The Search Engine Squeeze!

Local SEO SEO

Feeling left out lately?
You’re not alone. Your competition for placement on the first page of search results is getting stiffer. Your direct competitors are getting better at SEO. The local directories like BBB, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Home Advisor are gaining more prominence. Ad space is increasing for both Adwords and now even in the Google MAPS Local listings.
It’s not going to get any easier! Here’s what you need to be doing.

Google your business products and services

First, start paying attention! Google your products and service. I know that goes without saying. My clients drive themselves crazy sometimes. But beyond the fact that you may not be showing up in those searches and you have no more hair left to pull out, pay attention to who IS showing up in those searches. Relative to the first page of search results:

1.       Create a list of your competitors who are showing up organically

2.       Create a list of the directory sites who are showing up organically

3.       Create a list of the local business who are showing up in maps (if MAPS is there on the search).

Understanding your direct organic competition

For each of your competitors that you listed, go to each of their sites and do this:

1.       Browse through the navigation of each of their sites and while on each page, hover over the tab in the browser and write down the text that shows up in the title. Do this for EVERY page in the navigation of every direct competitor site you found on the search for your products and services.

This might help: http://tools.buzzstream.com/meta-tag-extractor

I did this exercise for “plumbers in cincinnati”. There was only a single plumber in the organic listings on the first page! I bookmarked his site because it was so well optimized!

Understand your Google MAPS Local Competition

This gets a little trickier. Google knows your location while you’re doing this search and may prioritize the local list according to your location. That’s OK if you’re at your office doing this search. In any case, my bet is you’re going to know who your competition is. What you’re trying to find out is why they’re showing up and you’re not. The easiest way to discover your weaknesses is go straight to Google!

1.       For each of your competitors, Google their website domain. (leave off the http://www and only Google the domain itself).

a.       Ignore any result that sends you to their website.

b.       Write down any result that takes you to a third-party website – it’s probably some sort of directory. Go at least 5 pages deep for this exercise.

Setting up your competitive strategy

With these two exercises, you can now establish a pretty powerful strategy for competing on the first page. You’ve got a list of pages / page titles that should give you some idea of what your website pages should include. Those titles are keyword rich as well. You’ll also have a list of directories where you need to include your own business information.

In almost every case, you’ll find the following is true:

1.       Your content is not as deep as your competition's

2.       Your content is not well written

3.       Your pages are too general

a.       For example – instead of listing all your services on a single page, have a page for each of your products or services

4.       Your titles, keywords and descriptions are lazy or non-existent. In this case, Google will guess and if you make Google work for it, guess what happens?

5.       You need to be more focused about listing your business in local directories (and social media)

Address each of these issues!

If you implement this strategy, this exercise puts you at par with the best in your field. As an SEO service, I’d like to tell you there’s more magic to it than this but there really isn’t! You may have been told that link building is the key. That may be true for ranking on a national scale, but for small local businesses, the citations and directories will give you the links you need.

You must at least do this to compete. This may NOT place you above your competition but it will get you in the game. It should move you up the ranks and possibly even on the first page of Google Search results.