A few months back in April, Google updated its search ranking guidelines in a pretty significant way, helping to ensure that the most relevant search results would always bubble to the top of any search results page.
And although this wasn’t the first time Google had updated their algorithm, this latest update did something a bit different: it put the responsibility of improving search ranking squarely on the shoulders of web publishers. Yes, your heard that correctly. You have to take responsibility for how your business ranks and understanding how you can influence how your small business website shows up in the rankings.
This update was basically a call for all web publishers to heed Google’s advice and those that take the necessary steps to improve their search rankings would ultimately overcome the challenge placed on them by the search giant. Those who did not would slowly (but surely) fall below the search rankings “fold.”
No one would feel the impact of this change more directly than local businessss. Why? Because part of Google’s update gives preferential treatment to businesses that consistently keep their listing accurate and complete. It never ceases to amaze me how many small business do not have an updated or uniform listing across all local directories.
Here are a few ways we help small businesses beef up their local presence:
1. Verifying location information
2. Verifying business hours
3. Responding to reviews
4. Adding photos to local profiles (yelp, YP.com, Angie's list etc)
What we have learned is that local businesses that take the time to beef up their online presence and providing web searchers with the right information they need to move from search to consideration to action (or purchase) – are rewarded by Google with an organic lift in search rankings. And what business wouldn’t want that?
It’s the negative implications associated with not listening to Google’s guidance that should give any local business pause to re-think their digital strategy – at the very least, in terms of how they manage their online presence. Today’s consumers are made impatient by the media saturated world we live in. They expect relevant, instant results. When they search for products and services your business offers, if your website or related content doesn’t show up at the top of the search results page, you may very well have lost of potential customer the matter of seconds. So why risk it?
Maintaining complete, accurate, and relevant listing information across search engines, directories, and social media sites can be a time-consuming DIY endeavor, and there are affordable software solutions that make it more manageable.
Here's how to get started: before you settle on an approach, you should scan your own listings across local directories for fast and free glimpse into how well (or poorly) you’re doing today.
When your listing information is complete and accurate, you not only make it easier for your business to rise in rankings, but doing so also boosts the overall effectiveness of your search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns and can significantly reduce your cost-per-lead (CPL) investment. Whether organically or via campaigns, when you stay focused on managing your online presence, it’ll be more likely that a potential customer can find your business. It’s as simple as that.
Need help on your local listings and strategy for ranking with your website? Contact the experts at Banyan Creative.
About the author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in downtown Matthews, NC. Banyan Creative works with small business helping them with their web marketing strategies.
Sam Casey is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.