Search Engine Optimization: Winning Local Search
-Dara Gourley, SEO Strategist, Fisher Design
Many of you remember that infomercial for a rotisserie in which the famous phrase “Set it and forget it,” was coined. While that phrase sold a ton of rotisseries and actually worked great for cooking chicken, you can’t setup a website and forget all about your e-business.
When you decide it’s time to take to your business to the web, you have to make sure you invest time and money in products that support consumers finding you organically and through paid advertising. This requires a defined digital footprint that sends (refers) leads to your website and allows for content sharing so that your customers can refer you to someone else.
Here are some of the key ways to achieve organic results in the search engines:
Know the Effectiveness of Your Website
Have your webmaster setup analytics (Google has a great tool). Analytics are a vital component in determining the effectiveness of your website. Leads can come from the search engines, directory listings, vendor or channel partner websites, social media profiles, and more. Once you know where your leads come from, you can determine if you won business from the prospective customers that found you on the web and reached out to your sales team. Additionally, it will ensure you don’t send consumers to a page on your site that doesn’t exist/work properly by giving you a report of exactly how long every individual person was on your website.
Make sure you have 404 pages (an error page in case something doesn’t work). Google will downgrade your site if consumers bounce off your site because your pages aren’t working correctly. These error pages don’t have to be boring either.
Test, test and test your website to make sure it doesn’t take too much time for the pages or graphics to load and make sure all of the links work.
Not only will these steps help your business show up in organic search, it will also ensure you know where your leads are coming from and enable you to measure the effectiveness of your website. Your website has the power to inform consumers about your business, and it has the power to do amazing things for your sales efforts even if you don’t sell online.
Add Structure to Your Website
Structuring the data on your website (pages, text, photos, maps, hours of operation, etc.) allows search engines to not only crawl your site, but to truly understand it.
I like to use a card catalog analogy to help our client’s understand what this means. Since the search engines have to crawl 6 trillion pages every time a consumer does a search, the pages have to be cataloged, or as Google says, indexed, so that the consumer doesn’t have to wait for more than a second for the answer to their question. If you remember going to the library and using the Dewey decimal system, that’s basically how it works. Like books in a library, pages get cataloged by categories, i.e., attorney, accountant, doctor, etc.
By making sure each page of your site and all of assets on your site are setup to talk to the cataloging system used by Google, Bing and others, you will show up in the search engines organically.
If your webmaster knows internet marketing, he or she can write and embed into your HTML code structured data (title tags, meta descriptions, keywords) and add rich snippets (reviews, location information and hours of operation) to your website. Structured data allows search engines to not only crawl your site, but to truly understand it.
Be Sure Your Business is Listed in Directories
Capitalize on the priority positioning search engines place on local directory listings by investing the time and money to have your directory listings updated properly. They must be without errors, duplicates and all of the fields should be complete in you want to rank organically in local search. We have a proprietary solution that we use for our client’s that is significantly less than the directory listing services available for the masses and we reach more outlets.
Get Your Customers to Write Reviews
Reviews are a key factor in your how your business shows up on mobile and map searches. Consumers can post reviews on all kinds of websites that will help drive organic traffic to your website. If you have bad reviews and/or negative PR, Fisher Design can help your company with online reputation management.
Ensure Your Website Responds to Any Kind of Device
After April 21, 2015, if your website isn’t responsive, your business will get downgraded in organic search results. A responsive site means your site adapts to screen size on a computer, tablet, phone and touchscreen TV.
By having a responsive site, you will improve the consumer experiences on your site, because even if they are on their cellphones, they will be able to easily click the links, find your phone number and address, etc. The investment needed to get your site ready will lead to more business. Check back on our blog and social networks, Friday, March 26 for more information on how you can get ahead of this change.
If you are serious about gaining customers from having a digital presence, please note that the success or failure of your business will be a result of whether or not your business evolves with technology and your target consumer. Making sure your website is setup properly, listed on key places in cyberspace, responsive on any device and regularly updated with fresh content will ensure your business ranks organically in the search engines.