If you work in a local business but don’t have your own website or aren’t actively pushing for more organic traffic through search engines like Google, you’re missing out on an enormous opportunity to grow your business.
3 years ago, 15 million plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, and other tradespeople didn’t have an online presence. Today? That number has shrunk to 4.3 million without one!
Not only are consumers searching online for local businesses over 1 billion times per day, but the success of your digital strategy is more important than ever.
According to Google’s latest search engine rankings, websites without a mobile-friendly design will be ranked lower in SERPs (search engine results pages).
While this may not seem like much, few things can cause a business to lose customers faster than landing on page four in Google.
Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on old-school advertising campaigns with lackluster returns.
If spending money on traditional marketing isn’t working for you anymore, it could be time to explore the benefits of investing in a new approach.
You’ll find that your investment is well worth the rewards, as generating more leads and converting them into paying customers is easier than ever.
In fact, almost 70 percent of people search for local products or services online at least once a week, so it’s crucial to have an active digital strategy.
if you want to stay relevant in your industry.
Here are four ways to increase your digital presence and generate more leads:
In this post, we’ll explore:
Tip #1 – Solidify your Google My Business listing
If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business listing, now is the time! Not only does this free service allow you to claim business listings across all major search engines (including Bing and Yahoo!), but it will position you as a leader in local SEO rankings as well .
To make sure your free listing is optimized to the highest degree, follow these tips from Million Short, a local marketing agency specializing in Google My Business optimization:
Include your website URL – Since Google looks at your website for more information after an online search, including a link to your site will improve how much you show up in SERPs. Include phone numbers – Your address and hours of operation are important, but so is getting your phone number listed as well.
This allows customers to contact you directly from their mobile devices. In addition, it can help increase conversions as well.
Add photos – While text content is still very important, photos give potential customers a clear idea of what you have to offer.
More importantly, those who see relevant images tend to click on links much more often.
Be sure to review your Google My Business listing for accuracy and update it if anything is inaccurate.
This can be done by clicking on the “Settings” button and then selecting “Edit” next to the appropriate category (ex: hours of operation, address, phone number, etc.).
If you’d like an expert’s eyes on your free profile, Million Short offers a comprehensive optimization service that will help you take full advantage of this awesome free resource.
Tip #2 – Make your website mobile-friendly
Did you know that since May 2015, Google has been rolling out filters that favor mobile-friendly websites when people search from their smartphones?
For example, when viewing website snippets in SERPs (search engine results pages), Google will show a “mobile-friendly” label next to pages that it recognizes as easy to read on mobile devices (with large text that’s easily tappable, etc.).
While the number of desktop searches that return this label varies week by week, most sites now have an even chance of garnering this special designation.
And since around half of all search queries now originate from mobile devices, having a non-mobile-friendly website can result in substantial declines in organic traffic.
It makes sense then that Google has announced that they are using page speed as part of their overall search algorithm.
Just remember, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile visitors, you’re missing out on massive opportunities to get more leads!
To avoid this scenario and make your website mobile-friendly, follow these tips from Moz :
Maintain a focused viewport – Since many sites are not built to be viewed on mobile devices, the text and images will need to be resized according to your visitor’s browser size.
To accomplish this, set your site’s viewport accordingly so that your content is easily accessible.
Optimize page speed – Your website’s load time (i.e., how quickly it takes for all of its components to download) can make or break whether or not people decide to stay on your site.
If you’re seeing high bounce rates for mobile users, there’s a good chance that slow page speeds are causing this issue.
Once you know what to address, look for areas where you can get better results.
Optimize images – A great deal of page speed issues relate to image-heavy sites that are not properly optimized. In particular, make sure that all uploaded images have a file size under 100kb and a corresponding image format (i.e., JPG or PNG).
In addition, always use smaller-sized versions whenever possible, as each larger version adds weight to your page’s total load time.
Maintain a high level of web security – If your website gets hacked, the consequences could be disastrous.
Google has been known to demote or even blacklist websites that they detect are transmitting malware, and a hacked site is a sign to all visitors that your security standards aren’t what they should be.
To avoid this outcome, make sure you have a webmaster who knows how to handle the issue proactively.
If you need assistance in this area, check out our guide on choosing an effective web hosting service.
Tip #3 – Publish one high-quality piece of content each week
While it’s not enough just to publish good content for Google’s search spiders to find and index, when you produce one high-quality blog post or article per week, you’ll notice dramatic improvements in your rankings over time.
In fact, it’s been found that publishing one new piece of content each week will allow search engines to crawl your site many times more often than if you only published once every two weeks.
The lesson here is clear: make sure that you’re always creating content for the people in your target market, not just to satisfy search algorithms.
That being said, don’t create an endless stream of mediocre short-form pieces that are all similar in style and tone.
While this will result in more posts on your blog or website, it won’t necessarily boost traffic dramatically.
Instead, take advantage of tools like BrightEdge Keyword Explorer (free trial available) to find keywords with low competition but high search volume, so when readers land on one of your posts, they keep reading because there’s useful information throughout!
Tip #4 – Develop a responsive website
Since Google has announced that it is using page speed as part of the overall algorithm, the days of small sites with slow load times are over.
If your website isn’t optimized for mobile visitors, you’re losing a significant percentage of potential leads who land on your site and immediately bounce back to their search results.
In 2015, having a fast-loading website for both desktop and mobile devices will become increasingly important.
In fact, if you see higher than average bounce rates from mobile visitors, then there’s a good chance that your page speeds are holding you back from better rankings. Fortunately, Moz recommends several tips for optimizing this area:
Maintain a focused viewport – Again, the text and images on your pages should automatically resize according to the visitor’s screen size.
This helps your pages load faster on mobile devices, which tend to have small viewports.
Use smaller versions of large images – If you use larger-sized versions of images throughout the site, make sure that there are also corresponding, but more compact versions available for download.
It’s fine to look for ways to reduce or optimize both, particularly on sites with high traffic volumes.
This one should go without saying, but if you want better rankings in Google, then you must build links to your website.
Some marketers think that they can boost their rankings without any link-building efforts, but this is simply untrue. For the most part, Google uses two metrics to determine who deserves top rankings: relevancy and popularity.
Relevancy is determined by keyword placement in the content of your site or blog post, while popularity is measured against other websites with similar keywords.
Therefore, if you want to rank for a specific term within a given industry, make sure it’s present on at least 50 percent of all pages across your site (ideally more).
Then check out tools like Open Site Explorer (free choice available) or Moz Pro Campaigns ($99/month to find reputable websites that are linking to the top-ranked sites in your industry) to see which other websites are linking to your competitors.
Use these tools to find relevant websites that are likely to link back to you and pitch them with a valuable piece of content (i.e., infographic, video, etc.).
Reach out via email and propose a guest post or even better: suggest that they share the link across their social networks.
This is by far one of the most effective ways for marketers and bloggers alike to quickly build high-quality links, particularly if you’re competing in an extremely competitive niche.