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7 Top Ways To Gain Visibility

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7 Top Ways To Gain Visibility

Online search is more often than not the starting point in a local consumer’s quest for products and services nearby.

In fact, 78% use the Internet to find information about local businesses in their area more than once a week – and 21% are searching locally every day, according to BrightLocal’s most recent local consumer survey.

You must be visible in local organic and Map Pack search results if you want to get found. Then you have a chance to convert those searchers to in-store traffic, booked appointments, or some other type of paying customer.

In this column, you’ll find 7 of the most impactful ways you can build local visibility using SEO.

1. Check For Technical Errors That Could Impact Indexing

This is baseline SEO. You can’t get found if search engines can’t index your site.

First, learn the basics about how search engines crawl and index your website. This foundational knowledge will help guide your SEO efforts going forward.

You may very well decide that technical SEO issues such as indexation are too complex for you to manage on top of running your business.

If that’s the case, at least you’ll understand what you’re hiring an SEO agency or consultant to do for you.

On the other hand, you might feel confident looking into indexation issues yourself and in that case, these resources can help:

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2. Create Exceptional Content

Content is the vehicle by which all messaging, offers, and calls to action will be delivered to your audience.

But your small business isn’t just competing against other businesses like yours in the search results.

You’re also up against media publications, informational websites, big brands, local review sites, and all kinds of other sources that create content relevant to your products and services.

The bar is high, and that means your content must be exceptional to stand out.

Before you jump in with both feet and start cranking out blog posts, take the time to create a local content strategy that aligns with your business goals.

Make sure you incorporate different types of local content, and optimize each piece for search using these proven on-page local SEO best practices.

3. Incorporate Local Link Building Into Your SEO Strategy

Links are the currency of the web. They’re an important trust signal to search engines like Google and suggest that others endorse your content.

John McAlpin explains, “Local links are done with the intention to show that others with relevance to the local area trust or endorse your business.”

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His piece ‘What Is A Local Link & How To Find More Local Link Opportunities‘, part of our Local SEO Guide, is a great starting point for your local link building strategy.

From there, I highly recommend you read this column from Kevin Rowe, in which he shares 50 types of links and what you need to do to attract each one.

4. Get Your Google Business Profile In Order

No local search strategy is complete without a well-optimized Google Business Profile (GBP).

While Google draws local business information from a wide variety of sites, directories, and networks around the web, it does look to its own profiles as a single source of truth about any local business.

Previously known as the Google My Business program, these profiles have grown richer and more interactive in recent years. And with these updates, they’ve become more useful for local searchers, too.

Today, GBPs not only provide key business information such as your location and contact information but also enable you to:

  • Help searchers understand the experience they’ll have at your business with a variety of high-quality photos and videos.
  • Showcase offers, events, and more with Google Posts.
  • Interact with customers via Messaging, Q&A, and responding to reviews.
  • Proactively share differentiating features, health and safety information, payment methods, and more with Attributes.

Sherry Bonelli offers a great guide to GBP optimization here.

5. Ensure Local Listings Are Accurate

Google values searcher experience above all else. Inaccurate, outdated information that negatively impacts searcher experience is, therefore, a liability and can hinder your local visibility in a big way.

Wherever a searcher encounters your business listing online – whether on social, in a local directory, in Yellow Pages, on review sites such as Yelp or Trip Advisor – the information they find there should enable them to seamlessly convert.

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Having the wrong phone number, address, hours of operation, or other key business information listed can result in a searcher showing up at a closed store, for example.

Or being sent by their GPS system to your former location.

Seeing various versions of key business data around the web makes it difficult for search engines to know what’s true.

Given that Google wants to give each searcher the best possible answer to their query, you do not want the algorithm questioning whether your business information is trustworthy.

Tracking listings manually is time-consuming and incredibly difficult, as data aggregators and directories may be scanning for business information and updating their listings.

This is how misinformation or outdated listings proliferate, and the wrong address, URL, or hours can spread far and wide.

Small businesses can use a local SEO tool like Moz Local or Semrush to automate the process of scanning for business listings and monitoring their accuracy.

6. Monitor & Respond To Local Reviews

Reviews are a highly impactful part of the local search experience and in 2021, 77% of local consumers said they always or regularly read reviews when searching for local businesses.

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Google’s local ranking algorithms are less a mystery than their organic counterparts. Google openly tells us there are three main local ranking factors: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.

Reviews are part of the Prominence factor, and Google states:

“Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking.”

Jeff Riddall offers a comprehensive overview of how Google reviews impact organic and local search rankings here.

Check out Matt Southern’s ‘Where & How To Get The Right Reviews For Your Business‘ to learn more.

7. Use Relevant Local Schema

While not a ranking factor, schema markup is a type of structured data that makes the web crawlers’ job easier and helps the search engine better understand the content of your page.

Anything you can do to help Google more effectively match your page to a relevant query is a win.

Schema markup can help trigger rich results that highlight additional information such as breadcrumbs, reviews, FAQs, and sitelinks on search results.

Applying schema properly, then testing and validating your markup, is essential as errors can disqualify you from obtaining those rich results.

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Chelsea Alves wrote a fantastic guide to local markup and rich results that can serve as your starting point for adding this tactic to your local SEO strategy.

Bringing It All Together

Taking on local SEO as a small business can seem daunting. You may not have a dedicated marketing department, and it’s not uncommon for business owners to feel overwhelmed by the administrative and marketing tasks that come with being an entrepreneur.

I hope this guide gives you enough information and resources to determine what you can tackle in-house and what you may need to outsource.

Using an agency or consultant to augment your in-house skills is just fine – but it’s essential that you have a healthy understanding of what you’re asking these professionals to do for you.

Remember, local SEO is not a one-time, ‘set it and forget it’ activity to check off the list.

It’s an integral part of your marketing, and often intersects with customer service, as well.

To learn more, download Search Engine Journal’s ebook ‘Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings.’


Featured image: Shutterstock/Deemka Studio

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SEO

7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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