Have you recently searched for your company on Google and saw that your competitors were outranking you?
If you’re not currently taking advantage of a local SEO service then this isn’t a surprising result.
It’s likely that your competitors are ranking better than you for search phrases related to your own business!
Often I’ll have clients with small local businesses asking me “why are my competitors outranking me on Google?”
The better way to look at it from a marketing point-of-view is “how do I outrank my competition on Google?”
Let’s look at the main reasons why you’re being outranked.
#1: Poor User Experience
User experience is one of the most overlooked metrics of local search optimization.
Poor user experience on your business website is likely why your competitors are outranking you.
This is one of the key metrics Google uses to determine rankings for local searches.
Take a look at your Google Analytics data.
This is the same information Google has access to and it can be used as a guideline for improvements.
The metrics to focus on are the bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration.
This is the percentage of people that land on your site and click back to the Google search results.
If your content isn’t relevant people will click back and visit another website.
This is something Google doesn’t want to happen so it’s in your best interest to improve bounce rate for your business website.
Having a lower bounce rate means people are spending more time on your website – one of the main goals of local SEO.
Pages Per Session
This is the average number of pages that each of your website visitors views.
A higher number of pages is better as it means the content is relevant to your visitors and they’re taking the time to look around.
The longer someone spends on your website the better chance you have to convert them into a client or customer.
Average Session Duration
Similar to pages per session, this metric measures the amount of time someone stays on your website before leaving.
Improving the session duration will lead to more leads for your business and better rankings on Google.
Each of these metrics reveals the experience users are having on your website.
Pages with a high bounce rate and low section durations can be quickly improved for explosive growth.
Not only do you benefit from better rankings but your visitors enjoy an improved browsing experience.
Here are some practical tips to improve the user experience of your business website:
- State what you do, the service or product you provide, and what your customers can expect
- Directly address your customers problems
- Use social proof (reviews, testimonials, case studies)
- Have more than one strong call to action on every page
- Regularly share helpful content through your website blog
The results of making these improvements is people will be spending more time on your site and engaging with your content at a higher rate.
Google will see these changes in the analytics and you’ll see your rankings start to improve.
Using the right strategy there’s no reason why you can’t outrank your competition, especially in local markets.
#2: Your Website Doesn’t Have Enough Links
Other websites linking back to your own website, “links”, is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm.
There’s a good chance your competitors have more links to their website from other websites in your industry.
Google considers a few factors to determine rankings based on links:
How many links does a website have?
Each link acts as a vote in Google’s eyes.
The more links a website has the stronger the website will be in the search engine rankings.
Getting links from quality sources will boost your rankings, especially if you’re getting the same links your competition has.
Where are the links coming from?
Google check to see where every link is being referred from.
It’s better to have one link from 50 different sites than 100 links from the same site.
This is known as having a diverse link profile.
What is the quality of websites behind the links?
It’s important to build links from authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy websites.
Relevance is one of the main metrics that’s used to determine the value of a link.
One part of a good local SEO strategy is to get links from industry relevant websites.
This is a great way to give Google the data it needs to rank your website for relevant local searches.
Before building links head over to the free tool Moz Link Explorer.
You can use this tool to see your website’s domain authority, link profile, and other ranking metrics.
Compare with your competitors to see what you’re missing out on and get to work!
#3: Your Website Doesn’t Have Any or Enough Quality Content
Many small business owners get lost with the dangling carrot of web design and forget about the rest of the site.
Having a great looking website isn’t enough.
A simple website with helpful content and a proper local marketing strategy will always outperform something stylish and contemporary that doesn’t have a strategy in place.
People online are looking for information and answers to their problems.
Someone with a burst pipe or in need of fast legal assistance isn’t concerned with how your website looks.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get your website ranked locally is to create and share content that’s helpful for your local market.
At the bare minimum your business needs to be blogging or sharing something helpful once a week.
Take a look at the competitors in your area.
Are they sharing photos on Instagram? Are they blogging regularly with helpful and insightful content? Are they documenting their business journey on YouTube?
The answer is probably no.
Something as simple as sharing a blog post on your website once a week can have a huge impact on your rankings and website traffic.
When creating content for your website, the focus needs to continue on user experience.
You’re not writing for search engines, you’re writing for people.
Share information that your target market will find helpful or interesting.
Don’t forget to include calls-to-action to promote your product or service, otherwise that’s a wasted opportunity for more leads and new business.
#4: Poor Local Search Relevance
Local search relevance is how Google determines where to rank your site geographically for people in physical locations.
For example, if someone is searching for “car detailing Detroit” they don’t want to be presented with results for Mexico, blog posts about car detailing tips, or businesses across the border in Windsor.
Google wants to show them businesses nearby and uses local search relevance to determine which businesses to show in the results.
How can you have a poor local search relevance?
Businesses that don’t take the time to optimize their websites for local search will run into this issue.
Take a look at your website right now.
Are you including local keywords and relevant search phrases that people in your area would be using?
Another example, one of my clients is a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
When I did the first SEO audit of their site they were missing so many local keyboards it wasn’t surprising that they weren’t even ranking in their hometown.
Search phrases as simple as “bed and breakfast in….” and “accomodation in….” weren’t used anywhere on the website despite being the focus of the business.
Without using locally relevant keywords and other location signals, such as a citation, it’s almost impossible for Google to know who to show results to.
Improving local search relevancy can also help websites rank for the “business near me…” type of keywords.
#5: Your Competitors Have a Higher Click-Through Rate
Click through rate is the percentage of people that see your website in the search engine results on Google and visit.
The three metrics that affect the CTR of your website on Google are:
- Relevant name
- Focused category
These metrics apply to your Google My Business listing.
Optimizing these three metrics can bump your GMB from third or second into the first place position in the map pack.
A better CTR tell Google that people prefer specific websites over others in the results.
Google uses data to rank local websites accordingly – something which causes the majority of fluctuations in daily rankings.
What about organic search?
Optimizing the meta data for your website and how it shows up on organic Google searches can improve CTR.
Include a relevant title and a description that encourages users to click through to your website.
Check out this helpful guide here on how to improve CTR.
#6: Your Business is Too New
Older businesses have had their websites on Google for a longer period of time.
An aged and properly optimized Google My Business listing is “worth more” in the search engine results than one without any reviews or optimization.
This gives Google more data on businesses with older websites that they will compare yours with.
As a brand new business there’s no need to worry about outranking your competition right away.
Take the time to build a website that’s optimized for local SEO, properly fill out your GMB listing, and the rankings will come.
#7: Google is Testing Your Local SEO Strategy
Your website rankings will vary wildly on a day-to-day basis.
It’s better to look at long-term trends rather than worrying about daily movement with your website rankings.
Google is regularly changing what’s displayed as the search engine results.
No two people are going to get the same results using different devices with the same keyword.
Search engines personalize their results for users based on hundreds of different ranking factors.
Every so often they’ll shuffle around the rankings for your website to see what happens for a few days.
Any drastic changes might signal a less than savory marketing approach.
Whenever you notice any changes in your business website rankings or you see your competition is unusually outranking you – wait a short while to see what Google has up their sleeves.
If nothing changes then it’s likely the issue is caused by something else discussed in this post.
Still Being Outranked By the Competition?
Have you made all the right changes covered in this post and your competition is still out ranking you?
There could be a more deep-rooted issue – something that some quick changes might not be able to fix.
In that case, take a look at my SEO audit.
That way I can take a look at your site and see what needs to be done to get you ranking again!