For any local business, wherever you are, finding business and leads can be a challenge especially if you are a new business in the area and are looking to establish your brand, product and / or service.
There’s plenty of competition out there, not only from other local businesses just like you, but also regional, national and even international business all fighting for the same leads.
So if you are a local business with a small geographic range, how do you stand out from those competitors, or even just be seen?
In this post, I’m going to outline my top ten ways to increasing your online visibility to help you get found online, get customers visiting your website and help you get on the map!
1. Google My Business / Google Maps
If you want to be found locally, then Google have already got your back. For a number of years, they have focused local search for local businesses through Google My Business (you may also see this listing as the Google Snack Pack) / Google Maps. With years worth of data collection and analytics, they understand that if you’re typing a service and a location (in this example “SEO Southport”), then the chances are you want to find a local company providing that service. In the same way, if you’re typing “plumber in Southport”, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to want to be displayed a plumber in Glasgow.
If you’re an existing, established business then the chances are already have a listed on GMB – Google are good at automatically creating data in their maps for local businesses when they come across information from other sources.
But… chances are you may not have claimed it.
Claiming your business is really important if you want to rank well.
Although Google may have created your profile, it may be limited to a company name, address and perhaps a phone number. There may not be any services linked to the profile, or if there are, they may not be correct. And the content they have populated may be wrong anyway.
By claiming your business, you can begin to correct all of the details, add new content and, more importantly, ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands! Because, if one of your competitors claim it for their own, they could, maliciously change the details, ensuring your listing won’t rank.
But Why Is Having a Google My Business Listing So Important?
Because of where Google puts it on the search page.
Google, for most local searches breaks down the page as such:
- Paid advertising almost always appears at the top of the search results
- Followed by local Google My Business Map and listings
- Followed by the organic search results
Which means that if you paying for PPC (Pay Per Click), have a well ranked Google local listing as well as an optimised website, you’re site could be listed three (or more) times on the first page of the Google SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Even if you’re not using pay advertising (which most people scroll past anyway), then having two high rankings links on the first page of Google means that you’re more likely to get clicks and visitors than those that don’t.
Google only displays three businesses as default in the Google My Business section organically, so if you can crack that top three you’re only competing with two of your competition.
The Best Thing About Google My Business? The Price…
You can claim your Google My Business listing today and the price is… well… nothing. That’s right, Google don’t charge you for a local GMB listing. And yet, many businesses don’t make any effort to claim them.
And yet, having a GMB listing can add so much to a local business… it’s crazy to consider that you could be missing out on business to your competition for something which Google is giving you absolutely free!
At Dream Web Design, I provide help to local businesses to allow to claim their GMB listing but, more importantly, SEO Southport services to help optimise their ranking to get them into one of those coveted top spots. Need help or want some input on your GMB account? Then call me today on 07968 129060 for more details!
2. Understanding Your Local Market Is Key – And Finding The Right Keywords / Search Terms Equally So
If you’re a local business, then having a good understanding of your customer base is essential. Therefore, finding keywords and search terms which users are actually are using is important.
But how do you do this?
For most businesses, they either try to second guess what people are looking or pluck out keywords and search terms from thin air with no real reason why.
There are plenty of tools out there to help you with research of which are completely free such as Google Keyword Planner (Google, again, helping you as a business owner). Don’t be put off with Google branding this as a Ads Keyword Planner, you can use this tool completely free of charge without any investment in ads.
If you’re after something a little more heavy duty, then you can subscribe to sites such as ahrefs or SEMRush, however expect to pay a premium for a lot of data which, to the uninitiated, could overwhelm and confuse.
Once you’ve done your research, then understanding how to use that is vital – because it can be the difference in your site ranking for valuable keywords and not.
As part of every one of my SEO agreements, research plays a huge part in what I offer – because without the correct research and focus, you could spend many hours and days building content, optimising pages and trying things which bring in no return. To find out how I can help your business with keyword research to help with Southport search engine optimisation, then contact me today!
