We teach seminars and workshops through the local Small Business Development Center on topics of web marketing. Google plays a big part in this topic as you might imagine. As we go over the new SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and explain how important local search marketing is, I see the deer in the headlight look on their faces.
Many have noticed that their website no longer appears in a good position as before. That is because a lot has changed. See the SERP above? What is dominating? Yes, the map based local businesses. Depending on where you are searching and what settings you have on your device (desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone) your results are shown accordingly.
This is great for the searcher, but how does it affect the small business owner sitting in my workshop with a dazed look on their faces?
What is showing up?
The top and side spots on this SERP are paid positions. Pay Per Click might work for some small businesses, but it takes some time to learn how it works best or it takes money to hire someone who already knows the best practices.
The next section is the local results. The ones with the red balloons. This is the sweet spot. The “7 Pack” as they say. This has become a more important position. It has replaced your website showing up on the first page of results. Because you website is most likely not going to show up on the first page when searched by keyword phrase.
Below the 7 Pack are usually directories if you are in a large industry. For example restaurants, lodging, retail, education, and real estate are some of the industries with multiple directories that will beat out your website position.
Then, after all those directory site listings your website should appear. This largely depends on how well your website is optimized and how well it is synched with your local search marketing efforts.
If you are not optimized for the new results page, your website may not show up for 2 or 3 pages. No matter how long you have been around and where you used to show up.
What Should Small Businesses Do?
Here are a few things to consider this week to improve your position on searches.
1. Make sure your webmaster, which may be you, has your website optimized with the keywords being used to find your business and competitors. There are many tools to use to find the right keyword phrases. Once you have that list, make sure each page on your website is optimized with one keyword in the title, h1 tag, and descriptions. Images can also be optimized with keywords.
2. Learn more about pay per click to determine if it is right for your industry. This costs some money to implement so you will want to know more about it or hire a reputable company to set it up for you.
3. Learn more about getting set up in the right directories so you come up in the 7 Pack. If you set up Google Places on your own, make sure you know all the little nuances to make it the most affective. You need to update it on a regular basis and monitor for unwanted information. Google pulls in information from other directories, which might be old. For example, you may have set yourself up on a directory 5 years ago with your old logo, or maybe you have moved locations. The old information often ends up in your Places page.
4. Create a system to gather reviews. This is very important!
Do you feel that Google has affected your small business? How? Let us know and share the love with fellow small businesses.