One issue many multi-office / multi-service related companies face when it comes down to local SEO is the little guy. The little guy who grew up in a small town, started his / her business in that small town, listens to John Cougar Mellencamp and is killing it in the organic SEO rankings within his or her small town. Now, multiply the little guy by a few, who also grew up in that small town and started a business and are also at the top of the Google searches for their small town and their industry.
This scenario is frustrating to larger multi-service area companies who are looking to get into the hyper-local scene. They pay an SEO or digital marketing company and that company makes some improvements on a broader scale, but they are really struggling to infiltrate the local SEO scene. So, why is it, if the larger company is ‘larger’ than the little guy that the little guy is still winning? Because to Google, the size of your company doesn’t matter.
A few myths to discuss first:
David & Goliath.
MYTH: Google ranks the bigger companies before they rank the smaller ones.
TRUTH: NOPE. Google doesn’t care how big your company is, so if the service guy with three trucks is outranking you and your company has 2,000 trucks, it’s probably because the smaller company is more relevant to the searcher’s needs AND focused on ONE geographical location.
Call A Friend At Google.
MYTH: I’ll just call a Google rep and get my SEO up a few notches.
TRUTH: They don’t exist. They aren’t there to help you outrank someone. They can help with the PAID portion of search OR with your Google Local listing, but they aren’t interested in helping you outrank the little guy. Their non-public algorithm has never been disclosed, so they wouldn’t provide anyone trying to rank well in Google with details of the ranking factors they need to adjust without giving it to everyone, and that’s going to make Google obsolete.
MYTH: There is a secret sauce.
TRUTH: There is no secret sauce here. SEO is about creating a great experience for website visitors. It’s about giving your prospects what they are looking for. It’s about being relevant to the needs of your target audience. It’s not about pushing buttons, and it never happens overnight.
So, what is Google looking for when it ranks a website in a hyper-local area?
Google is, for obvious reasons obsessed with relevance. Does your website talk about your service area? Does your website / business address the service that prospects are looking for? Do all of the links pointing to your website make sense and align you with the products / services that your website is offering?
Example: You’re trying to rank under Apopka Widgets, but no where on your website does it even allude to Apopka, let alone Apopka Widgets. If your website doesn’t tell the world that you sell widgets in Apopka, Google would never ranking it under that term because simply put, there is no relevance that Google can see on your website.
Yes, directories have an impact on local search, and yes, directories can present problems again with multi-service areas. Sometimes there isn’t a dedicated office in that service area that can validate the location, sometimes directories only allow for one main office. There are many variables, BUT it’s important that directories are a part of the equation as the major search engines do rely partially on SOME of the directories out there.
A citation is simply a mention of your company name across the web, it can be surrounded by supporting content that may be location specific, Acme Widget Company, Apopka. Citations can be earned by utilizing social media channels and creating shareable content that cites your company name and target location.
4.) Location, Location, Location.
If your main Google verified location is in a larger city, i.e., Orlando and you’re trying to rank in a suburb, like Winter Springs, you will probably struggle to rank under the Google local listings within Winter Springs. Why? Because there are already plenty of other businesses that do what you do with their office located IN Winter Springs.
How long has your business web domain been around the block? The older that your domain name is (provided you haven’t been busted for doing some shady, blackhat SEO stuff on that domain) the more likely that Google trusts your domain and therefore, will allow your site to rank better than a website that just launched a few months ago. Odds are there are already more links pointing to your site, the site is well established, it has a history of providing useful, great content, etc.
This is where the gold is. Google loves content. It loves food. Content is food. The multi / service location websites would do good to create RELEVANT content for the particular community that they are trying to rank in. Example: Create some useful information for the suburb city you are looking to get found in and keep it up. Don’t always simply push products / services, but serve as a resource for that particular city. Talk to your demographic and give them what they are looking for, it shouldn’t always be about you and how wonderful your services are.
- Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors.
- Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links than others.
- Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.
- Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
- Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to have a positive ROI.
7.) Small, but important stuff.
Google is also very interested in making certain that your website responds accordingly to each device out there. So, if your website is NOT mobile responsive, Google could be dinging you in the mobile search results. Also, Google tends to favor websites with security certificates as they are very interested in keeping all of their users safe. These are not ALWAYS deal breakers, but over time, they could be.
So, to summarize, the little guy may be kicking your butt because of a lack of content focus. If you serve the major city (Orlando), and you know that the bulk of your clientele, who are living in the suburbs are going to Google Orlando Widgets as opposed to Winter Springs Widgets, then you should focus on the larger search phrase. IF you need to dominate each smaller suburb, then you’ll need to create a website content strategy that will address and enrich the people who live in that suburb in order to start making a dent in the rankings.