Ahh, local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)…the constantly changing, mildly overwhelming and strategic game being played by local small business owners and organizations everywhere. Here’s a look at how we’re thinking about small business SEO as we jump into 2019.
At Center Street we’re constantly updating our local SEO strategy based on algorithm changes and technology advances across the internet, but we also continue to follow the rule that SEO is best looked at in light of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Huge amounts of traffic don’t mean a lot if your website isn’t effective and your reputation isn’t trustworthy.
Here are the factors that influence your local search results and where you should spend your precious time and energy to get the most bang for your buck.
Google Search Local Pak
Often referred to as the 3 Pak, this is the box of search results that pops up when a search query has local intent. It is associated with local businesses in proximity to the search location.
Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are of this type?
According to Moz, here are the factors (that you can control) that influence your Local Pak rankings.
- Google My Business – 25.12%
- Link Signals – 16.53%
- Review Signals – 14.44%
- On-Page Signals – 13.82%
- Citation Signals – 10.82%
- Behavioral Signal – 9.56%
- Personalization – 5.88%
- Social Signal – 2.82%
Keep in mind that the Local Pak is primarily determined by proximity plus the above factors. Search results will change even block by block in your town.
2018 was marked by the rise of Google My Business page. If you haven’t claimed your listing do it, do it now! Make sure your business information is accurate, your business category is the most relevant to your customers, and then start a plan to get some reviews.
Organic Search Results
These are the search results underneath the Local Pak, or when local search intent isn’t recognized.
Here’s what Moz says influences these results the most as we move into 2019.
- Link Signals – 27.94%
- On-page Signals – 26.03%
- Behavioral Signals – 11.50%
- Google My Business Signal – 8.85%
- Citation Signals – 8.41%
- Personalization – 7.32%
- Review Signal – 6.47%
- Social Signals – 3.47%
It seems that the biggest competitive difference maker for a business website in 2019 is the number and quality of inbound links to a domain. A website with quality inbound linking is likely to be viewed by Google as providing real value to those that are searching and then pushed up the rank results.
Of course getting inbound links isn’t done in a vacuum, it’s in conjunction with keyword strategy (on-page signals) and content strategy that provides real, valuable content for those that are searching that in turn creates positive behavior signal (lowered bounce rate, higher click-through-rate, etc.)
The beauty of all of this is that it’s very difficult to game the system anymore. So if you’re a business that does great work and wants to add value to the world, you’ve got a good shot at winning the SEO competition.
Do More of These Things in 2019
Link Building – Develop a strategy to grow the number of credible sites that link to your small business website.
Google My Business Page – Increase the number of GMB posts, add videos and images and other valuable content. Also, avoid duplicate listings and inaccurate category listing.
Gather Reviews – Grow the number of online reviews your company has. Not only is it helpful for search results, but it also establishes you as a trustworthy guide. Don’t forget to have a plan in place to respond to reviews.
Keyword Strategy – Take some time to develop your top 10 keywords (relevant and solid search volume) adjust your on-page text for maximum effectiveness. Also setting up keyword tracking and measuring yourself against competitors is always helpful.
Accuracy of Listings – Make sure that your local business listings are accurate. In this case, time really is money- if a potential customer has to hunt down the correct address or phone number, they are likely to just move on to the next (correct) listing instead.
Do Less of These Things in 2019
Consistency of every last citation source – There are a lot of directories out there. No need to drive yourself crazy trying to get your listings perfectly accurate on the bottom 30% of them.
Be consumed by the volume of social engagement – The quantity of social engagement is less important for search than ever. However, it’s important to realize the role of social for your business niche. Social may be important for other reasons.
Rankings and Traffic – While showing up in search results is important, it should not be your highest priority. Focus less on how your site ranks or the amount of traffic being driven to it and instead look at how those clicks are actually converting into paying customers.
Why Should You Invest in SEO For Your Business?
If the information above is like reading a foreign language to you, you are not alone. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore SEO and hope that it will go away. If your business is not ranking high in local searches, that makes it harder for your customers to find you. If customers can’t find you, they will buy from someone else. A good SEO strategy makes all the difference when it comes to the RIGHT customers making their way to your website, leading to more sales and increased revenue for your business.
Your Online Presence Matters – In the world of digital marketing, visibility= credibility. The more that customers see your business name appearing in the top of their search results, the more credibility it gives you as a business. To the customer, those in the top of the search results must be experts in their field.
Everyone Else is Doing It – “If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do it too?” In this case, you should. Odds are that your competition is using SEO strategies to drive business to their website. If you aren’t, then they already have the upper hand on securing customers. If they’re not, then by investing in SEO you will be the one with the advantage.
Investing in SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways that you can boost your company’s revenue. Having an SEO strategy that attracts not just any “googler,” but organically drives the right customers to your website is a great way to drive sales and increase your conversion rate, at a much lower cost than other avenues of marketing.
Perhaps your small business is ready for some organic growth this year…feel free to reach out to Center Street to explore SEO options today.