For many small business owners, their target audience are those nearest them. They want people in their town, or the surrounding areas, to come into their store, or hire their services. In most cases, the nature of a small business means that you are not focusing nationally, but rather locally. This means it is important to direct your marketing strategy to reflect this audience.

In today’s world, most people find their information through the Internet. Even if the store is just a couple of streets away from them, they are more likely to go to a search engine to learn that store’s hours or to learn more about it. A small business that wants to thrive needs to make sure their business appears for all relevant search terms, and that appears near the top of the list. To do this, you need to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics.

The results from the Local SEO Ranking Factors Study were released at SMX East, and their findings could help business owners improve their search engine standings for local searches.

Google’s My Business profile

One of the main takeaways from the study is that having a fully filled out My Business Profile on Google certainly helps. By getting your listing verified (Owner Verified), and having details such as your business’s location, hours, and some photos you can make your business stand out from those that skip this. It’s a fairly easy step to complete, so all small business owners should consider doing it.

Reviews are important

Just as important as having your information verified on Google is having good reviews from past customers. The study showed that the more reviews a company had, the better it would perform in the rankings. So if you feel that a customer had a good experience with you, it is not a bad idea to direct them towards your Google Profile and ask them to leave a review.

Build out links

For searches that include phrases like “near me” – such as “Italian Restaurant near me” – one of the largest factors was the anchor text of inbound links. Inbound links are links on other websites that point to yours, and the anchor text is the actual text of the link. To improve your standings in these types of searches, you want links that include your business name along with the city – for example, “Angelo’s Italian Restaurant in NYC”.

How to spend your money

The study concluded with some suggestions on how small business owners should spend their money. It says that you will get the most value out of your money by spending it on link-building, followed by website optimization and your Google My Business Profile. By focusing your marketing efforts on these areas, you are likely to see increases in the number of people who find your business through Internet searches.

Now, please note that the study says they cannot definitively say that these are the factors that Google uses to determine their rankings. This study was more to show what the top results typically have in common. However, if all of the top search results are doing certain things, then it is probably a good idea for your business to do them as well.

By employing the methods mentioned above, hopefully you will be able to see a noticeable change in not only your local search rankings, but in your website’s performance as well. If you would like to learn more about how you can optimize your website for local searches, get inbound links to your website, or improve your Google My Business Profile, please feel free to contact us at any time, and we would be happy to assist you.

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