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How Google Search Rankings for Local Businesses are Different in 2019

Google search rankings – page one. The online Holy Grail.

Every business wants to be at the top of the list of search results, or at the very least, on the first page. After all, most people don’t look beyond the first page of results.

Depending on which report you read and how the data is presented, the number of people who can’t be bothered to even have a look at page two results can range anywhere from 71% to as high as 95%. Regardless of who is right with the exact percentage, it is clear that page one is prime real estate when it comes to search results.

“Content is king” was the mantra for quite some time.

Others placed large amounts of energy into link building.

SEO and Local Businesses

So, what is the 2019 roadmap for local businesses looking to secure their place with Google search rankings?

Unified Effort

Throughout the years, various single metrics have become the focus of local businesses. After all, there’s only so much time one can allocate to managing their online presence. In order to move up in Google search rankings some – especially the smaller businesses – had to pick and choose which ones would give the biggest bang for their efforts.

Google currently looks at over 200 indicators as part of their algorithm, when calculating rankings. Focusing on just one particular indicator is no longer a viable option. Fortunately for the smaller businesses there are some broad-brush strokes that can be utilized to help with their rankings, while still leaving them time to focus on their actual business.

If your business doesn’t have a lot of time or resources to devote to SEO, make sure you at least give attention to the following basic items:

  1. “Local” online presence
  2. Content
  3. Social media
  4. User experience

Local Online Presence

What makes a local business “local”? The location of course.

Don’t just place your address in the footer of your webpages and hope Google will find it when crawling your site (assuming you’ve set things up properly). Directly tell Google your address by creating a Google My Business account. This is even more important now that Google is phasing out Google+, previously a favourite among smaller local businesses.

When it comes to info the search engine giant can never get too much. Whether you are signing up for an account for the first time or have had your GMB account for years, be sure to fill in as many of the available fields as possible.

Content

While we do not recommend relying solely on content for online efforts, it is also foolish to abandon it altogether. Those who rise in Google search rankings are generally seen by their algorithm to be an expert in that particular field.

This is indicated, in part, by presenting content. Do it like you know what you’re talking about, even if you’re just starting out. Do it as often as time will allow but be consistent. It is better to post one blog a month, than to post 3 in one month, then nothing for the following two or three months.

Ensure the quality of the content is high!

This not only means being knowledgeable in your subject, it also means presenting the information in an easy-to-read format. Google will look at your spelling, grammar and syntax. Even professional writers have their work proofread. Have someone look over your content before publishing and make recommendations regarding corrections or changes. If you just don’t have the manpower, at least use an app built for this purpose. Grammarly is one of the better-known offerings around.

Social Media

Content doesn’t always have to be in the form of blogs. It can be helpful tips on social media, a recipe, a quote, even a picture. Anything that adds value to the user experience is good, and can pique interest leading to increased traffic to your site via links in your posts.

This is part of a process called backlinking – basically any link on another website that links back to your site. An increase in traffic from social media linking through to your website is an indicator that people are interested in what you have to say and see you as an authority on whatever your specialty is.

A word to the wise: as a general rule, do not use your personal social media account as your business social media account. You may wish to keep your family photos and personal info private.

For a business social media account to be most effective it should be as transparent as possible to google. Most will have the option of making it visible to the public, or even specify that you wish it to be discoverable by search engines.

User Experience

In case you haven’t noticed by now, securing a place within Google search rankings has become about the overall user experience.

While a goofy viral video can get a person or business their 15 minutes of fame, Google looks at the complete unified picture. Their main goal when presenting search results is to ensure that the user receives the information which is most relevant to their search. This not only means the quality of the information, but the way in which it is presented. You want to rank with Google because ultimately you want traffic coming to your website to buy your product, secure your services, or consider visiting you in real life.

Is your website slow to load? How is your bounce rate? Is your site optimized for mobile devices? Are pages on your site buried (more than 3 clicks away from the home page)? Is your site overloaded with industry specific jargon, or is it easy to read? Are the backlinks which drive traffic to your site from quality sites? Are the links leading out of your site relevant to the information being presented?

If you are a brand-new startup, and are familiar with these metrics, then you may want to be adventurous and create your own website with a website builder such as Wix.

If on the other hand you are not tech savvy, or a small to medium business, we recommend you secure a web designer. Having a professional build your site can make a world of difference to your search engine optimization, which directly impacts your Google search rankings. Great SEO can also improve your bottom line.

The Bottom Line

Any local business’s online efforts for 2019 should be unified across various platforms and outlets. Don’t place too much value on any one single metric or indicator. Google likes to see quality and relevance in all aspects of an online presence.

The bottom line of all this? In everything you do, keep in mind the user experience is paramount.

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