How to Get to the Top of Local Searches in Google
Today’s buyers and customers turn to the internet to search for business of all types. Have you ever used Google and entered a search phrase similar to “farm-to-table restaurant near me,” “Storage Units Wilkesboro, NC.” or “”Hubspot Certified Agency in WNC.” According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey “97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day.” 97% of consumers are searching for your business online up from 90% in 2015! Who knows where the other 3% are looking, maybe the phone book or driving around aimlessly looking for the best store front.
If the websites are optimized correctly for your search phrase then it should pop up near the top. Here are a few tips to help you rank better:
Trust and Social Proof
Today’s consumers all want to feel that can trust a business. According to a survey by The Schapiro Group for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, “When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.” (Chamber Membership is Effective Business Strategy)
Buyers also want to see social proof (think word of mouth and recommendations). When someone we know recommends a product, you’re more likely to take their endorsement seriously. “In fact, Nielsen reports that the most meaningful form of advertising is recommendations from friends and family: 83% of consumers in 60 countries say they trust these recommendations over any other form of advertising.” (20 Examples of Social Proof in Action)
I don't give a <blank> 'bout my reputation
But unlike Joan Jet who didn’t give a <blank> 'bout her reputation, you should! After all if not “you're living in the past, it's a new generation.”
New generations and the internet has made it easier for buyers to seek and get social proof. These can come in a variety of forms. All the different channels can make easier for a business but it can also make it harder at the same time. Often times it can be easier because you can can monitor these channels for positive and negative reviews and respond appropriately. Monitoring sites like Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, TripAdvisor, etc can be daunting. Good news is there is help but there are some costs associated with it, Moz Local is one that we recommend.
Here are a few more key stats from the same BrightLocal’s 2017 Survey:
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
Links, Links and more links!
First off there are two main types of links, internal and external. Internal links are links to pages with in your own site, like the menu. External links or back links are those coming into your site from an outside source. If it helps think of your website like town. There may be many connecting streets and alleyways, these would be internal links. Your external links would be the major streets or highways connecting it to them.
The search engines will also use the amount of links into the site as a ranking factor. The more links coming in from relevant sources the higher your business can potentially rank. I can’t emphasize enough how much relevant links matter. Imagine this, you go to a site that is full of random links, they have no relevance to any of the other links on the page. Is that site or “directory” useful? Obviously not! Just as we wouldn’t value a site like this neither do the search engines.
Most high ranking sites can contribute some of their domain authority to link building. “Domain Authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.” (What is Domain Authority? — Moz). How do you increase your Domain Authority, practice good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and try to improve external linking strategy.
Doesn’t Google see directories as link farms or potentially spammy?
The short answer is no. The reason being is that a Chamber of Commerce is seen as trustworthy source. If your links are deemed unnatural or spammy, they might not count.
“Directories are essentially taxonomies of links to sites or resources around any given topic, and whatever the topic may be, somebody is probably searching for it.” (Why Google’s Two Biggest SEO Rules Are Perfect for Directories)
Ensure correct information
With any directory you will want to ensure your basic business information is as up to date and as accurate as possible. Make sure things like your business name, address and phone numbers are listed consistently. The search engines as smart as they are still sees 123 Main St and 123 Main Street as two different addresses.
How can the local Chamber help
There are numerous reasons to join your local Chamber. Being listed in their directory should be at the top of the list. By being listed you can get a coveted external link from a relevant source! If you are unsure how to configure your listing reach out to your membership director or chamber ambassador. They would be more than willing to help ensure your information is accurate. If you need more help, your local chamber of commerce can surely point you in the direction of an SEO expert.
Chad J. Treadway works at Cube Creative Design and is a Leadership Wilkes 2014 graduate. He currently serves as a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and VP of Membership and the Downtown North Wilkesboro Design Committee. Chad also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist our clients with internet and inbound marketing.