Getting past gatekeepers on search engines isn't easy — Google doesn't even release its algorithm for public analysis, so there's no blueprint for winning this endless optimization game.
There are dozens of metrics incorporated into these algorithms, and the ingredients are changing. Over time, the role of location expanded in these search results. Mobile search users often write queries with an implicit desire for local results, even if they don't type out that location. Google and other search engines employ metrics and strategies to quantify and qualify this location information as it relates to local businesses, according to MarTech Today.
If you want to be visible to a local audience, you must satisfy these search engine demands. There's no perfect formula, but the following four tips will go a long way toward optimizing search with location in mind.
1. Optimize Your Website
Location should be built into your website whenever possible. This can range from the URL itself to on-page keywords. Your company's location should be easily found and website copy — including your company blog — should make frequent mention of your local area. This helps search engines connect your business to a specific location, and your search visibility should grow as a result.
2. Update Your Business Listings
Online business directories play a major role in your ranking according to local search algorithms. Misinformation in these directories can be damaging for your company. Not only do you risk losing potential customers who seek out your information, but inaccuracies can throw a wrench into your local presence via search. The easiest solution is to check on these business directories once or twice every year, making sure your information is updated. This includes your address, hours and phone number. With the right information getting crawled by search bots, your local marketing presence will be more consistent.
3. Make Use of Structured Data
Structured data is a simple concept with enormous implications. If you've ever gone to Google and had a search query answered through a box appearing above the search results in enlarged text, you've seen the benefit of structured data. This is a process that uses code to define and label information available on your website, giving Google the option of excerpting this information in cases where the search relevance is high. You can use this to leverage your company's location data, the region you serve and other location-specific information.
When it comes to getting past gatekeepers, structured data is an important factor to optimize for.
4. Monitor Your Reputation
Reviews play a role in location metrics for search algorithms, especially when you've taken time to build a strong, positive reputation. Connecting with your customers and taking charge of your online reputation improves your engagement with a local audience, while also creating content that lends credibility for your business. Search engines use reviews to help determine the relevance and prominence of your local business.
These steps are easy for every small business to do, and they'll go a long way toward satisfying the gatekeepers.