3. Optimising Your Southport Website To Help Rank For Target Services And Locations
Most businesses have what I call very generic websites. This usually means that they have:
- A “vanilla” home page detailing the business – what they do and why
- An about us page which outlines who they are and a history of the business
- Either a single or multiple service pages
- A contact page
If you’ve got a site like this, then it’s like being on the bottom rung of a ladder – you’ve got a long way before you’re going to be reaching the top. The main thing is though, at least your ON THE LADDER, unlike those companies that don’t have a website.
So what can you do to help you rank higher than your competition, who probably have a fairly similar site?
By optimising your current site to focus on the services you offer in the locations you want to offer them.
This sounds pretty complicated, but in essence it really isn’t. You’ve already done your keyword research in #2 above, so at this stage you know what you need to be focusing on. It’s now about setting up your website to be laser focused on what you want to achieve.
So, you want to rank for a particular keyword and service. Let’s take SEO and Southport as an example. What you need to do is ensure that your content matches those keywords and keyword variations. One way to do this would be to create a site specific page (also known as a landing page) focused on SEO Southport, such as this:
You’ll note that:
- The url is very specifically driven to the keywords – i.e. /seo-southport/
- The meta title of the page (i.e. what you see in the browser tab) displays SEO Southport at the start of the title
- As soon as you hit the page content, it’s very clearly focused on the keywords
The page content is focused entirely on that service and that location – it’s not taking about other services that I offer (such as web design Southport) in any detail (but there may be references to it), and all of the content is built in such a way to help build out the keywords we’re targeting, keyword variations and other relevant searches based on the main topic keywords.
But Why Build Focused Landing Pages?
By building pages in such a way, you’re helping Google and the other search engines to understand exactly what this page is about so that they can rank you purely on those keywords. If you have a web page which is trying too hard to get as many services and locations on there, then Google will be confused as to what the FOCUS of the page is.
By dedicating a single page to a service and a location then leaves no decisions to be made – Google will rank you based on those very specific choices you’ve made, and chances are they will be more likely to rank you landing page higher than a more generic one.
The other advantage of having specific landing pages means you can also then double down on the content on that page – you can focus entirely on how you go about doing that service in that location, perhaps using existing and previous local customers as examples. You can mention landmarks and other important aspects of that location. Anything to help your content better connect to the keywords you’re focusing on.
Doing this will give help you develop your pages, building out content to avoid thin content and ensuring that you don’t have duplicate content between pages, neither of which Google really likes (although you won’t necessarily get penalised for).
Building optimised landing pages is something I’ve had a lot of experience in doing, so if you need advice or assistance with this then give me a call for a chat on 07968 129060 or use my contact page to send me an email.
4. Get Customer Reviews
Search engines hold a lot of weight when it comes to reviews. A search engine doesn’t know your business from another business, so one of the ways it looks for some element of Trust (note the capital T) is for independent reviews from third party sources.
There are plenty of websites that offer this service, and again Google have you covered.
As part of your GMB listing as discussed in #1, you have the option to ask customers for reviews – you can either share a link from within GMB to them to take them to the review page, or ask them to just Google your business name and leave a review from there.
The more positive reviews you get, the better you will rank on the search engines – as they have them some platform from which to rate you… in this case from your customers.
You may have noticed I capitalised the T on the word Trust above… the reason for this is that one of the ranking signals that Google uses is E-A-T. This stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. We’ll cover Expertise and Authority more in a later point, but Trustworthiness is part of the algorithm based around how much other users / sites Trust you. And while reviews is one of these pointers, the other is backlinks (covered below).
Reviews and QUALITY backlinks are only generated if other websites and users trust you. Google understands this, and uses this as a weighted measure in it’s algorithm.
So, done a good job or sold a quality product? Ask for a review! It costs nothing from your side nor from the customers side, and the more you get the more you’ll be rewarded! It puts you another step ahead of your competition who, more than likely are not doing. And anything your competition are not doing that can benefit you, especially something that costs nothing, has to be worth it… right?
5. Create High Quality Content. Create Relevant Local Content. Content, Content, Content!
You may have heard the saying:
“Content is King”.
When it comes to websites, on the whole this is true. As long as the content is relevant, on-point and, especially in the case of a local business has a local feel to it.
As part of your wider marketing strategy, building content should be right up there. But content doesn’t mean just specifically content such as blog postings like this. It could take the form of:
- How to guides
- Case studies
- Guest postings
The list is pretty much endless. In fact, if you’re really stuck for ideas check out this great post from Coschedule.com that lists 113 different forms of content.
