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Google Local Search Algorith Update for Small Businesses

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On July 24, 2014, Google released an algorithm update intended to provide more relevant local search results. This means possible changes in ranking for local businesses and local directories. While there’s no guarantee that a small business website will take a hit based on this update, it is highly possible, and business owners should prepare to optimize their website to keep a strong ranking following this change.

The algorithm update affects both Google web searches and Google maps. Searches will now yield results that are more in line with typical web ranking. Typical web ranking relies on web ranking signals such as keyword density, title tags, and image optimization. Stronger optimization will now lead to a stronger search engine ranking in local searches. While searches that are more SEO-friendly are desirable for local directory sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, they may negatively impact individual websites for local small businesses.

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The update forces small individual websites that once relied on their local status to compete with big-name directories for ranking position. Many small businesses may not be prepared for the competition. Worse, many may not have developed an optimized website. A simple website that does not take advantage of SEO tactics could be pushed pages back in search results. In order for small businesses to adjust and retain a favorable ranking, they must adopt the use of SEO techniques. For businesses not used to the practice, this can be an overwhelming task. Businesses new to SEO risk over-optimizing their website. Over-optimization can get web pages penalized by Google, leading to a further drop in ranking or even a complete removal from the search engine. However, optimization is the only way to truly compete with directories.

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This update has placed small businesses in a difficult position where change is necessary but the methods may be unfamiliar. Small business owners will have to take the chance and become familiar with daunting terms like SEO expertise and complete optimization in order to stay competitive in the Google search engine.

Local SEO Audit

If you are venturing into the world of hiring a professional to handle search engine optimization on your website, then you likely aren’t starting from scratch. Even if you are, we can still help you. However, for those businesses that already have a website in place, we offer a local SEO audit program to find out what you already have that works and to see what we can do to make those methods even better. With our audit, we will work to find the members of your target audience and to see what makes them tick. We also analyze your current website and explain how the site can better speak to those target audience members in terms of search-engine effectiveness, overall experience and design elements.

We can suggest what you should add to your website, but we also focus on the ways in which you can improve the material that you already have. Whether the content needs major adjustments or minor tweaks, our team of professionals looks at both the big picture and the smaller details. We don’t just look at your website, but we will also assess other online avenues that you use such as social media accounts. On top of checking the paths you currently use to connect with the members of your target audience, our professionals will also suggest other venues that can bring you even higher levels of success.

Our team will look at the online properties of your competitors as well so that we are able to see where you stand in the larger marketplace. All of these details and more can be discussed during your consultation with one of our experts. Of course, these plans don’t end with a mere discussion. Instead, we will also work out a plan with you as to how long it will take to implement our new ideas for your company.