The business world is constantly evolving, and your company needs to learn how to evolve with it. Once you slack off with learning the new technology, your name is going to fall onto the second page where only 0.78% of users click. 

To continue gaining online traffic, let’s talk about SEO and how it affects whether your business thrives or dies in the search bar. 

What is Local SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of enhancing the quality and quantity of your web content so that potential customers can find your website with ease.

For your business to be noticed, you want it to be the first listing to pop up to anyone searching phrases or words similar to your offer. Paying attention to your local SEO can help rank you in the top results, where people are more likely to click—67% more likely if you’re in the top five.

A listing on page two or three won’t rank very high at all, and barely ever sees the blue to purple link change. To make sure that doesn’t happen, you have to focus on the digital accessibility of your brand.

Why Does SEO Matter?

While a fraction of the mobile traffic your website receives is from ads or social media, most of it comes from search engines. In fact, organic searches account for more than half of all online traffic. When the search is organic, or naturally made by the customer, the top results appear more trustworthy and clickable. 

This is especially important for a local business that wants to establish itself as a mainstay in the community. By finding your place high on search engine results, you are showing potential customers that you have a presence and that your services are top-of-the-line. 

Perhaps most important, however, is that SEO levels the playing field somewhat. The better established, wealthier businesses may be able to pour money into many ads or complex ad campaigns. Unfortunately, small local businesses simply do not have such resources.

The good news is that unlike paid advertisements, you cannot buy your way to the top of Google’s search results. You can earn your place there like many businesses just like your own, simply by employing the right strategies. Such strategies are cost-effective and will not eat up your budget.

How Does SEO Work?

Google employs tools that can pull relevant information from websites like yours very efficiently. These tools evaluate countless data and rank where and how each search result will appear under the user’s query. 

Through these algorithms, Google promotes the web results that rank the highest and have the most relevant information to the search. For you to gain brand visibility, you’re going to want to rank as one of the top contenders. You can accomplish this by taking into account the following:

Keyword Research

Simply put, keyword research entails zeroing in on the words and phrases your target audience is most likely to search. For example, let’s say that you are a graphic design company for healthcare-related businesses. Your target audience is likely going to be doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals with their own practices who are in search of someone who can create quality work for them.

To get started, try to come up with a handful of topics or ideas you know that your audience will likely be looking for. For example, you know they will likely be using words like logos, flyers, pamphlets, and even simply graphic design.

Of course, your audience is somewhat more niche than this; therefore, once you identify those general keywords, you might get more specific. For example, you might try: healthcare graphic designer near me, graphic design for doctors, branding for doctors, and so on. 

Search Engine Result Pages

SERPs, or search engine result pages, are what pop up on Google after a user hits enter. They are the first thing you see and impact your business’ look. 

With so many options crowding the front page, you’re going to need to pay more attention to your local listing to stand out. Consider using keywords that shy away from typical SERP features. The more unique they are, the fewer results that will appear above your listing.

Why is SEO So Underused By Local Businesses?

Because SEO is so cost effective and yields such a high ROI, you would think more small businesses would keep an eye on SEO. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

 If it’s so important, why do so many small businesses ignore their SEO benefits?

The lack of understanding SEO and its long-term value are what hold many businesses back from reaching their full potential. Additionally, many companies lack the knowledge of the right SEO strategies to implement and what to avoid. If that isn’t frustrating enough, misunderstanding the importance of organic searches can make it even more difficult to gain visibility and web traffic. 

Without understanding the big picture, the rest of the pieces will be a confusing mess. When you don’t understand SEO, you’re going to lack the proper resources for getting your name out there. 

Similarly, businesses fail to see the optimal effects of dedicating time and money to improving organic searches. Measuring the results of organic searches can be a little more complicated than that of paid advertising and another reason why businesses take the easier, though less productive route to success.

Not only do you need to worry about how to get that brand perception, but also how to manage it in the eyes of the customer. Failure to manage bad reviews can seriously damage your online reputation and trigger the loss of sales: up to 70%

Lost business is not the end of bad management of your online reputation. The more negative reviews you receive, the more time (about 10%) you’ll have to spend in the hiring process as well. That’s right, how your business is perceived online can influence whether or not a potential hire will want to work with and for you. 

Besides spending all of your time worrying about knowing what SEO is, you also have to make time for worrying about how to and not to use it.

