Are you a plumber, roofing contractor or do you run a taxi business and would like to increase the amount of customers seeing your website in the search results?
Of course you do! Many small businesses rely on Google to get visitors onto their website and if you haven’t taken the time to optimise your online presence, you will be missing out on these people searching for your services in your area.
If you run a small business or offer a trade, having your website correctly optimised can be the difference between sky rocketing success or hanging up your overalls.
Take for example this search for “roofer in glossop” and the results it returns back to the searcher. (Click image for a larger version if required)
This type of listing will appear for most “trade” searches such as plumbers, building services, taxi companies and other professionals.
While there is only 7 local firms displayed, you can greatly increase the chance of your company showing up in these results and therefore increasing the amount of people seeing your company by following the advice below
Register your business on Google Local
If you haven’t already, to gain your place in the local “pack” of results you will need to add your business using Google Places. You can do this by following this link https://www.google.co.uk/business/placesforbusiness/ (link opens in a new window)
This will take you to Google Places and you will notice a blue button labelled “getting started”, you are going to want to click that.
Now you need to look for a button labelled “Add a listing” like the image below
Clicking this will take you to a Google Earth map and you will be prompted to search for your business. Enter your post code and you will probably find Google can’t find your business and will urge you to enter your business information.
Enter your business details (be sure to enter the correct address as to verify your listing Google are going to send you a little postcard with a pin number!)
The rest of the process is pretty straight forward but here’s the key to out ranking your competition in the “pack”. Fill out as much information as you can.
Enter your opening hours, upload a video (create a short one using basic video editing software with a slideshow of your pictures, this doesn’t have to be a video directed by Steven Spielberg, but having this information could mean the difference in being at the bottom of the pack or being at the top)
Ensure you have filled out your distance radius and whether or not you serve customers at their location. A great example would be a taxi service. You will no doubt be visiting customers at their address, so you need to ensure you provide your entire service radius!
Once you have filled out all the information you can, verify your listing! Google will send you a postcard with a pin number on it (this usually takes around 3 weeks) and you will officially be Google verified to appear in the “pack”
2) Sign up for Google+ Local Businesses (different from Google Places)
Being registered with Google places, which you hopefully completed in tip #1, is the first step in having your business appear in the local listings. The next step is to have a connected Google+ local business profile. This is a key indicator to Google that you are a legitimate business and a business which is taking the time to have a real web presence.
Notice the two local listing entries below,
Both of them have a Google+ profile listed below their listing, unfortunately Google sometimes displays your Google+ profile even if you haven’t “claimed” it yet. This means that your listings page will be a blank canvas with possibly out of date contact information (customers could be trying to phone you today on out of date phone numbers!) It is vital you sign up for a local Google + Business page today and ensure all your business information is current and up to date.
If you have verified your Google places and Google+ local business profile, you will be able to log into Google places to manage both listings. This will help you ensure your information is uniform across both listings and more importantly, save you time.
Be sure to follow the same approach as in tip #1, fill out all information that you can, the more information you provide to Google, the higher they will potentially list you in the results.
Keeping a fresh, healthy social media presence is great for your website, ensure you are posting pictures if you have just completed a roofing contract or testimonials from your happy customers. You don’t have to post something EVERY day but a few times a week should cut it! Post articles related to your business and show you are an authority.
Create a Google + Local Business Page here.
3) Ask your customers to leave you a review
Did you notice in the image above that one company has 21 Google reviews all for 5 star? Which listing do you think somebody searching for a company providing a particular service are going to click?
You guessed it! The one with pretty stars next to their name.
This is very easy to do and you will be surprised at the amount of companies who don’t take advantage of this considering how much of a strong signal it will send to Google.
When you have registered your Google+ local business page (and verified it), you will have a reviews tab. Use this to ask your customers to leave you a quick review, send them a link to your profile with instructions on how to leave the review or better yet take an iPad or similar tablet with you when visiting them and go through it with them.
