Ranking a local business website highly on Google can either be a fairly seamless process or it can be a real pain. The difference comes down to how competitive the industry is in the city in question. If you are the only plumber in your city, for example, it should be quite easy to rank #1 on Google for the term “plumber + city name.” If you are in NYC, however, it will probably take considerable time and money to rank on the first page of Google. There are a lot of things you can do to improve you rankings for a local business. I wanted to go over two major keys to ranking well that I think often get overlooked.
Key #1- Content That Clearly Identifies Location And Niche
One key mistake I see that most local businesses make is that they have very thin websites with 5 or fewer pages. This is a missed opportunity to really help Google understand the theme of the website, which is an important ranking factor. Google’s bot is smart, but it isn’t that smart. It needs help to fully identify the location of the local business and confirm the industry it is in.
The easiest way to see how Google views the content of a website is to go onto Webmaster Tools and check the “Content Keywords” section. If the location and main term you are trying to rank for don’t show up at the very top, then Google doesn’t think the way you want it to. You need to add more content to the site that includes your location name and your main industry terms. For example, if you are a plumber in NYC, you will want to add content that includes location terms such as “NYC,” “New York,” “Manhattan,” etc. and then also plumbing related terms. Adding more pages to your site that include those terms will help you rank better. It’s an easy way to help Google understand your location and industry.
Key #2- Industry And Location-Specific Links
If there is one thing Google hates, it is spam. It doesn’t want to rank lead generation or otherwise spammy sites for local keywords. To combat spam, Google places a lot of importance on links that spammers could not possibly get. A spam website, for example, would never be mentioned in a local newspaper article. A spam website wouldn’t be a Better Business Bureau member. Because Google places more importance on those kinds of links, it is important for your local business to get as many of those types of links as possible. They are a huge sign of trust in Google’s eyes and can really boost rankings. For some reason, however, most local business owners ignore these types of links, much to their detriment.
If you are a plumber, look for websites from which only plumbers can get links. Usually different industries will have directory sites that only list real companies. Find the best of those directory sites and get your company listed.
Similarly, try to find websites that are specific to your location. This could be a link from the local Chamber Of Commerce or Better Business Bureau, for example. Perhaps you can try to get a local publication to feature your business. Anything along those lines will go a long way in helping you rank well in Google.
Ranking well locally is all about convincing Google you are an authority in your industry and in your location. You can do this from the content that you write on your website and/or through getting industry and location-specific links. Standard link building and SEO practices also work well, but these are two keys that are very helpful that I see most local businesses ignore.