Have you ever done a Google search that resulted in a big number? For example, let’s say you entered “home contractors near me.” Let’s also say that Google indicated that there are 276,000,000 results for that inquiry.
You know at first glance who ranks at the top of the search because you can see the top 10 search results for “home contractors near me.” But have you ever wondered who is at the very bottom of the search? Or even right smack in the middle?
Here’s the thing: If you don’t know what elements help your website rank in the first 10 or even first 20 results of a Google search, your site may well be one of those that ends up on the bottom end of a Google search. This spells disaster for small, local businesses. After all, if your business doesn’t appear among the top search results, then would-be customers don’t know you exist. If they don’t know you exist, you have no customers and, therefore, no money.
By now, you’re probably rightfully wondering what you need to do to maintain a presence on Google, a high-ranking presence on Google more specifically. Fortunately, that’s what this post aims to teach you: how to improve your Google presence.
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
- Recent search trends
- The makeup of a Google search
- Local marketing tactics to help you rank
Let’s get going.
Understanding Recent Search Trends
To a certain extent, you could describe recent trends in Google searches as “all about me,” but to the nth degree. Here’s what we mean by that.
Recent information about search statistics suggests that convenience and personalization play a big role in how people search the web today and, more importantly, the kind of information they get in their search results.
The frequency of the search term “near me” has risen by 40% in the last year or so. That means that more web searchers spend their time looking for goods and services in their area than they ever have before. The closer, the better.
The Role of Reviews and Business Listings
Related to the “near me” phenomenon is the importance of local business reviews on sites like Yelp and tools like Google local business listings. These tools, along with Google Ads, help search engines determine if your company’s website fits someone’s “near me” criteria. The more times your site fits this criteria, the better chance you have at gaining new customers.
All Google searches have some elements in common regardless of who’s searching (or nearly so). However, it is safe to say that personalization determines what you see in a search result. It also determines what a potential customer could see, and that customer’s results might be vastly different than yours, even if they live in exactly the same area that you do and use exactly the same keywords, due to personalization.
What Personalization Looks Like
Google’s algorithm personalizes searches for each searcher. This isn’t to say that if you typed in “DIY home improvement near me,” you won’t get a listing of home repair stores in your general vicinity. You will. So will your neighbor and other people in your town.
However, if you or your wife uses Pinterest a lot, you may also get results from Pinterest. You might additionally get articles about “DIY on a budget” because someone in your family often looks up posts about saving money. If you have a favorite home improvement blog that you read, that blog may also end up among your top search results as well.
However, if your neighbor across the street did the same search using the same keyword phrases, chances are good that many of the results in your neighbor’s search will be different than yours because Google will personalize their searches based on their search history and browser data.
Additionally, if you do the same search on your smartphone, you’re likely to get completely different results for a couple of reasons. First, you’re the person who uses your phone primarily, so the influence of your spouse’s searches disappears. Second, some local businesses have better equipped their websites to be mobile-friendly. This means that their business’ site may rank higher on the web search than their competitors’ because they’ve optimized their site specifically for mobile.
Finally, voice search may be the proverbial biggest thing since sliced bread on the search landscape. The use of voice searches has increased by 50% at least, and as people get more comfortable with this technology, that number is bound to rise even more.
To summarize, here are some of the most important trends you need to be aware of in the next year or so:
- ”Near me” searches have increased substantially.
- Online reviews and business listings help your site rank among “near me” searches.
- Personalization is growing in importance.
- The type of device being used for the search determines the outcome.
- Voice search has grown and will continue to do so.
The Makeup of a Google Search
You can use your knowledge of recent trends to help your company’s website rank better in a Google search. However, to maximize the results you get, it’s important that you understand the anatomy of a Google search and how search trends are related.
Basically, when your customers perform a search, they’re likely going to see one or more of the following in their search results:
- A snippet at the top of the page
- The title of a website/webpage
- The page’s URL
- Internal site links
- Related searches
In this list, the snippet is the greatest variable for you. It is Google that determines if something on your site becomes a snippet at the top of the page. To the extent that you have control over the type of content that goes on your site, you may have some control over whether Google chooses your site to use as the snippet in the search results.
