Local Search Tips
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be both a black box and an art at the same time. It seems many companies will submit you to the search engines and believe their work is done. This isn't the case for small to mid-size businesses as they don't always sell nationally or globally. Many sell locally which is where SEO for Local comes into play. Marketing the old fashioned way is still important, especially for a local business. As more of your customers continue to rely on the internet it's important that your page sits near the top of a given search in order to provide maximum visibility. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your local business gets put at the top of the search engine results.
The first item to look at is your keyword phrases that you are utilizing. Do they have local references in them? When you're developing your keyword phrases you need to make certain that the content and the Meta tags have local keywords associated in them. If you sell pizza you are looking at a very broad category to begin with. Don't use a keyword of "pizza" as you will most likely not get the search engine results that you are looking for. Having "Valparaiso Pizza" will garner you some much better results from a local perspective.
Think locally over broadly. This will cut down on your perspective audience from millions to thousands, or even hundreds of people you are more likely to get people that are more interested in your product or service. With the size of the Internet being a really big place the more specific your keywords are the more likely you'll be able to reach the front page of the search engine results page (SERP). Real Estate agents are one of the best in doing this. Rather than using Chicago as a keyword they are using city names like LA Porte, Michigan City, and Chesterton to be more specific. They even consider housing complex names if they are well known to get even better results.
Back links can be a blessing and a curse. If you receive back links from bad sources they can lower your SEO results. Having good back links from other local businesses, Chamber of Commerce, city pages, etc. you will not only help the exposure to your website but also gain more visitors.
One factor many people avoid and don't get to are "Citations". When we first heard of citations we wanted to run as they are typically seen as bad (e.g. a traffic citation). Citations in regard to the Internet can be a very good for your business. The more citations you receive, that are from reputable sites, the better you will perform on the search engines. Back links are great to your site as they provide a direct tie from one site to another. A citation can also create a tie with the enhancements search engines have made over the years. The more local a citation is the more weight it will have in the search engines. Being put in local newspapers, chamber of commerce sites, news sources (blogs, radio stations, etc.) the better your score with the search engines will be.
One area people overlook is community involvement. Supporting your community not only helps the community but also can help your business. You will be promoting your business, or should be, with announcements of your involvement which will help keep the content on your website fresh. By having items on your website that are relevant to the local community residents will be more apt to talk about your business which will gain you better exposure. Having items show on your local city pages like community calendars, local charity drives, and articles about the area that you're located in, and other items of interest to the people around you, you’ll have more people visiting and linking to your site for those things. That will not only give you more back links, it will also give people a reason to visit your site that may lead to conversions.
People come to your website as they are looking for something. This could be the product or service you offer, are looking for support for something, or are coming to gain some valuable insight from you. By becoming a local source of knowledge you become an expert in your field. Whatever you choose to do with your website by becoming the local expert you will gain more visitors. This means that your website and your online presence should show people that you know what you're talking about so that they begin to associate your name with the industry. A furniture repair shop can easily show they are a local expert by not only providing information about their services but also tips and tricks they have learned over the years to build credibility as well as be a source of local knowledge to others. This expertise can help drive people to bring their items to you rather than your competition as you've built a solid reputation with them over the years.
The final major point we want to bring to you is to be active with your website. It's not enough to build it and they will come. You need to be active on keeping your website up-to-date, be involved in social media, and be active in any active blogs that may exist in your area for your area of expertise. Whenever you comment on a blog, post on social media, and even your signature in your email make certain you reference your website to draw people to yourself. Don't just post about your business and the latest and greatest sale you are having. That's all fine for a short term gain but give your visitors something of value that they can put into use. Work on getting people to link to you and mention you so that you are cultivating a long term relationship rather than just making a statement. Unless your business is to make one sale and be done with the customer then you need to remember you must continue to cultivate the relationship and provide value to the customer.
The technique that a law firm uses to develop a national SEO strategy is the same for a local law firm. The biggest difference is that rather than just stating you are a law firm you are a law firm supporting community x and y. The best thing to do is to get your good word out about your product or service. Don't push your information to the customer. Although we want every contact to be a sale we all know that will not happen. To us informing and educating our audience is what matters to us. If someone goes elsewhere we look at how we could've done it better but in the end are happier in knowing that we did help someone gain insight into the realm of the Internet.
If you need help with your regular search, local search or website JM2 Webdesigners is here to help.