3 Attributes Small and Local Businesses Can Use for Better Search Rankings
While big firms will always have the edge on marketing spend, some simple measures can help you level the playing field and attract custom
Local and smaller businesses may have smaller budgets and fewer feet on the ground than global conglomerates, but the joy of the internet allows for even one-man-bands to compete side-by-side with the beasts of any given industry.
However, getting to the point of competing with global sites takes time, effort and clever thinking. Using attributes available, free of charge, from Google in particular, and making changes based on data gathered is likely to result in engagement for some key terms.
With this foundation in place, it is then possible to expand on SEO work and really go to town on optimising a website for large scale return. So what does it take?
Near me searches
Restaurants near me, mechanics near me, vets near me – these are all different types of local searches we make on a daily basis for an immediate answer. Near me searches are perfect for small businesses competing against larger chains.
Near me searches fall within micro-moments (searching with intent to carry out an action), and are almost always acted upon within the minutes of a search being carried out. Such as heading to the nearest restaurant or mechanic.
Local businesses need to ensure they are optimised for near me and micro-moment searches. If a potential customer pulls up on the side of the road, does a near me search, and heads to a competitor then that is immediate business lost.
Using schema tagging for the business details, such as address and phone number, will benefit local search; as will considering taking action to control Google Business pages and sending out strong social signals.
In particular, retail and restaurant terms have seen an increase of near me searches by 1,850% in the last year alone.
Virtual assistants and voice recognition, paired with Google’s Hummingbird launch (again in 2013) have all impacted the rise of the near me search. Local businesses that have capitalised on this trend put themselves in a position for local SEO success.
A core element of local and business success is being able to capture users on the move and on their mobiles, particularly if the business in question has a physical location where a conversion or action will take place.
Allowing a user to share via mobile the experience they have had (or are having) is another key element here. The main attribute we need to look at here is Google Maps prompts.
For example, if a user visits 123 Florist in Crayford, Kent and purchases a bunch of flowers for their nana, Google can send a prompt to a phone asking specific questions about the establishment, to rate the products and to rate the experience had on the whole.
This creates two obvious benefits – firstly, it re-engages a customer with the brand. Secondly, the more information gathered by Google on the business, and the better the reviews, the greater likelihood the business has of showing up in near me or local searches.
For example, is a user likely to pick 123 Florist with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5, or 456 Florist that doesn’t even have opening times?
Most business and local success comes from an effective Google Business page. This page can be claimed by yourself or an SEO agency and optimised for the local area, offer images, opening times, promotions and much more.
Controlling this page gives a store manager much greater control over what a user sees and allows for concentration to be on growing the positive reviews through good service as opposed to ensuring all information is correct if coming from a third party source.
Pairing these elements together
In terms of the attributes needed for strong business listings and immediate impact to users, there are obvious places to begin. Google (for better in this case!) prioritises its own services over search results.
What this creates is a local platform of services relevant to a user. So somebody searching for a local handyman or plumber, can use Google Business pages to find those local to the area, whereas a national business might be listed in organic rankings, but not necessarily have people working locally to the searcher.
Follow these elements for online success:
- Correct business details on your website
- Schema tagging of these details
- Claim Google Business pages
- Update (and regularly post) on your Google Business page
- Increase the number of reviews on a business page
Keith Hodges is an account manager at POLARIS