Remember the good old days…when gas only cost a quarter, the Kardashians weren’t on TV and Google would return 7 – yes SEVEN – businesses in their local search results? Aaaaah, the memories. Unfortunately, gas prices are skyrocketing, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney are all over the airwaves and as of last August, Google has trimmed down its desktop local search pack to just 3 measly results.
Well, we can’t help you with your fuel budget or do much to bring back quality television (sorry), but we can help you improve your chances of being one of those lucky 3 businesses featured at the top of Google. Interested? Here are 5 things you can start doing today to improve your local SEO in Dallas.
Cross all your ‘T’s’ and dot all your lowercase ‘j’s’.
First thing’s first, if you want even the slightest chance of being featured in one of those top 3 spots, you’ve got to make absolutely certain that any and all information about your business that can be found online is consistent and completely accurate. Google does its homework when pulling business information, and will look to the ends of the interwebs to find what it’s looking for. Start with your website and work your way out, checking any place where your business is listed, such as review sites and online directories. Make sure any discrepancies are corrected ASAP.
You should also use this opportunity to identify any relevant sites where your business should be listed but isn’t. The more legitimate listings and links you amass, the more authority Google is going to lend to your brand, which means you’ll increase your chances of moving your way up the local search ranking ladder. If you’re not sure which direction to go in, Yext.com is a great place to start.
Put your link building cap on.
Obtaining as many high-quality links that point back to your website is a vital part of SEO and can tremendously improve your ranking results. The problem is, not just any old link will count. In fact, if you’ve got a bunch of questionable sites linking back to yours, it could actually have the opposite affect and Google might even penalize you – the last thing you want, especially after all the blood, sweat and tears (mostly tears) you’ve put into your SEO efforts.
The goal is to get links from sites that are a.) relevant to your product, service or industry, and b.) have a high domain authority. We’re also going to let you in on a little secret. Despite what you’ve probably heard, “nofollow” links aren’t worthless. Yes, “dofollow” links are more valuable, but every link you get – provided it’s from a quality site – has the potential to lead to things like increased brand awareness, additional web traffic and more links, so don’t be a link snob.
Check out these 10 local link building strategies, for a more in-depth look at how to generate solid links to your site.
Build a loyal audience – organically.
Another local SEO tactic that can help improve your chances of landing a spot in the top 3 is to build a faithful following of loyal readers, fans and followers. This is best achieved through the development, publishing and subsequent sharing of quality content, whether it’s captivating images, informative articles, infographics, videos, funny memes or some combination of these. The key is to understand the needs, wants and pain-points of your target audience and then create content that addresses those areas.
To truly be effective, your content must be not only valuable to your audience (and, of course, keyword optimized), but it must also be consistently produced. If you only update your blog once every 6 months, don’t expect to amass droves of readers. On the other hand, when people know they can expect regular kick-ass content from you, chances are they’ll keep coming back for more. Getting your content shared is also important, so make sure you’re leveraging your social channels and always include social share buttons on every piece of content you produce to make it easier for others to spread the word.
Get others to sing your praises.
Let’s face it. Your product or service is pretty damn awesome. Surely you’ve got plenty of satisfied customers who feel the same way. Why not tap into that resource to help move your way up the local search engine rankings? Online reviews are super powerful in terms of SEO, so focusing on getting as many positive ones as possible should be a priority. The trick is, they have to be authentic. In other words, you have to be careful about how you obtain them, and they really need to be sincere, otherwise it could backfire on you.
The good news is, online reviews do much more than just boost your SEO. They can also significantly improve your chances of landing new customers. In fact, according to a recent Zendesk survey, 90% of those polled said that online reviews directly influence their buying decisions. So, it’s really a win-win. If you need some help in this area, start by asking your most loyal customers if they wouldn’t mind sharing their positive experiences online. And make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Position your business as a ‘specialist’.
Keywords still play an integral role in how websites are ranked in the search engine results, so it’s only natural to assume this is equally important in getting your business into the local 3-pack. If you’re finding it nearly impossible to climb the ranks or even remain on the first page, it could be because you’re being too general in your targeted keywords.
In some instances, it can be helpful to be more specific, such as targeting a particular niche or drilling down deeper into what you have to offer. For instance, rather than simply using the popular search term “contractor,” specifying the kind of contracting work you do, such as “roofing contractor” could dramatically improve how your site performs in the SERPs.
Most importantly, try not to panic. In reality, the same rules that have always governed SEO are still very much a part of the new 3-pack rule. It just may take a little extra effort to squeeze your way in to one of those coveted top-three spots. But, let’s face it, doing so will be time much better spent than trying to keep up with those darn Kardashians.