Another happy client
How we helped them – Daisy Alexandra portfolio
If you are a local business, whether that’s a shop front or servicing customers in your local area, if you want people to find you, you need to make sure your business is visible in the top search results.
Searches for local business and services have increased rapidly and the rise of smart phones means many of us search on the go, generating local search queries.
These figures are US based but the trends are the same for the UK.
If you want your business to be noticed online, there are several things you need to do to boost your position such as having a google business page, getting reviews, listing in directories and backlinks. Find out how to do these here:
But for many businesses, they are missing the most obvious thing. The first step in getting seen by a local audience is to tell them you are a local business!
It’s amazing how many websites I see where they are not including locally based keywords within their website content. Whether that’s wedding planners in Surrey, accountants in Chichester or landscape gardeners in Hampshire, if you don’t say on your website what you do and what area you operate it, then how can you expect your local customers to find you. You need to include keywords that describe what you do and where you are based.
I’m going to keep this simple. Keyword research can be complex (and costly if you are paying someone to do it). But sometimes it’s just using a bit of common sense paired with some simple research.
Your aim is to identify commonly used phrases that people will use to search for your business. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to think about what they would type in search engines to find a business like yours. Brainstorm and compile a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant to your industry.
Then you need to consider the various locations and areas you service and where your customers are from. If you have a delivery service, then include those area names, counties, cities.
For most businesses, the primary keywords to target will be quite obvious.
Let’s say that you’re a plumber in Petersfield—how do you think people will search for your services?
They’ll probably go to Google and type something like:
There’s a common format going on. It’s service in location (SiL).
Doing this now for your own business. Just make a list of all the services you offer and the problems you solve then list the locations you serve… merge them together to create a bunch of potential keywords.
Need more ideas or insight into what your customers might type?
Try Google Autocomplete to generate more search suggestions. Just enter your primary keyword into Google and take note of the suggested searches.
For many business, unless you are in a highly competitive area (both geographically and in terms of your offering) I would stop the keyword research there and move onto the next step – putting them in your website.
However if you think you need to niche further to get to a specific audience you might want to use some keyword tools such as:
Google keyword planner – you’ll need a Google adwords account but you don’t need to activate it or pay any fees.
Assuming you already have a website, look at the current layout and either allocate keywords to existing pages or, if you can, for each of your main services or products create a unique localised page using your keywords.
So back to our plumbing example, you might want to create separate pages for each of the main plumbing services you offer such as emergency plumbing, bathroom installations, drain unblocking etc and then on each page, list the areas you cover, e.g. Petersfield, Liss, Liphook, Hampshire.
This can be as simple as ensuring your address is present in the text (a good way to do this is in the footer so it’s on every page) and using location based keywords within your titles and copy. If you want to fully optimise it aim to use keywords in the following:
Go one step further by adding in local customer testimonials or case studies (don’t forget to say where they are from – Joe Blogs from Horndean, Hampshire) and elsewhere on the website use your contact page, about us page and blog to keep mentioning local keywords.
Content could take the form of local promotions, news, and industry trends depending on your industry and niche. The important thing is writing helpful content that locals are seeking.
If you operate in multi-locations you should consider creating a unique local landing page for each business location. Include information specific to that location and of course the business address and local contact number.
The key message is with local SEO ( local optimisation) – keep it simple and tell them where you are from.
From April 2nd 2019, Google Plus (Google+) will be no more. Google+ was launched as Google’s rival social network. But it never received the broad adoption or engagement with users that it had hoped for. According to one of Google’s sources, 90 per cent of Google Plus user sessions last for less than five seconds. With bigger social channels like Facebook and Twitter dominating the market, the network wasn’t able to compete.
If you have a Google+ channel, it will cease to exist. To the vast majority, this just really means you have one less social network to share your posts on. Very few people were engaging and using it in the way it was intended so it’s unlikely it will have any dramatic impact on your business. If you did use it and have some useful data on there, you can download the following information:
Find out how here.
If your websites contains a Google+ share button, allowing users to share website content onto the Google+ social channel, or a Google+ follow button linking to your own Google+ account, these will stop linking and will throw up a 404 error. That’s not good for your website visitors so you need to remove these buttons (or ask your web developer to do it).
If you linked to Google+ within social media management tools, such as Hootsuite, they should automatically update and remove your Google+ profile, or you may find that you’ll need to delete the accounts – either way Google+ won’t link from them.
The good news is that there is a much better way to increase your visibility on Google. Many of the options which were available with G+ are on Google My Business (GMB). It gives you the ability to make posts, share images, provide general information, receive reviews and answer questions. Find out how GMB can be used to benefit your businesses, especially those with a focus on local, here.
If you don’t have one, claiming and optimising your Google My Business (GMB) listing should be at the top of your marketing to do list, actually, the top of your to do list, full stop. After all, what business today can afford to ignore the digital world?
