In today’s post, I’m going to give you nine clear steps to get your local business on the front page of Google multiple times when potential customers in your local area search for the products or services you offer.
Can you imagine having an endless stream of new leads, customers and business… but without having to spend a dime on advertising?
That’s what it’s been like for me for the last two years since I learned how to Hack Local Seo for a Front Page Listing.
If you own a local business, it’s time to bookmark this page. (Better yet, get a free PDF of it by subscribing to Shoestring101). This isn’t the end-all of posts on how to get free digital exposure for your local business… but it’s certainly a start.
Become part of the conversation by actually trying out what I talk about here. There are nine Action Steps for you to follow, sprinkled throughout the post. Each one’ll make ya money… IF you follow it.
Why Making Your Local Business Easy-to-be-Found Locally on Google is so DANGED Important
First off, for those that complain about Google and how ‘hard’ it is to work with them to get found in local search results: 😀 Bwahahahaahaha… Let me remind you what you USED to have to do, to be competitive in local business:
“Let your fingers do the walking…” It used to be that local biz owners (like me) needed to jockey for position in the Yellow Pages.
With some industries, especially come-to-you services it was all about getting listed FIRST, alphabetically. Which led to “AAA Window Cleaning” or “A-1 Disc Jockey”.
Some folks got savvy, realizing that numbers got listed, um, alphabetically… before letters. So they called their service “1 Great Plumber” or even “1-2-3 Auto Detailing”.
With other business types it was about having the biggest or most picturesque ad. Anything to draw your customer’s attention… and get them to call YOU before heading further down the list and calling your competitors.
Oh, yeah… Competitors.
You had to guess how much they were spending…
…try and match or beat that…
…or outdo their offer…
…and if you didn’t guess right about your ad it would be a whole YEAR before you could change anything.
That is, if you were still in business by then 🙁
With the advent of the internet and especially search engines, the way to get your business found by YOUR hungry crowd has changed for the better, forever.
And now It’s just a matter of learning the rules and how to play by them.
Google Isn’t Evil (Snicker) But they Do Have an Obligation
The motto or mission statement or whatever for Google is supposed to be, “Don’t be evil.”
Those of us that have been “Google slapped” or that have paid out the nose to advertise on Google think that maybe the big G follows only two-thirds of that rule 😉
But in order to be who they portend to be, Google MUST do its duty: it must serve up the most relevant information to the folks that are searching for it.
Hacking local search results is as simple as knowing what rules that Google and other search engines use to classify that information, and check all the boxes better than or before your competition.
Shoot. For savvy local biz owners, it can be as easy as shooting the side of a barn… from the inside.
IF, that is… you know what you’re doing.
Because most of your competition does not, even the ones hiring big firms to take care of SEO.
Want to separate yourself from the herd and FORCE Google to give you front page listings? Check these nine steps, and don’t leave any out:
Get Found on Google Locally by Knowing What Local People Search For
Everything starts with keyword research. But I have a different approach than most; I think that real people, not programs, are best at telling me what I want to rank for.
When a new prospective Student calls for information about my martial arts studio, the first question I ask is, “How did you find out about us?” and I write down the answer. Most often (if it’s not a referral), they got my number from the internet.
Then I ask, “Did you use Google or another search engine? Do you remember what search term you used?”
There are piles of products and services out there promising to help you winnow out the best keywords for your business. But I find that ‘going to the horse’s mouth’ – actually asking your customers what they look for when they think of the solution your business offers – is the best research of all.
ACTION STEP ONE: Get a focus group of your current customers together and ask what search engines they use… whether they are on mobile or their desktops/laptops… and what keywords they use when they search.
The best way to know what your people are searching for is to ask them.
Get Found on Google With This Killer Keyword Formula
Armed with the information you got from your focus group, you’re going to add your business location to the keyword. For example, say you live in Monument, CO and you’re a martial arts instructor. If folks in your area are looking for “karate for kids”, then you add the location: Monument, Colorado.
[keyword] + [local area] = [new keyword for local ranking]
ACTION STEP TWO: Take the phrases that your current customers use to look for the solution your business provides, and add the name(-s) of your local community(-ies).
Go ahead and enter this keyword: “karate for kids monument co” into Google and see what happens.
You’ll find that the Freedom School of Martial Arts freakin’ OWNS that piece of cyber real estate… and I own it free of charge, not a single penny spent on advertising.
Wanna know how? Read on, Stepper!
Get Found on Google Locally by Properly Naming Your Social Properties
Depending on what kind of local business you have, you’ll want appropriate social media channels.
