What is SEO

In decades past, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was considered more art than science. However, with the advent of accurate, real-time tools and analytics, marketers and business managers can gauge their website’s performance and make adjustments that drive greater exposure in the search engine environment.

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SEO is the crucial element of website visibility and ranking. In most instances, individuals begin each internet search for local businesses using keywords that generally define what they seek or the problem that should be solved. Then, using evolving and complex algorithms, Google and other search engines rank the mountain of website options that seem the most qualified match for the searcher’s quest.

According to a recent Forbes report, web searchers click on first-page listings at least 71% of the time. Second-page interest drops dramatically to around 6% of clicks, indicating that marketers should actively address effective SEO to develop organic sales growth.

Furthermore, Hubspot reports that 46% of Google searches seek local or nearby solutions, usually brick-and-mortar businesses. Of that group, an impressive 88% of those seekers who perform those local searches via their smartphones end up phoning or visiting that business within a day.

Google’s Prioritization Process

Effective local SEO is vital to raising a business website to the highest possible ranking among local competitors.

By far the dominant search engine, Google instantly uses protocols and algorithms to establish rankings for any search. Their formulae address far more than content intended to match a string of keywords. The overall quality of the content, credible links, mobile friendliness, and many more factors play essential roles in Google’s search engine rankings.

Local businesses that do not customize their website for local searches are poorly positioned to attract new business.

Creating a Compelling Google Business Profile Page

Besides developing a carefully crafted, easy-to-use website, another essential starting point and a critical tool for a local internet marketer is an engaging presence on the top search platform for business. Previously named “Google My Business,” the network name has recently changed to “Google Business Profile” to place a sharper focus on smaller, more local enterprises.

Businesses here will manage their presence through Google Search and Google Maps, quickly accessing their profiles directly from smartphones or PCs.

Marketers can create an active presence on Google Business Profile while interacting with customers and reviewers. Google’s search engine can instantly scan local company profiles according to their appropriate local content, social profile listings, credible links, and other material closely matching the searcher’s quest.

According to IPSOS Research, companies with up-to-date Google Business Profiles are considered more reputable and are 70% more likely to attract visits. In addition, those companies are 70% more likely to consummate a sale.

Another important note regarding Google Business Profile is that all businesses must comply with Google’s clearly defined rules. Violating that trust can be very damaging, suspending and losing an important marketing tool.

Focus on the SEO Mission

Marketers must understand that SEO is an ongoing process on many levels. Simply creating a presence without adding material and content that “speaks” to the consumer may never improve their chances of discovery.

And, of course, once a searcher lands on the site, the content must engage them and hold their interest long enough to want to make contact.

Some tips to make and keep your Google Business Profile fresh and engaging are:

  • Ensure the name, address, hours, and contact information are clear, correct, and consistent.
  • Interact on social media while adding posts to the Google Business Profile.
  • Make sure the website is mobile-friendly and transactions, if available, are easy to conclude.
  • Participate in local activities, talk about each, and link to each.
  • Post content about the local community.
  • If you have more than one location, include location pages for each on the website.
  • Generate credible inbound links, or “backlinks,” that link back to the website. Google views this activity as a sign that the website has high-quality content.

Tell Them Where You Are

Whether the prospective clients are local or visiting from elsewhere, providing a clear idea of the location is essential. Adding location pages with detailed, accurate information can substantially increase search engine visibility.

The Google Business Profile tool automatically connects to Google Maps, providing visitors with instructions for where to go. Note that using a Google Map can improve SEO scoring on Google searches.

An effective local website must convey information about hours of operation, phone numbers, parking, public transit information, and the geographic address and map. Always make sure the information is current and accurate!

Google Business Profile can also be a great place to reiterate current promotions and even positive testimonials from delighted customers.

Generate Blogs and Informative Content

Every business should maintain the goal of becoming a recognized authority in their field or industry. Feedback from pleased customers, recognition by reputable companies through their backlinks, regular, problem-solving blogs, and high-quality content are ingredients for industry leadership recognition.

Some of your blogs should be indexed to target a geographic search phrase and increase the chances of being found on search engine results. Using high-volume keywords in the title, header, meta description, and, reasonably often, in the body of the material will enhance your website’s visibility.

But remember that overusing keyword phrases to improve ranking is distracting and annoying. Google and other search engines have recognized this and downgraded those sites as a part of their ranking algorithms.

Emphasize Your Local-ness

Instead of creating content exclusively for a broader audience, as in the past, marketers should focus on creating content that relates to the local area. For example, participating in or donating to local events and charities provides an opportunity to show the “personal side” of the business while offering a chance to create backlinks to your site.

Sponsoring a local event is the ultimate opportunity to give back and enhance community awareness of your business. In addition, all publicity surrounding the event can display the company URL and address, further strengthening the company’s SEO potential.

Some local newspapers may cover certain “special” events like a significant business anniversary or Grand Opening.

