How Can My Business Get Found Online?
In 2014 Google released an update that changed how search results for local business are provided. This change to their algorithm, dubbed “Pigeon”, put an increased emphasis on relevant local search results based on the location of the person who is performing the search. To many locally oriented businesses this meant that they had a bit of a leg up over out of the area competitors who advertise in their locale. Google’s ever evolving drive to return the most relevant search results now has a tendency to show businesses in the area of the searcher rather than national sites that are trying to rank for that industry.
For example, previously if a person searched for Flowers, national flower retailers would fill the first page of search results, and the smaller local shops would be no where to be found. After the Pigeon update, small “Mom and Pop” shops who have invested time and energy into proper search engine optimization techniques, will appear on the first page. The larger national retailers will show up first but typically in only the top three or four results, with the local results filling up the rest of the page.
As is typical with most Google Algorithm changes, Pigeon has gone through several updates since it’s roll out, and likely will change more over time. What it tells us however is that Google is putting more and more of an emphasis on local search results, and that should change how we look at search engine rankings on a local level.
If you are wondering why this update was put into place, put yourself in the shoes of a traveler with a flat tire in a town he is not familiar with. If a quick search for tire stores on his phone results in several large companies such as Firestone and Michelin, but nothing that will help fix his tire at his location. With the new update Google may show a few large company websites, but also will use his current location to return the best options for him to find tires locally. Mobile searches were in fact a large reason why this update came to be. Sometime between the summer of 2014 and 2015 mobile search traffic began to outpace search traffic on desktop computers. With this came the change that mobile searches were looking frequently for businesses they were near. This was a vast change in internet searches and Google realized that something had to be changed.
What can be done?
If you have a business and want to be found locally in search results for the products and services you offer there are some things you can do.
Claiming local listings across the internet is an important step in being found locally. Often times these local listing services rank on the first page of internet searches. There are many web directories to choose from which makes choosing which ones to spend time on, somewhat difficult. Start with larger search services such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Some of these directories offer free options, but make finding the free options difficult to take advantage of.
When this is the case there are services businesses can sign up for to place their information on numerous directories. These services can be expensive and often times require yearly renewal. The problem is the business owner does not have the choice which directory to place their information on, and having listings on too many directories is a waste of time, money and can potentially even do more harm than good to a businesses website rankings.
Hiring a professional marketing firm that has experience claiming and managing these listings is also an option. These firms often can recommend the best directory options for your specific business saving you time and money.
What information is needed for directory listings?
The basic information (business name, address and phone numbers) is important. It is also critical that this information changes as little as possible. If a move is in your businesses near future you may consider waiting until the new location is established before claiming these listings. If there is specific area you are trying to reach, consider finding alternative names for that area. Think closer than just a city name especially in larger markets. Keep in mind what locals may call the uptown area, tourists might read a map and call it the art district. Using all neighborhood names and variants will help business be found, and rank for better on local searches.
A brief write up about the business can really help tie the listings together. Many marketing agents employ professional writers that can help your business stand out from the competition.
Make sure your website is up to current standards
A website that is up to date with current technologies is another major factor in being found on search engines. Beginning in 2014 Google began to reward sites that were optimized for mobile devices as well as desktop computers. Sites that are not “responsively” coded have begun to see a decline in search result rankings. The update that followed in April 2015, took that a step further as Google began to drastically drop the rankings of sites that do are not optimized for mobile devices.
A website should be re-evaluated often. Typically every 2 to 3 years to make sure it is up to modern standards.
Having a website that works on both mobile devices is of course a big part of a good user experience. Remember the days of visiting a website on your phone and zooming in so you could barely read the text? Annoying right? That is a big reason why Google has made user experience a major part of how a website’s rank is determined. It goes beyond mobile optimization however.
Great Content is another key ingredient for good ranking. Providing helpful information to those who want to know more about the local area a business is located in, the services offered, and even other options will drive more traffic to a site and Google takes notice. The more frequently fresh content is placed on a site the more relevant that site looks in the eyes of the search engines and the more likely site rank will improve.
If content on a website is particularly good, another website may link back to that information for their visitors to check out. Backlinks play an important role in SEO but it does come with a bit of a yellow flag. Backlinks must only be obtained naturally by others wanting to share your content. Any attempt to beg, borrow, or buy backlinks will quickly send a website into Google’s dreaded penalty box!
Seems a bit overwhelming?
Don’t worry Maneuver Up Marketing is here to help. We have a team of industry professionals who are here to work on your behalf. We have the experience and knowledge to get your website on the right track. We can even manage all of your marketing efforts to allow you to focus on other aspects of your business and life. Call our team today at 231 357 1952 for your local SEO evaluation, and let us help you out maneuver your competition.