A tattoo parlor, for example, is going to want Pinterest and Instagram. This is because their product is highly visual and because of the growing interest among both teen girls and women aged 25-44 in tattooing.
On the other hand, a DJ might want Facebook and YouTube accounts so that his customers can share videos of his slamming’ parties.
Whatever YOUR business is, you’ll want to use the location-oriented keyword you came up with above and name your account or channel or vanity URL that.
For example, instead of https://www.facebook.com/822984037746101/ it could be https://www.facebook.com/MonumentKidsKarate
ACTION STEP THREE: Figure out an area-tagged keyword like “MonumentKidsKarate” above and make it the name of a Facebook page. THEN use the directions in this post over at PostPlanner to get it ranked.
Hey, do yourself a solid and open up this ^ and other links in a separate tab or page so you can keep reading this AWESOME post 😎 but get this important info as well.
Right-click this link for later reading as well ==> There are other ways that FB can be used to blow up your local business, that Shoestring101 covers in greater detail in other posts.
Get Found on Google Locally by Properly Naming Your Images and Videos
So the formula [keyword] + [local area] = [new keyword for local ranking] above works great for helping you generate a name for your social properties. Now we’ll use a variation on the theme to name pics and vids.
When you upload a pic from your smart phone to the internet it comes up something like: 12004859_102060471_7234634_n.jpg
Homey, ain’t nobody got time for that.
So rename the pic something like Kids_Karate_Class_Monument_CO.jpg
Ahhh. Much better.
ACTION STEP FOUR: Look at your blog, directories or social properties where you’ve uploaded images. RENAME those images to fit the local keyword convention: [what your customers search for] + [the area your business serves].
Change up the order of the keywords or use variations. For example, “karate” can be replaced by “martial arts” or “kung fu”, and “Monument” can be replaced by other nearby communities “Palmer Lake” and “Gleneagle”.
In the future, name all your pictures this way.
Oh, and what works for pictures works even better for videos uploaded to YouTube.
Because your keyword can be the title of your video… it can go in the tags… it can go in the description, along with a link to your website!
Now when folks in your local area search for what your business does, Google will find images and serve them up in the search results… and those images and videos will link back to pages that refer your phone number or webforms or whatever it is that you’re using to capture leads and get new customers.
“How will it do that, Kurt?” AH, young padawan. Read on:
Get Found on Google Locally by Using Free Directories
Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, Yext. These services and more are dedicated to indexing local businesses. Also, some specific sites index service-based buzzes; examples are Fixr.com or Thumbtack.com.
Put together a list of your “Vital Statistics” for your business:
Street Address Even if your business is a come-to-you kind (plumber, HVAC, etc.) give the address you operate from
Phone Number Make sure to include the area code
Website If you don’t have a WordPress blog yet, use a Facebook page with a vanity URL
2 or 3 of your Social Properties Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
Hours of Operation Be specific
USP or Slogan <== (right click to open 5 Steps to Your Killer USP and save for later reading)
Short description of your services, with language that build value without seeming overly promotional
Current Specials, Promotions, or “Loss Leaders” you offer to snag first-time customers
These are your Vital Statistics ^ for cutting and pasting into dozens of local directories free.
Now get you a list of local directories that serve your area. Here’s a starter list:
Google My Business
The Business Journals
There are more, and some of these directories will be more important to your biz than others. Do a little homework. Then roll up your sleeves and get ready to do a lot of cut-and-pasting of your vital statistics above! Also, upload your keyword-named images and videos to your free directory listings.
ACTION STEP FIVE: Upload your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) and your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to every local biz directory that serves your local area, and even some that don’t. Put up the images and videos we already spoke about. Link back to your webpage or at least your Facebook page if you don’t have a web property of your own.
Now, I know I said that all these action steps are totally for free and it’s true… but this one is a little tedious. After making your Vital Statistics list and naming a pile of images and videos, you MAY want to head on over to Fiverr.com. It’s five bucks for a helper half the world away to do most of this for you, a HECK of a return on investment.
Get Found on Google Locally by Getting Reviews for Your Business
Think about if YOU are searching for help in a category that’s new to you. You’ve never tried scuba before and neither have your friends. Do you go with the business having just one positive review… or sixteen positive reviews with one or two neutral or slightly negative?
Obviously the business with the most reviews, almost all of them positive, is going to tip the scales. It’s called social proof.
A word to the wise..! Some local directories don’t take kindly to manufactured or “fake” reviews. Many of them will suspend reviews that appear contrived or paid for. Plus, even if a review makes it through the screening, your customers can usually spot the difference. So go to Fiverr to help post your Vital Statistics, but NOT to buy reviews!
