10 No-Fuss Steps a Local Business Can Take to Improve Search Rankings

BY: ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2014

With all the businesses in town how are customers supposed to find you?

You know you need to improve your local search rankings.

But for some reason you can’t find the time to get started.

Maybe you don’t know exactly what to do. Maybe you’re overwhelmed because it all seems so complicated.
The good news is, you can get more customers for your business without a lot of fuss. Once you know what to do, you'll be surprised how easily you can start driving traffic, marketing your product and ultimately getting increased sales using local search.

Imagine using a few simple tips and having people flock to your business. Sound too good to be true?

Well, you can turn Google into more customers...just follow these steps.

Get the Right Tools

If you want to do a job, you need the right tools. Small and medium sized businesses have access to many free and reasonably priced tools that will make keyword research, link building, and competitive analysis a piece of cake.

Make Keyword Research

The first thing you need to do is to figure out the right keywords that prospective customers use to find your business. If you want to benefit from keywords, you have to understand how to find them and use them. Keyword research is the basic part of any SEO campaign.

Tools for keyword research:

Put Customers First, Not Google

Yup, you read that right. Develop useful, educational content for your customers and prospects. The search engines will recognize you because you have a content-rich website with optimized keywords that help searchers solve their problems. If you know how to solve your customers’ problems, you should tell them. Better yet, show them. You could make an educational video. Not only would it build your credibility, you could repurpose the content for SEO value.

Harness the Power of Video

YouTube is the second largest search engine. Don’t ignore YouTube advertising. You can use YouTube to make how-to videos or record customer testimonials. Other ways to use YouTube to boost your search rankings and attract more customers include TrueView ads and remarketing to your YouTube subscribers.

Incorporate PPC

According to Search Marketing Consultant Darren DeMatas, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is the quickest way to the first page of Google. “A Pay-Per-Click campaign allows a website to rapidly gain targeted traffic. immediately. PPC can get you on Page 1 for keywords that don’t rank well organically. Perhaps most importantly, if managed effectively, PPC campaigns can start generating calls immediately.” PPC advertising can be critical to getting in front of people looking for what you sell. You can use a negative keyword list and other techniques to control your spend.

Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent

Your name, address, and phone number, or NAP, should be the same everywhere your business is listed. You can use schemas to markup your HTML pages and make your website easier for search engines to read. This will help potential customers to find your business in the search results.Your name, address, and phone number, or NAP, should be the same everywhere your business is listed. You can use schemas to markup your HTML pages and make your website easier for search engines to read. This will help potential customers to find your business in the search results.

Get Social

Use social media to your benefit. Take advantage of Pinterest Place Pins. Use them to increase your exposure on Pinterest. Get your business listed on Google Maps and include a map to your business on your contact page.

Make sure you’re using Google Places and the Google Maps app. Experiment with FourSquare, Yelp or even try and market your local business on Facebook.

Get Familiar with AdWords

Many business owners don’t understand how Google AdWords works. At first, when you hear about the program it may seem overwhelming--AdWords click-to-call ads...retargeting...location targeting options--and more. The good news is, you can visit the AdWords Help Center and Online Classroom to get up to speed on the basics.

Get Reviews

One of the most effective marketing strategies is to find creative ways to encourage customers to review your business. Reviews can help boost your search rankings and they also hold more weight with potential customers than your marketing efforts.

Build a Quality Link Profile

Building quality links is essential for success with traffic and search. If you want to dominate the search rankings, your goal should be to consistently and naturally obtain keyword-rich anchor-text links from relevant, reputable sources. For example, you can get your business listed in directories like Angie’s List or your local chamber of commerce.

Now, that we’ve covered the 10 no-fuss steps you can take to improve your search rankings, let me show you exactly how this works.

A “Real-Life” Example

Let’s say we have an emergency at the SEMrush office in Philadelphia. We need a plumber and we need one fast.

Like most people nowadays, the first thing I'd probably do is conduct a search for plumbers.

As you can see on this screenshot, when I search for “philadelphia plumber”, the first few results returned by Google in response to my keyword query are ads. You’ll notice that these businesses are using many of the tips we just covered (NAP, reviews, social media).

As you carefully scan the screenshot, you’ll notice the next results are listings with reviews. As I mentioned, customer reviews can make a big impact when you’re trying to decide which business to work with.

The next seven entries, the Map results for “Philadelphia plumber”, all have:

  • Google reviews;
  • NAP;
  • Google Maps info.

So what can we learn from this example? Let’s bring it all together. A search engine results page (SERP) is simply the listing that a search engine gives the searcher in response to the keyword query (or search terms) that they enter. These results are comprised of sponsored listings, images, maps, definitions, videos and other search refinements.

It’s not as complicated as you thought to implement some of the tips provided and get better search rankings for your business.

Now that you know how to get started, and a guide on exactly how to do it, you can go back to Step 1 and begin implementing the strategies you’ve learned here.

What are you doing to help people discover your local business? Share your best tips in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Elena Terenteva

Elena Terenteva, Senior Content Manager of SEMrush team. She has seven years of experience in public relations and journalism, working as a broadcasting journalist and PR manager for IT and finance companies.

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