It’s 2018 and voice search is on the rise. I’ve been reluctant to use it myself and blog about it. Early last year I did a few searches using Siri and the results were less than desirable.
But with the popularity of Google Home, Amazon Echo and many more home assistants hitting the market, the time has come to invest in voice search for local businesses. Since this blog focuses on local SEO, I’m going to discuss local SEO searches from the standpoint of using Siri. I hope to do the same using an Andriod device soon.
In this post I will explain why your businesses proximity and the diversification of your reviews is important to getting better Siri search results. Here we go!
Having location services enabled on your phone isn’t about getting spied on. Location services help Siri and other apps determine your location so they can help you. In the case of a local search, Siri will display businesses close by. This is why your businesses proximity to the search is an important factor.
Business Proximity To The Searcher
I blogged about the Google My Business results and why location and proximity are important for higher rankings or to even show up at all. The same applies to local Siri searches. Take the example screenshots below of a few searches for auto glass shops, transmission repair and pizza places.
While looking at these screenshots, the first and main thing to note is that Siri is using the Apple Maps app on my phone. As far I know, Siri uses Apple Maps by default and there is no option to switch to Google Maps.
“auto glass repair shop”
“pizza delivery place”
By looking at these screenshots you will see the proximity of all these businesses to my location. Once again Siri knows where I am as I have location services enabled. Most of the results are within 800 meters and 3.5 km’s from me.
So if you’re hoping to show up yet you’re on the other side of town and 10 km’s away, it’s not going to happen. Siri along with Google want to display the closest business to you. Not so much the best.
Diversify Your Reviews
Reviews go a long way and you should be focused on getting reviews for your business daily. We’ve been asking our clients to diversify the directories and sites that they ask for reviews on because it helps when potential clients do a brand search and see reviews on their Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages listings on top of their Google reviews.
More reviews on directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages can help get higher search rankings within those directories as well. And nothing but positive things can happen when potential clients Google a business and see reviews from multiple websites. This builds trust and credibility.
Here’s a brand search for a client. Notice the reviews areas.
Obviously you can see the Yelp and Yellow Pages reviews. But Google is now displaying other reviews in the “Reviews from the web” in what is known as the businesses knowledge panel on the right hand side of the search results. This is where business contact details from the Google My Business page are seen. For this to happen, you must ensure your business listings are consistent and up to date.
Once again, look back up at the screenshots from my Siri searches. You will see the business listings provided have reviews from Yelp and YP.ca (Yellow Pages). It’s clear as day why you should be focusing on diversifying your reviews from a Siri search perspective.
So what can you to do to improve your rankings for Siri local searches?
How To Get Higher Voice Searches
It’s a really simple three step process. Once again you cannot control the proximity issue so you’ll be targeting people close to you. And you can get higher rankings from a local Siri search by following these tips:
1 – Head to the desktop backend of Apple Maps, find and claim your business listing. Fill out all your business information including linking to your Yelp, Facebook & Twitter pages.
2 – Head to Yelp for business owners, find and claim your Yelp listing if it hasn’t been. Fill out the information in full including adding some nice photos since Apple Maps is using those photos for their listings.
3 – Ask your clients to write reviews on your Yelp and Yellow Pages listings along with Facebook page. More reviews on multiple sites is better than more reviews on one site.
To get your small business site in front of as many potential customers as possible, you need on page SEO. Search engine optimization is vital to your growth and success. With proper on page SEO tactics you can boost online visibility, external links, keywords, and most important of all, organic traffic.
The top three marketing tools a small business has are . . .
- 54 percent email marketing
- 51 percent website traffic
- 48 percent social media marketing
On page SEO can make a big impact on your bottom line, not just by increasing traffic, but by also cutting your marketing spend in half. Do you run PPC ads on Google? With stellar on page search optimization in place, you can rank page one without running ads.
Make search engine optimization a priority in 2018 with the following SEO tips for small business online growth and success.
Get Local with Your Small Business
Mobile has become the preferred search device for products and services, making it essential to have your small business listed. In fact, 50 percent of mobile consumers who will visit a store they found in local search results within a day.
The first step is to set up a local listing on Google My Business.
When someone searches for products and services similar to yours, they will see your business, website, and also get featured on Google Maps. Leverage other local listing sites like Yelp or Angie’s List as well. The more local listings, the more your small business will appear in SERPs.
Local listings are also the perfect platform for your customers to rate and review your business, products, or services. This is more important than ever, since online consumers check ratings and reviews prior to making a decision to buy.
Make Your Small Business Site Mobile-Friendly
The New Year will usher in a few changes for on page SEO, and one of them is Google mobile-first index. This will give priority to mobile friendly, fast loading sites when a user searches via mobile. This is very important for future business growth and success, especially since most consumers are now more mobile than ever before.
A few on page SEO mobile-friendly tips for your small business are:
- Make your site’s content readable on mobile devices, including the text and font you decide to use.
- Avoid software that is not mobile-friendly like Flash.
- Think like a user visiting your site by ensuring your pages are easy to scroll and navigate.
