War is being waged as independent merchants work to make a lasting impression in search engine rankings. As many as 25% of businesses say they need help with search engine optimization. And one of the biggest challenges posed to these merchants is actually doing something instead of being frozen and overwhelmed by all the technologies being used to reach their website. Whether it’s Bing, Google, Yelp, Yahoo, or Facebook, these merchants often have no clear understanding of what they need to do in order to improve local search results across the web. Here is what six experts say regarding boosting the rankings of brick and mortar establishments:
1. Get the basics. Melissa Burghardt from YP says, “Content serves as the basis for all your activities.” She further explains about how important it is to make sure the content on your website is accurate across all platforms, including phone numbers, hours, address, and directions to your store. Mobile rankings make up for 50% of searches and is quickly on the rise, and this means your site should be mobile responsive.
2. Give Google the complete package. This tip comes from Darren Shaw at Whitespark. He recommends having your entire website polished, complete with long form content on your topic area, a well-designed site, and plenty of customer reviews across a range of sites. This helps boost rankings by offering a complete package to Google.
3. Generate lots of positive reviews. Trevor Sumner of LocalVox states, “Reviews are a critical social signal signifying both the quality of the business as well as its popularity.” It is highly recommended that stores create a review generation program, which encourages customers to leave reviews as well as responds to both positive and negative reviews.
4. Get local links. Shaw from Whitespark adds that even just a few quality local links can make a huge impact on business. There are a lot of ways to achieve local links, which can include networking with other local businesses, doing something newsworthy in the community, offering discounts for seniors or military, or sponsoring local fundraisers.
5. Sponsor your local neighborhood. Complementing your business by sponsoring local events can help gain visibility for your business in a few ways. According to Raj Nijjer from Yext, highlighting those events on your website and social media with event organizers linking directly to your site can help increase traffic tremendously.
6. Leverage existing relationships. Myles Anderson from BrightLocal encourages businesses to use their already existing relationships. Existing businesses already have customers with relationships to those customers, and using those relationships to gain word of mouth following is something that can be done easily enough simply by keeping in contact with existing customers.
7. Distribute content across the web. Sumner adds that Google is increasingly looking at more than just citations across the internet. They are looking for word of mouth, reviews, testimonials–both earned and owned media.
8. Get active in online communities. Burkhardt recommends using online communities to gain a following as an expert in your related business. Writing blogs or other articles and posting “how-to” videos can help with this and increase Google search rankings.
9. Use Social Profiles. Yelp reviews and Facebook posts often come up first in Google search results. Sumner encourages businesses to utilize these platforms to showcase their business and build it up so it is more visible.
10. See what’s working. Tyler Ludwig from Rio SEO says the strategy is only as good as the data you are measuring against. He suggests not solely focusing on building pages and citations, but instead to see how these conversions are driving value back to your business.
Local brick and mortar stores in any community have the dual responsibility of providing an actual place to visit as well as creating an online presence that drives traffic to that physical place. In this day in age, a growing majority of traffic is driven by the internet, which means that businesses need to work harder to make themselves visible online.