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5 Simple Steps to Make Your Local Business More Findable on Google

shutterstock_172855088Being findable is core to any business, but it can be especially challenging for local businesses to be findable online when they have to compete for search ranking with national and  global brands. Given that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers, it’s no wonder that local search volume is increasing. This increase in local, mobile search creates a great opportunity for financial advisors and insurance agents that are strongly rooted in their local region and community.
Here  are five  simple steps for making your business more findable online.

1. Claim or Create Your Business on Google and  Google+

Google controls almost 65% of the online search market and if you haven’t listed your location and created your business on Google+ you are missing out. Google tends to favor businesses with local listings. Google doesn’t automatically pull business information from websites, however the steps are easy. Google MyBusiness offers self-explanatory tools to claim or create your location listing. From there, you can expand your Google presence by also creating a Google+ page to connect with people.  Make sure that these listings include accurate business information (that matches your website) and include a link to your local website to close the loop.

2. Add Structured Data to Your Website

The practice of adding hidden SEO keyword tags to your website is a thing of the past. Today, one of the best ways to boost your SEO is to insert structured data into your website code. . Structured data should include the important details of your business, such as business type, location, phone number and hours.  To test whether your website includes the appropriate structured data, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. If you don’t seeing results like the one illustrated below, you’ll need to insert the appropriate structured data code into your website using the guidelines from Schema.org.  You can also check with your website partner or technology provider to get their help in creating and managing structured data to make your business information more findable.

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3. Include Dynamic, Local Content

We’ve heard it a million times, “content is king.”  When your business is connected to a national or global brand, it’s fresh and personal content that is going to help you stand out. If your website has exactly the same content every other advisor or agent at your company (save for the name and address) that is going to hurt your search ranking. The search engine crawlers look  for unique and fresh content. So, make sure your website has content that  represents your unique community business. In addition to having high quality content, your  website should have fresh content and new sources of information  to rank better in search results.

4. Be Active Across Social Networks

Social pages and profiles are your secret weapon for being findable online. More often than not, search results containing a name include listings from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter that show up at the top of the page. Take a look at the results for one of our local financial advisors below.  Right after her business listing, Misty’s  LinkedIn and Twitter pages show up next.
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Step one is creating complete pages and profiles that accurately represent your business. In order to best support your findability, make these pages public, so that the search engine crawlers can see all of your information. By using the same name, address and other information as your website, you are reinforcing that the information is accurate. In addition, adding links to your social profiles from your website helps browsers see that the different web properties are all representing the same business, improving credibility and findability.
Finally, just having complete social presences is good, but actively keeping the content on them fresh is even better. Share tips and thought-leadership across the social networks and update your profile as your role or business changes in order to get even more benefits from social media.

5. Be Mobile Ready

In May of 2015, Google announced that search volume from mobile devices surpassed desktop search activity in the US.  Around the same time, Google also started penalizing websites that are not optimized for mobile viewing. Adapting to the rise in mobile web browsing is important for every business, but it is especially important for local businesses because according to a ComScore study, the majority of mobile searches have local intent.
To be more findable in this mobile era, it is imperative that your website is mobile-ready. Start with testing it out on your phone, and/or using the the Google Mobile Friendly test.  If your website needs some work, your website partner or technology provider should provide some solutions to improve the mobile experience, and optimize for mobile-first activity
If you’ve had a website for a long time, you may have noticed that times have changed.  There used to be all types of secret tips for SEO, ways to essentially trick search engines to rank your page at the top of the results, but todays search engine optimization is much more straightforward.
Search engines are continually getting better at filtering out spammy websites trying to game the system, and improving the rankings of business pages that consumers actually click on. If you have an up-to-date website, and follow the five tips above, you’re well on your way to improving the search ranking and findability of your business.

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Meagan Herfkens Hency

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