Local Chamber of Commerce members can display company information and a link to the website. Since Chambers of Commerce is always looking for interesting speakers and presentations at their meetings, a business owner gains greater recognition for the business by presenting an exciting program.

Creating specific local content for a company with multiple locations is important. Every local website page needs to contain unique content.

Furthermore, although difficult from an SEO perspective, in densely populated areas with several adjoining communities, it is possible to rank for services in a nearby town without a physical presence.

Interact on Social Media

The phenomenal growth of social media has created directed marketing opportunities that never existed in the past. No longer dependent on the “broad-brush” approach to local marketing with TV, radio, newspapers, and even phonebooks, marketers today can interact through their website and on special media directly with likely customers. Sharing engaging posts on social media sites can enhance brand awareness, create connections with certain visitors, and expand brand awareness.

Related: What is Social Media Marketing?

Nurture Great Reviews

Marketers should respond to every online review, whether great, negative, or neutral. A positive, friendly, and non-combative response or explanation will elevate the positive reviews while softening the negative ones.

Reviews play a critical role in brand building. Since so many transactions are initiated online, many searchers rely on reviews by prior customers to guide their decision to proceed. Bizrate Insights reports that 91% of survey respondents had checked at least one review before buying a product or contacting a business.

Drilling deeper into the importance of customer reviews for buyer decisions, the survey also asked which factor is usually most important in their conclusion:

  • 32.1% Excellent Reviews.
  • 24.2% Free Shipping.
  • 22.1% Coupon or Discount.
  • 6.5 % Loyalty or Rewards.
  • 15 % Other reasons.

Securing and highlighting positive reviews while responding proactively in a non-confrontational way to negative reviews is essential.

Since reviews are essential, marketers must request them whenever reasonably possible while making it easy for the reviewer to respond and submit. Following up the transaction with an email or text message containing a review link is easiest.

Implement an SEO Audit Tool

An effective local SEO Audit Tool provides feedback and guidance. Several popular online services will measure your site’s success and recommend improving your presence. Each tool measures the entire website in several categories and provides a diagnosis for:

  • Traffic volume and behavior.
  • Keyword rankings.
  • Content.
  • User experience.
  • Backlinks.
  • Mobile-friendliness.
  • Page load speed.
  • Other technical issues.

Five of the Most Highly Rated SEO Audit Tools

  • Google Search Console: Perfectly positioned to monitor activity on Google Business Profile, GSC provides first-hand insights into visitor patterns with summaries of impressions, clicks, click-through rates, and visit lengths.
  • Ahrefs: This application includes a keyword research tool and keyword generator to suggest high-potential keyword strings. This tool also tracks search volume, competitiveness, and backlinks.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools: The tool monitors website performance and indexation for Bing searches with the ability to track keywords, traffic, and technical SEO.
  • Deep Crawl: A web-based version of desktop crawler software, Deep Crawl reviews several aspects, including indexability, technical and on-page SEO, and is built for high volume and speed, best for busier websites.
  • MOZ Pro: This suite of tools tracks website traffic volumes, keyword rankings, backlinks, keyword research, and link-building opportunities.

Other, more straightforward tools assess specific aspects of SEO-related metrics. Google offers free separate tools to measure page speed, mobile friendliness, and analytics to measure user behavior, sources, and online traffic patterns. Competitor analysis is available on some SEO audit tools.

Improve SEO Performance with Google Search Console

Since over 90% of all online searches worldwide are with Google, it is clear that Google should be where any company’s SEO focus should be. Google’s Search Console provides tools to measure a site’s traffic and even help identify and help fix issues to make a website stand out.

Google Search Console also provides an inspection tool that allows marketers to customize server information to identify weaknesses.

For many business managers and marketers, a high percentage of the disciplines and technicalities of SEO are vague, at best. Google Search Console offers online training. Users can learn to improve their website appearance and performance with a series of video modules designed to clarify (and simplify) various elements of SEO for eCommerce, small businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and more.

Hire External Experts

Managing your SEO strategy requires diligence, knowledge, energy, and time. Businesses need to manage and maintain SEO strategies without diminishing the quality and timeliness of their customer service, products, innovations, and services. Proper SEO maintenance often means outsourcing many more technical aspects to professionals.

While most SEO tools and analytics are free or low cost, many marketing and website design companies specialize in helping businesses create and continually upgrade their local online presence and SEO performance. While there is a cost to this service, those companies come with the experience and technical resources to monitor each clients’ online presence, perform the SEO audits, design a user and mobile-friendly website, create appropriate and engaging content, interact on social media, and more. Outsourcing these functions, particularly for small local companies, allow entrepreneurs and executives to focus on operational and product-related aspects while the marketing company generates more website visitors.

Image Building Media

Image Building Media is an internet marketing company based in Tampa, Florida, and serves clients throughout the U.S. in various industries. We specialize in internet marketing, including SEO, local SEO, social media marketing, website design, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, mobile web marketing, online reputation management, CRM integration, and more. We also provide consulting services, including conversion analytics.

To learn more about Image Building Media and our services, book a free consultation or contact us direct.