Local SEO will be the primary source of search engine traffic for many small businesses. When we talk about local SEO, two distinctions are important. First, you are local if you are selling to the local community. Think of a hardware store or beauty salon. Second, you are local if you are selling some tangible property both to locals and out of area people. Think real estate, classic cars, boats and so on.
The elements of a local SEO campaign are fairly basic, but can get more complex depending on the business. We recommend all local small businesses have a website with a domain name that they own. Do not put your main site on free hosting of any kind. The major elements of local SEO are:
- SEO Content
- Google Places
The first major element must be your website. The website should be designed to reflect your business. Remember, your website will be the first impression for your business when visitors come to the site. You want them to be impressed enough to stay awhile. Ask the hard questions, why would a visitor want to come to my site and why would they want to stay? Make sure your site answers the question. The website is the primary elements of your website.
The next element is a blog. We recommend WordPress for building both your website and your blog. A professional template will also take care of design. Use static pages for your website and posts for your blog entries. Blog entries will rank in the search engines on their own, but they will also allow you to send links to your pages and other posts. Your blog can be part of the website or stand-alone. It’s easier if it’s part of the main site, but if you have an existing website, it may sense to create a new domain and host the blog there.
In many cases, you will be concentrating on geographic keyword targeting. Simply this means, Marion CPA and Accounting, rather than CPA and Accounting. Many local searches are geographically targeted. All the services and products that you offer should be targeted using your local community or communities. Towns, cities, neighborhood names and so on should be targeted. Use the town and the state too. Make sure that your pages and posts are titled using these geo targeted keywords.
Not all local businesses will use geo targeting, but if you are serving the local community, geo targeting is absolutely critical. Create lots of pages and posts about your products and services.
80% of competitive keyword rankings come from off page SEO factors and links are what that 80% is all about. More competition means more external links to your pages. Links with anchor texts for your chosen keywords act as votes for that page. You may need a few links or a few hundred links to push your page to the top of the listings. Link building is critical you must learn to build links or find someone who can do it for you. Check out Off Page SEO Factors for more on link building.
If you have a local address where you do business, you must be on Google places. These are the listings that are showing at the top of local Google search results pages with the flag and a Google Map. You can see it here for San Diego Florist. In some markets the competition will be low and just signing up through your Google account will be enough. In other markets, competition for the seven listed positions will be tough and you will need expert assistance. Regardless, this is the easiest way to get to the top of the listings.
Facebook is growing and more people join everyday, but it’s not for every business. My take for now is that a Facebook page (your business page, not your personal page) is more informational and supporting for most local small businesses – with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are businesses like bars, clubs and restaurants that have live entertainment and events. You customers will be happy to know that you are offering updates and more information on the acts and events. If you have a constantly changing mix of products, make your announcements in both your blog and Facebook. Offering coupons on Facebook will keep people coming back.
Note: If you’re not going to regularly engage with your Facebook followers, don’t start the effort. It will disappoint and alienate people.
Open a account on Twitter just for your business. Twitter is like a carnival barker standing in cyberspace announcing things about your business. It can be a source of customers and followers if you offer them Twitter only deals, limited time deals and so on. Twitter can also be used to announce specials on your Facebook page or on your website. Twitter coupon codes can also work. Tweet things relevant to your business, not too much about you personally. Yes, people like to get to know you, but they don’t want to know what you’re doing unless it’s about your business topic.
Sometimes, local SEO can be accomplished with just a website with good content and a few good backlinks from other sites. It can also demand additional effort and investment if competition is high. Local SEO is no longer optional. More and more customers are finding local businesses through search engines. Make sure you’re where you need to be. Contact Mike at 386-295-2049 to discuss your options. I’m a Daytona Beach SEO specialist, but I serve the world.