In 2016, at least 53 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses. That’s up from 42 percent in 2015.

According to Google Data, 76 percent of these searchers visited the business they found online within a day. Purchases were made by 28 percent of those searchers.

Based on those numbers, St. Augustine and Jacksonville businesses should make a serious effort to optimize their online presence for local searches in 2017.

The following five action items can make a huge difference in the search engine ranking of your business.

1: Claim Your Google My Business & Bing Places for Business

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business or Bing Places for Business pages, click the links below and claim them right after you finish this article.

Both search engines provide you with a free page to list your business. Claiming these pages is an important step in showing up on your customer’s local business searches.

Be sure to add as much information and photos about your business as allowed by both search engine companies.

2: Optimize Your Website for Local and Mobile

First, is your website mobile friendly? If it isn’t, make that a priority. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites over non-mobile. Given that most of your customers are using their smartphones to search for local businesses, you want to ensure Google can present you to them.

Also, make sure your website is optimized for local searches. Make sure your site includes:

  • Consistent and accurate Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
  • Consistent use of relevant local keywords: town, neighborhoods, etc.
  • Use of address, town, state in your image’s ALT attributes (bonus search engine optimization points if your image EXIF data includes your NAP info)

3: Create Local Content for Your Website

Use your blog to tie your business to the community. Fresh content is a must today. It provides the search engines with signals that you have an active website. By localizing your content, you’re also reinforcing your location.

Need ideas for local content? Find ways to connect your business with local news, events, and activities. Set up promotions and specials around events.

Once you’ve developed your content, use social media to funnel your customers to your website.

4: Reputation Management

Make it a practice to ask for online reviews from your best customers. Online reviews contribute to higher rankings. And positive reviews influence searchers’ decision to contact businesses.

By the way, did you know 54 percent of searchers who read a positive review about a business will next visit the business’s website? Since most searches are done on mobile phones, make sure your website complies with Action Item #2 above.

5: Online Business Directories

The internet teems with business directories, also called Citations. These are sites where you can add your NAP information. Google takes many of these online directories—Yelp,, local and Industry directories—serious enough to include in their search results.

If your business has been around for a while, chances are you already have a listing on these sites. It’s important that you claim them and review your NAP info. Again, you want to provide the search engines with consistent and accurate information wherever you show up online.

The above action items aren’t overnight success schemes to rank your business number 1 on Google.

These action items, implemented in a consistent and thoughtful fashion, will help the search engine gain a firmer understanding of your businesses. They will also have a better idea of which of their searchers would benefit seeing your business in their search results. And that’s how you’ll increase your search engine ranking for searchers that matter to your business.

If you’re considering improving your online presences to get more customers, we’d love to help. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.