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As a successful local business owner, your bread and butter is your ability to get found and get chosen in your local community. There are plenty of well-known marketing tactics that can help you accomplish that – many of which you probably already employ. I’m talking about tools like print marketing, direct mail, a business website, email marketing (maybe even texts if you’re super savvy), social media and more.

Even if you’re already doing some version of digital marketing, have you taken the time to search for your services online? The best way to do this isn’t to search for your business’s name. Instead, think like your ideal customer, and ask yourself what they’re searching for online that should, in theory, lead them to your business. Type the most relevant keywords that come to mind into a popular search engine like Google, Yahoo! or Bing, and see which businesses show up first.

Without taking into account any search engine marketing or pay-per-click ads that you may have paid for, where do you land on the list? Are you on the first page of results? If so, give yourself a big pat on the back. If not, you’ve got some work to do.

Here are 3 reasons your organic search results may be suffering.

1. Your website is missing the mark.

When you want to rank well in searches organically (meaning without paid search advertising), you’ve got to play by the most popular search engines’ rules. To ensure the search engines will play nice with you on the online playground, your website needs to check some essential boxes.

  • Contact Information – Not only does your website need to have your contact information on the first page, it needs to be prominently placed, consistent with your online listings (more on this later), and prevalent elsewhere throughout your site.
  • Mobile Friendliness –  Since more than 60% of searches now start from a mobile device, search engines like Google want to put mobile users first. So they actually punish sites that aren’t mobile-optimized or adaptive-responsive for different screen sizes and dimensions, pushing them further down the list in organic search results.
  • Simple Navigation – How easy is it for consumers to find what they need once they reach your site? Try to keep your navigation pane highly visible, and keep navigation options simple. A good rule of thumb is to make any page you’d want consumers to reach within three or fewer clicks from your home page.
  • Compelling Calls to Action – If consumers who reach your website aren’t compelled into action, you’ve missed a giant opportunity. Not only will you lose out on the opportunity to convert them into customers, but search engines will notice their increased bounce rates and consider your site less relevant or useful.

2. You have an overwhelming amount of negative ratings or reviews.

Roughly 85% of consumers read online reviews. And these days, 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If your online reviews aren’t favorable, it’s about as bad as someone whispering in online searchers’ ears not to choose you.

The best way to tackle negative reviews online is to start responding.

But going about this without a game plan in mind could be risky. Before you dive in, here are a few steps to consider:

  • Take a deep breath. Not every negative review was left with malice on the customer’s part. So if you respond emotionally, you could end up making a bad situation worse.
  • Develop a strategy. Do you plan to respond to every review? Or just the negative ones? While it’s best to spend the time to respond to anyone and everyone, what’s more important is consistency. Decide what you’re up for, and stick with it.
  • Come up with some templates for responding to online reviews, both good and bad. These will help you manage the workload and should keep you out of trouble. A good template will also keep you from responding emotionally and help you stick to good customer service.

3. Your online listings need some TLC.

Online listing sites are this decade’s version of print directories. Despite the massive impact these sites have on your search rankings, they aren’t where most business owners start when they try to up their online presence.

Where do your online listings stand? Most local business owners

  • Either have unclaimed listings or too few online listings.
  • Have incorrect or inconsistent listings
  • Have inconsistent listings from site to site.

According to Yext, this is a big, big problem. 73% of consumers lose trust in a local biz with incorrect information.

You may be thinking, “How can I have incorrect listings if I never created them in the first place?” This may sound unfair, but incorrect and inconsistent listings can pop up online even without your input. That’s because the web is so smart, it’s asking consumers and customers for their feedback and consistently aggregating it so it’s easily found, even if the information isn’t perfect.

There are a couple ways to get these listings fixed – 1) You can manually visit each site and correct your most crucial info with the essential name, address and phone number (NAP), or 2) You can hire a listings management service to do the work for you and keep the listings locked down.

Popular listings management services include:

With any of these search ranking inhibitors, there’s more than one way to address the issue. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re covering the basics so you up your chances of getting found online.