Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is perhaps one of the most important aspects of marketing that a business now needs to take care of.
Gone are the days when the average customer will reach for the Yellow Pages to find a local plumber; they’re far more likely to search yell.com. It’s the all-conquering search engine that now takes primary responsibility for making a business visible to the public, and how high up you appear in the search rankings can have a big impact on the success of the company.
In the UK, Google virtually monopolises the market, with nearly 90% of all searches made through this one search engine alone. If there’s one search engine to rank well on, it is Google, and SEO experts are constantly grappling with the ever changing algorithms that are designed to give users the best possible search results.
Several factors contribute to how high a search result appears in the rankings, and content is increasingly the king maker. Things like reviews, by and large can’t be controlled (aside from providing a great service to customers), but businesses everywhere are increasingly understanding the need to control the controllable’s.
However, some of the most fundamental aspects of your business and key factors for achieving a good search ranking – its name, address and phone number (NAP) and the consistency of these – are constantly being overlooked.
Addressing the issue
General wisdom states that search engines consider an array of information across webpages in order to validate a company as, ‘legitimate’. Therefore, consistency is crucial. With an address, it’s important to make sure that across the internet it is written in exactly the same way. So for instance, putting ‘Street’ on one webpage and then ‘St’ on another can have an adverse effect on search results.
It can also be the case that if your business changes address, the old address will still be linked to the company by search engines, which can lead to further confusion for customers when faced with two different locations. Here, it’s important you take the appropriate steps to clean this up with a visit to your Google My Business listing.
The process for doing this has become a lot easier in the last couple of years, but if you do get stuck, then Google should be on hand to help you take the old information down or correct any discrepancies with how the address is presented.
Call to arms
Today, telephone numbers remain a vital communication channel for customers wanting to speak to a business. A recent survey carried out by NICE Systems – which looked at consumer satisfaction with customer service channels – found that 88% would choose to connect with a customer service representative over the phone. So getting your phone number sorted online, is just as important as having the right email address, or any state of the art ‘chat’ functionality you may have invested in.
If your business specifically caters to a local demographic, and is therefore more likely to be of interest to customers searching for a local service provider, having a local phone number (rather than a mobile or a national number) on your website can help to boost a company up in the local search rankings. Conversely, if you are looking to reach a wider audience, having a national or Freephone number will become more important.
While it’s unlikely that the name of the business will appear differently across webpages, one factor that can contribute to a business or brand being recognised for a certain search term, is to have a keyword relating to the service a business provides in the name of the company.
So for example, if you run a PR agency, having ‘PR’ in the business name is actually a very worthwhile exercise. Ambiguous creative names with very little relevance to the services your company delivers may seem like a good way to differentiate yourself from the competition, but are you actually making life harder for yourself? Business is about balancing creativity with practicality and a company name should reflect not only who you are (and why you are different) but what you do. Of course a wholesale rebrand isn’t entirely necessary if this news is reaching you a bit later in the game, but a few tweaks here and there wouldn’t go amiss.
Front and centre
Once customers make it to your website, make this most basic of information as easy to find as possible. A contact page is obviously important, but contact address and your phone number should really be appearing on the home page as well; don’t hide it away at the back end of your website!
None of this is rocket science, but it’s amazing how often otherwise very well run companies get something so fundamental wrong. SEO doesn’t have to be scary; yes, you can employ experts (as we do at City Numbers), or outsource to consultants to help get it right, but by taking care of the basics like NAP yourself, the battle is already half won.