- Make your CTA buttons and anchor text links easy to see and not in the way of a users scrolling thumb.
- Ensure your page load time on mobile is optimized and under one second.
To check these potential on page SEO pitfalls, turn to Google. Google has a number of tools you can use to check just how mobile-friendly your site actually is . . .
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Think with Google Test My Site
Google PageSpeed Insights
Create Unique SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions
Google algorithms are always on the hunt for duplicate content and poorly constructed SEO titles (page titles) and meta descriptions. These issues could cause your small business website and pages to drop in ranking.
The first step to better on page SEO is to look at your page titles and meta-descriptions. You want to tell Google exactly what your page is about, and why it fulfills search intent.
Make a list of all your title tags and start looking for duplicate keywords, and subpar title descriptions pages that promote your products or services. Then get a little creative by replacing those duplicate keywords using online tools like SEMrush’s Phrase Match.
To highlight this important on page SEO tactic, here is an example from Brilliance, for product page best practices, listing a number of keyword rich options.
Time to Make On Page SEO a Priority . . .
Your small business can’t afford to ignore proper on page SEO tactics. These 100 percent free changes can decrease your need for large PPC ad spend while also providing a better user experience for your site’s visitors on both desktop and mobile. How will you make on page SEO work for you in 2018?
Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto. You can follow him on twitter: @NickARojas
I recently sat down with one of our clients Adam Sullivan to talk about his business and how important Google reviews have been for his business. The interview was recorded so you can listen below.
Also be sure to read all of our other posts on online reviews and Google My Business.
Hey everyone, It’s Jordan Caron from Meaningful Marketing. I’m sitting down with one of our clients, Adam Sullivan, who’s a co-managing partner at Victoria Transmission & Auto Care. Adam, please say hi to everyone.
Adam, we’re going to get right into it here with a few questions about your partnership with Meaningful Marketing. A little bit of background about yourself and Victoria Transmission. How long ago did you take over the business?
Peter and I purchased the business in 2010 from my dad, and he’d actually bought it from his dad. We’re a third-generation business now that’s been fixing cars in Victoria since 1964, so I think that’s puts us at 54 years in town. Peter and I both worked at the company for many, many years. Peter had been here 25 years before we bought it, and I’d been here 15. And, we got wind that the owners wanted to sell. We really liked the direction the company was going and decided to make it a career for both of us.
And, when you took over the business, they were just strictly doing transmission repair, correct?
Yeah. Probably all of 90% of the work that we did was just transmissions, clutches, driveline things. And, the general repair side of stuff, like the break jobs and oil changes. If a customer asked us to do that, we’d do it. But, it was not something that we ever advertised or put out to the city at all.
Okay. So, you guys decided to switch that and become like, an all-care auto repair shop, then?
Well yeah, because the transmission industry had been declining. It peaked at around 1999, and then what started to happen was the manufacturers started to build better product that would last longer, and then they’d warranty it longer. And so, we were seeing a steady decline from transmission sales. So, you look down the road 10 years and think, well if we’re declining at 10% year over year, in 10 years we wouldn’t be left with almost anything. So, we had to make the decision to branch out, offer and advertise general repair just to stay alive, or the future looked really bleak.
Ok, that brings up an interesting question. Before, they were just doing transmission repair. And, when you guys took it over, you obviously are doing all types of auto care repair. What types of marketing and advertising methods were being used when you took over the business?
Pretty old school stuff. Our biggest thing was the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages were king; we’d spend $50,000, $60,000 a year to be the category leader in transmissions, and even a two-page, full-color ad, it was a ridiculous amount of money. The previous ownership would do the odd, three-month radio ad. The Q, or local stations like that. We put the odd thing out in Times Colonist or in the black press. But, all old school kinds of marketing, and we were seeing a big drop-off on how effective it was being. The ROI coming from those forms of media – they couldn’t justify themselves, not even a little bit.
Ok, so then, fast-forward to a couple of years after you purchased the business. You partner up with ourselves here at Meaningful Marketing. What made you focus on Internet marketing?
Well, Peter and I sat down and were looking at our advertising budget, which was about 6% to 7% of our revenue which, in our industry, is too high. We were finding that we were doing a great job of keeping existing customers and getting referrals, but as far as new customers, if they were coming in, we spent a few months analyzing, where did they come from? What made them choose us? And, what we were finding was, mostly word-of-mouth, which we already knew was good. And, almost none of it was coming from our massive advertising and marketing budget.
So, we sat down and thought, how do you decide which restaurant to go to? Because we both really like food. And he says, well I’ll go online and type in, if I’m in Seattle, Seattle’s best restaurants. Or, if I’m in Los Angeles and I want to go do something with my family, what’s the best family stuff that we can do in Los Angeles? You get a lot of information from that, and you get a lot of online reviews. What we found for ourselves personally is, we make most of our decisions based on – at first, a google search, and then reading reviews from other people that have been there and have done it.
And at that point, if someone has 20 or 30 reviews, some will be positive and some will be negative. But, at least you kind of get almost an insight of that business. And we thought, hey, for our business, if someone’s never been to us, and they have lots of decisions and options when it comes to getting your car repaired, there are a million auto shops out there. If we could have the Internet presence and get our reviews going, that’s what we used. That’s why we decided to really focus on the Internet-based marketing.
