using positive customer service to communicate with customers leaving negative reviews.

6 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

customers looking at smartphone for local businessLocal businesses need local SEO. This isn’t an overstatement or an opinion. When a company’s local SEO efforts are sub-par, the company misses out on valuable opportunities to gain website traffic, leads, and sales. Fortunately, the effort doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it does need to be comprehensive and start with a few simple steps.

Confirm your Google My Business listing.

Think of Google My Business as a giant online directory filled with local business listings. When customers search for local businesses (i.e. “restaurants near me,” “antiques near me,” “furnace repair near me”), the search engine giant pulls the most relevant and local listings.

The process makes claiming a business’ Google My Business listing a top priority for companies wanting to improve their local SEO. The claiming process is free, but does need to be confirmed by a postcard sent to the business address. For optimal results, take the process a step further by optimizing the GMB listing or outsource the task of creating and optimizing to trusted marketing professionals.

Find more opportunities to ask for online reviews.

Online reviews are a key part of a local SEO strategy that gets results. Online reviews on sites like Yelp and Google My Business are incredibly relevant to customer searches about companies, making reviews a valuable asset for local companies.

Most customers won’t leave a review unless asked—and companies have numerous opportunities to do so. The process of asking for reviews (and improving local SEO) starts with a complete evaluation of company standard operating procedures. Companies can ask for reviews via:

  • Electronic communications (i.e. company promotional emails, sales professional emails to clients, follow-up emails after receiving product or service, etc.)
  • In-person asks (i.e. cashier during check-out process, sales professional in follow-up meeting, technician after service is completed, etc.)
  • Paper ask (i.e. postcard with information to leave review with package, sales professional thank you note, etc.)

Monitor online reviews.

Asking for online reviews comes with a risk. This risk can be minimized by only asking customers that are satisfied, but the truth is that some customers leave negative reviews. While finding a negative review is never pleasant, negative reviews come with an opportunity. The key word here is “find.” Companies cannot seize on the opportunity to showcase their excellent customer service until they are aware of the review.

Negative reviews can be located with diligent online monitoring or via automated software (contact a marketing company for an automated monitoring option). The latter option makes companies aware of every review so they can respond (to both negative and positive reviews). When the review is negative, companies should respond promptly without getting defensive. Instead, companies need to acknowledge the issue and offer to discuss the matter privately (through electronic messages).

A company employee should be designated to answer and resolve the matter (if possible) to eliminate the chance of the inquiry falling through the cracks. This employee should be chosen carefully and should be trained to respond using the best customer services practices. If the customer’s issue is fully resolved to their satisfaction, company employees can ask for the customer to remove or revise their review.

Embrace the latest online search trends.

The way people find products and services online is continually evolving. Companies wanting to get online customers need to utilize this information when optimizing their online presence. Online consumers are using voice search and mobile devices for their searches. More than a million voice searches are done every month, according to this Forbes article. The amount of searches on mobile devices surpassed searches done on desktop devices years ago.

This information is invaluable for businesses, but only if used correctly. Companies should construct websites optimized for long-tail keywords, with a structure built for search engines, and with optimized media (video and images). These basics are only part of developing a website that shows up in online searches. A marketing professional can help fill in the gaps and ensure that every website element is optimized for the latest search trends.

Make it clear online the business is local (or has locations).

One of the most important aspects of local SEO is to make it incredibly obvious that the business is local or has multiple locations—without compromising the customer experience. The effort should start on a website with the location clearly spelled out on the Contact Us page, multiple location pages (if the business has more than one location), and on other optimized website pages. In addition to a clear location, businesses can also benefit from localized content and local links.

This effort comes with an incredible attention to detail. Companies should take extreme care to ensure that the name, address, and phone number is exact on the website and any other online listings. For example, address road should be written as ‘Road’ or ‘Rd.’ in all listings.

List the business in local online business directories.

Local online business directories are a powerful—and strategic—local SEO tool. The first step is to research local business directories and select the right “online phone books” relevant to the company. This comprehensive list of online directories is an excellent start (and can be used by a company or as part of an outsourced local SEO campaign). When filling in the listings, make sure that every name, address, and phone number are exactly the same. Consistency is key; all listings should include the same suite number and label (‘Ste.’ Or ‘Suite).