It will boil down to how relevant your content is in relation to the search inquiry. If it’s relevant, then Google may use information on your site to answer a query, such as “Where can I find a home contractor near me?” or “Which plumbers make emergency calls in [town] after 10 p.m.?”
The idea behind the snippet is to provide searchers with an at-a-glance look at the most relevant answer to the inquiry. The information on the snippet also prevents users from having to open up a website to find the answer they’re looking for.
Having your site featured in the snippet means that you’re in position zero. As such, your site stands to gain a lot of traffic just because it’s in this position. People may not have to click on your site, but they probably will if the information in the snippet positions you as an expert.
However, lots of website owners want their site to be in this position, so competition is tough. You have a better chance of landing there if you update your content often and remain hyper-relevant in your topic.
You also have little control over related searches. However, given that related searches are long-tail keyword phrases that are associated with the original search, you do have some control over your site’s ranking. If you incorporate some of these related keyword phrases into the content on your site, then it will also appear among the search results when someone uses those keywords in their searches.
The rest of the elements are within your control. The title, the URL and the internal links constitute the on-page components you should pay attention to when you’re creating content. Ideally, your titles, URLs and internal site links contain relevant keyword phrases, including some that are voice search- and mobile-friendly.
Local Marketing Tactics to Help You Rank
By now, you should understand that how well your site ranks plays a huge role in how successful your business will be, particularly in relation to local searches. Fortunately, you have a number of effective tools at your disposal to ensure your business’ success. The following are what we recommend based on the latest trends, as well as on the anatomy of a Google search.
Local Voice Searches
Voice searches done by Google Assistant, Siri or some other similar technology have a few things in common.
- They’re typically phrases, like “Hey Google: Where can I find a plumber near me?”
- They often include a geographic element, such as “near me” or a reference to the city or state they’re being conducted in.
- They don’t follow the traditional format, which would be something like “plumbers in any town, USA.”
While it’s still okay for you to create content that includes more traditional long-tail keyword phrases, you also want to include wording that is conversational, like No. 1 on the list above. Essentially, you need to think about how people type an inquiry into a search engine versus how they would speak it into their phone or to their home’s voice assistant.
You’ll still be writing great SEO content. It’s just that you may need to expand your thinking about what search engine optimization encompasses nowadays to include voice search phrasing.
Google My Business Service Area
This is a Google function you should take advantage of. On the Google My Business platform and app, there is an option for you to update your business listing on Google to include the service areas you work in. This feature allows you to add zip codes, cities or towns and other geographical location information.
By doing this, you’ll increase the likelihood that your business will show up in a search that includes phrases like “near me” or “in [insert name of hometown].”
Google Ads can boost your chances of having your business come up at the top of local search results. While this is always important, it can become even more important if you tend to be in a competitive local niche, like contracting or plumbing.
Here’s how to use Google Ads to optimize your search results: Utilize Google’s Local Service ads. These ads cater to specific industries, like plumbers, HVAC contractors, locksmiths and more. They allow you to include information such as reviews and ratings, your business hours, phone numbers and more.
The ads also require the searcher to be very specific in their inquiry. For example, if the potential customer clicks on a local listing for a plumber, Google prompts the customer to confirm the service area and the type of service they’re looking for. If your company is a good fit, then that customer will be matched to you.
This basically means that more of the potential customers who find your ad will be prequalified. This, in turn, means you have a better chance of securing their business.
Improving your presence on Google requires you to approach your SEO in a methodical, hyper-local way. It also requires you to pay attention to the most current trends, which can include voice searches, “near me” searches, reviews on sites like Yelp and local Google Ads.
If your website isn’t quite ranking where you want it to, why not request a demo of the Surefire Local Marketing Platform? We can help you align your site with current trends to maximize your results in local web searches.