Have you ever Googled yourself? If you’re like the majority of Internet users, the answer is yes. But do you pay attention to what happens over time? Results can change due to outdated content, Google modifying its algorithms, or other content being added to the potential mix of what could show up in search results for your business name.
For a local business that relies on online search to help generate new customers, keeping your business in top shape in search results is imperative. These three tips for auditing your business online can help you understand and improve what people see about you when they search.
1. Do you own the SERPs (search engine results pages) for your business name?
Knowing just how frequently your business name appears in search results—and what those links say about you—is a good test of your business’s overall Web presence. And since a huge portion of consumers never scroll past the first page, making sure you dominate page one is critical. But before you get started, I’d recommend opening up a private browser, like a Google Chrome Incognito Window, which will give you “unbiased” search results that don’t take your previous searches or network’s recommendations into consideration.
When you conduct a search for your business name, you immediately want to see the content that you own show up in the search results, like your business’s website and blog, social media and review sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+Local, and your paid ads. If you see those things, then you’re off to a good start.
If you’re not seeing them, you need to claim and optimize these sites and profiles immediately if you want to own the search results for your business name keyword. Not only will claiming those sites help you appear more frequently in search results, but it also gives you more control over the content people see about your business online. Bidding on your business name keyword in paid search will also help ensure that your competitors aren’t hogging space on search results for your business name. Plus, covering both paid and organic results on the same SERP has been shown to give you incremental lift.
2. Are your business listings helping or hurting you?
Now that you’ve seen what sites are populating for your business name search term on the search engine results page, how complete and accurate is the information you see there? Look at everything from page titles and descriptions all the way down to the details like your address, phone number, and the way your business name is spelled and punctuated (yes, these details actually factor in). Everything should be optimized for your business name and your location, at minimum.
It may sound minor, but making sure all your pages, especially those pesky local listings, are consistently and accurately communicating your business name and information is critical to improving your SEO and helping your prospects find your local business. That’s because accuracy and consistency across all these local citations is an important factor that Google looks at. Plus, keeping all your pages fresh and up to date with professional photos, current offers, positive customer reviews, and more will improve your chances of getting discovered and contacted by your target consumers.
3. Do you have a glowing online reputation?
Google your business name first and foremost to gauge the general sentiment and see what people think about your business. Chances are, in addition to what you’ve created, you’ll also see content from others, like reviews, blog posts, articles on third-party sites, and even social media mentions. People are often quick to post when they have a negative experience with a business as a way to vent or seek a resolution, so you’ll probably see more of that than you do of positive content.
And you’ll see even more of this content when you search for specific reputation terms in addition to your business name keywords. Adding terms like “reviews” and “complaints” to your business name searches can uncover a wealth of content about your business you may not have ever known about but that your prospective customers are seeing about you online.
What can you do about any negative content you see about your business? If you see it on sites you’ve claimed, like your listings or social media pages, you can respond professionally to any recent negative reviews or comments. This can improve your online reputation while also improving customer satisfaction with your business. It’s also a good idea to ask happy customers to post positive reviews about your business, especially when they’ve had a great experience with you.
Remember that Googling your business online is not just something you should do once. Taking the time to search your business name and other key business terms on a regular basis is the best way to effectively monitor and improve your business presence online.
Todd Ebert has served as CMO of ReachLocal since November 2012.