Online marketing and e-commerce has spread like wildfire in recent years. Once the domain of big and mighty, SEO is now a fiercely competed domain with all businesses (small and big alike) seeking higher ranking and first page visibility to perspective clients. If you happen to be a small business in northern Colorado and want be visible locally on the search engines, then I urge you to read on.
Local SEO is somewhat a confusing and largely less understood topic. It’s tough for most of us to even know where to begin. What can be your must-have local SEO strategies for engaging local as well as a national or even international audience? Technically, local SEO is not as complicated, if you have a well-rounded local strategy. A few simple steps will make the difference.
Create a Local Places Page
The first step is to make sure that yours is a local business page for all 3 major search engines. For that you will have 3 different dashboards and listings to manage. Just fill out your business information e.g. your location, phone number, and business hours, etc. You are good to go as far as an account is concerned.
Categorizing Your Pages Correctly
Optimizing your local pages would mean listing the services offered, uploading quality photos, and giving details of your business hours.
Categorizing your business correctly is the most crucial in optimizing for local search. Most local search engines will offer you to place your business in 2-5 categories (so that they can understand what your business is all about). Place your business in the category where it really belongs. Too many options won’t give you a focused audience and willgive you loads of unwanted visitors.
Accurately build and post Citations
Make sure that all your information and data is correctly and consistently filled out (Name, Address, and Phone) across all listings. It is a real time possibility that your business may already be listed somewhere by another person! In such a case simply claim this listing (sometimes referred to as a citation). You can claim your citation by checking if there is another business by the same name and location through Yext, Localeze or MapMaker. You can also apply to verify that you are the owner of your business either by email, phone, or possibly traditional mail.
Online Reviews help SEO
Google records reviews as a major weighing factor in ranking on its new carousel design. Besides ranking, reviews are easy and quick mean for consumers to decide which link to click. Encourage your page visitors to leave reviews by offering some free shopping points or coupons etc.
Upload some Quality Photos
When people search for local businesses, they want to see photos related to that business. Your goal should try to be to have that many photos uploaded of your actual building, logo, and pictures of your products.
Optimize Your Website with content
Make sure you have your contact information and preferably a phone number somewhere on your website (including regional or city keywords wherever possible). Write your local area specific content and connect with local organizations and forums.
Limit yourself to a Niche
One of the best SEO related steps you can take as a small business is to achieve a niche focus. For example, if you specialize in roofing, you must concentrate on roofing related keywords. Doing that you might miss out on some visibility for all other home improvement keywords, but you would be most visible to roofing customers.
Engage in a long-tail keyword strategy
“Long tail” keywords are extended phrases Google records, such as “tips for installing roofing in an upscale home” instead of the more popular much shorter, “roofing installation. In such a niche specialization, you acquire maximum relevance in much smaller number of topics. You can research very useful long-tail keywords using Webmaster Tools.
Mention locality for useful optimization
The purpose local SEO is to target a much more localized audience. Local search is now becoming more important and relevant, so in today’s context, being the best drycleaner in Northern Colorado is far better than being a good drycleaner on national scale.
Community interaction and event attendance
Spread the word about your brand by getting involved in the community. Attending major events wherever you can, such as festivals, community gatherings and fairs, and bragging about your attendance through online posting can be an amazing tool.
Use local-specific keywords relating to your small business’s attendance, with local-specific inbound and high-authority links. This is one of the easiest ways to build some local-optimized content.
Make you content Hyper-local
Local search is getting ever more local. You can take advantage of this rising trend and cash in on the opportunity with SEO optimizing your webpages.
Google is increasingly getting better at categorizing and identifying neighborhoods within a broader city. You can take local search a step further by adopting neighborhood-specific keywords other than city and state specific. Your success is dependent on how Google views your neighborhood boundaries, so make a good research before you get on.
Apart from local SEO, you can increase your chances of getting NOTICED by increasing your following on social media. As you attract more followers and posts, the bigger and more active your social-media presence becomes, higher you’ll ranked in Google.
The Bottom Line
There are no shortcuts to rising and staying at the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there is massive competition on the scene. But with a good local SEO strategy that pins on your geographic location and smartness, you can generally overcome your local competitors in your selected specific key areas.
Give yourself the best fighting odds by adopting narrow topic approach and keyword focus with increased location-specific relevance. You might not be as visible as some other bigger players, but you will be ahead of them in relevance to your chosen focal areas.