Most people say “but I can’t write a blog post” or “I’m no good in front of a camera”. But if you’re running a business, chances are you good at something, or someone in the business is comfortable building this level of content.
Think about content as “real estate”. The bigger your “real estate” is, the more chance that the searches have of finding you, and the more chances, ways and opportunities you have for ranking, You’re also building more Authority and Trust the more content you have.
Not only for ranking purposes though. The more content you have, the more chance your customers have of finding you too.
Inspirational quotes time:
The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.Oscar Wilde
When building your content, make it worthwhile though. Offer something to the user rather than just telling them about how good you are. Informational blog posts (just like this) are a great way to give something to the user – in this one I’m giving you the starting blocks to building a better ranking. Of course, I’m not going to give away all the secret ingredients, but at least from here you have the tools to make a start.
All publicity is good if it is intelligent.The Atlanta Constitution, January, 1915
And if you’re a local business, build your content about local things. The more local real estate you have, the more likely that the search engines will recognise that you operate in a certain area – and therefore will give you more Authority there.
Some important notes when it comes to content:
- Don’t be afraid in building content. Not everything you do will hit the target and sometimes it’s about as throwing as much at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. Just try to be creative, engaging and informative. And yes, cat videos every once in a while doesn’t hurt.
- Don’t get hung up either on the length of the content. Sometimes, a large post such as this is essential to cover all of the aspects you want to get across. Sometimes, a much shorter post on a specific point may be more relevant. If the video you’re creating to show how to do something takes a minute, then keep at a minute – don’t spin it out for five for the sake of filling it out.
- Struggling thinking of ideas? Check out what you’re competition are doing for inspiration.
- Build content around what you know – it will be much easier and you’ll feel more comfortable and competent in doing so.
- Really, really struggling? Hire a specialist. There are copywriters, video creators and a lot of really creative people out there who can help you create content if you feel you can’t. Give them the bullet points and the topic and let them do the heavy lifting.
- Once you’ve built the content don’t be afraid to tell people. Share links on social, tell your friends, existing customers and whoever may spread the word.
Build it and they will comeField of Dreams, 1989
6. Citations / Directories. Get Free Backlinks And Grow Your Visibility.
We’ll all remember the old directories like the Thomson Local and the Yellow Pages (well, maybe only some of us of a certain age and above). These were the directories of the day. Before the age of the internet, how you would find someone is to go to the phone book, look up plumber for example, and then start ringing round.
Things have moved on a pace since then, but directory services are still about. Scoot, Yell, 192, Yelp, FreeIndex… the list goes on. Some users still use directory services over search engines.
But Why Get Directory Listings When I Am Already On Google?
Because directory services gives Google something which it can’t do on it’s own.
The more directory listings you have the more Google can Trust (there’s that word again) that your business is real and exists. Directories provide links to your site (and act in a similar way to backlinks), and whilst not a vote for your business in the same way as a backlink, it’s certainly another way in which Google uses the real estate of your business to rank you.
But there’s another major reason why getting your business in directory listings is important.
Google trusts directory services. And when you search for a service and a location directory services are quite often ranked highly on its search. In fact, they’ll often provide it’s own separate listing such as the one below.
So if a user chooses a directory listing option over the paid advertising, the local search or the organic search, then it makes sense to have your business listed there as well.
Directory listings builds Trust, expands your real estate and are FREE. They are really a no brainer to add to your arsenal when it comes to building out your local Southport web rankings.
7. Don’t Destroy Your Directory Trust With Incorrect NAPs (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Just as important as building out your directory listings is the accuracy of the data they contain.
Also known as the NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) having consistency across the platforms is essential, because as we have learnt above, Google uses directory services as a level of Trust and validation.
If you’re NAPs are inconsistent, then that Trust flow drops because the search engines don’t know which data is correct.
Maintaining your NAP is not something that needs to be done regularly, and assuming that you’re using the same process to create your listings in the first place then it’s unlikely that you will get that inconsistency. But mistakes do happen.