Avoidable Tactics

Your main goal should be to create content that your customers will love. Google promotes high-quality content to its users. For your business to rank amongst the star listings, try to keep your page detailed yet comprehensive. 

 That said, there are some wrong ways to go about implementing SEO best practices. Here are some common habits that you will want to avoid:

Keyword Stuffing

Ever heard that your keyword needs to be repeated X amount of times to rank for it?  That’s actually not true. While Google does scan for word mentions on your page, it still needs to be a valuable asset to the buyer. Include your keywords, but don’t stuff your page with them. Naturally include them so your readers don’t get lost halfway through the sentence.

Not Writing Original Content

Duplicate content is content that shows up on multiple pages of a domain or multiple domains altogether. While many people do not intend to put out duplicate content, its effects can be harmful to your SEO goals all the same. For one, although search engines do not usually act on cases of duplicate content, they also can’t distinguish between one page and the next. This means that if your content is too similar to that of another, your content may rank lower. Keeping your content original is an easy way to avoid any concerns. 

Relying on Auto-Generated Content

Lastly, a user can easily tell when a page has been auto-generated. If it sounds robotic or just makes no sense at all, it was probably written by a program. It’s better to personally describe what you’re offering since you know the most about it.

It’s obvious that running a business is hard work and often requires a team to be successful. The many moving parts can’t always be managed by you alone without asking for outside help—that’s where GMB comes in.

Google My Business

Now that you understand why you should care about SEO, how can you implement it?

Over the past couple of years, the phrase “near me” has increased by more than 500% in Google searches. It’s clear that people want to shop local, and it’s your job to provide for their business needs through Google.

GMB, or Google My Business, is more than just a local business listing. By creating a Business profile, the online tool allows you to properly manage how people find you on Google Search.

You can respond to reviews, update your look with new pictures or hours, and connect with your customers so they know you truly care. Other features include direct offers to your followers, easy bookings, website generators, and free, customizable materials.

Google prioritizes local business listings by showcasing them on Search, Maps, and even some third-party websites via APIs, or Application Programming Interface. In addition, Google will take your company’s information from the local listing to create its own insights and leads to optimize your company’s content.

Setting up your GMB profile can be easy, but you don’t want to risk missing out on all of the features that can make your website and/or listing swiftly soar to the top spot.

A professional local SEO expert is a solution to better understanding on how to optimize both your listing and your website. Through monthly renovations, they will help raise your ranking results for certain keywords in your business’ hometown, as well as in surrounding areas.

The Map Pack

After setting up your GMB profile, you want to sit back and watch the revenue climb. 

Not just yet.

Another element to consider are map packs, or the top three Google Maps results based on the most common local searches in the area. After a search, the user can click on one of the listings to reveal key details about the business, star ratings, and map location. 

Investing in a map pack listing can strengthen your company’s digital marketing and mark it as a leading name in the industry.

After a Google Search, eyes are going to lock on the first listing they see. No one wants to spend hours clicking through the many Os in Goooooogle; they’re going to pick the top-ranked option. The higher up your position is, the more relevant you’ll appear to the customer’s problem. 

By being more visible, you’ll also receive more online traffic, phone calls, and sales. Having the map side-by-side also gives the customer an idea of how to get to you if they prefer to buy in-store. 

When a user clicks on your listing, they can see your business, its location, contact info, and your ratings. Highlighting your customer reviews, map packs make it easy to see what others think of your business and service. 

Take the time to go over them yourself every now and then—the fewer negative reviews you have, the more likely you’ll make it in the map pack.

How do you rank in the top three map packs?

It’s simple. Start with creating your GMB page and confirm ownership of your business. It’s yours, so make sure people know it. 

Take the time to go over them yourself every now and then—the fewer negative reviews you have, the more likely you’ll make it in the map pack. Also, don’t forget to verify your contact information and address so people show up to the right place. 

Finally, optimize! Let the customer know who you are by filling in the details on your website and in your listing. And don’t forget to work on how accessible and interactive it is—the easier it is to peruse, the better it is to buy (think SEO!). 

Here to Help

Improving your Google Search position on your own is possible, but it can be a little overwhelming and hard to manage. Luckily, you are not alone in bringing customers and sales to your company. 

Working with a professional to set up and manage your business needs can save you time and stress. We can help you support a consistent top map pack ranking through monthly updates to your website and listings. 

Contact your local SEO services to discuss how they can make your name hold front-page authority.