Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of those confusing marketing buzzwords. Marketing professionals claim it’s something you “have to have” but can often be vague about what that actually means. They also tend to throw around phrases like “keyword optimization” and “search engine results pages” – which more often than not, can confuse you even further. But we’re here to tell you that there are easier and more approachable methods to set a solid foundation for your search engine optimization strategy. The key comes from consistent, correct directory listings and focusing on local.
But Before You do Anything
At onCOREventures, we preach the concept of strategy before tactics. Meaning that before you can jump into your content approach, you need to have a few things figured out. You need to know who your ideal client is, what their customer journey looks like, and how you’re going to reach them.
Directory Listings and SEO
Back in the day, phone books were the primary source of your business’ directory listing. But with the new age of the Internet and the evolution of apps, there are thousands of places your business listings can be. When someone searches for products and services like yours, the respective search engine is going to provide the searcher with their most trusted resources. You might be thinking, “Well, how do I get them to trust my business?”. And you may guess by taking note of the heading of this section, part of the answer lies in the accuracy of your directory listings.
The Big SEO Issue with Conflicting Information
The number of locations your business information can exist increases the chances that some of that information is outdated or simply incorrect. Perhaps one has the wrong suite number. Another may have your cell phone instead of the business line. Maybe you rebranded and slightly changed the name of your business, but that name change didn’t translate across all your directories. Most of the time, this all goes on without you even knowing. Or these variations of your directories exist on sites you doubt any of your customers are going to see so you don’t think it’s a big deal.
Well, unfortunately, to those search engines, that is a very big deal. When they are looking for your business’ information, they aren’t just pulling that information from your website or Google My Business page. In fact, they are pulling from every directory listing your business has on the internet. These places include but aren’t limited to:
- Phone directories
- Phone books
- Specific industry directories like OpenTable or Angie’s List
- News sites
- Government websites
Each time your business listing is pulled, it’s compared to the others it has found. The more consistent your information, the more search engines will trust your business. And as you may have deduced, the more your listings are inconsistent, the more they don’t trust you. That’s because the last thing they want is to send their users to the wrong location or give them an incorrect phone number. Search engines would rather not mention your business at all than risk giving faulty information.
So how can you go about fixing and updating any missing or incorrect information about your business? We’re so glad you asked.
Google My Business
First things first, you’ll want to either set up or make sure your Google My Business (GMB) page is completely up to date. When you personally set up your GMB page, you know that listing is accurate. Its approachable interface allows you to update your business information on Search, Maps, and Google+ all in one location any time you need to make a correction. The factors you are able to update include:
- Contact information
- Operating hours
- Website details
- Business descriptions
- Photos and video
- Staff bios
And that only covers a few! This information is critical as it influences the information in your business’ Knowledge Graph. GMB allows you to connect directly with customers and even monitor and respond to their reviews of your business.
Your GMB page is a great way to keep (potential) customers connected with all the wonderful things your business does. Not to mention is a great way to promote specials, new products, or link blogs to get them to your website!
The Yext Tool
Yext is a directory listing tool we use with all of our clients. It is essentially a data management tool created to handle the issue of mismatched listings. Yext syncs information such as:
- Business name (in any language)
- Address (in any language)
- Phone number (in any language)
- Business hours
- Holiday closings/hours
- Staff bios
- In-store coupons
- Business categories
Basically, Yext is an auditing tool that will search the web for all of your outdated business information. Think of it as your most competent personal assistant who will then replace that information with accurate information. And anytime you need to make an update, the Yext tool will instantly send the new information to all of those directories in a snap. To take it a step further, the tool will then identify sources where you don’t have any information and ask for your permission to update there as well. Yext software has the power to place your correct information into over 50 different directories. Just think of how incredible this could be for your small business!
Think “Smaller” and Focus on Local
The last core element to setting a solid foundation for your SEO is by focusing locally. Small businesses simply cannot compete with the SEO strategies of million-dollar corporations or trends. If you own a gym, it is going to be nearly impossible for you to rank for search terms like “personal training” or “group fitness classes”. That’s when local search comes into play. By tweaking your SEO by adding “near me” or the specific community your gym is located in, you’ve just entered an entirely new ball game.
By changing your SEO strategy to focus on local and utilizing the features of GMB, your business then has a much better chance to be featured on the Google Snack Pack Map results. In other words, you can increase your chances of getting found online solely by focusing on local SEO.
Your Local Reviews are Also Critical for
As we’ve noted before, today’s customer journey is entirely different than it was 5 years ago. Reviews have become a critical element of this evolved process. As consumers have become cautious of marketing campaigns, feedback from their peers has helped fill that gap. Consumer reviews are (generally speaking) honest. They are not paid by the companies they are reviewing. They are providing real criticism or giving sincere gratitude.
You may notice that when you search for a brick and mortar product/service, the small businesses chosen for the snack pack map result are those with the best reviews. Reviews are an authentic resource to help you gain organic growth and expand your reach. Plus if you remember from before, the more organic praise, the more search engines are going to trust you.
Still Stumped by SEO or Looking to Change Your Strategy?
While SEO isn’t an “end all be all”, tweaking your strategy with our insight could be the change your small business needs to begin experiencing growth. Just making sure your business listings are all correct can begin to bring change. Now, this search engine optimization-inspired change won’t happen overnight. But over time, the more trust you build with search engines, the more you are going to begin showing up in organic search.