But your NAP is not just validated from directory services. There’s other key areas where NAP are contained, namely your very own website as well as Goole My Business and Social platforms – so don’t forget to keep these updated as well.
What Else Can Affect NAP trust?
I’ve already talked about real estate – i.e. having your details in as many places as possible.
One things that naughty SEO companies have done in the past is to create duplicate directory lists, thinking that the more real estate out there can only be a positive thing… wrong!
In the past, search engines only looked for content and never had the data nor the technical algorithms that they have in place. So they saw every mention as a real, genuine mention of a business. However, search engines are now far too sophisticated to allow this, seeing duplicate content as a way to try to circumnavigate their rankings with more mentions.
In fact duplicate content can now have a negative effect on your website.
Not all duplicate content is intentional though. Sometimes directories add a duplicate company because the NAP is incorrect, or a business has moved and not updated the original. Find these duplicates is another way in which you can clear up your Trust flow, and help your rankings.
At Dream Web Design I offer a NAP check to ensure that your business details are correct and not affecting your potential rankings. For a chat about your directory listings in more detail give me a call on 07968 129060 or drop me a message via my contact page.
8. Engage With Other Local Southport Businesses. Build Links. Grow Together.
Finding like minded businesses who also want to grow their businesses shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, you may already know some. Perhaps you install windows but don’t do the brickwork – you have a list of companies who you can call upon to quote for that work. In return, those brickwork companies are doing the same for you.
The fact is that most Southport businesses are probably already engaging with other local businesses through word of mouth and recommendations.
But did you ever think to do that on your website? It’s the next logical step.
You can do this in a number of ways including:
- When you’re building your content, if you’re building a case study on a job where a third party has played a role in it, then mention them and link back to them. Ask them to build a case study on their site and then link back to you.
- Create a page specifically about companies who offer services which you don’t – that way you’re providing your customers valuable information are you’re providing leads to your colleagues. Get them to the same and build links which benefit you both.
- Share content over social platforms – like and share each other’s posts. Congratulate them for work they’ve completed, and build out your social networks together.
Being able to build custom by leveraging a network you’re already part if a great, free way to build trust from other respected businesses.
9. Be Social. Build A Following.
Another great way to get more visibility is by creating accounts and building a following on social platforms such as:
- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – building out a following on these platforms allows you to share content with followers in shorter form than you would a blog post or case study. A great way to introduce potential customers to the content on your website.
- TikTok – a rapidly growing network which can be leveraged for business.
- YouTube (a Google product) – the second largest “search engine” in the world, YouTube is perfect for a range of content opportunities that other platforms are not set up to do, such as long videos related to how to, information and more.
- LinkedIn – perfect for building a B2B (Business to Business) network, finding people within your own industry, friends and colleagues and sharing updates about your business.
- Reddit & Quora – perfect for find people asking questions about subject matters which you can help with, building out your Authority and Expertise scores.
Between just those networks listed above you’re putting your business in front of millions of potential customers. Each offers something different than the next, and understanding what content to deliver to each is important.
More often than not, people will leverage their social network to get recommendations, ask questions and find out information. By building out your networks and helping when people ask about services and products that you provide, you’re creating further opportunities for your business to be visible.
10. Use Local Groups in Social Networks & Local Forums
A great way to be found locally is finding local groups on Facebook. Search for your location in Facebook and the chances are you’ll find lots of local groups in your area. Some will be private groups for individuals only, but many do allow business posting.
A great example is the Southport Business Directory.
This group has 1600+members at the time of this blog post being written, with the vast majority being local businesses and Facebook members.
Posting in this group is going to get your business, service or product in front of a lot of potential customers.
Another great example is finding local forums, such as QLocal, and searching the forums for users looking for advice, similar to Quora and Reddit but aimed specifically at your local area.
For the majority of local businesses, running a business whilst also building out your visibility is extremely time consuming, can be confusing and can be difficult, especially if you’re not technical savvy or have the type of mindset which requires you to do any of the steps outlined above.
If you are interested in growing your business and want to focus on the work whilst someone else handles the marketing, then I’m here and ready to help. To find out how I can help grow your business visibility in Southport, then why not give me a call today on 07968 129060 or send me a message via my contact page. I provide competitive rates for all of my services, and I am here to help you succeed.