Google wants top-ranking websites for any search to be the best possible experience on the web. They aren’t shy about expressing their love of user experience. We live in a society where perfection is expected and even a 4 out of 5-star rating will have potential customers choosing your competitor. That’s about a B-average. B-level students still have a damn good chance at getting into college — into the top 100 schools, in fact.

Local SEO doubles down on many of the ranking criteria because it’s easier to compare with another business down the street than across the country. However, you’ve also got some additional tools and tactics to help you.

How a Guest’s Experience is a Good Metaphor for SEO

Using the hotel comparison is a logical one, as it’s ridiculous to expect every city in the world, regardless of size, to have a 5-star or 4-Diamond resort. There isn’t enough tourism in most small or more-remote towns to justify such a lavish experience, therefore it’s just not possible. The same goes for search terms. There isn’t the demand to build an incredible e-commerce experience around a product that might sell 10 units per year globally.

Experience is something that resonates differently for everyone. Most of our memories are great past experiences and today’s bad experiences are often tomorrow’s topics of discussion. There’s no doubt the worldwide trend is towards experiences over possessions.

Our world is so accessible. Find your ideal experiences.

One of the best examples I’ve heard about building a great experience and how to craft it was in an interview with one of Air BNB’s founders, Brian Chesky.

Build what you see today and use it as a baseline and call it a 2 or a 3 out of 10. Build out where you would go from there to have continually better experiences until you get to crazy ideas like 13 or 14’s out of 10… then the 10 out of 10 experience doesn’t seem so unattainable.

With the variety of websites/accommodations today, it’s hard to leave anyone disappointed. You might have to look a bit harder, but what you’re trying to find does exist.

In my mind, this concept is very clear, but I’m cautious to use the typical hotel rating scale since each of our ideal vacation, accommodation and experience desires vary so greatly. Globally, the best-rated hotels by travelers are not connected to the number of stars or services that the hotel offers.

While I’m always happy to take a night in a W Hotel or something from the Autograph Collection, some of the best getaways I’ve been on have been in 2- or 3-star hotels where the atmosphere, culture, personal touches or geography was the difference-maker.

Empathy. Massive amounts of Empathy… and Data.

Getting into the shoes of your clients (or potential clients) is the only way to really understand how to provide them with the best possible experience. User Experience (UX) is measured in multiple ways for you to have a quantifiable process to make sure you’re hitting the mark.

What if your best clients want a no-frills experience? Getting straight to the point might be your best option. While your time-on-site might hurt, if you’re converting and getting happy customers that’s fantastic news.

You might have a large or important product that you’re selling and you need to have a long educational cycle to nurture your leads. Your conversion goals might look terrible, but your customer’s lifetime value would be worth every new client.

There’s no technical recipe for success with SEO that is perfectly duplicatable for any website. It’s got to have your perspective added.

Dive deep into your customers and find the reason they will respond. That’s how you’ll win with your business, regardless of how your SEO looks.

How to Win with Local SEO

The scenario of providing a superior guest experience is easy to focus on since you know your business and your guests well. Plus, you have the chance to interact with them while they are at your business. However, the parts of the transaction that are outside of your business are where you win with Local SEO. Having relevant positioning to be found before people buy, and having a simple way for people to share their experience (reviews) afterward.

I’ll address the reviews first. Getting your reviews is as simple as one link that you can find in your Google My Business dashboard! Now, on to the bigger task.

Being found is a top priority and the reason you want to have your website optimized for search results. Being organically ranked above your competitors gives you a higher likelihood of being clicked on, and it keeps that spot away from your competitor.

Local SEO Tools Your Business Can Use

There’s something special about being a local business, someone who wants to be found in the neighborhood. There’s also many different needs that a local business requires that a large company serving the entire country through one or many locations doesn’t. Google recognizes that the local economy is supported by small businesses and has built tools within Google My Business that are ready for you to use (and are 100% free).

Revolving around the phrase “near me” you’ve got to be the most relevant search result where people ask that phrase. On their phones (mobile search) and in Maps.

You can utilize both of these things with Google My Business, ensuring that your profile is complete and frequently updated. This evolution of Google My Business actually leverages some of the Google+ platform to allow for posts that expire and including your products and services embedded into search results.

Here’s an example of searching for 323 Media Group, notice all of the information below in the right sidebar is all powered by the information we supplied and keep updated on Google My Business.

Google Search Results for 323 Media, an example of local search results optimized for Local SEO.
Google Search Results for 323 Media, an example of local search results optimized for Local SEO.

A couple of sections from Google My Business here to point out because they are often overlooked:

  • Photos should be uploaded on a regular basis when they describe a part of your business. Tag properly so each photo gets categorized correctly (they will also appear in Google Image Search)
  • Products can be services as well (like our productized services packages for marketing) and should include a photo. We have specific icons that we use to define our different services, but you don’t need to design something specifically. Rather, any image will give you the same “optimized” look.
  • Updates are timely things happening like events or promotions and they expire in roughly a week. Google loves fresh content and this is a friendly reminder – only your posts within the last week will be shown as “updates” the rest are in a semi-hidden state as “previous updates”

Google My Business is a key to having great Local SEO, there are many directories that can complement your efforts on GMB that are industry-specific. Some paid, some free. Many useful, some awful. Take your time to look at if the positioning will help, or just have you blend in with your competitors.

Your Action Items for Local SEO

Immediately after reading this post, you should make sure the following is done:

  1. Log in / Sign-up for Google My Business (request Address verification if you haven’t already)
  2. Ensure all of your information is correct
    • Address
    • Website
    • Phone
    • Hours
  3. List all of your products and services
  4. Add at least one photo
  5. Add as least one update

You’re on your way. Ranking locally is getting easier, however, you’ve got to move quickly before your neighbours find out.


This Post Written by your Local, Neighbourhood Marketing Guy; Chris Milton. He’s the CEO of 323 Media Group and his top-three favourite places to eat in Vancouver are local. To keep them and others ranking well in Google, the 323 Media Team created a new hybrid Local Marketing package that gives you just enough SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media so you can get back to running your business.

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