So, you’ve kind of answered this question. But, how important are customer reviews for an auto repair shop like yours?
Honestly, we found that online customer reviews are probably the single biggest generator of new clients that we talk to. They’re able to find us organically through our web presence, or they’ll find us through some of our ads. But, we find that they make a final purchase decision based on the reviews that they’ve read about the company. That makes them feel that they can know us and they can trust us. I’m sure other industries vary a lot but really if you’re looking for a new mechanic in a town, reviews are going to be worth their weight in gold, and they have been. It automatically allows the customer to get an insight into your business that just your own website, because that will be biased most times – if they can read reviews, I think it just brings a lot more credibility to everything that we do.
So, as of this interview, you have 59 google reviews, which is great because the competitors in the marketplace only have about 15 or 20 max.
If that, yeah.
Now, what are you guys doing to get more reviews?
Well, that’s the toughest part. I’m sure we’ve all been there: we’ve been to a restaurant, or we’ve been to a business and we’ve had just great service, and we loved it. And, we’ve probably said the words, oh I’m going to write a review for you guys. Or, you’ve talked to a waiter and the waiter’s done an exceptional job, and you say, hey you know what? Thanks, I thought that was just incredible. And he’ll say, hey, can you write a review? Because this will help me when I’m talking to my boss about my next review. And at the time, you’ve maybe had a glass of wine and the dinner’s been great, and the lobster was perfect, or whatever it may be. And you say yeah, yeah. I’m going to do it.
But invariably, you never write that review. You go home, life gets in the way. You think, oh maybe I said that, but what difference will it make? We’re trying very, very hard to make it as easy as possible for our customers to review us online. We’ll ask questions like, do you have a Gmail account? And, if they say yes, well then great. You can just go to our site, sign in and make a review. It will take less than a minute. Or, if they say, well I don’t have a Gmail account; I don’t even know what you’re talking about, you say, hey, it’s getting an email address to start with Google, with Gmail. And then what we’re going to do is, we’re going to send you a follow-up, kind of how to get set up, how to create that Gmail if you don’t already have one, and really, make it as easy and as fast as possible for the customer to do it.
One thing that some other businesses in town in our industry do is, they pay for reviews. Or, they’ll give credit off or stuff like that. We’ve never done that, and I don’t think we ever want to do that. Morally, it just feels kind of wrong to pay people for reviews. So for us, it’s just doing a really, really good job. And then, the follow-up with the customer. Calling them a week later after they’ve been in and saying, hey, Mister Smith. We’ve worked on your car. How’s it still working? Were you happy with everything we did in the service? And they’ll say yeah. And then, you can kind of just remind them, we’d really like it if you could make that google review for us. We appreciate your business and we’d like to have you back. And at that point, at least it gives us a second chance to remind them about the Google reviews, and we’re finding that that’s what’s really started to increase the reviews that we’re getting.
Perfect. One thing that Adam hasn’t mentioned here; in the follow-up email, what we do is send out a link to this person that goes to our website, which has a page that discusses and shows step-by-step instructions on how to write the reviews. So it makes it really easy for the person, if they’ve never written one, to go to that page and learn how to. And then, we also have a link that helps them find out how to sign up for a Google account, which obviously makes it easier for them to write a review.
So, that’s all of our time. I want to thank Adam for sitting down with us here, and hopefully everybody out there listening has gotten some knowledge on how to get reviews, and how important reviews are for each of their businesses. So yeah, Thanks, Adam.
No, thank you, Jordan.
Lately I’ve been getting a few emails and phone calls from current and past clients saying they disappeared from the Google maps search rankings.
These calls and emails came in last week. Being that I was on holidays I brushed it off as a glitch as I’ve seen this happen before. A clients listing disappears from the maps results for a few days but then they pop back up again a week later.
But when I got back to work a couple of days ago, I noticed their listings were still not showing up. So I did some searching in my local SEO communities. What I found was this thread from the Local Search Forum. In the very first post Broland describes a friend of his whose listing doesn’t show up if you click on the “more places” link to see more mapped search results. He played around with zooming in once and zooming back out and noticed his friends listing showed up again.
I tried this for a couple of clients and this worked. They weren’t listed there originally after clicking on “more places”. After zooming in and out again, they were there. Really odd right?
Some further reading in that thread points to a theory by Joy Hawkins that if two businesses are listed in the same building, one will be filtered out before doing the zoom in and zoom out. After thinking about the two clients I researched, they were indeed listed in a building with a few competitors who offer the same service.
I’m still trying to figure this out but can’t come out with a solution. Joy updated the thread a couple of days ago saying three attorneys in the same building were all in the top 3 but only for a couple of search terms.
Now I really wish I could help solve the reason why your Google My Business listing disappeared from the maps. But I can’t for now so follow the Local Search Forum thread for updates.
At the end of this, many believe Google is A/B testing some results. They’ve been known to do this in the past and let’s hope this is the case this time.