Before people interact with your website, they’re most likely going to search and find your brand on a search engine results page (SERP). To stay at the top of Google search results for branded and related keywords, it’s important to make sure your web presence is consistent, accurate, and up-to-date. Whether your business is B2C or B2B, getting to know and tightening up these off-site digital factors will help place your company at the top of SERPs and in front of the right customers.
SERP, or the Search Engine Results Page, is the information presented to a person when they use search engines online. When customers search for your brand on Google, for example, they are presented with four main areas of discovery:
- Paid Listings: Search results from brands bidding on specific search terms. Learn more about paid search.
- Organic Listings: Search results ranked according to relevance, based on your search terms. Ideally, your business’ website and any local listings appear here on the first SERP.
- Local Pack: Google Maps results based on your location.
- Knowledge Graph: An informational box that highlights information about your company based on Google and the data you provide through your Google My Business (GMB) account.
Depending on the brand or keyword(s) being searched, other notable SERP features include elements like shopping results, image and video packs, tweets, and related questions.
In addition to the work you’re doing on your website to improve SEO, managing your brand’s Google My Business, local listings, and online reputation are essential to gaining new customers through branded searches.
Here’s how you can improve your off-site SEO to drive new customers to your business.
#1 Google My Business (GMB)
Having updated information about your business in GMB is crucial for branded search and off-site visibility. In fact, 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. Think of GMB as your brand’s digital storefront; it includes your company’s name, photos, hours of business, phone number, and more. When your GMB information is accurate, verified, and optimized, it will populate Google’s Knowledge Graph and appear to customers looking for you by name. It’s one of the quickest ways for customers to find your website, get directions to your nearest location, click-to-call your business, as well as see instant, reputable customer reviews.
As you update and optimize your GMB, you’re more likely to show up in the Local Pack and Google Maps. Your brand’s placement in the Local Pack can be impacted by a handful of measurements, including:
- Proximity to the searcher: How far your business is from the person’s current location.
- Relevance to the search query: How well your business matches the search terms based on the categories and keywords used on your GMB profile.
- Verification: If your business has been verified with Google.
- Reviews: The number of reviews of your business, as well as the overall star rating.
- Business information accuracy: If your business information matches other online local listings.
Having accurate, relevant, and verifiable information on GMB improves how Google’s algorithm sees your business and presents customers with a clear, trustworthy first impression of your business. Whether you’re a car dealership or a construction equipment dealer, taking steps to make sure your company is consistently managing your GMB is crucial for off-site optimization.
#2 Local Listings
On SERPs, in addition to your website (if you’ve been diligent with your onsite SEO), many of the other organic listings you will see under the local pack are local listings. These aggregation sites or apps, like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, YP.com, and even Apple Maps, collect information about your business to share with the customers who use their platforms. The listings should also show up and build trust for customers looking for you online.
However, listings sites like these can easily become out-of-date, causing customers to struggle to get in touch with your business and eventually affecting your organic rank on Google. Inconsistent information across local listings can get you flagged, causing your business name to be deprioritized on SERPs. Stay on top of updating these local listings by prioritizing SEO tasks like updating phone numbers, company descriptions, addresses, and pictures across sites like these every month.
#2 Reputation Management
While reviews provide a streamlined avenue for customer feedback and engagement, they also impact how and where you might appear in Google search. Furthermore, they let new customers know if your business is trustworthy and reputable. A happy customer has always been good for business and this is even truer in our digital world today.
Depending on your line of business, there are various web platforms for reviews with Yelp and Google being the main sources. Reviews make up 13% of Google’s local ranking factors. Consider these facts from Moz:
- 3.3 out of 5 is the average minimum star rating of a business that consumers would consider engaging with.
- 92% of consumers read online reviews.
- 88% of consumers trust review as much as personal recommendations.
Remember, when culling through your reviews, engagement is paramount, as it paints your business as transparent and willing to hear feedback. Proactively ask for reviews from previous customers, respond to both negative and positive reviews where appropriate, and flag any review that may breach the review platform’s terms and conditions.
Sometimes it’s not enough to just show up on SERPs or for a search on Google Maps. Whether that customer chooses you over the competition depends on your online reputation. Taking steps to increase your rating across the digital landscape is no longer optional.
Make an Impact by Optimizing Off-Site
Making sure your off-site platforms are populated with proper and correct information guarantees that when a customer searches for you on the web, they get up-to-date and accurate results about your business. By recognizing what elements of SERP to optimize for, buttoning up your Google My Business, updating your third-party local listings, and staying proactive about managing your online reputation, you’ll see more of your market engaging with your business, which can ultimately convert into new customers.