Approximately 97% of consumers turn to online search to find a local business or service. 70-80% of consumers research a business online before engaging with them, and the top three search results get 60% of the clicks. And the key to getting into the top three is, of course, SEO. You may be thinking you don’t have the time or resources to improve SEO—or that SEO is complex and inaccessible. However, we sat down with SEO expert, Neil Patel, to put together a list of basic steps that any business can take to dominate search results. After reading this simple guide, you’ll know what you can do to work toward getting found and chosen consistently, no matter your starting point. These days, business begins online.
1. Collect reviews
According to Neil, collecting as many reviews as possible should be your main focus when it comes to SEO. When your rating goes up by even half a star, your conversion rates will increase and more leads will want to click on you.
Neil’s prop tip “A handful of reviews doesn’t do wonders for you compared to having 50 or 100 or 200 reviews. There’s a big difference.”
2. Use text
When it comes to collecting reviews, Neil says that text is the way to go. Over a third of consumers who receive a text review invite to leave a review. And 41% of consumers say that text is their preferred way to communicate, vs. just 18% who prefer email.
Neil’s pro tip “We’ve found that texting is one of the easiest ways to really engage and get those reviews. If you get an email from someone you don’t know, what do you do in most cases? Ignore it. But if you get a text from someone, you usually look at it because it’s on your phone and it’s so personal.”
3. Optimize your website
According to Neil, standing out online these days is all about customer experience—and that customer experience starts with your website. Make your website well-organized and usable to ensure customers can connect with you easily.
Neil’s pro tip “With COVID, everyone’s going online. And if you haven’t adapted and figured out how to provide that amazing experience, you’re going to be left in the dust.”
4. Have a really solid “contact us” page.
Part of making sure customers can contact you easily is having an effective “contact us” page. An accurate, easily accessible, informative “contact us” page goes a long way in improving your customer experience and solidifying your online presence. Neil suggests distinguishing your specific location (or multiple locations) to top search results.
Neil’s pro tip “If you have multiple cities, make sure you have pages for those as well so you can come up in those regions.”
5. Take advantage of free tools like Google Analytics and Google Data Studio
Contrary to popular belief, Neil claims you don’t need to spend money to take advantage of really powerful tools that will improve your SEO efforts, such as Google Analytics and Google Data Studio. Use Google Analytics to find where people are dropping off to improve your online experience. Use Google Data Studio to keep a pulse on your data—what’s working, what you need to fix, etc.
Neil’s pro tip, “Even if your business is small and you can’t pay for anything, that’s okay—use something for free. Even if it doesn’t have everything you want, it’s better than not doing anything at all.”
6. Make sure you’re in all the local directories
Approximately 31% of customers report they are more likely to look at a local business’s Google My Business listing before visiting. Consequently, accuracy is key. While this seems rather obvious, you’d be surprised by how many listings have inaccurate or outdated info. Take time to ensure your business is listed accurately in major as well as local directories.
Neil’s pro tip, “Make sure you’re in all the local directories: the Yelps, the Google My Business—the list goes on and on.”
7. Create specific content around keywords and your product/service
You might also be surprised by the number of people who regularly search for the product or service you provide but end up patronizing a competitor because you don’t show up in their search results. You can increase your visibility in targeted searches with targeted content. Use Google ads to find keywords that people are searching for in your industry. Then, create content around those specific words (it helps if you use them as headings in your content).
Neil’s pro tip, “If I’m selling baby strollers, I’m going to produce pages around baby strollers. Not one page, but a page for each and every single product, as long as they’re different enough. That way I can get traffic and traction for each of the products or services that I’m selling.”
8. Produce high-quality images and videos
As part of your content, including high-quality images and videos that load quickly and appeal to leads. People need to not only read but see what your business is all about. Neil specifically suggests using YouTube instead of Vimeo.
Neil’s pro tip “You can get rankings from YouTube and drive traffic. Believe it or not, roughly 20% of our signups for Ubersuggest come from YouTube.”
9. Network with other businesses and sites
Partner with other local businesses in your community to network and even cross-sell in order to dominate local search. Neil encourages businesses to get really creative and innovate—take advantage of obvious and less obvious opportunities that other businesses aren’t seeing to increase your online (and community) presence.
10. Use a tool like Podium
Neil suggests using a tool like Podium to get things done faster and more efficiently. With Podium’s messaging tools, you can text customers, collect reviews quickly, chat leads on your website, and make payments all from one place. This not only saves you manpower and time, but increases productivity, convenience, and the quality of your customer experience.
Neil’s pro tip, “You can try to tackle it all manually. Or, you can use tools like Podium. You just get stuff done quicker and more efficiently.”
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