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The small business guide to local SEO
It's pretty obvious that choosing a great street location is a crucial decision for the success of most hospitality businesses. Being easy to find is critical, as is staying top of mind by capturing the attention of a steady stream of foot traffic.
It is really no different on the Internet; it's simply imperative that you have an attractive spot in a location that is easy to find for prospective clients and customers.
The great news is, that the big search engines like Google are increasingly personalizing search results based on the location of the person searching. This is a big boon for local businesses, you don't have to compete with large conglomerates on the search engines anymore; it's becoming increasingly easy for you to position your website in a way that will get you noticed by the search engines.
First, let's explore one of the key ways in which the world of search is rapidly changing....
How mobile search is changing the world
Perhaps the biggest change in the search market has come in the form of the smartphone and the way that your customers and clients are now using them.
Tablet and smartphone use has doubled from 2012 to 2013 and there are predicted to be over 2 billion smartphone users by 2015 (Smart Insights).
Your clients and customers are now making their purchasing decisions while they are out and about; this has been a major change in user behavior. Decision-making has gone mobile and people are making their choices on the fly by using their smartphones to search the Internet.
Looking for a local mechanic to check on that funny sound that's started coming from your engine? Jump on your smartphone and search for a "mechanic in your local area." Trying to find a burger place close to your mechanic while your car is getting looked at? Back you go to your smartphone to search for a restaurant.
Statistics show us that 68% of smartphone users have used mobile search to look for a product or service (Google Think) and 67% of these search results are affected by the location of the person searching. (Small Business Yahoo)
The following is a short guide to ensure that your business is easy for your local customers and clients to find online.
Choosing your keywords
In general the search engines act like a virtual librarian, they file all your web pages, blog posts, images and videos in a massive library in cyberspace.
Optimizing your website is simply the process of telling the search engines where to file everything; so that when your prospective clients or customers are searching for what you have to offer they can find you easily. As per your physical location, being difficult to find is a bad idea.
The first step of optimization is choosing the right keywords (search terms). The general rule of thumb when selecting keywords is as follows...
Choosing the right keywords is very important and unless you are very familiar with SEO it may pay to outsource this research to an SEO specialist.
If you are a local business, selling local products or services make sure that your selected keywords include the name of your city or county. This will make you easier to find on Google's now personalized search results.
To illustrate this point, imagine that you are a small business accountant in Nashville...
If you wanted to try and optimize your home page just for the term "small business accountants", your chances of getting on to the front page of the search engines would be low. But if you made the strong choice of going local and optimizing for "Small Business Accountants In Nashville", your prospective clients in Nashville would be much more likely to find you via the search engines.
So once you have well researched, locally favored keywords what's next? What else can you do to make certain that you dominate your local search rankings?
Use video and dominate local
As technology improves the Internet is becoming increasingly video-centric, yet, still the majority of content online is written content.
One of the best ways to dominate your local search rankings is to great high quality videos that are optimized for your keywords. Currently a video is 53 times more likely to make onto the first page of Google than a regular text page.
Once you have your selected local keywords, it may be a good idea to create a video about your selected keyword phrase that has the most traffic. Remember to include your keyword in the title, description and meta-tags for the video.
Optimize your website for local
There are several on-page factors that are critical in optimizing your website for local search. On-page factors are simply the things that you control when creating the written content on your page, they include...
Let us explain...
Title Tags play a very important role in your local SEO campaigns, when you title your pages or when you are creating a meta-title for your website, individual pages or your blog posts be sure to include your location keywords in your title.
The search engines will also give you credit if you can use your location keywords in the URL of each of the individual web entities.
Furthermore, using your location in the headings of your content will also give you search engine kudos.
The way you write the copy on your page is also important, try and use your location keyword in the first and last paragraph of your web copy. If you have any images on your page, it is also worthwhile to alt tag them with your location keyword.
Lastly, make certain that your physical address and phone number are on every page of your website; the best place to do this is in your footer.
Get registered on local directories & websites
It's essential that you get your business registered on local directory sites like the Yellow Pages and Yelp. Not only will you get business directly from these sites but you will also get a local link that will help you with your local SEO ranking. Be sure to use the same address that you use on your website when registering on these directories (not a shorter version) as this information must match. Verify all your profiles.
Look to have a presence on the following types of websites in your area. Many of these entities will have a local business section
https://getlisted.org/ is a fantastic resource for finding places your business is not listed but should be.
Include your location on your social media profiles
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in the search engine rankings. You need to have a presence on high-ranking social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
Make certain that your profile on these networks includes your location, your name, address and phone number, these details should replicate exactly what you have on your website.
Get reviews from local people
Getting reviews from your customers can be tricky but they are great for your SEO as they improve the weighting (value) of your local links.
You can't force people to write reviews and you cannot insist that their reviews are positive but you should always invite feedback and let your local customers share the good news of your brand through "online" word of mouth.
Make certain that you don't fake reviews and never offer incentives for a positive review on a site like Yelp or your profile will be considered spammy.
Mobile search shouldn't be ignored. Roughly 40% of all mobile searches on Google have local intent. This doesn't even take into account apps with local intent.
Did you know:
Don't ignore mobile. In fact mobile just made Local SEO even more important.
By covering everything in this post you will be well on your way to being found locally. As we started with, even if local isn't your target audience, personalized search and the Venice update means you need to add Local to your online strategy. .
Source: The Marketing Exchange
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