There’s no argument that ranking among the top of your local search results is substantially easier than competing against large brands in the organic results. That means the small guy still has a chance to tap into the highly profitable search engine traffic, and do it even more affordably these days.
With the help of a single tool, you can easily take over your SEO campaign. The tool, Whitespark, is currently being used by thousands of local SEO agencies to help their clients generate high rankings with minimal effort.
You can use it to manage your own campaign, or use it as a way to figure out the competency of the agency that you’re hiring.
This article is going to break down the various ranking factors major search engines are using to figure out where to place your site in the results, which you can also use to determine if the agency you’re hiring to do the work for you is actually doing what they say they’re doing.
There’s a simple 5 step formula that is practically guaranteed to help you rank higher in your local search results.
Step #1: Track Your Rankings
The most important part of any SEO campaign is to actually track your results. Results, in the terms of SEO means the amount of traffic you’re bringing into your website, as well as the overall rankings for the keywords you have chosen.
Most times, you can use something as simple as Google Analytics to track the amount of visitors that are finding your website. However, over the last few years, Google has started delivering more (not provided) information, instead of giving you the exact keywords customers used to find you.
That means you need an external source to figure out which keywords you’re ranking for, and how many visits per day those keywords are sending you. Whitespark handles this for you, by aggregating data from a few different sources to provide you with an accurate representation of your rankings and how you’re bringing traffic into your site.
Step #2: Find New Citation Sources
Citations are one of the biggest ranking factors for local sites. While they don’t necessarily increase your rankings in the organic search results, they do benefit you in other ways.
If you’re not aware yet, the term “citations” refers to how your business is cited across the internet. Google uses a standard NAP format, or Name, Address, and Phone Number. That means every time your NAP is displayed online, Google counts it and compares it against other businesses in your local market and industry.
Whitespark helps you find new sources to get your NAP listed, while also helping you track the existing citations you already have. If they’re ever changed or removed, you will be notified of the status and given a chance to repair them.
Step #3: Automate Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are another big factor that Google and other major search engines use to figure out how trustworthy and authoritative your business is, compared to others in your area and industry. Their reputation builder helps you automate the process generating and managing customer reviews.
When a customer is happy, they can leave the review on your website, and then Whitespark will aggregate the data to more than 45 different review platforms.
Not only does the tool let you generate new customer reviews using your email platform, they also let you easily intercept negative feedback, and act on it to either save the customer and make them happy with your service, or at least rectify the situation so that the negative feedback doesn’t show up in other places.
Step #4: Find New Link Building Opportunities
The backlinks pointing to your website are the #1 ranking factor Google uses to determine where you should be ranking in the organic results.
The more high quality, trustworthy, and authoritative links you have, compared to your competition, the higher you rank in the results. That’s why it’s so important to focus on building them. Most people start drawing blanks when it comes time to actually do the work, though.
Whitespark will help you identify opportunities to build links pointing to your site, from other websites that have their own traffic and are trusted in the search engines.
It will also help you track the links pointing to your own site, as well as links that are pointing to your competitor’s sites, so that you can replicate their link profile.
Step #5: Track Your Offline Conversions
Tracking offline conversions is almost impossible without software tying your Analytics or other stat tracking software together with your CRM. Tying them together is a fairly complicated task in most instances, but Whitespark tends to make the job easier for you.
A lot of websites use a “How did you hear about us?” form, but most don’t use it properly. For most business owners, they’ll look at the information provided and then move onto whatever else they’re doing.
With Whitespark, though, you can save the information into a database and then generate accurate statistics to figure out which campaigns are delivering you the best results -- which gives you a chance to double down on those areas of your marketing plan.
Step #6: Pass Out Review Tutorials
When a customer comes into your store but doesn’t leave an email, you can still capitalize on the opportunity to receive a review from them about the service they received.
If they are happy, you can use the automated review generator to spread their testimonial out onto the 45 review platforms mentioned earlier. If they’re not, you can use the data they’ve given you to improve your operations and figure out where you or your team may be dropping the ball.
Whitespark gives you a review handout that you can pass to customers, that contains the information you need to enter their review into the database, and then push it out to the review platforms major search engines use to display your business’ information in their search results.
Pulling It All Together
SEO can be a complex process, especially if you’ve never attempted to do it before. Hiring an agency can set you up for failure, because of the sheer amount of “snake oil” salesmen that seem to flood the industry.
With Whitespark, you can either manage your own SEO campaigns, or you can make sure that your reputable SEO, web design, or marketing agency is actually performing the work they say they are performing -- and that they’re focusing on the right areas that will actually help grow your business’ search engine traffic.
James Crook - Author, Speaker, Web Marketer - is the best selling author of “Digitally Enhanced” and founder of marketing agency Choc Chip Digital. He works with hundreds of small businesses each year to grow their client base online, and is a passionate advocate for the power of authentic, heart-centred marketing. Widely recognised as a confident and articulate communicator, James draws on his love of digital technology to inspire, motivate and educate audiences across Australia.