NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Our SEO company prides itself on getting our clients to the top of Google and keeping them there. Recently we noticed a few of our dental SEO clients that used to be on top were being outranked by some sites like Yelp, White Pages, Yellow Pages, Yahoo! Local and Super Pages. The good news is, you don’t need Yelp, Yellow Pages, White Pages or Super Pages to get to the top of Google. But first, I wanted to share an example of how this issue recently affected one of our clients.
Barnett-Davis Dental Group was consistently ranking third on Google for the keyword “Nixa dentist.” At the end of January, we checked again, as any best SEO company would, and we found Dr. Davis’s site way down at the end of the page. With SEO a drop from third to ninth place is substantial. As of February 27, Yelp’s coming in eighth and Dentists.com is ranking tenth. Barrett-Davis Dental Group isn’t even on the first page of Google for “Nixa dentist.”
You may want to join websites like Yellow Pages and White Pages, but the downside is that they’re no longer free to join. They also don’t generate as much traffic as they would if your own website was ranking among them. You may even encourage your patrons to write a Yelp review of your business. That may help, a little at least, though Yelp has had some seriously negative buzz for years about removing or filtering patrons’ honest reviews. These two reviews were written about Yelp’s services on Yelp in February.
There was even some controversy several years ago about Yelp sales people contacting businesses with negative reviews. These sales people offered to take down their negative reviews if the businesses paid to advertise on their site. While Yelp denies this practice, many business owners have mentioned questionable practices from Yelp employees.
As far as why your site has dropped in its rankings, Sinai Marketing’s Manager of Operations gives a good answer. “The answer is simple; a lot of people will give up doing SEO when they see they are no longer on the first page and they can’t compete with these giant sites,” says Saeed Khosravi. “As a result they will turn to AdWords, which means an income increase for Google.”
He also reminded me that the nearest Panda Update to this event was #24 implemented on Jan. 22, 2013. Google tweeted that this update impacted approximately 1.2 percent of English language search queries. Khosravi also says Google can determine that a local business directory page or Yellow Pages page may be more relevant for users than a single doctor’s website. That said, increasing the exposure of your business’s page is the best way to grow traffic and boost your sales. We’ve brainstormed a few tips to help you succeed on Google.
How to Focus on Local and Climb Up the Google Rankings
There are a few steps you can take to overcome these algorithm changes. Stay away from unethical black hat SEO techniques. You don’t need them, and they’re likely to burn you in the end. Instead, focus on time-tested white hat SEO techniques, such as link building, creating excellent content shared through a WordPress blog, optimizing your on-page SEO and creating a site with a friendly user experience. Focus also on what makes your business unique.
Most of you probably have local businesses. When we say local, we mean you aren’t competing with the entire nation or the entire globe for business. Dr. Davis, our “Nixa dentist,” doesn’t need a high Google ranking in Nashville or San Francisco. Capitalize on your local niche. Make sure your business is on Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), and make sure you understand the basics of Google+ Local SEO. It’s incredibly easy to add your business to Google+ Local. Google gives you step-by-step instructions, and Google is notoriously user-friendly.
You may find that your business is already on Google+ Local, and it may even have user reviews. If so, read the contact information carefully to make sure everything’s correct. You can add photos to entice viewers – just make sure to follow our simple image SEO guidelines. Pay special attention to the “categories” section. This is basically a field for you to add keywords relevant to your business, just as metadata allows you to do within a website.
There are many other ways to optimize your site for your local market. One extremely simple way is to make sure your website lists your address! OK, you’ve probably done that. Next, explore ways to gain inbound links within your community. Is there a local business or charity you partner with? Does your business sponsor a local marathon or event? Is your business listed on local business directories, the chamber of commerce, or your local industry associations? Are any of your employees active in local clubs, or do they write personal blogs? Take advantage of these opportunities to gain links to your website.
Our own Dr. Davis may benefit from writing a piece for a local paper or a local blog on a timely dentistry topic. He may already work with a local school – this is the perfect opportunity for a link, especially when .edu sites are trusted and valuable resources in Google’s algorithms. Remember too that anchor text is important for SEO, and, when you can, make sure your anchor text includes a location keyword.
If all these tips overwhelm you, you can always leave the SEO to the experts. At Sinai Marketing we offer comprehensive SEO services, including link building, keyword/competition analysis, content creation and distribution, and even website penalization analysis. Our representatives would love to speak with you about increasing the visibility of your website. SEO is constantly changing, and we keep our fingers on the pulse of these changes to bring you the very best SEO packages out there.