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Perhaps you’ve seen my posts on social media, but we’re moving to Indianapolis! After six wonderful years in Lafayette, Indiana and of being a Lafayette, Indiana wedding photographer, we’ve decided to move an hour south to Indiana’s capital, where we’ll live just outside of downtown Indy.
While we’re excited for this move, as a business owner, this move does come with a lot of work on my end, especially in regards to SEO.
In this episode of Priority Pursuit, I’m sharing what my team and I are doing behind the scenes to adjust my SEO strategy for our new city so that if you find yourself and your business moving any time soon, you’ll know exactly how to update your local SEO when your business moves.
Now, if you aren’t planning on moving, don’t dismiss this episode, because the strategies we’re going to discuss can also be used to improve your local ranking on Google, especially if you aren’t already showing up on page one of search results.
My New SEO Goals
If you’ve listened to previous episodes of Priority Pursuit, you know I’m very passionate about SEO. Before I became a full-time wedding photographer, I was the content director for a marketing agency, and a big part of my job was making sure that our clients’ websites and content ranked well on search engines so that our clients’ ideal customers could find them and so that our clients could meet their business goals.
Because I knew the power of SEO, when I started my photography business, one of the very first things I did was optimize my website for search engines. Today, I firmly believe that I’m able to be a full-time wedding photographer because my website ranks well on Google.
Right now, if you search for “wedding photographers Lafayette, Indiana” (as of March 1, 2022 as I write this) or conduct similar searches, my information consistently appears as the first listing in Google’s Local Pack or Google Maps.
My website is also consistently listed within the first five organic search results.
I also have other content that ranks well (e.g. “engagement photos at Purdue”).
And, because my website and Lafayette-specific content ranks well, Google is where a lot of my clients find me. In fact, every year, 40% of my couples find me on Google.
While my rankings in Lafayette are good, the business in Lafayette has been such a blessing, and I do shoot several Indianapolis weddings every year as a result of referrals, with our move and with the current price I’m charging, I would like to start ranking for “Indianapolis wedding photographer” and similar searches so that I can shoot weddings closer to our new home and that are a little more upscale.
How to Update Your Local SEO When Your Business Moves
With my goal to rank well on Google for “Indianapolis wedding photographer” and like searches, I’m breaking down the steps my team and I are taking below to shift Victoria Rayburn Photography’s SEO strategy.
Whether you’re moving your business or you’d love to improve your local ranking on Google where you’re already established, here are five steps you’re going to want to take:
1. Update the keywords on the main pages of your website based on your new location.
First, you need to optimize the main pages of your website with keywords for your new location.
For instance, with my SEO goals, I’ll be using keywords such as “Indianapolis wedding photographer,” “wedding photographer in Indianapolis,” and “Indy wedding photographer.”
Optimizing your website with location-based keywords will help Google understand that this is where your business is now located and that your website, products, and services are relevant to searches related to your keywords.
We aren’t going to go deep into keywords in this episode for the sake of time; however, if you’d like to learn how to identify and use keywords to improve your SEO, be sure to tune into A Guide for Photographers: How to Identify Keywords for SEO that Will Help You Book More Clients Or, if you’re a photographer, download “A Guide for Photographers: How to Identify Keywords for SEO that Will Help You Book More Clients.”
2. Get a phone number with your new location’s area code.
To improve your local ranking on Google in your new (or current) location, the next thing you’re going to want to do is get a phone number with your new location’s area code. This helps Google see that your business truly is local to your location.
Now, I know changing your phone number can be inconvenient, especially if you use a single cell phone for both personal and business use. But, an easy way around having to change your phone number entirely is to register for Google Voice—a telephone service that will connect to your current cell phone but allow you to have a business number.
I recently signed up for Google Voice, and now, people can contact me via my cell phone both through my personal and my business phone number.
Having a Google Voice number is not only great for SEO; it’s also great for setting boundaries. Google Voice allows you to set office hours and send all calls made outside of your office hours to voicemail. Plus, all voicemails and texts for your business number will be stored within the Google Voice app, allowing you to keep business and personal phone use more separate.
3. Update your online directory listings.
To update your local SEO when your business moves, the next thing you need to do is update your online directory listings.
Online directories are websites or anywhere business information is listed online (e.g. Yelp, Google Business Profile, etc.).
Now, it’s important for your online directory listings to be consistent because when Google sees that your business’s name, phone number, hours, email, another other information are consistent across online directories, Google will:
- Be certain of your location and service area.
- More or less say, “Wow. That business must be legit, because all of their information is consistent.”
And, this consistency will make Google more likely to rank your website well.
How do you update your online directory listings?
When it comes to updating (or creating) your online directory listings, you have two options. You can (1) create the online directory listings manually or (2) invest in a service—such as Yext—to update and maintain your listings for you.
To manually update your current online directory listings and to make sure your information is consistent across the Internet, you’ll simply need to find everywhere you business is listed online (I recommend Googling your business or phone number.), go to each website where your business information is listed, and log in to update or the listing or “claim the business” to be able to give updates.
Side note: As you create or update your listings, I highly recommend creating a list of all online directories where your business is listed with corresponding usernames and passwords to be able to easily update your listings again in the future if needed.
