Last week I talked about in-person marketing in Notary Advice Part 1: Ground Game. This week let's switch gears and talk about the web. What I want to cover for the local/small business notary public are some of the common sense things you can do today to improve your online presence and search rankings. i.e. How do you get found on Google when someone searches for a notary in your area?
Most calls you get from the web are the result of our site and other notary directories like ours. You might think "I've never had a call from half the sites I'm on!" and you would probably be right - but so so very wrong. You see, many notaries get found directly on Google, and the caller never even has to leave Google search. But how did the notary get displayed there in the first place?
The key is what Google measures as authority and reputation. And how do you get that? The simple answer is: You need links from credible and relevant sites with equal or more authority than you.
A notary just last week asked me about our site, if she should upgrade, what benefit it would bring, etc. Together, we checked various search terms people might enter for her, such as "notary near me 94582". She was already ranking 4th in organic search, meaning the non-paid results on Google. Sounds good, right? But there were two major problems for her:
1. The Google My Business results dominated the top of the page and are displayed on a map, making them much more likely to get clicks. They push normal results down, making a 4 more like a 9. She was not appearing at all in the Google My Business map results.
2. The link she was ranking for was her SnapDocs profile. That was the only way she was being found in a Google search. It may not be obvious as to why that's bad, and most people would probably be excited about it. But, if you follow the link to her SnapDocs profile you would notice there is no way to contact her without providing your email address and basically "signing up" for their website - no way to call, no way to email. It is a complete dead end and conversion killer because hardly anyone is going to do that. People will just go back and find someone easier to contact.
I recommended this simple action plan to her, and I think everyone can do it easily and benefit. Let's get to work!
1. Get your own domain name and website if you don't have one.
You need somewhere to direct "authority" and "reputation" points to, and you want it to be super easy for someone to contact you when they land on your site. If you don't already have a website, you can create one for free with something like Weebly.
2. Create accounts for your business on twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, and any others you can think of. Link them to your website.
You might never post or really use these accounts, but they are easy opportunities to get links from trusted social sites and increase your brand awareness.
3. Make sure you have a profile on Notary Depot as well as the other notary directories that let you link to your website.
These are the power links - they are notary specific, and from authority sites. Not all of the notary directories allow you to link to your own website. Notary Depot does! Make sure to sign up if you haven't already.
4. Set up your Google My Business and link it to your website.
This is critical because of how Google prioritizes local results. Set up Google My Business.
Once you have all of that done, be patient, and your rankings should start slowly moving in the right direction over the following months.
As you get more and more traffic and calls directly from Google, it's easy to discount everything else. Don't forget what factors into that traffic - all of the other sites and reputation you've built up over time. Maintain all of your profiles, make sure your links always work, and you will be on your way to improving your rankings!