One thing that remains constant in local marketing is the importance of having a website.
You might be thinking “I have a Google My Business profile and Facebook account — why worry about maintaining a whole website?” But remember, in such cases, you are still at the mercy of another company’s policies and decisions. For example, what happens if Google decides to discontinue GMB (à la Google+, Google Hangouts, Google Music, etc …) or turn it into a pay-to-play service?
Instead of depending entirely on a third-party profile, you want to have your own corner of the internet. A digital space that you fully control. A centralized location you can lead prospects to no matter where they first encounter your brand online.
But simply having a website isn’t enough. Rather, you need to ensure it is optimized for local search and provides a great user experience to win new customers.
In this blog, we’re sharing eight ways you can improve your website for local SEO and lead generation.
How to Improve Your Small Business Website
You want your website to have straightforward navigation to guide visitors where they want to go. If people can’t quickly find the parts of your site they’re most interested in, they will leave. The result is that your bounce rate will increase, which can negatively impact your search rankings. A high bounce rate signals to search engines that people aren’t finding what they need, and therefore they shouldn’t direct traffic to your site.
Make sure your menu is above the fold (i.e. visible without scrolling down) and located in the same spot on each page so that it’s easy to find. Also, make sure menu links have clear, simple titles so people know exactly what type of information they’ll find on a specific page. We highly recommend you include a search feature on your website as well. It is particularly useful for people visiting your site on a mobile device, where it can be difficult to use menus and click on links.
Another usability factor to think about is your lead capture forms. A poorly designed form can ruin someone’s experience and cause them to abandon your site. To start, don’t make your forms overly complicated. Ask only for information you actually need to serve your customers (and be clear about why you need said information). If you have forms on your site with more than a handful of questions (for instance, you’re a health provider or a lawyer), use visual cues like a completion status bar to help users keep track of where they are. Also, test putting forms on different places around your site — such as on the right side of your home page, or at the end of your service description page. The goal is to make it easy to find, fill out, and submit.
In addition to making it easy for people to navigate your site, you want to make it easy for search engines to index, or “crawl” your site. When Google performs a search, they are trying to find the most relevant results possible to the searcher’s query. They do this by building massive data banks containing summaries, or indexes, of every website they find. Having a proper sitemap helps make your website more discoverable by search engines. It is a file where you provide information about the pages and content on your site and how everything links together. All this helps Google more easily understand your site, what it’s about, how it’s structured, how recently it’s been updated, etc, so they know when it is relevant for a search.
To rank well in local search, your website has to be mobile-friendly. In fact, Google now penalizes websites that are not mobile-responsive.
A mobile-responsive design means your page layout will display correctly on different screen sizes and orientations (vertical vs horizontal). Fonts also need to automatically adjust to maintain readability and images/videos need to scale up or down as appropriate. You also need to ensure that your links can be triggered by finger taps and mouse clicks alike.
If you want to dive more into mobile-first design, you can enroll in our free online workshop “How to Build a Lead Generating Website”
Another critical website performance factor is page loading speed. This is the length of time it takes for some to see content after they’ve landed on a page. The longer it takes your small business website to load, the more it will cost you in lost site traffic. Multiple studies have shown that a page load time of more than a couple of seconds can increase bounce rates dramatically. Conversely, faster page load speed helps amplify user engagement, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
You can use the free Pagespeed Insights or Gtmetrix tools to get an idea of how your website is performing.
One of the most important things you can do to improve page load speed is to optimize your visuals. Large, high-quality image/video files are the largest contributors to slow load times. Make sure to properly size things to fit your page template recommendations and to compress the files. Also use the correct formats (JPGs or WEBPs when image quality is of high priority, PNG for logos, icons, and other illustrations).
As a small business owner, you need to be using local business schema in your website. Local business schema is a type of structured data markup that makes it easier for search engines to identify your business type, where you operate, your services, etc. You can think of it as a way to speak to search engines in their own language. Having structured data on your site is a major ranking factor for local SEO. In fact, it is almost impossible to appear in Google’s “Local Pack” without it. Depending on your business, you might also want to include a product schema, an article & blog schema, and a review schema. Implementing these types of markups can help your website be featured in Google’s “rich results” and dramatically increase your site discoverability. You can use Google’s Rich Results Test tool to determine what, if any, data schemas are being used by your website.
To rank well in local search and successfully convert visitors into leads, your audience needs to value your website content. This means it must be relevant, informative, and engaging. So, use social listening tools and do keyword and search intent research on your target audience. This will help you determine the questions and pain points they have which you can address with your content. For example, track what sorts of questions come up during customer service calls and include answers in a FAQ section on your small business website.
Create separate pages for each product, service, or location (and use the appropriate structured data schema). This will help tell readers and search engines alike where you operate and what you do. To further localize your site, include the city name in the page title tag and incorporate relevant location terms throughout the page text. Also, make sure to periodically update your site copy. This keeps things fresh for repeat visitors and signals to search engines that your site is being actively managed.
More than anything, remember that you are creating content for your audience, not yourself. Keep things short and easy to read using a conversational writing style. The general rule is that you want to write at the lowest reading level that won’t insult your audience’s intelligence. It’s OK to use more technical language, as this can help filter out people who aren’t part of your target audience. However, make sure to clearly define industry terms/acronyms so that everyone is on the same page.
In addition to a spell checker, consider using an online writing tool, such as Grammarly to proofread your content for grammatical errors and readability.
In addition to creating quality written content, you also want to pay attention to your website’s visual appeal. Namely, you want to ensure that your site’s visual design is aligned with your branding. That it uses colors, fonts, and graphics that are consistent with your branding across social media, signage, vehicle decals, etc.
Optimize Your Website With the Surefire Local Marketing Platform
Surefire Local offers a powerful marketing platform designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. With our integrated, AI-powered solutions, you can easily implement these eight recommendations to further improve your small business website and get more leads! Contact us today to schedule your free demo!