8 Ways Local SEO Is Like Being Friends With Google

by Nikki Stine April 03, 2018
Local SEO-Google

If you’ve done any research about marketing your business online, you’ve probably come across the terms SEO and Local SEO.  My goal in this article is to simplify these terms with an analogy.

What Is Seo?  What is Local SEO?

First, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Basically, it is how to show up and get results from the “unpaid” listings in search engines.  It involves explaining to Google what your business is and who may be interested in it.  If this information is effectively conveyed, your business website has a greater chance of showing up higher in Google search results related to your business.  And if it’s done right, your business will also have an increased rate of engagement from prospective customers.

That’s what REALLY MATTERS – new customers!

Local SEO is specific to businesses with a store front or service area.  The idea of Local SEO is to attract customers from a specific geographic area.  Many of the factors involved in improving overall search rankings are also important to improving local search rankings.

Recent data shows that:

  • Nearly a third of online consumers in the US use the internet to search for a local business daily; 60% of consumers do so at least once a week (Source: Statistica)
  • 76% of people conducting a local search on a mobile device visit a physical location with 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase (Source: Google)
  • Mobile searches for “best place to buy” have grown over 70% in the past two years (Source: Google)

It’s obvious people are making decisions based on their local search results.

How Do You Rank Higher in Search Engine Results?

So how does a business go about ranking higher in local search engine results?  What do you have to do to attract more local customers online?

The way I like to describe it is that it’s like a friendship.  Let’s say that your business website wants to be “friends” with Google.  Why?  Because, Google treats their “friends” better – for example, by ranking them higher in search results.

I am going to primarily refer to Google as the example in this article because they are the industry giant.  It is of note though that applying many of these principles of friendship to your website will also help achieve results with other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.

Both SEO and Local SEO can be likened to a friendship, but in the example below I am specifically targeting aspects of Local SEO.

How is Local SEO like friendship?

The more I thought about this comparison to friendship, the more I thought that it fit.  Local SEO is a lot like building a friendship in that:

It takes time to build a friendship –

In like manner, Local SEO efforts build over time.

There are several factors involved in building a friendship –

Similarly, there is not just one thing a business must do to attract local customers via search engines. Friendship has many aspects, and so does Local SEO.

Friendships grow and evolve over time –

All people change with time, and therefore our friendships develop and change as well. Google is ever evolving as it strives to provide better and faster results.  Your business website must keep up to stay relevant.

To last, friendships must be developed –

Think of some of your best friends.  Did you get to know them over a few months, and then never talk to them again?  No, we keep in contact with our close friends, we stay up-to-date with what’s going on with them, and we respond to changes in their lives.

Comparably, your business cannot spend just a few months on Local SEO tasks and expect to see ongoing results in Google or any other search engine.

What Does It Take to be Friends With Google?

Let’s follow this friendship analogy through and examine 8 aspects involved in being a friend of Google.

1. Be Interesting and Relevant

We are naturally drawn to people who have personality, are engaging, or have something interesting to say. A well-liked person is also interested in the welfare of others.  Likewise, to be Google’s friend you must have interesting content that fills a need for consumers or answers relevant questions.

It’s not just about you, it’s about what you can do for people who find your website.

A primary goal of any search engine is to help connect searchers with the information they seek.  If your website provides meaningful answers to what people are searching for, Google will continue to send people your way.

But how can you know what people are searching for in relation to your business?  Research is required to uncover what words people are using in their search queries and what questions are being asked.  Once this information is uncovered you can build content around how your business can help them.

2. Be Straightforward

Some people are just hard to figure out. You wonder if they are being up front and honest with you.  We typically aren’t comfortable around these people.

Google also doesn’t want to be associated with shady websites who use deceptive means to attract traffic.  They are constantly trying to filter out these types of websites from their search engine results pages.

Instead, make sure your website is made primarily for users, not for search engines.  Do not try to deceive users but rather offer unique and valuable content.  On the back end, make sure to use coding that enables search engines to quickly understand what your website is about.

3. Don’t Be Difficult

Have you ever had a friend that is just a bit hard to get along with? Do you turn to them first for advice or support?  Not likely.

Make sure that your website is not frustrating for users.  Google values sites that provide a good user experience.  Pay attention to factors like:

  • Site navigation – is it logical and easy to understand?
  • Does your website appear well on mobile devices?
  • Do your web pages load quickly?
  • Is contact information clear?

Any issues that delay or confuse users can negatively influence your ability to attract clients.

4. Be Well Connected

Google likes “people” who know other people.

Make sure your business is listed accurately on relevant directory sites, using the same name, address and phone number in every listing.  This helps Google to know that you are reputable and well-known in the internet community.

5. Have Quality Friends

Even better than connections are friends.  Your website’s friends can be likened to other websites that link back to your site.

If quality websites link back to you, Google recognizes that you have good friends, and your image will improve in their eyes. Backlinks continue to be a top-ranking factor for websites.

6. Have a Good Reputation

We are proud to have friends with good reputations.

Do what you can to have a good business reputation online.  This means encouraging positive reviews for your business, on your Google My Business listing and other relevant review sites.

It is best practice to respond to reviews whenever possible, both negative and positive.  Every business will get an occasional negative review.  Responding in a professional and helpful manner will help maintain and build your good reputation.

7. Be Natural

We like our friends to be themselves, not put-on or fake for ulterior motives.

It’s best not to overuse keywords in your website content.  That makes for unnatural verbiage that appears spammy and is difficult to read.

Building links and reviews for your business is important but look to do so gradually.  This appears more natural than bulk reviews or links appearing on your site in one day, which may be a red flag to Google.

8. Keep In Touch

Regular communication is a key to good friendships.  It also helps in your friendship with Google.

Rather than create a business website and then be a “silent friend”, keep the conversation going by adding new content to your page and other Google platforms.  Some examples may include: regular blog posts on your site, use of Google My Business posts, or new customer reviews.

It Takes Time

A good friendship is not built overnight.  It takes time to build a quality friendship.  And, once a relationship is established, it takes constant work to keep it up.  If you don’t, the friendship will fade, and they may find other friends to replace you.

Similarly, the above areas are not something you can address with your website one time and expect to stay friends with Google indefinitely.  Other competitors are trying to be friends with Google as well.  Google itself changes the terms of friendship on occasion.

What Should You Do?

What’s the best way to achieve and maintain this friendship?  Pay attention to the following areas:

  • Staying up-to-date with industry trends and search engine adjustments that affect Local SEO
  • Regularly produce fresh content designed to appeal to your ideal customer
  • Monitor your competition for new practices that may bump them ahead of you
  • As you discover areas for improvement, make sure to adjust!

Remember, Local SEO is an investment in your business.  And, like many good investments, it takes time to develop and grow, but the payoff can be huge.  As the stats at the beginning of this article show, people are searching for local businesses.  Will they find yours?

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