Every local business wants to be there.
Because Google is often the first-place people search for local services they need. However, don’t take my word for it, but rather consider your own actions and activities.
Your area recently endured a serious windstorm wherein a tree fell on your roof. You need an emergency roofer. How do you find your emergency service provider?
If you’re like most people in the world today, you grab your Smart Phone and do a quick “okay Google.” Once you see the results you scroll down to the details listed on Google Maps and begin making your phone calls.
Sales have long been a game of finding out where your customers are and being their first. Even though the world has turned digital this principle has not changed.
Neither has your frustration in getting listed. If this frustration is yours, you need to know that there are answers to these complications that you are experiencing. Following we will look at 10 reasons your local business might be failing to be found on Google’s first page results.
#1: Failing to Target Strategically
While being at the top of Google Maps is ideal, targeting it alone reduces your chances of being found. Especially with Google’s HSA (home service ad) program that is continuing to become a reality, making sure you are in organic results as well as maps is highly recommended.
Define Home Service Ads (HSA): A new program where people pay for top placements on Google rather than ranking in these positions organically.
HOT TIP: The problem with HSA is that service providers are getting themselves listed in cities and locations where their business does not exist. This makes Google Maps much less valuable thus increasing the value of organic results.
Thus, your marketing strategy needs to focus on organic rankings as well as maps. Click To Tweet People will soon learn to navigate away from these paid spots and either dig deeper into maps where you need to be or into organic results where you also need to be.
#2: Failing to Expand Your Reach
Let’s say you are an Accountant living in Spokane Washington. Isn’t it enough to create a service page which identifies this information?
If you want to be found on Google both organically and on maps, then you need to make it super easy for searchers.
HOT TIP: With the following strategy you may find that ranking for one term is next to impossible while another is a piece of cake.
So instead of one service page sit down and brainstorm all the different services you offer. Following our Accountant example that might look like this:
- Tax Accountant
- Financial Accountant
- Payroll Accountant
Each of those 3 services needs a separate page that specifically targets details within the city you are targeting so that you increase your power to compete.
HOT TIP: Within this concept why settle for targeting one city? Once you have all your services listed consider cities outside where your business is and create service pages for those locations.
As you build out this multiple city service plan be sure that each page is uniquely original in content to avoid getting penalized by duplicate content flags by Google.
#3: Failing to Properly Maintain Your Website
Along with adding original content, Google pays attention to how well maintained your Website is.
- Do you have internal or external broken links?
- Are your images showing up correctly?
- Is the page speed of your site optimal?
The more you do to make your site shine in the eyes of Google the better your chances of ranking organically.
Another point to consider as a local business sites metadata.
Define Meta Data: Keyword, title & description details that let Google know exactly what your page is about.
The authority of these type of details has changed from the early days of search. However, when it comes to local projects it is still advisable to provide title and description details for each page.
#4: Failing to Properly Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Especially for map rankings, it is important to claim and optimize your Google My Business page which Google provides for your local business without cost.
Optimization includes making sure that you correctly identified the name, address and phone number of your local business. It also means that you have entered such factors as your category and hours of operations.
HOT TIP: If you find a local competitor who you seem to be unable to outrank, compare their category to yours. While several other factors may be involved your struggle may be as simple as switching to the category that they are using.
Another optimization factor that people tend to miss with Google My Business setup is including high-quality photos with the business details. The more you do to present yourself as a real viable business the greater the chance that Google will pay attention to your efforts.
HOT TIP: Instead of just uploading photos, rename then with your niche topic city and zip code before posting them on your Google My Business page. This is yet one more optimization factor that often gets needlessly forgotten.
#5: Failing to Make the Most of Your Google My Business Page
So far, we have covered powerful strategies for optimizing your Google My Business page which should all be followed.
However, we have saved the best for last.
This section is especially relevant if you happen to be operating from within a multiple Doctor, Lawyer or Accountant establishment.
Did you know that you can rank your office and all practitioners within as their own separate entities on Google Maps?
Unfortunately, far too many fail to do this even though they have taken advantage of the multiple listings concept.
Because they list everyone with the exact same primary category.
HOT TIP: Give everyone their own category that is different from the business itself. If you can do this while keeping everything highly relevant the benefit will be yours.
Here’s how to make that happen in style.
