Changes by Google in their search algorithm can play havoc on your campground visibility and Google search position. These changes are due to Google's constant tweaking of their search algorithm combined with their pursuit of the perfect user experience. Recent changes include how searches like "Campgrounds near Guelph" are displayed. Google will 'usually' show a list of 3 campgrounds meeting the search query. Prior to mid-April 2015, the list included 7 campgrounds.
In another example, the same search a year ago provides different results than a current search in 2015. This change has much to do with the quality of info and the user experience on your website. For instance, a website that is rarely updated or does not provide helpful content will be ranked lower because it doesn't provide the value that Google wants. I know in speaking with some of you that your search rank has dropped in the past six months. The fact that your eroding "FREE" visibility in Google search is unsettling for you. I want to suggest 3 Ways To Help Improve Your Google Search Position.
1) Make sure your website is mobile friendly
For months leading up to April 22, 2015 Google warned website owners to make sure that their website was mobile friendly. "Content marketing company BrightEdge has tracked over 20,000 URLs since the update, and is reporting a 21% decrease in non mobile-friendly URLs on the first 3 pages of search results" (Search Engine Land - June 18, 2015). Stone Template Consulting also indicated that "Nearly 50% of Non-Mobile Friendly URLs Dropped in Rank".(June 3, 2015)
- When someone searches for your campground on a smartphone or other mobile device Google shows the user the words "Mobile-Friendly" in the listing.
2) Make sure you are paying attention to your Google+ page?
Claiming, optimizing and updating your Google+ FREE Local Business Listing is critical. This listing allows creates content for your Google Maps listing. As of August 21, 2015, Search Engine Land reported that Google holds 65% of search. It only makes sense to play in Google's playground. Google+ is part of that playground. Did you know that "Four out of five people (Think with Google - May, 2014) use search engines to find local information, like business hours and addresses, and research shows that businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to be considered reputable by customers?" (Search Engine Land, July 6, 2015) Further, if someone is searching via a mobile device your Google+ page may displayed before your website. Don't miss out on this opportunity to be found.
- You ensure Google has accurate campground information.
- You campground will show up on Google Maps
- You can respond to reviews left about your campground on Google+ Search Engine Land
Takeaway: Once you have claimed your Google+ page make sure you post, comment, follow and interact with others on it just as you would Facebook. If finding new potential customers through Google+ is not enough motivation maybe this is. Search Engine Journal recently reported that pages not "updated in six months may be deactivated". (June 5, 2015)
3) Make sure you are asking for reviews?
Simply put "Businesses with Review get clicks" (Moz, August 19, 2015). In Moz's unofficial tests they indicate that Google is paying attention to those local businesses with reviews and are rewarding them with greater visibility. If you are not convinced you need to work on this area "a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research," showed that "88% of respondents admitted to being influenced by online reviews." (Search Engine Land, July 6, 2015)
Takeaway: Come up with a strategy to have guests provide reviews to your campground on your Google+ Page, your Camping in Ontario page, YELP, Trip Advisor and more. This may be emailing recent campers or sending a postcard after they leave and asking them for a review. Yes, reviews can be a little bit scary but they provide valuable information to you and to your target market.
Despite the claims, no one can guarantee a first place position in Google search. I'm a firm believer though, that paying attention to these three elements in an ethical, strategic and consistent manner you will earn Google's attention and they will reward you with greater visibility of your campground in search. Greater visibility in Google means greater potential for new business which in turn means you will soon be filling your campgrounds and RV parks.