Recently, I was up fly-fishing up in New York. On the last day of my trip, I wanted to have dinner in town, so I did what most people do nowadays. I brought Google (foundation for local SEO) search up on my phone.
I was in the mood for Italian food. Who doesn’t like Italian food?
After typing “Italian restaurants” in search, I was shown a few different options. As always, I looked at the pictures (Local SEO Tip), and the reviews (Local SEO Tip). Finally, I went to the websites to look over the menu.
One place didn’t appear to be too nice, although it had some good reviews. The second place looked beautiful, had good reviews, but the website was horrible from a user perspective. There was no menu and I couldn’t even get the website to load correctly on my smartphone. (Mobile Stats 2020)
Finally, I found one Italian restaurant that looked clean inside and out, had great reviews, and the menu was easily accessible.
That Italian restaurant had good food, and good service. I left them a review from my Google Local Guides account. I know how important reviews are and they earned it.
As a local SEO expert, I tell you this as an important lesson to every local business owner, no matter the industry. Your consumers are looking online for your services.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to ask yourself: do I have what they want and can they find me?
Local SEO should be a priority for local business owners looking to boost their marketing. No matter if you do-it-yourself or hire a local SEO company. The success of your businesses digital marketing depends on it.
When you’re not a local SEO expert at local search engine optimization, you’ll find a lot of BS online and in social media groups. Some people downplay certain aspects of local SEO that are very important, and talk up other areas that mean nothing. Knowing what you should concentrate on can help you get ahead of your competitors.
10 Local SEO Tips [2020 edition]
The following are the biggest BS tips and misconceptions I’ve heard. All they do is confuse the hell out of anyone trying to improve their local SEO strategy.
BS Tip #1: You Don’t Need Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is THE MOST important part of local SEO. It’s where Google gets the information they show on local “maps” search results within a local area.
Note: Some businesses try to compete in local areas by optimizing their website pages for local keyword phrases, but without actually having a GMB profile verified. If you’re trying to compete in the search results in an area where you don’t have a GMB profile verified and filled out, you’ll be at a big disadvantage to other local SEO competitors who do.
It’s imperative to have your address, phone number, website URL, and hours of operation correct on GMB. Adding photos will entice your customers to want to come and see you or at least contact you.
Keywords are important when setting up and maintaining your profile. Google will know who to show your business to if it knows what you offer.
I can’t tell you how many GMB’s I have worked on that had the wrong or no keywords in their Google My Business.
A few years ago, Google also added the Posts feature to GMB. With Posts, you can announce events, specials, and other information you want people to know about regarding your services and products.
Use it weekly or several times a week. I do a 4-10 days rotation for my clients. Keeping them fresh, focused and there when people search.
Remember, the only reason I found the Italian restaurant I went to was because they had “Everything” I needed on their GMB profile.
Once you have your GMB completed and verified (by requesting and then inputting the verification code), you can move on to citations.
BS Tip #2: Citations Don’t Lead to More Visibility
The Yellow Pages and newspaper ads aren’t cutting it anymore. It’s online now, and you need to be listed. The problem is that you don’t need to be listed on just one website, but many of them.
Citations are a huge ranking factor for local visibility. Research has shown that the more citations a business has, the higher they will appear in search engine results pages for local areas.
While you may not get much traffic from some of these listings directly, the citations gained from these listings can help you rank higher in Google’s local search results. Which does bring you more traffic and customers.
Hundreds of listing sites are available for you to add your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Concentrate on local citations first, and then broaden your reach with general ones, as well as industry-specific directory listings.
BS Tip #3: You Don’t Need Backlinks When You Have Citations
Many people (as many as 72% of people doing local SEO) believe citations are everything, and link building doesn’t matter as much or at all.
A Local Search Ranking Factors study shows that backlinks are also a major factor in rankings. Getting links from websites with a high Domain Authority (DA) is as important as well. Some citations will provide backlinks. Most directory listings will provide a backlink. It’s also an important to seek out other sources of backlinks. Local news websites, industry specific websites are some of the places you need to get backlinks from.
One of the best ways to build backlinks is to reach out to websites in your industry and ask if you can contribute an article. You can then write about something you’re knowledgeable in to help their site visitors, and in turn, you get a link to your website in the byline section of your article.
I handle getting backlinks for my clients.
BS Tip #4: Listings Don’t Need to Be Consistent
Consistency is everything when trying to gain exposure online. Google wants to be sure it provides its users with accurate information. Any inconsistencies can lead Google to not trust the business, and not rank it highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
This means all of your location information needs to be the same on all citations. Name, address, phone number, and website URL need to be the same. Don’t worry too much about “Street” vs. “St.” Just be sure you have “Street” across all listings and not “Road” on some of them.
I use Moz Local for all my clients. ($130.00 per year)
Warning do not use Yext for this service. They are the Home Advisor of the citation management services. Not only are they more expensive (3x a much), but at the end of the year, the wash your citations, until you pay again of course. Not so with Moz Local.
BS Tip #5: Consumers Don’t Pay Attention to Reviews
Research finds that 88% of consumers trust online reviews over personal recommendations. Remember, I read reviews before going to the Italian restaurant’s website. If reviewers said it wasn’t a good place to eat, I wouldn’t have looked at the menu.
I don’t need all five-star reviews, I have been known to eat cold baked beans out of a can.RJ Cooper
But, I don’t want a three star either. Google searchers know that every business will have a bad review or two. You can’t please everyone. When I do client work, their bad reviews are what I look at first. Also, how or if they even reply.
Google has recently announced that reviews are a ranking factor in local SERPs. The more positive reviews a business has, the more visibility they will receive. I have mixed feelings about if I believe that they rank a website higher because of reviews.
