Welcome to a very special episode, the first in our three part series, grow local. And we’ll even have a few guests business owners join us today via the online chat with some questions as we go.
In this episode entitled, your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO will take you on a journey of two of your customers.
If you’ve ever been frustrated with Google, not showing the right content, not showing your business, not seeming to understand what you do, this is your fix. This is the way to tell Google who you are. If you’re a local business owner, hoping to find more ready to buy customers.
Stay tuned. I’m Barb McGrath, founder of above the fold digital marketing, and the get found Academy, the local business owners guide to the first page of Google. Let’s start off. Let’s start off quickly with what is local SEO and what it isn’t. Local SEO is using your website, your Google listing, and even your social channels to find more customers.
SEO or search engine optimization is maximizing your online properties for customers and search engines. And it’s really important to remember that while we want the search engines to find us, it’s way more important that our customers find us and our customers shop with us.
So SEO is about finding more customers. A search engine, for example, Google, Bing, or Yahoo can find your business. And they can understand the content on your website when you give it to them.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. How do we give more content to these search engines? So from a practical perspective, as a local business, local SEO means more foot traffic. Local SEO is all of those best, and near me searches that we all do from our phone, best coffee shop, coffee shop near me, best plumber, Saskatoon, best plumber weyburn.
These are all searches that customers are doing every day. And we want those customers to find you.
Local SEO means that you will have more online purchases, even if they’re picked up or delivered. And as we all survived COVID so many of us learn to deliver our services virtually, or create a contactless environment where consumers could continue to purchase from us.
So local SEO isn’t about online shopping. It’s about finding your customers where they are online. SEO is the equivalent of a dating service for your business. Customers will swipe you away in a heartbeat. And if you don’t appear to have what they’re looking for, they’re just going to keep going.
So it’s your job to show off all of the things that you have to offer. So those potential dates I mean, customers know that you have what they’re looking for. So local SEO is not a quick scheme to get a whole bunch of clicks on your website, or on your social channels to drive up visits, local SEO ties directly to sales and cash in your register.
So let’s start off by meeting our customers. Because really, they’re our guest today, and they’re the most important folks who are here with us. Our first guest is Skittles and I’m just gonna bring Skittles, do a little bit of cuddling with him here. So this is Skittles.
Skittles is a very discerning young Boston Terrier. He’s particular about his nutrition and seeks quality food and treats. He absolutely loves his pet parent, a young lad named Peter.
Skittles likes a little bit of variety in his food and toys. And Peter is new to pet parenting. So, you know, he’s still doing a lot of shopping around, and he’s very price conscious, he wants his money to go as far as it can for Skittles. He also wants the best for Skittles.
And he Googles every purchase before he actually makes the purchase. Doesn’t matter if it’s food, toys, a leash, a harness, little boots for winter, because these paws get mighty chilly, it doesn’t matter if it’s a kennel, whatever it might be. Peter searches on Google for everything before he actually makes that purchase.
Our other customer that we’re going to talk about today is Ava. And Ava and Skittles are two very different customers. So let’s take a look at Ava. There she is. So Ava, on the other hand, is not just discerning. She’s very particular. And once she finds a business that she likes, she tends to return over and over.
She’s very traditional at heart, but very savvy, when it comes to technology, she will return to a business if she believes that the price is competitive. And that’s a really important differentiator. She’s looking for competitive pricing. She’s not afraid of that online environment.
When she’s unsure, uncertain, she’ll spend hours researching, analyzing, googling her different options, and understanding what she can buy as a customer.
Both of our customers today will support local businesses whenever they can. So if it’s an option, they’re both absolutely going to support local. But as a local business, you have to be competitive, you need to be convenient, and Skittles, or Peter and Eva can confirm, before they go shopping, that the business that they want to shop with actually has what it is that they’re looking for.
So they are such different customers. But their journey to purchase all ends with the same result. They want to shop local, their journeys are different, but they still want to be able to shop locally. And they have one thing in common.
They both rely on their search result to find the products and services that they want. Eva being the researcher relies on what she finds on a business’s website, to be up to date to be true and to be accurate. So if her chosen business shows that they have an item in stock, she 100% expects that to be true.
Skittles, on the other hand, is a little less patient. And he sends Peter directly to Google Maps, Google listings to find the things he wants. Because he knows if Peter goes to those Google listings, Peter can instantly contact a business, ask for directions, make a phone call, and that’s what Skittles is looking for.
So before Eva before Ava or Peter for Skittles, before they made that last purchase, they interacted with their chosen business 12 different times 12 think about that. If your customers are interacting with you 12 different times. That’s absolutely huge. They followed and commented on the business’s social media. They checked hours and location on the business’s website. They checked Reviews on Google and they watched a video on YouTube. They even made a phone call just to double check some availability.
