Ranking locally on Google is getting more and more challenging. The number of businesses listed in Google’s ‘Local Pack’ is down to three (with paid-for listings coming soon.) You’re not able to add a description on a Google My Business Listing anymore, so keyword optimizing is more difficult. Local competition is heating up because more businesses have figured out that local search matters. The list goes on…
So what does this mean for a digital marketing agency that manages local clients’ SEO? It means that ranking high on Google (and Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines) is more difficult.
Here are five tips to help you manage your client’s SEO project and improve their local search rankings.
1. How to Contact Google When You Have Questions About Google My Business
Have you ever had a client that didn’t know their Google My Business (GMB) login info? What about a business that has recently moved? How about a business that changed their company name because a partner left? What about duplicate listings? Some of these issues can be difficult to fix on your own. Did you know that you can contact Google directly to get help with some of these problems?
Most of Google’s support is in India, but they do have some U.S. employees as well. You can contact Google support online and you can also call 866-246-6453 and select the Google My Business option. Additionally, you can post questions on the GMB group message board as well as Google’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
You can also reach support and get helpful information and instructions right within your Google My Business dashboard as well.
2. Managing Multiple Practitioner Listings on Google
If you have clients that are considered “practitioners” (professionals like dentists, lawyers, physicians, etc.) at the same physical location, each of them can have their own Google My Business Listing with their name. The challenge? They will essentially be competing with one another for search rankings.
What to do? Chances are each of them have a specialty that they excel at. On their website, create separate pages about each of their areas of expertise and then, in each of the Google My Business listings, add the keyword optimized URL for each specialty page and professional. For instance, if one of the attorneys in the firm specializes in estate planning, the URL linked to in Google My Business might look like www.lawfirmname.com/estate-planning whereas the attorney that specializes in DWIs URL might look like this www.lawfirmname.com/dwi-lawyer.
Keep in mind that Google limits the number of times a website can show up on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). This prevents one business from dominating the search results.
3. Getting Online Reviews
Getting a local business listed on online review sites is a great way for customers to leave reviews about how much they love a business. Our Consumer Review Survey Research found that getting reviews from customers has many benefits:
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
- 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
There are a variety of things a business can do to ask customers or clients for reviews (if you’re an agency, don’t forget that you should ask your clients for reviews, too!) First, make sure you claim the top review sites (even the niche review sites) and then copy the specific URL of your client’s page for at least 5 review sites. (i.e. yelp.com/business-name). Don’t make customers search for a business’ review pages — make it super simple! Once you have the review sites selected, spread the love and have them ask customers to leave reviews on a variety of review sites. (Getting too many reviews on one review site can raise a red flag with the site, and the good reviews might get suppressed/hidden. Yelp is notorious for this.)
Here are some great ways a business can ask customers for reviews:
- Print review site URLs on the back of a business card and pass them out to clients or customers
- Add review URLs to print ads and TV commercials
- Put the review links in the signature of emails “Tell us how we’re doing! www.putreviewlinkhere.com”)
- Send a “thank you” email with a few links to review sites and ask for feedback
- Add a “Feedback” page on the website
- Put feedback/review links on invoices and receipts
Google will often show third-party review sites on a business’ Google My Business listing, so make sure you check out the competitors to see which review sites show up on their listings and get your client’s listed on those sites.
4. Optimizing a Local Business’ Website
On-page and off-page optimization is crucial to helping a business with their local search rankings. In addition to including the city and state in the Title and Description tags, make sure you’re including that info in Headers (where appropriate) and include a business’ address in the footer of every page of the website.
If the business has multiple locations in a variety of cities, create separate pages for each of the locations. Be sure to include information specific to each location/city. Make the city pages personable — almost like a mini “This is our city/town” page. Include the company’s name, address, local phone numbers and some pictures of the business (with image Alt tags optimized for the business’ name and city.)
5. Run Ranking Reports to Show Your Clients ROI
When you’re doing local SEO for a business, it’s important to show your clients the results of your search marketing efforts. There are many tools on the market that help with local search optimization, but few create easy-to-understand ranking reports even a layperson can understand. BrightLocal’s ranking reports are SUPER easy to understand. But no matter which tool you use to show local search rankings, make sure that the software provides information about Local pages on each of the search engines, organic rankings and also shows how directories impact search rankings.
What Local Tips Would You Recommend?
What local SEO tips do you use with your clients? Have you ever tried reaching Google directly? Did you have luck? We’d love to get your input. Please comment below!