Got a local business? Time to optimise your presence online!

Ok, so you're heading to a local tourist town and you want to find the best place to eat - what's the first thing you do? "Google it", I heard you say? Yep - you got it! Of course, you Google it.

And what do you see once you've Googled it? A handful of business that rise to the top. Now, these business may not have the best food or the best atmosphere in town - but one thing they do have in common is that they have taken the best steps to ensure that their business is ranked highest in search engines like Google.

So, what’s a local business to do? You DEFINITELY have the best croissants in Beechworth, but your business doesn't even appear on the first page of Google! Well, that means it's time to start taking your local presence management a little more seriously! Today, I want to share with you four simple, yet easy to action optimisations that will help your business to get higher search results online, and help you get seen more!

1) Maintain your Google My Business Listing

The way your business appears on your Google My Business (GMB) listing can really make or break your searchability online. Optimising this listing will help you rank higher on Google, drive greater traffic to your website and/or store and make your business seem more authoritative. If you haven't yet created a GMB listing for your business, Google may have already done it for you! A great way to check if your business has one of these listings is to just Google your business name (come on, no guilty self-Googling here - this is in the name of optimisation!)

Your GMB listing should look a little something like the below:

The way to get the most out of your GMB listing (whether you need to claim an existing one, or create one from scratch) is to ensure that it contains as much information as possible. Upload images, add your website, add an address, your contact details and prompt customers to leave reviews. After you've updated your listing, you'll need to verify it with Google through a code verification process. This may take a little while, but trust us, it will be worth the wait, as after you verify your listing, Google instantly starts ranking you higher.

The only downside to a Google My Business listing is the fact that you have to have a standard street address to be verified on the search engine.

2) Update your website with a 'LOCATION' page

It seems silly, but actually writing your address or the areas you service on your website will help you increase local searches for your business. Adding keywords such as the town you are located in on your business website helps Google to recognise that your business actually does reside in that region. As such, once they see you mention 'Wangaratta' on your website, they'll be able to say with authority that you are in that area.

3) Prompt local reviews

The power of the review really is incredible. Not only does it help to create authority for your business with search engines like Google, but it also helps show potential customers that you are trusted by previous clients! According to a recent survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and seven out of 10 customers will leave a review for a business if asked by the business. That last stat is big - because it means that your existing client base are VERY likely to leave a review for you, particularly if there is some incentive involved.

As a way to prompt reviews with one of my clients, we set up a review-rewards program, in where if a customer left a review on the client's Facebook page or Google My Business listing, they would be entitled to 10% off on their next job. The aim of this exercise is not to bribe customers, but ensure that you're capitalising on their business experiences with you!

So, if you haven't already, have a think about how you could create a referral or rewards program for your existing customers to prompt reviews from them. In the long run, it'll help you gain eyes to your brand, and ultimately, more business opportunities.

4) Embed a Google Map on Your Website

As a local business, you most likely have a physical business address. A great way to say "Hey Google, I love you! Rank me higher!" is to embed a Google Map onto your website. Embedding a Google Map is just another way to telling Google that your business is located where your listings says it is.

To embed a Google Map on your website, search for your business name in Google Maps. Click “Share or Embed Map” as shown in the photo below. And then, it's simple as copying and pasting the link on your business’s contact page!

There you have it - sounds easy, right? It's because it is! Optimising your business' presence online doesn't have to be scary - in fact (if you're a bit of a tech nerd like me), it can be pretty damn fun!

 So, I encourage you to go forth and have a crack at making your business as Google friendly as it can be!

Lauren Begley