Ava being immunocompromised, she also sought out the COVID protocols. She wanted to make sure that the business had posted this information publicly. The last place that both Eva and Peter on Skittles behalf When went and looked for information was on their Google listing, asking for directions, they were ready to make the purchase.
They had their credit card literally in hand, they went to the Google listings. So even Skittles represent every one of your customers. 83% of customers still purchase their goods and services locally.
Customers want to be able to support you. And they have to know what you have to offer. Local SEO is driven by up to date, information, accuracy, and keywords. To help Google understand what a business is about. When Skittles wants the best squeaky toy available. He gets Peter to Google squeaky toy for Boston Terrier, or best squeaky toy for a lap dog.
Or better yet squeaky toys near me. These are the searches that Peter is doing on behalf of Skittles, because he wants to keep his little pup as entertained as possible. And if you’ve ever had a dog that is a Boston Terrier, you’ll understand why that is. So the results that appear when Peter does his search are primarily from online stores. He gets Amazon, he gets eBay, but he wants to find a local store. He did find a couple of franchises in his search result.
But that still wasn’t quite what he’s looking for. He wanted local, and so many customers do, they go out of their way to try and find local, but they don’t find what they’re looking for. Because at the local level. So often a business isn’t looking after their SEO. Eva on the other hand, she did a Google search and she was searching for a big new puffy dress, her dress is getting a little bit worn.
She wants this big, puffy, new blue dress. The difference between Peter search and Eva search is keyword. And so that’s the first step to local SEO is keywords. Understanding the keywords that your customers are looking for, and are using. A tool like Google My Business, which is your Google listing, gives you a section called insight. And insights will list the exact keywords that customers used when they viewed or clicked your Google listing.
So if you’re not sure where to find keywords for your customers, then head into your Google listing when we’re done today. And you’ll be amazed what you find inside your insights.
If you have a Google listing, just check it out by going to business.google.com your insights are literally there waiting for you the keywords that you find in your Google listing, you also want to use them on your website pages, throughout your listing and on your social channel.
Now, the interesting thing about social media is it doesn’t tend to be as keyword specific. But it’s also not as closely tied to a customer making a purchase. So the keywords that you find, while you’ll use them throughout all of your marketing material.
You also want to be able to understand what your customer journey looks like. Are your customers hanging out on social media? Are they making one of those 12 first contacts that both Peter Peter and Eva did.
Your Google listing then becomes that number one tool for local SEO, when a customer is ready to buy, I can they’ve got that credit card in hand. They go to your listing, they want to know what you’ve got, they want to find your website, they want to find your phone number, they want to contact you.
They need directions, they need to check your hours, or they’re also looking at your reviews. So each of those are so important. Customers rely on accuracy 100% for your name, address, phone number and hours. So if your website and your Google listing are not a perfect match, when we’re done, make sure you head over there and get that fixed.
So then the second takeaway of course, is Google listing and Google listings appear in search results just below the ads, or over on the right hand side, if there’s only one business that Google believes is a match, when customers are searching for your business, they need to find you in what’s called the snack pack.
And the snack pack are those top three businesses, or top three listings that appear in the search results. So you will often see three businesses and maybe even one or two add right in that little snack pack.
But when customers are ready to buy, they go to that snack pack. So that’s where you want to be, they’re looking at your location, is it up to date, customer might remember that, well, gee, I remember this business move last year, and they don’t seem to have updated their location or your hours change, or you have different protocol, during COVID.
When customers find discrepancies in your listing, it just starts to erode the trust a little bit. So you want to keep that listing 100%, up to date. And one of the ways that you can do that is simply by logging in on a weekly basis.
That’s how you have to do log in, post some content, not sure what to post, Hey, take a look at whatever you may have posted on social media, pull in those keywords that you already found in insights, and create a post right inside your Google listing.
Google is constantly giving local businesses new features. And if you remember the Google listing from a few years ago, many local business owners complain because it didn’t feel like the listings really helped local, it felt like big business had all of the favors. So Google has changed that drastically.
You want to be in your listing on a weekly basis, checking what has changed, bringing it up to date, creating a post. At the end of the day, when Google is done, they have one objective for your listing, they want you to sell more stuff.
That’s it, they just want you to sell stuff because they know when you succeed, the likelihood that they succeed is huge.
So if they’re not familiar with your business, and they’re looking for more information about you, then you need to include in your listing a description of your business, pictures of your products, photos from inside your location, your business logo, there are so many different things that you can do inside that listing, if you’d like to be in the snapback, and Who wouldn’t? Hello, hi, hallelujah like we all want to be there, your Google listing becomes that must tell using the keywords you have to tell Google what’s going on.
And as an added bonus, just a couple of months ago, Google added the ability to add a product whether your product or service based. So when you finish this session, and you go and you get logged in, you’ll see that you can add a picture of a product as well as a description. And these show up really high in your listing. So from a visual perspective, they’re awesome.
