I never thought I’d be a case study in my own article, but here we are.
I had recently moved to a new state and was looking for a day spa. After asking for local recommendations on social media didn’t pan out, I took to Google. I found four of them just blocks from my gym, all within walking distance of my house.
None would take walk-ins; they were available by appointment only. Here’s a rundown of what happened when I tried to book an appointment:
- Two redirects to another number that was answered via voicemail with no further information about whose number it was
- One website with only a homepage that contained an inactive phone number and an offer dated for October of last year
- One website with information that was last updated 5 years ago
- One link to a website that turned out to be a personal Facebook profile containing no information about spa or massage services
Upon further investigation, I learned that each of these is a current, active business in my local community.
This is inexcusable.
Although the town I’d moved to was relatively small, it was less than 10 miles from a major city with a population in the tens of millions. I ended up booking something that was an inconvenient distance from where I lived, and four businesses within my immediate community lost a customer.
If this doesn’t illustrate the importance of updating information for local SEO, I don’t know what does.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a way of optimizing community business listings on the internet. It’s the best way to reach people within your community who are looking for services. Done right, it’ll tie mobile search, Google maps, customer reviews, and traditional websites together so that your local audience can find you, learn more about your business, and book appointments.
Many small business owners are working with meager marketing budgets and little expertise. They figure if they slap up a website, that’s the end of it.
Just existing on the internet means business will come pouring in, right?
5 Signs That It’s Time to Update Your Website
Building a website is only the first step toward optimization. Google algorithms are constantly changing, and old best practices aren’t enough to help you rank. It only takes 0.05 seconds for visitors to get an impression of your business.
Would your website pass that test?
It’s time to update your Local SEO if:
1. You’re Ranking Low in Search Results
When was the last time you Googled your business? Do it now and see where – or if – it ranks. The fact is, 75 percent of consumers never look beyond the first results page; most don’t go further than the first five listings.
The higher your Google score, the higher you’ll rank in search results. There are free tools to check this information. If you score low, you can try some of these tricks to boost your SEO and claim your rightful place in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages):
- Link building
- Adding menu categories
- Using a combination of long-tail and single keywords
- Adding more written content, such as a blog or knowledge base
- Using alt-tags for indexing photos or video content
- Making sure all content is accurate and uses proper spelling/grammar
2. Your Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
The way customers access business information isn’t the same as it used to be. Chances are, the initial search and first contact are performed from a smartphone. Then, they might go to their laptop or PC to perform research or look at your website. Your design should be responsive, which means it looks and performs the same way no matter what device or screen size is used to view it. Google has also gone to mobile-first when it comes to indexing content.
3. You Haven’t Updated Your Website Lately
In order to do well in any SERPs, you need fresh, relevant content. If you last updated your page more than six months ago, it needs a fresh look. In addition to adding new content on a regular basis, all of your business listings – LinkedIn, Google My Business, Yelp – should be updated the minute you change or add phone numbers, your physical location, and/or services. Moz has an automated local listing tool that will perform this for you.
4. You’re Only Relying on Keywords to Optimize
Keywords are still relevant, but relying only on leveraging keyword optimization puts you way behind your more tech-savvy competition. First of all, single keywords are so 1990s. Nowadays, website owners do better with long-tail keyword phrases that provide more precise, tailored results in search.
5. Your Website is Sloooooow
More than half of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds for the page to load. If your website isn’t fast and functional, you’re bleeding leads and a large portion of your current customer base.
Your hosting platform should provide a mechanism to perform speed tests, but here are some ways to tune-up your site’s performance:
- Remove, rather than disable, old or unused plugins and themes
- Upgrade your hosting plan
- Enable caching
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
- Optimized images and video content
- Minify and streamline JS and CSS files
In order for local SEO to be effective, it should contain updated information about your business location, phone number, and website or mobile app(s). Moz provides detailed information about local SEO best practices to help you get it together. Here’s a quick checklist you can use as well:
- List keywords you want to rank for
- Incorporate keywords into your web content and landing page
- Optimize your website for mobile first indexing, which is a fairly new Google requirement
- Update or purchase an SSL certificate; many hosting services will give you a free one
- Make sure to work on link building
- Update your Google My Business listing and obtain customer reviews
- Create regular, relevant evergreen content
- Monitor analytics to track your results
In the digital age when mobile use is surpassing traditional web browsing, optimizing your marketing efforts for local SEO is crucial. It doesn’t take much more than following the above tips, and you’ll get a higher ROI for your efforts.