12 Awesome Stats that Prove Local SEO Pays Off

group of friends looking for information on smartphonesDigital marketing is like a speeding freight train. Along the way, digital marketing trends pop up and evolve; some disappear down a dead-end track, never to be seen or heard again (good-bye cloaking). Smart company owners and managers jump on board at key stops, putting the right trends to work and reaping the rewards of a strategic digital marketing plan.

Local search engine optimization, both on-site and off-site, is a digital marketing trend that’s here to stay. The reason behind the long-lasting nature of local SEO is that it’s based off real consumer behaviors.

Think about it. People look for answers to their problems online. Often, those answers are products and services. Sometimes those answers are information. All of this information can be found online, making online searches a key source of leads and sales for local businesses. Smart local business owners are investing in a solid local SEO strategy (more on how to kickstart a local SEO plan here) based on statistics that highlight key consumer behaviors.

Consumers are using local search to find businesses.

Key takeaway for businesses: Every effort (either in-house or by outsourced experts) should be made to get into local search listings, such as claiming listings on Google My Business, review sites, and local directories.

Mobile-friendly websites are important part of website optimization and customer conversions.

Key takeaway for businesses: Business websites need to be optimized for search engines and consumers. An optimized, fast, and mobile-friendly site is not optional for any business who wants to get higher search engine listings and convert visitors into sales.

Positive online reviews play a key part in customers’ buying decisions and search engine rankings.

Key takeaway for businesses: Online review sites play an important role in earning customer trust and a solid local SEO effort. Businesses need to take steps to claim listings on review sites and create a comprehensive in-house strategy of asking for reviews from satisfied customers.

What is local website optimization?

man using smartphone to find local businessesMarketing for a local business is different than a national company. Not better or worse, just different.

National and local businesses may have the same goals. They may even target the same audience demographic.

But a potential customer interested in lawn mowers in Texas isn’t going to drive to Wisconsin to purchase. Or for dinner at a Wisconsin restaurant. Or order carpet from a flooring store thousands of miles away. Local franchises are in the same proverbial boat.

But every company should have an online presence, both national and local. This can leave local business owners and sales teams asking, “How can we get our website in front of local customers?”

Trust us. We’ve been asked the question A LOT.

Unfortunately, building a well-designed, easy-to-navigate website is only part of the task. The next step is website optimization, the process of creating a website optimal for search engines. Some website optimization can be accomplished during the building process by optimizing the website structure for search engines.

Website optimization is a continual process. For local businesses, the next website optimization step revolves around targeting local customers (and no, this does not mean listing local community names at the bottom of every page). Basically, the goal of local website optimization is to be found by local customers when they search.

Generally, think of this scenario; a homeowner is looking for new flooring. Instead of pulling out the traditional phone book, the homeowner goes online and searches for local flooring store. Search engines pull up a list of local flooring businesses and information (plus ads) relevant to the search. Local website optimization puts a local flooring store in that list.

Embracing local website optimization

Local website optimization is not a flippant process. Strong (and complete) efforts lead to strong results. Its also a process that should be focused on the audience and search engines; optimized website caters to both. All website content should be created with keywords and topics that potential local customers would use in their search. Simply put, when potential customers have a problem, they look for a solution online. Website optimization provides the answer to the problem, and local optimization technology ensures that content shows up in organic searches (below the ads) by a local audience. If the process sounds like its being communicated in another language, outsource local website optimization efforts to the professionals (use these guidelines for selecting the right optimization pros).

As stated previously, optimization is a continual process. Optimized content added to a website on a regular basis gains credit with both search engines and online users. To target a local audience, produce relevant content that a local audience can relate to and create a promotion plan to reach the target audience.

Establishing a strong online presence

In addition to optimization, creating a strong online presence can play a crucial role in earning key positions on search engines. Taking ownership of business profiles on local review websites (i.e. Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, etc.) is a necessary step in the endeavor to earn a top spot on search engine pages. As with website optimization, this effort is a continual process. Fortunately (and unfortunately) for businesses, owning these pages comes with positive and negative reviews. Manage these reviews by connecting with a company with brand online management software or use these tips to deal with unhappy customers and request reviews from satisfied customers.