The final step in local SEO is the content on your website. Google does not read your website word for word. Google is just a big old calculator.
And when a customer does a search, Google calculates in the back end, what should show up for that particular customer. If you’re managing your listing, and your website, you’re following all of Google’s rules, the likelihood of being able to get your business in front of that customer is very high. It’s really that simple.
When Google does the calculation, it happens in a split second. So a website that appears on the first page underneath those listings. They’re not paying to be there.
They’re there because they’ve done the work. They’ve earned Google’s trust. The first thing Google looks for when they go to your website is your name, address, phone number and ours. Does that sound familiar? That’s what we just talked about with your listing.
For such simple pieces of data, name, address, phone number hours, get them in sync. If you happen to be an e-commerce business, then you absolutely have to have what’s called an SSL.
And this is again, still part of the content on your website. And SSL is a security certificate on your site. And it’s your way of telling Google that you are protecting your customers and your website. That’s all it is. It doesn’t matter what you use to build the site, you can always have an SSL certificate on your site.
Google also read something else called metadata. And metadata, or a meta tag is a piece of information that Google can, can read and can understand, to learn more about your business.
So an example that you might be familiar with is your page title. A page title, just, for example, would include your keyword. And it’s a piece of metadata. It’s your way of telling Google, hey, we’re here. Here’s what we do. So every page on your website has a title.
And it also has a description. Again, it doesn’t matter how your website has been built. All of the large page builders for websites allow you to create a page title and a page description. So every page has it. If you don’t have a page description, or you don’t have a page title, for some reason, Google will just reach into your site, pull back some information, and that’s what they’ll display to the customer.
Why would you want to leave that up to Google to figure out what to say, versus being able to keep it up to date yourself. But each the description and the title or a description of metadata, and it’s that metadata that Google plugs into their calculator to do the calculation for whether or not your website appears?
So metadata is not technical mumbo jumbo, it’s not confusing. It’s what are your customers looking for? And where can you put those keywords on your website? It’s that simple.
Most websites will include hundreds, if not 1000s, of different opportunities to create metadata. If you take a look at your website, if you’re not taking advantage of all of the titles, descriptions, any of the pieces of metadata, then that needs to be the second thing you do after you’re done today, because you’re going to finish up in your listing.
And then you want to be able to hop into your website and start to make some of these changes. So all you need to do is find those keywords, use them for your titles and descriptions, and any other metadata that you have out there.
So your Google listing and your metadata become that one on one conversation with Google. Hey, we’re here. Here’s what we do. We teach local business owners how to get found on Google, we teach them how to get to the first page of Google, hey, we’re over here we sell great quality pet food for Skittles, he’s gonna love it. Hey, we’re over here, we’ve got a nice big, blue puffy dress for Ava.
That’s all there is to it. So you’ve got your keywords, you’re going to go in, you’re going to find your keywords, then you’re going to hop into your listing, get it up to date, be sure it’s in sync with your website.
And then you’re going to take a look at the content on your website to make sure that what you want Google to know is in fact, what Google is telling your customers. So there you have it.
Skittles can now have the best squeaky toy he can imagine. Because Peter can shop local, he can find the local business that has the special squeaky toy that has the little spikes on it, and the ball lights up and Skittles is absolutely excited. He couldn’t be more excited when Peter comes home and he can instantly smell that squeaky toy inside the bag.
Ava on the other hand, can now stock up on big blue puffy dresses that she can buy locally. And more importantly, she’s able to feel safe making that purchase. It is so important to her being immunocompromised that she knows that when she goes someplace she can trust that that business has her best interests at heart. So there you have it.
That is your ultimate guide to local SEO and getting found If you are a local business owner, and you’ve ever been frustrated with Google, not showing the right content, not seeming to understand who you are, what you do, and you’ve wondered, how in the heck do I get my business to that first page of Google? Here is your fix.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, then start with your listing. Head into your listing when we’re done with today’s episode, and make all of the changes bring it right back up to date, because it leads most quickly to new customers who have a credit card in hand.
If you’re in it for the long game, make those minimize those swipes in our dating app. Right. That’s what SEO is going to help with.
So from a long term perspective, yes, it does take time, but just like having a baby. That doesn’t seem to stop anyone. That’s all I have for you today, folks. Thanks for tuning in. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl.
Remember, you work hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.
Episode #80 Your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO
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Welcome to Your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO, a special episode of the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs and a #GrowLocal episode.
Tune in to meet our customers, Skittles and Eva, who teach us about their journey to purchase from search to shopping.
Skittles, a discerning Boston Terrier, wants his pet parent to shop local and select convenience. While Eva, a particular customer who is comfortable with tech and research, prefers to shop local but needs to find competitively priced products.
Learn how Local SEO influences their purchase decisions and how local businesses can find more ready-to-buy customers, like Skittles and Eva.
If you are a local business owner and would like to learn more, visit https://getfound.live