Reviews are probably the strongest signal Google can receive in deciding where to rank you in the local listings so make sure you take the time and effort to ask your customers, perhaps offer an incentive?
When asking people for reviews, be sure to tell them they simply click the pencil, sign in with their Google account and write the review.
4) Take advantage of authoritative websites
Have you ever searched for a service and noticed the same different websites appear time and time again?
Websites like IMDB and Wikipedia tend to dominate a high percentage of search engine results . This is due to them being a huge authority online which makes it easy for them to rank for any page they have on their website.
Hang onto the coat tails of their large scale SEO efforts and claim your listing on these websites, it’s very easy to register your business on Yell & Yelp and Google expects small local businesses to appear on these types of directories. Be sure to avoid registering on every directory on the web! Google no longer likes you doing this and it can land you in trouble !
Tip: Make sure you only register on directories you would like to appear on in a non-SEO world, so if you are only signing up to a directory for the perceived SEO benefit – stop!
Again, when filling out your business information please make sure you try to fully complete your profile – websites like Yelp also use the amount of information entered when they list their own results!
Being on websites that aren’t completely free such as RatedPeople are sometimes worth the small investment, you are getting a mention back to your website from a strong authority domain, not to mention you probably will get business from being on such a website anyway!
As a side note, Google also picks up reviews and references for your business from websites such as Yell & Yelp, they class this as a citation for your business. All this sort of information will give you a stronger online authority.
5) Register your other social profiles
By now you should have a presence on Google+ but what about Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Pinterest?
There seems to be so many social networks, it can be a huge effort to maintain all of these but trust me when I say it is certainly worth the effort!
Google does count social signals in their ranking factors so being active on social media is definitely a must in today’s online marketing world. The influence social websites will have on Google’s results is only likely to increase so it is worth getting involved right away.
Facebook make it very easy for you to create your Facebook business page, simply click here and click “create page”. This will lead you to a page where you select the appropriate category for your business.
Upload your recent customer jobs and testimonials onto Facebook and fill out your profile. Many businesses now neglect having a stand alone website and simply use a Facebook page due to the amount of information you can enter on your Facebook business page, this is how much of a lead generating tool it can be for your business!
Which social media websites you register your business on is entirely dependent on your business. A Painter & Decorator may not gain much from being on Twitter whereas Facebook might be the holy grail of leads.
Similarly, people involved in arts & crafts may find Pinterest a hotbed of customer engagement, according to data released by Shareaholic in October 2013, Pinterest is the second largest driver of traffic to publisher websites.
If you are involved in B2B, it would make sense to maintain a presence on LinkedIn as this is where your potential customers are hanging out.
6) Use a responsive design/template for your website
Mobile was the buzz word of 2013 and is likely to be as popular in 2014, because lets face it, mobile usage is only increasing.
With more and more people searching for products and services using their mobile phone, it makes sense to optimise your website for display on a mobile device.
Take a restaurant or takeaway website for example, many of these websites are built with no consideration of their typical online visitor being somebody at home, probably sat on the sofa searching for an alternative to cooking!
The hungry potential customer searching only wants a few questions answered from the website
- Where is the restaurant?
- What food do they serve?
- How much is the food?
- How do I book?
Instead of a clean, simple website answering all of these questions, they are welcomed by a website that has a mobile unfriendly menu. Have you ever found it annoying that a company phone number is not clickable or images fail to load?
If your website is built using a CMS such as WordPress installing a responsive theme is straight forward, simply search Google for a free wordpress responsive theme or click here to go directly to the wordpress responsive theme directory.
Google also happens to love responsive websites, after all they want to provide the best user experience to people searching.
To sum it up
The advice I would give to any small business looking to increase their organic traffic from Google is to ensure they have a listing in Google+ places, claim all of your social media profiles and fill them out as much as possible, try your best to make your website as responsive as possible and collect as many reviews as you can from your satisfied customers!
Do all of this and you will already be beating 90% of your competitors.
Will you be implementing any of the tips listed above on your website? Let us know in the comments below!