With so many sites competing for attention on Google, focusing on your local SEO strategy can be a great way to pull forward in SERP rankings where it really matters. That’s because your pool of competition is much smaller at a local level (think statewide or smaller) than on a national scale. Target interested audiences in your area and drive qualified leads to your site with these six simple ways to dominate local SEO.
Organic SEO vs. Local SEO
The simple difference between organic SEO and local SEO is that the latter is determined by geographic location.
When someone types a query into Google, the search engine will make a judgment as to what the searcher’s intent is. If they type in a keyword such as “financial advisor” and a location, “Miami, Fl” for example, Google will assume the user is interested in finding a financial advisor located in Miami. That’s where local SEO comes in. Without the inclusion of a location, Google may assume the user is only interested in generic information on financial advisors, meaning it will use organic SEO to provide and rank results instead.
Did You Know…
46% of all searches on Google are local.
Translation: If you’re not optimizing for local SEO, you be meeting only 54% of your website’s SEO potential!
Local SEO 3 Pack
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, landing in Google’s Local SEO 3 pack for relevant searches should be one of your top content marketing priorities. So what, exactly, is Google’s Local SEO 3 pack?
The local 3 pack consists of three business locations along with their NAP (name, address, phone number) information and a pinned location on Google Maps. The three businesses that appear here have been selected by Google based on proximity and relevance. In order to boost your chances of landing in a coveted 3-pack position, follow the tips below designed to amp up your local SEO efforts.
1. Title & Meta Descriptions Matter
Certain components of your website serve as SEO heavyweights. These include your title and meta descriptions. But since neither is prominently displayed on the page, they can often be overlooked and underappreciated. To boost your local SEO strategy, create a title and meta description that highlight the geographic region you’re looking to target.
The title tag and meta description appear together as your website’s listing in the SERP (search engine results page). They should offer a concise yet authentic representation of your firm. Think of them as your online billboard, as these are often how a searcher will decide whether or not to click on the listing and enter your site.
2. Online Directories
You should make it as easy as possible for Google to find the correct NAP data for your business. This is done by listing your business correctly and consistently across multiple online directories. And to have the best chance of landing in Google’s 3 Pack, you need to ensure your company’s contact information is the same across every platform.
Discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number or a wrong phone number can cause confusion for Google’s bots as they determine which is the best information for your business. If Google isn’t sure, incorrect information may be displayed or, even worse, your business may not be shown at all.
For financial advisors, we recommend using online listing sites including Brightscope, Wealthminder, Yellow Pages, Zoe, Yelp and Mantra.
3. Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing is much easier than it sounds – meaning this is a quick way for you to get ahead of the competition. Once you’ve claimed a business as your own, putting some effort into filling in the gaps and beefing up its content can yield impressive results from Google.
Here’s a quick checklist you can follow to give Google everything it needs to rank your listing higher:
- NAP data
- Business Hours
- Website URL
- Pictures of your staff or office (ideally 6 or more)
- Services Offered
Our Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer Samantha Russell offers more insight into developing your Google My Business profile in this Mythbusters Monday video:
4. Link Building
In a 2017 survey, Moz found that “link signals” are the most important factor for ranking local organic search results. This includes both the number of inbound links your site is receiving and the domain quality of the sites they’re coming from. That means if you’re not focusing on building quality links, your other local SEO efforts may not take you far.
Inbound links, or links leading to your site from third-party sites, can take some work to obtain. But as Moz proved in their study, it can be well worth the effort. To begin building links, you can connect with other advisors or bloggers with an active online presence. Offer to do a guest post or other service in exchange for links. You should also try to connect with reputable organizations or media publications, as these can often have a higher domain authority, making their inbound links more powerful.
And as we stated previously, getting your business listed in online directories can not only help Google determine your business information, but it can boost your inbound linkage as well.
5. Online Reviews
It’s no secret that even the mention of online reviews can turn off some advisors. That’s because this somewhat controversial practice has been previously condemned by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In recent years, however, the SEC has relaxed the rules and allowed financial advisors to cultivate reviews (with some strict stipulations).
According to the SEC, financial advisors may allow reviews if:
- They have no control over the content of the review
- The reviewer is not compensated in any way
- All reviews (whether positive or negative) are published
- Services aren’t promoted on the pages where the reviews appear (ex. testimonials)
With so many guidelines in place, advisors can quickly feel discouraged. However, Google is the perfect place to stay compliant and gain valuable reviews. If a client writes and publishes a review on Google, the client is the publisher and Google (NOT you) is the owner and administrator of the means of publication. As long as you, the advisor, do not compensate a reviewer or author any postings (including reviews OR responses), you’re not in violation of the testimonial rule.
Just remember: responding to, editing or suppressing a review is a violation of this rule.
While there are many different online review sites (Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, etc.), Google reviews is what we recommend focusing your time and effort on because it will improve your site’s local SEO.
63.6% of reviews read online are Google reviews.
6. Publish New Content Regularly
Google values fresh, new content. One of the best ways for you to ensure you’re getting that on your site is to publish new content regularly. Blogging on your website can accomplish two main things when it comes to SEO. It tells Google and visitors that your website is actively maintained, and it attracts inbound links (#4 on our list!). Plus, blogging is a great way to target and capture relevant keywords your audience may be searching for.
The key to publishing new content is to maintain consistency. To do this, we recommend financial advisors try posting at minimum two times per month. While posting more is always encouraged (say once or twice a week), remember that you don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Local SEO For Financial Advisors
Local SEO is an effective way for small businesses such as yours to connect with their local market. Using the tips above, you can get ahead of the game by ensuring your website, meta information and Google My Business profile are all working to optimize your SEO efforts.