As a small business, it’s important to know and understand how to stay one step ahead of your competition in 2017. The growth of your business is key to your continued success, and making sure that your company’s website is up to snuff when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) is an important component to that growth. What is SEO? It is a strategy made up of technical techniques and marketing tactics meant to increase the number of visitors to a website by allowing the website to rank higher within the search results of a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Taking advantage of SEO is cost effective and benefits your business in more than one way:

  • It will increase the traffic to your website.
  • It helps to make your website stand out against competitors.
  • It can give your brand higher credibility to potential customers because people trust their search engines.

In today’s day and age, your potential customers are going to Google for everything from ideas to answers, and you want to be a top hit in their search. That means you need to be doing the legwork and keeping up with local SEO trends, especially in the face of competition from other local businesses. Here are a few ways to help you beat your competitors in local SEO in 2017.

  • Make sure your business is on Google Maps- This goes hand in hand with making sure your address and phone number are correct. Once a potential customer finds your address, they’re going to look up where you’re located, specifically in relation to what is convenient to them. If your business doesn’t show up at all, they’re going to move on to a competitor who does.
  • Create a distinct product/service page for each product or service you offer- This helps in two ways, first it gives potential business more detail as to what you do and it gives them the opportunity to learn why your business is different or better from your competitors. Second, this gives you the opportunity to utilize more keywords, especially keywords that are more specific (as opposed to the broader keywords used just to bring attention to your website). The more top-ranking keywords that are utilized on your website, the higher your chances of a visitor.
  • Create unique and engaging content for your website- If you aren’t passionate about your business, your customers certainly aren’t going to be, so make sure that passion shows in your content. Even if you feel like the content is cut and dry, your potential customers are using that information in their research and readability is key. If content is too complicated or too bland, you aren’t going to stick out among your competition.
  • Claim and update your Google My Business listing- It is important that you use every digital tool at your disposal, and Google My Business can be a very useful tool in bringing visitors to your website. The process isn’t difficult or expensive, but from an SEO standpoint every little bit helps. Every visitor your website gets came from somewhere, whether it be word of mouth, advertisement, or internet search, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of the resources that are already in place?
  • Make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data matches across all directories- This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many places your business shows up, and how frustrating it can be for potential customers to be given the wrong phone number or address. Even if it isn’t your fault, a frustrated potential customer will go elsewhere in the face of wasting their time. If you do the legwork on the front end, you’ll benefit from it long after you’ve invested that time.
  • Ask for reviews on your customer’s preferred review platform- Reviews can make or break your business, so make sure you’re encouraging your customers to leave you reviews across every platform they use. The first thing most potential customers do after finding your services is look up the experiences other people have had with you, and the only thing worse than bad reviews is no reviews at all. At least bad reviews give some insight, a lack of reviews makes you a total gamble.
  • When possible, add pictures, video and 360 video to your listings- They don’t call it the digital age for nothing. Between social media and online shopping, people have become accustomed to seeing their searches, not just reading them. That means in order to be most successful, it’s best to have a visual component to each facet of your website.
  • Properly structure your internal page linking to maximize inbound link rank- Your website can be it’s own most useful tool if you use linking correctly. That means finding ways to talk about related services in a way that makes visitors want to learn more about the other services you offer and then giving those visitors a quick and convenient way to get there.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly- We all live with our phones in our back pocket, if not in our hands. In order to be as easily accessible as possible make sure your potential customers can access your website from their laptops and tablets, but especially from their smartphones. No matter what business you’re in, don’t rule out the power of convenience, and a cell phone is the most convenient place there is to get a quick answer.
  • Use Voice-Friendly keywords- More and more people are using the voice-search function on their smartphones on the go. That makes it even more important that you don’t miss out on that potential business because your keywords don’t sound natural. Brainstorming ways people may search for your services, or using tools like GoogleAdWords and even searching for your services in different search engines can help.

In order to get the most out of your business’ online authority, it’s important to take advantage of SEO in every way possible. Ensuring that your SEO is boosted to it’s highest efficiency will help you find success and bring more visitors to your company’s website. These tips, along with regular upkeep and continual monitoring will help you build a bigger presence while also making your brand more recognizable to potential clients.