Just about everyone has at one time or another used Google to search.
More and more visitors use Google to find and research local businesses -- not just brand names. Google has become an online version of the yellow book that were common place 10 to 20 years ago. So if you're a local business then you need to be seen.
Just showing up in Google isn't enough. Your business needs to show up on the 1st page where Google shows paid ads and 10 businesses that are currently ranking. If you rank for your service (or product) on the first page then there's a very good chance you'll get HOT leads that are looking for your service.
These aren't visitors who might be interested. These are visitors that need your services now.
Welcome to the world of Local SEO. The goal of a Local SEO expert is plain and simple: To get your business to the first page and preferably within the Map Pack (the first 3 positions).
There are a lot of guides available but really it boils down to a few main points:
You can setup a new listing at http://www.google.com/business. It's free and might require mail verification to confirm your business.
Make sure the NAP (Name, Address, Phone) is accurate. You want to consistently use the same NAP throughout your entire SEO process.
If you have special events, news, offers, products then you can post those under "Posts". Try to get into the habit of keeping this information fresh and updated so that Google and visitors know what specials there are, new services, changes in the industry that can affect them. This will really help you stand out.
Make sure to sprinkle in your SEO keyword phrases such as "Houston SEO Expert" or "AC Repair in Houston, TX". In step 2 I'll discuss how to find out which keyword phrases you can use.
Fill out the "Info" page of your GMB with as much information as you can.
Setup a process where you can send customers a link to your reviews page so that they can post reviews about your business. I know some businesses might be hesitant but anything you can do to stand out from your competitors will help your business and maybe even your rankings.
For "Photos" show pictures of products, services so that this can help visitors see that you are a real business.
For "Website" -- if your business doesn't have a website, then Google allows them to use their .business.site to show information about your website. You can use this temporarily but I would recommend something custom made if your budget allows.
There are a host of keyword research tools available which have more data but for time being you can use a free one at https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/
It's easy to use. Just type in a service or product that you provide along with city.
An example would be Houston Plastic Surgeon. You'll notice the keyword tool gives several data points:
The chart below the data will show the amount of search volume over time. So for this phrase it looks like the volume has been increasing.
The other tool on the left hand side of this page is "Keyword Ideas". This is great if you're not sure what other phrases customers might be using to find your services.
On the right hand side you'll even see the websites that are ranking and a rough idea of how much traffic they might be getting from this keyword search.
Now that you've made a list of keyword phrases it's time to start optimizing your website. You'll need your webmaster or an SEO expert to help with on-page optimization because it can get a little bit technical. Just a hint of some of the phrases they might throw your way: H1 tag, title, sitemap, page load speed, mobile friendly, responsive, etc...
The point I want to make is that the content that's on your website should match what the visitor is searching for. So if you're a surgeon then make sure to include pros, cons, different options, recovery times and other things that potential customers will want to know.
You want to establish yourself as an expert that can be trusted. If you have any awards, interviewed in a magazine then mention it on the website.
I mentioned in the beginning that Google is the sort of like the Yellow Book of the old days. Google is the biggest but there are lots of other businesses that provide somewhat similar service but they're not search engines. They're local directories, some even specialize in specific niche.
A great example is Yelp or HomeAdvisor. Yelp is a general business directory that has tons of local businesses and reviews for those business. HomeAdvisor is a directory with a niche specific to home contractors.
Having your business listed in these directories means it'll show your NAP (Name, Address, Phone). This will further help Google cement that you're a real business within this city. Each additional citation just keeps adding to this and ultimately help you stand out more then your competitors.
Here is a list of citations based on City - https://moz.com/learn/seo/citations-by-city
Here is a list of citations based on Category - https://moz.com/learn/seo/citations-by-category
There are dozens and dozens of national directories so it helps to get listed in those too.
When another website sends a link to your website then to Google it shows that your website is relevant so that's why they linked to you. But it's not just a matter of more links, its a question of the quality of those links. You can have 100's of links from sub par websites while one link from a great, niche specific website can increase your relevance score and your rankings.
There are a host of link building strategies from Press Releases, Blogger Outreach, Guest Posting to name just a few.
There are a lot of tools and services that offer daily monitoring of where you rank. You can also check your Google.com/Webmaster account but it's not as robust as other tools.
Knowledge is power so keep tracking and improving.
I've helped ac repair companies, law firms, surgeons, apartment owners, dog trainers and other businesses rank high locally. So trust me when I say don't expect immediate results, be patient.
If you have any questions please message me.
My name is Sameep Shah and I run WebsiteDesignHouston.net. I'm a Web Design and SEO Expert in Houston where I help clients get to the first page so that they can generate a steady stream of leads and sales.