Now, most of your satisfied customers would be happy to write a review for you. It’s a matter of asking, and asking in the right way to actually get it done.
You need a system for following up with your customers during their lifespan with your company. I’ll just say here that it’s important for you to populate these local directories with reviews… a proven system for doing that will be the subject of another post.
If yo want to come up with your own system before that post, just check these guidelines:
- make it easy
- ask once, AFTER you have performed a service of great value
- give an incentive or a thank-you for a completed review
- and make it part of your culture
ACTION STEP SIX: Once you have local directories established, use a system for driving your customers there to leave reviews. Make it easy, remember to thank your customers, and put up signs or pass out cards with a polite request and instructions.
Get Found on Google Locally by Leveraging Your Content
Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’ve got STUFF to DO, right? You can’t be a social media manager and a blog writer and a videographer, and… and… and… when you also have a business to run.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. One piece of content can be the basis for a whole plethora of other free content that points back to YOU, your USP and the entry point of your business.
Saving you scads of time if you know how.
ACTION STEP SEVEN: Go to http://www.trafficologyblueprint.com to grab a 5,000 word PDF on how to leverage content. Then sign up for the course because it’s off the hook.
Get Found on Google Locally by Tying it All Together
One outline can be used for several different types and channels of consumption using the content leveraging step. Here’s an example:
At your martial arts studio you snap three pictures and take a short, 15 second video of some Students in action. (5 minutes, tops)
Each picture (named after your location-specific keywords) gets a caption, the video gets a keyword-laden title and tags. (take ya 10 more)
Now those pics with their captions get put into your blog with a short blurb. (10 mins) Just say who it is, what they are doing, when it happened, and a nice word of encouragement to the folks pictured.
Post the pics in your Facebook page. Tag the parents. Remind them about the share button. Post the video too. Same drill. Now post a link to your blog. (5 mins)
So in thirty minutes you’ve just created a WEB of positive messaging about your business along with enough goodwill to sink a battleship.
ACTION STEP EIGHT: What, weren’t you paying attention? Heh… just try the above, or your variation of it. Catch customers in the act of enjoying your businesses’ service or product, and put that piece of content up in various forms and channels with a way for folks to share and/or follow it back to the source: YOUR business.
The trick to this is not to come off as overly promotional. Just share your best friends’ stuff with all your best friends. And invite others to become friends with you as well.
Get Found on Google Locally by Having a Great Landing Page
What they do and where they go after this page is most important. You’ve kicked your own butt laying a lot of framework to get searchers to this page. But if they leave without leaving YOU with some contact information, you’ve lost ’em.
Interact with your customers here in the way that most appeals to your market. Some folks will appreciate a “Cheat Sheet” or information package which requires them to share their email with you. Others will prefer to talk on the phone. Still others will want to online chat with you or one of your reps.
The most important thing that your landing page should communicate to YOUR prospect is, “You’ve come tot he right place!”
The second most important thing it should communicate is that you’re willing to give them something of value free… (something that’s impossible to say no to, NOT “free consultation, call now!) But something that will solve one of their biggest problems right now and start your relationship on the right foot.
AND..! Also capture their info so you can further that relationship.
ACTION STEP NINE: Look for my blog post on how to design YOUR landing page so that people leave their contact info and expect you to call/write/message with them.
Get Found on Google Locally: Would You Like to Know More?
I’ve shown you how I was able to get free leads and customers and PROFITS for my two local businesses with zero ad spend. When local customers look for what my business does, my business is listed multiple times on the front page results and often, so is my call to action.
But it took me a while to get there.
Let me ask you something, dear reader 🙂
Could you use some help in putting some of these principles to work?
Could you use a second set of eyes, a guide looking over your shoulder and telling you what’ll work and what may be a waste of time?
If you’re having a certain challenge, or if you’ve solved a particular challenge for yourself you have something valuable to say. We’d love to hear from you. In the comments section please share your wisdom with others that come here looking for tips and tricks for their local biz building activities!
BONUS ACTION STEP TEN (It’s okay to skip all the way to this step if you want to): Get a free PDF of this page, plus schedule some time with Kurt (ME!) to help your cost-free lead generation program get off the ground.
Right now I’m helping a client in Arizona to put together a
“Dominate-The-Front-Page-Of -Google-for Free”
presence online. It’s gonna make a great case study.
I’d love to add YOUR case study to the mix.
Give me a ring at 719 360-9559 to discuss how we can give your business a much-needed shot in the arm of more leads, customers, PROFITS.
Talk soon. 😎