Let’s say you have a doctor’s office which offers two different services.
- Siverson provides urgent care services.
- Williams does family practice.
In this scenario, you would build 3 separate pages.
For the doctor’s office itself, you would simply let it go to the root of your site.
However, for the two doctors within you would build separate pages for each of them that serve as an about page for that doctor.
Unfortunately, this concept cannot be done for every niche and industry but if you are operating as doctors, lawyers or accountants you win.
#6: Failing to Secure and Answer Reviews
Today we are in a review centric world.
Such is, even more, the case when considering online reviews. This is one reason that Google allows your customers and clients to leave reviews.
While reviews are absolutely part of your Google My Business page I have separated it out here because it really is that important. Moving forward, if you do not have quality reviews coming in on a regular basis you will find it very difficult to rank in the top results of Google.
However, there is a problem.
I was speaking with a client just last week who had worked with another local SEO service provider. That provider had him go out and secure as many reviews as possible from his previous clients. His review total went from 0 to 12 almost overnight.
All was good until Google removed 6 of the reviews.
He swore that all reviews were 100% authentic, so why would Google do that?
Google wants everything that people do with their network to be 100% natural.
I asked this individual if it sounded natural to go from 0 reviews to 12 reviews almost overnight?
Without hesitating, he said, “no.”
There’s your answer.
That’s why I bring an entirely different dynamic to reviews that I help my clients secure. Done right, my reviews stick.
If you’re not in the review game today you’re going to find yourself fighting a losing battle with Google.
#7: Failing to Grow Your Citation Network
Define Citations: Directory listings that identify the name, address and phone number of your local business.
It is appropriate at this point to talk about citations because they are involved with your website (schema), Google business page (which is a citation in its own right), and beyond.
The more high-quality citations that you have which agree 100% with each other the better it will be for your ability to rank at the top of both Google maps and organic listings.
However, there is a problem when it comes to citations.
Far too many local businesses create numerous citations throughout the web and consider their mission accomplished. The truth is that they haven’t even really begun.
Here’s a question.
What is it called if the exact same details appear in a multiplicity of places on the web?
HINT: Duplicate content.
Define Duplicate Content: Setting up more than one page within or outside of your website with the exact same details.
To really tap into the power of citations you want to have the about section read different as well as upload different images to each directory listing. It is far better to have fewer unique citations than it is to repeat the exact same details within a multiplicity of locations.
#8: Failing to Build Local External Links
Because of the abuse of citations, Local MOZ reports that they have decreased in Google’s relevance factor to 13.31% while local links or backlinks have increased to 17.31%. This is not a reason to abandon citations but rather create an initiative to increase local backlinks.
Define External Backlinks: hyperlinks that exist outside your web property which lead to specific website locations inside of it.
When it comes to your local business you gain far more authority from links that originate from within your local area.
Because Google see’s these links as highly relevant to your local business.
The problem here is often found in determining the best way to secure these local links. There are many positive answers to this problem which is one of the biggest reasons that my clients choose to work with me.
Here are 3 ideas:
- Contact those who you are already doing business within the local area and offer to swap links. While this may seem, obvious there is a special way to do this wherein you can gain the most value for your efforts which I bring to my clients.
- Sponsor an event or charity (okay, that’s 2 for the price of one) but how do you find these gems? That’s where the real secret sauce comes into play.
- Creating local press releases that news media will love to share with a link back to your site. Here’s how to make that happen:
#9: Failing to Keep Up with The Latest Changes on Google
We’ve covered many reasons why you might not be experiencing the rankings you desire and deserve. However, it could be possible that we have missed the most important reason of all.Failing to keep up to date with the latest happenings on Google can adversely affect your local business. Click To Tweet
While all the other points are certainly important this is the biggest reason my local clients seek me out. They know that as changes happen on Google for local businesses I will be at the forefront of securing knowledge that delivers results for their companies.
Given that Google makes changes almost overnight sometimes, it simply makes sense to team up with a professional that is willing, ready and able to do what is right for your business to succeed in search.
Concluding Thoughts About Ranking Your Local Business First on Google
I hope you’ve gleaned some true gems from the details shared above. The question is, what tidbits would you add?
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
I also welcome your corresponding questions and comments related to the top of reaching the top organic listing for your local business.
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