Here’s a very quick guide why you should have a GMB page and how to do it. Quick, because you shouldn’t be wasting any more time if you haven’t got one in place. Read this and get on with it…..
Ranking – Not claiming your GMB listing will significantly diminish your chances of showing up in local search results. It is the number one ranking factor for a local business i.e. having a GMB page helps you to get that elusive top spot in the rankings above your competitors.
Visibility – When people search for your business, if you have a GMB page, they may well see your business knowledge panel at the top of the results.
It enables you to quickly put updates and useful information online about your business. It helps you engage with your customers through their reviews. Oh, and have I already mentioned its free and easy to set up.
First you need to get yourself a google account if you haven’t already – one that you are happy to use in conjunction with your business, rather than linked to your home gmail account if possible. Just go to the google home page and click on the sign in button
Then claim your GMB page – click here https://www.google.co.uk/business/
It’s pretty self explanatory but once you’ve got your basic business name and address filled in make sure you do the following:
At this stage (or possibly earlier on) you may need to verify your business via a postcard or phonecall. Once verified add in some more detail:
That’s about it – it’s simple to get started with your Google My Business Page. There’s plenty of help and guidance through their help screens and if you are stuck or need some more guideance, give me a shout.
Think you’ve got the perfect piece of content on your website, or not sure if it’s going to turn visitors away? Before you hit the publish button, check out this list of common website content mistakes. If you are guilty of any of them, there’s still time for a quick fix so you get the best possible result from your content.
What do you want your website visitor to do next?
Calls to action can include:
Examples of content for each stage:
Improve local relevance and gain loyal customers by:
No need for separate testimonial page – who trusts it?
Instead pair it with the appropriate copy to help to alleviate any anxieties a prospective customer has. For example:
If you found this useful why not check out:
So just had a fairly momentous moment in my life. A fantastic celebration of our recent wedding. And now I’m back to normality, and busy working on clients’ website marketing, it got me to thinking could we have got married without the internet?
And no, I’m not talking about the wonders of internet dating or Tinder. I’ve been with my now husband for a while. In fact we got together the same year that Google was launched so it’s fair to say the online world was completely different back then. Search engine optimisation didn’t exist, you could buy a few things online – Amazon and ebay were in existence but it was all very rudimentary. Social media hadn’t even entered into the equation.
So if he had popped the question and we got married back then, I’m guessing the whole business of organising the wedding would be extremely different from the one I just had in 2017.
The internet played a critical part in our wedding planning. That’s not to say that we didn’t rely on the traditional method of word of mouth or recommendations but somewhere always lurking in the background was the laptop or smart phone. Take these few examples:
Someone had recommended a lovely wooden village hall in the middle of the forest near us. But when we went to look there was no clue of who to contact. Quick online search and in the small print of the local community website was a contact phone number.
A big investment and one when you would ask around first for recommendations. But they were all fully booked so I went to the internet to search for caterers / hog roasts in the area. Looked at their website, recommendations, social media and then got in touch. I’m very glad to say I wasn’t disappointed with my choice – they had a great website as well which really helped.
This was a recommendation but I couldn’t get to see them live so had to go to their facebook and Youtube pages to see them in action.
Ideas from Pinterest for rustic weddings. Ebay, Amazon and other sites to buy all the stuff, from table cloth and chair covers to LED lights and candles. We had a lot of deliveries coming through in the last few weeks!
Again a recommendation but I checked out their website and their reviews before I went to see them.
Paperless post – a great online system for sending out invites and tracking responses.
Online research (brilliant reading by Bob Marley in case you were wondering).
And now its over – reselling what I can on ebay. Photo sharing sites and social media to relive the day with the guests.
And what it made me realise is the majority of the decision we made did rely on the internet in some guise. If I had no clue about something I would go online to research. If I had a recommendation, I would go online to check them out. If I wanted to buy something I would go online to do it. If I needed advice I would chat to friends via social media or Whatsapp.
Want to be the next big wedding flower supplier or the taxi firm picking up drunken guests at the end of the night? You need an online presence in some shape or form if you want to be taken seriously. The important thing to bear in mind is that you can’t choose how a prospective customer first hears about you (the first customer touchpoint) – it may be from a friend, a social media post or through an online search but when they do come looking for you, you need to have a presence online together with a consistent message. Have a website, engage in some form of social media, get yourself listed in directories, get some reviews, put up some photos or videos – it all helps to make up the mind of someone like me whether I’m going to use you or not.
So in answer to my own question, could I have got married without the internet. Well of course I could but I’d probably still be planning the logistics of the wedding now and stressing over where I could buy enough hops and seat covers to decorate the hall, instead of revelling in what was one of the most amazing days of my life…..
Maybe our fingers are getting tired or maybe we have become increasingly impatient, whatever is behind it, voice search is a trend that we can’t ignore.
