So, what are we seeing when we do a local search?
First, there is often a map that comes up with many relevant businesses all listed. These businesses have registered their details with Google via a Google+ page or Google My Business Center. This takes some time to do and there is a verification process, so the likelihood of this information being accurate is usually pretty good. These listings are often setup by someone that the company has hired for other work, so I’ve found that the seasonal hours or other updated material might be a bit behind in getting updated. (example screenshot below)
Just above that map is an Ad that someone has paid for (see screenshot below). There are up to 3 spots of ads that can show up at the very top of search results and there is often a column to the left of search results that also shows ads (even though there are not any in this screen shot).
Below the map is the general search results that Google has determined is the most relevant websites for what you search for. In order to get to the top of those search results, you have to create content on your website that as relevant as possible to the terms the people are searching for. Not only do you create content about that one topic they are searching for, but you also create all sorts of related content so that Google will see you are an authority on that subject.
Getting to the top of organic search results requires a secret sauce of search engine optimization, continual content creation, social sharing of your content, and links from other reputable websites back to your pages and many other smaller factors that Google takes into account.
Legitimately getting to the top of organic search results is usually a pretty great feat to achieve, but once you’re there it’s not much to maintain.
As an example, I wrote an article quite a while back about doing an Online Competitor Analysis. It ended up getting a decent amount of traction within search and several other people have linked to that page from their website. I got several social shares for that page and as I wrote other articles that related to doing a competitor analysis, did some internal link to that page from my other posts. Since then, I haven’t done much with regards to writing about competitor analyses, but in the last month that topic along has brought over 100 people to my website looking for that exact topic. So, if I were to write more about that topic, do some tutorials, and give some strategies I use, I could probably get even more people visiting my website. That type of content is called evergreen content because it keeps bringing people to your site yearlong without having to spend more time and money.
What about Printed and Online Directories?
When I meet with some of my potential clients, I’m appalled how much they are spending to be in some of these directories (like Yellow Pages). For some of my clients, they spend over $1000 a month (what?!!!!) to be in the printed directories. I don’t know about you, but I can think of MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY better ways to spend $12,000 a year to get more customers/clients/buyers. Seriously, does the Yellow Pages seriously think that they are providing that kind of value to people placing ads in their PRINTED book? As of writing this, we’re nearing the end of 2015, people…printed directories are more consistently used as door stoppers, fire starters, and spider killers than they are used for looking up a business.
It’s worth your time to search out online directories and get a free listing if possible. I’d find it very hard to justify paying anything, however, unless the directory is a niche market where you KNOW your potential customers/clients visit. Keep in mind though, those directories do not help you with your regular search engine rankings (Google ignores most of the links from those directories to your website).
What do I recommend my clients do?
When I’m starting up a relationship with a client, each situation is unique, but I often recommend a double barreled course of action in order to get them some exposure and also get a return on their investment.
- Start up a Google AdWords Campaign right away to have their website show up in search results
- Start writing content about the keywords they want to show up in search results and continue writing about related content
- As the pages start to show up in regular search results, back off the amount of ad spend on AdWords until you can safety just stop it entirely.
- Make sure to setup the business in Google My Business and other local search directories that might be appropriate.