It is likely that if you operate a business with a website, then you would have heard the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) thrown around a few times, even if you aren’t entirely sure what it means. In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (MOZ). Or to put it another way, it’s a free way to help get your company to appear at the top of Google searches when they are looking for a business that aligns with your products and services.
The need to be first or at least in the top three for key search terms is driven by the understanding that those using search engines will often only look at the first few results to find what they are looking for. In fact, it’s been said that if you want to hide a dead body, then you should probably put it on the second page of Google… Jokes.
It is also worth highlighting that SEO is completely different to ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising, which some providers tout as being the magic solution to making you rank first on Google but this is in fact, a completely different, paid for solution. SEO is purely organic and is ‘paid’ for by investing in your website and its content, not by spending money on Google or Bing.
Local SEO is exactly what you’d expect – Search Engine Optimisation of your online activity to ensure your website, business or profile is found when searchers are trying to find a local or close by solution, product or service.
Being strongly driven by tourism, Cairns attracts many visitors who are seeking nearby restaurants, day trips, leisure activities, shopping centres, food halls and entertainment during their stay. Similarly, those who live here and are looking for a plumber or electrician, are highly likely to want someone close by therefore, optimising your online presence in these scenarios is very important.
Before you begin to panic, there are a number of quick wins you can apply yourself to begin enhancing your online presence for local searches. Here are our top 3 tips:
1. Google and Bing Business Pages
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business or Bing Places for Business pages, ensure you do so right away, it’s completely free and is relatively simple to do.
Ensure you complete the categories for your business, the areas you service and add photos and posts to help people discover just how great your company is.
Online directories also play a role in establishing a strong local SEO presence, so list your business on key platforms such as Local Search and Yellow Pages.
2. Reviews are good news for local SEO
Word of mouth has evolved with the digital age as online users look to find trusted suppliers quickly. Review sites such Google, Yelp, Glassdoor and others help not only validate your brand, but also send strong signals to search engines.
Now, obviously the main objective is to gather high-quality reviews as these will improve your business’ visibility, but they also increase the likelihood that customers will choose you over your competitors.
There are however, some additional points to be aware of too. Search engines pay close attention to the language reviewers use. If they use the city or keywords for your industry in their review, that alerts search engines such as Google that you are a trusted local business.
Finally, be sure to respond to all reviews, good or bad. Negative reviews with no responses, show that you are disengaged with customers or place low value on customer service, so you need a plan to follow these up.
3. Create a Facebook Business Page
Whilst it sounds obvious, you will be surprised how many businesses use a profile rather than a business page to present their business on Facebook.
Many people use Facebook as a search engine or a fact-finding resource, so if users can quickly and easily find you or tag you into posts, it makes discovering your business easy.
Make sure you update your page with your website, contact details, operating hours and a description.
Getting ahead on local SEO
Once you’ve picked off the quick wins, it’s time to get a bit more serious about your digital presence. Search engines such as Google and Bing will want users searching for Cairns businesses, products or services to have a great online experience. They also know you are likely to be using a mobile device when searching for local solutions therefore, it is imperative that your website works seamlessly on mobile – in fact, Google looks at your mobile site first, not your desktop site.
Other signals that really help businesses achieve success, require a bit more effort but should be well within your reach such as structured data mark-ups that identify your address, phone number, menu, or opening hours. On the page content and Meta tags should be optimised for locations where you operate too, so remember to add your service areas or locations as keywords to be woven into your website’s content.
Naturally, good quality content will benefit your SEO more broadly, as well as locally as you will establish the domain authority of your website, attracting inbound links from news portals, external sites and referrers.
Whilst SEO is very competitive, with local SEO there are still many actions businesses can take immediately to give them a boost.