The likes of Siri, Cortana, Google Now and the rise of wearable technology are changing the way we search online and as a business owner if you want people to find you through your website (I’m guessing that’s pretty much most businesses) it means making sure your website is voice search friendly.
If you already approach website optimisation in a natural way i.e. think like your customers and write for them, not the search engines, then tweaking it for voice search may not be as onerous as you think.
Ultimately voice search is all about natural language and conversational queries and we need to reflect that in our website content. But if you haven’t moved on yet from keyword stuffing and needless content then this might be the impetus you need to give you website a shake-up.
Either way, here’s a simple guide to getting your website ready for voice search.
When we type (text searches) we tend to use around 1-3 words. When we talk (speech searches) we use a longer string of words (Source Microsoft internal data April 2015).
So move away from unique and precise keywords for each page and start thinking about questions, phrases, similar words, and more niche searches. For example a text search might be “accountant hampshire” whilst a voice search might be “I need someone to help me with my tax return nearby” (Note there’s no local element in the voice search but more of that later).
People using voice search are more likely to want answers quickly and to be ready to act on them. In terms of the buying process that means rather than being at the research stage they are more likely to be looking to buy now. So they don’t want to be served up with a page telling them why your business is wonderful and what your mission statement is, they want to know you have a 24 hour call out service and here’s the number so they can call you now. Make sure you optimise the individual product / service / contact us pages so they get directed to the right page, not just the home page.
Knowing that people are using voice search when they are out and about means we need to think about their actions and the use of them in their search.
For example someone might just type “I’m hungry” and expect to be shown a list of local restaurants.
As for general shoppers, according to Hitwise, 90% of retail shoppers use smartphones in stores, whilst 77% of searches mentioning “coupon” are initiated on a smartphone or tablet. Source: Marketing Land
That means thinking about the goods and services you offer and all the ways people might search for them when they are out, not just in the comfort of their home.
See my previous article on keyword research if you need some more help with this.
When people are using voice search, they are more likely to be searching for in-destination, local activities and transportation options.
Location search on mobile is growing more than 50% faster than mobile search as a whole. Local search gets powerful results. 76% of “nearby” mobile searches result in a business visit whilst 28% of “nearby” mobile searches result in a purchase. (Source Yext)
When we are using a mobile device we are already familiar with that fact our location determines what results are shown so we tend to use the term “nearby” or don’t even use a place reference, rather than state the actual geographic location, even more so when we use voice search. But that doesn’t stop Google looking for your locally based business.
So need to ensure you localise your keywords. Where you can, state the area(s) you serve. Have it on your footer, contact page, different service pages. Think about landmarks and places people might visit or refer to near you eg Cheap hotel near Brighton Centre, luxury hotels by the Royal Pavilion, Best hotel close to Brighton Pier.
Make sure all your NAP (name, address and phone number) are clear and consistent on your site and elsewhere online. See my article on local business for more tips.
Visual works best for many people so think about what images might get thrown up in the search results on a mobile. Tag your images according to how people might voice search for your products. e.g. I want a red waterproof cycling jacket in size 12.
And is goes without saying, voice queries are mostly made on mobile devices which means your website needs to be mobile friendly to even get on the radar. If you’re not mobile friendly, do this first before you even worry about the keywords or the rest.
People want to be understood the first time and solve the answers to their problems quickly and easily. The growth of voice search is pushing us more and more to think and act in the same way as our customers and deliver websites that understand the bigger picture and help the searcher do exactly what they need to do at that point in time. In the words of Sundar Pichai CEO Google,
It’s a double whammy when you get a good online review
I’ve gone on elsewhere about the importance of getting reviews but it’s not an easy task. To help you in your quest here is a quick tip make the whole process of getting Google reviews easier for you and your clients.
By sending them the link to the Google review form for your buinsess the process becomes so much easier. And here’s how you create your own unique link for your business.
Firstly to create a link, you’ll need to get the Place ID for your business. To get your Place ID:
Then add your Place ID to the following URL to create your link:
Using the example above, the URL with the Place ID added would be:
Tip – Make your url simple by shortening using an online shortener like https://goo.gl/
Then all you need to do is send your customers the link either in an email when the time is right – i.e. when they are happy with your service. You could always include it in your email footer as well.
When customers click your link, a window will open in their browser. They’ll be able to rate your business and leave a review.
Remember that in order for a customer to leave you a google review they must have a google account themselves. The link will prompt them to sign into their account if they aren’t already signed in.
So get your unique link for your Google reviews and give it a go. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get……
I recently ran a workshop on behalf of Hampshire charity Community First. The workshop is part of the Community First Skills Sharing Scheme where local businesses are asked to give their time and skills to teach local charities and community groups essential business skills.
During the half day session I taught the attendees how to get the best out of their websites, namely how to:
It was a great morning and my thanks go to Janet Duggan of Community First for putting the whole thing together.
Some comments from the participants
Here is the press release issued by Community First.