Updating your listings can be time consuming, but this task is also something that you can likely hand off to an intern, a VA, or even a detail-oriented teenager who wants to earn some extra cash. Updating or creating your online directory listings should take no more than a day or two.
If you’d prefer not to manually update your listings, there are softwares and programs out there that can do it for you for an investment. For instance, Yext will update and maintain all of your online directory listings if you simply provide your information once. However, Yext starts at $500 per year.
Whether you want to create and update your own listings or invest in a service like Yext, there’s no wrong answer. You just have to decide what’s best for your business.
Where should you create online directory listings?
If you’ve yet to create online directory listings or if you just don’t have that many, you’ll certainly want to create online directory listings. There are countless online directories, but if you’re looking for a place to start, the following directories are free when you manually list your business information:
- White Pages
- Better Business Bureau
- Apple Maps
- Merchant Circle
- Super Pages
- Hot Frog
In addition to these directories, it’s also valuable to take advantage of both industry and local directories. For instance, for wedding vendors, The Knot, WeddingWire, and Zola are online directories that you can consider utilizing. (I’m not necessarily advocating that you pay for an account with any of these directories. But, if you can get a free listing, this will help your SEO.)
In terms of local directories, do a little Googling to find out if your new (or current) location has some form of a local directory, such as a website that highlights or lists small businesses in the area. This will help Google further associate you with your new (or current) town or city.
4. Ask past clients for online reviews if they haven’t already left them.
Another great way to improve your local SEO—whether your business is moving or not—is to earn online reviews, especially on Google.
If it’s been a while since you’ve reached out to your customers and asked for reviews, now is the time. Reviews help Google see that your business is active and that you’re serving your customers well, which will very likely increase the chances of your local Google rankings being improved.
While all reviews are helpful for SEO, if you have clients who can give you reviews related to your new location, you’re certainly going to want to capitalize on this. For example, I’ve photographed several weddings in the Indianapolis area. As a result, I’ve been emailing past VRP couples who got married in Indy and asking them to not only leave a review, but to leave a review and to make mention of their Indianapolis wedding venue.
In theory, location-specific reviews will help Google even further associate you with your new (or current) area.
5. Create niche, location-specific blog posts or content that can be consumed on your website.
Last but not least and likely the quickest way to get your website in front of your ideal customers in your new location is to create niche, location-specific content that can be consumed on your website, such as blog posts or videos.
For example, with our move to Indianapolis, just a few blog posts I plan to write over the next few weeks include:
- “Best Indianapolis Engagement Photo Locations”
- “Wedding Venues in Downtown Indianapolis”
- “Where to Take Your Wedding Photos in Downtown Indianapolis”
- “Bridal Boutiques in Indianapolis”
These blog posts are specific to my new location, and they answer questions my ideal client has, making these blog posts both beneficial to SEO and helpful to both prospective and current clients. For example, having a blog post about the best engagement photo locations in Indianapolis will likely help attract potential clients by offering them helpful information and be beneficial to my current clients. If current clients have no idea where they’d like to have their engagement photos taken, I can simply send them a link to this blog post for inspiration.
Plus, on top of these benefits, niche, location-specific content that answers questions is likely going to rank faster than your entire website. For instance, in my case, there are a lot of “Indianapolis wedding photographers,” and it will take a while to get my page one. However, a niche, location-specific blog post likely won’t have as much competition. As a result, in theory, I’ll be able to get my website in front of my ideal Indianapolis client faster.
Side Note: Adding content—even if it isn’t location-specific—to your website regularly is beneficial for SEO. When your site’s content is being updated regularly, Google will basically say, “Hey. This website is active. We should rank this site higher.”
If you’d like to learn more about how blogging and publishing content regularly via your website can help you SEO, be sure to tune into “Episode 004: Five Ways to Improve Your SEO for Free.”
How long will it take to rank for your new location (or current location)?
Now, whether you’re moving your business you simply want to improve your local search ranking, a question you might be asking is, “How long is it going to take to see results?”
And, friend, it’s hard to say. How quickly your website moves up the Google ladder largely depends upon:
- How much competition you have in your area and whether or not your competitors are optimizing their websites for search engines.
- How quickly you accomplish the tasks we discussed.
- How much quality content you publish on your website.
In theory, the faster you accomplish the five things we discussed and the more helpful, quality content you produce, the faster you’ll find yourself on page one of Google.
That said, depending on what the competition in your area looks like, you’re likely looking at at least six months. And, because I’m moving to an area with a lot of truly fantastic wedding photographers who are optimizing their websites for search engines, I’m estimating that it will take at least a year before I can find myself on page one.
But, here’s the thing. SEO requires work, but it is one of very few ways that you can get your information in front of potential customers who are actively looking for your products, services, and content entirely for free.
And, while social media platforms may come and go, there’s no sign of Google going anywhere. Being able to quickly find answers online has become an integral part of our lives. As a result, if you’re going to invest in any kind of marketing tactic or strategy, I’d argue that SEO is your most powerful option—after a strategic website, of course.
Whether you’re planning to move soon or in the future, I hope you now feel confident about your business’s future because you now know exactly how to update your local SEO when your business moves and get your website in front of customers in your new area. But, if you never plan to move, the steps we discussed today can still help you improve your local ranking on Google, so you’re going to want to complete these five steps too!
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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