Having seen a fifty, five-star reviews out ranked by a two five-star website, all things being somewhat equal. So, I don’t look at it from a ranking factor, but a conversion factor. More and better reviews will help your business convey you are better service, when customers compare you to your local competition.
This means that getting reviews is crucial to the success of your local SEO strategy. Ask customers to leave a Google review. Contact them when you do a follow-up email newsletter to remind them, and run specials for people who leave a review.
Note: Read the Google Review guidelines.
Consistently do whatever you can to let your customers know that you would appreciate their feedback.
How to Get More Reviews:
- Publish a page on your website with instructions on how to leave a review on Google.
- Include a link to where they can leave their feedback.
- You can even publish screenshots for those who are visual learners.
While you’re on your website, start looking into how user-friendly it is because that matters too.
BS Tip #6: Website User Experience Doesn’t Matter
Online users want information as quickly and easily as possible. They trust Google to provide them with sites that deliver that. Which is why it’s important that you consider and improve user experience.
I see websites that are so fancy, load slow and don’t do anything for the user. All salesy!
Don’t be that website. Think of the visitor always. Ask yourself, “why are the here?” Then make the website as easy to use, with as little distractions as possible.
Google rewards businesses for their efforts in providing a good user experience by showing their websites to more users.
“[UX] provides an indirect but measurable benefit to a site’s external popularity, which the engines can then interpret as a signal of higher quality. Crafting a thoughtful, empathetic UX helps ensure that visitors to your site perceive it positively, encouraging sharing, bookmarking, return visits and inbound links – all signals that trickle down to the search engines and contributes to high rankings.”Google
Since we’re on the topic of user experience, you need to have a mobile-friendly website.
BS Tip #7: A Site Doesn’t Need to be Mobile Friendly
This may have been true a few years ago, but not anymore. Remember above when I mentioned that restaurant the had good reviews, but the website wasn’t mobile friendly? They didn’t stand a chance.
Nearly 60% of searches now are performed on mobile.
Google has announced the mobile-friendliness of sites IS a ranking factor. If your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices, it simply won’t be shown to users.
I can’t stress this enough! User experience is important.
BS Tip#8: Content Helps Organic Search, Not Local Search
Consumers appreciate information no matter if it’s a national or local business. Customers want to feel connected to the businesses they buy from, and the best way to do that is with content.
Google knows this, and that’s why they tend to rank websites with thin, low-quality content lower on SERPs. Most of your page 3 and 4 website rankings have thin or low-quality content or cloned content.
The best way to prevent that is to make sure the content published on your site provides users with all of the information they need and want. Make it local focused as well. Mention sub-divisions or other local specific things to help Google know where your article references.
Content helps in other ways too. It gets visitors to read other pages of interest, on your website. Which reduces your website bounce rate. In Google Analytics, if you are seeing 5 to 20 second sessions. You need to work on your content.
Imagine someone finding your website searching for “Heater Repair Near Me” and at the same time, seeing your latest article on “Smart Thermostats”. That article shows you do more than heater repairs, helps frame an upsell. It also, adds to the value of your content to the viewer. While adding value to the services you provide.
BS Tip #9: You Don’t Need to Do Keyword Research
You probably have a good idea of what your consumers are typing in when searching for your services. If you’re a concrete contractor, you probably assume people are typing in “concrete contractor in Cherry Hill, New Jersey” or “Concrete sidewalks in West Deptford.”
Are these the only keywords you should shoot for in local SEO? No, because you’ll miss out on all of the people that type in something else, such as “Concrete or Asphalt driveway which is better?” or ‘Concrete foundation repairs in Washington Township New Jersey.”
I keep a close watch on keywords, phrases and locations through Google Search Console for my clients. Plus, other keyword tools.
I recommend that every local business use location-based keyword research to reach potential customers. It will not only improve visibility, but it can lead to higher conversions. Google reports, “Fifty percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone and 34% who searched on a computer or tablet visit a store within a day.” Now, not many contractors have stores, but it does give you an idea of how important local keywords are to your website, citations and Google My Business accounts.
The keywords you use in your content can be used in other ways, such as in social media. This is something you should also be utilizing to improve visibility.
BS Tip #10: Social Media Doesn’t Help Local SEO
Many contractors start using social media, but quickly back out of it because they don’t see any engagement, little traffic to their website and let’s face it, social media takes time and planning to see results.. Unfortunately, the abandonment from your social media can negatively affect their success with local SEO.
Social media isn’t just about getting people to like, comment and share posts. While these interactions may make you feel good, there’s another reason to continue using social media — backlinks.
As mentioned previously, backlinks are important and they can come from social networking sites. Whenever you have a new website page or blog, it should be posted on social networking sites.
Google crawls these sites and does consider them as backlinks.
In addition, by adding content to social media, you never know what might capture the attention of someone who will share it with their friends. This could lead to great exposure that wouldn’t otherwise happen if it wasn’t for posting on the social network.
Consistency is one of the keys to success with social media marketing.
The Truth About Local SEO in 2020
To achieve local SEO success, you need to set up, optimize and maintain a Google My Business listing, Bing also and don’t forget Apple. You need to gather citations AND backlinks. Information on your site needs to be clear, accurate, and easy for viewers. It should be mobile-friendly.
Lastly, social media does make a difference, so don’t abandon it when it seems dead and no one is paying attention.
Want Help with Local SEO?
Here at Contractor Marketing Network, we provide affordable local seo services, designed for local contractors and service businesses. We have a plan and process, let us guide your local digital marketing efforts. We even have a baby step Local SEO service program to get you started with Local SEO.
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Let’s talk about Local SEO for your contracting business. Nothing salesy, only questions answered. How about we get to know one another. See how I can help you.