Most small business owners around the world are using search engine optimization(SEO) to not only market but to quite literally put their businesses on the map. SEO is used to move a website up the search engine rankings for a specific keyword in order to gain more visibility. The difference between being ranked in position 1 and position 11 is enormous. Position 1 will get roughly 40 percent of the traffic for the searches related to that particular keyword whereas, position 11 will get less than half of 1 percent of all search traffic. When you start looking at keywords that have a thousand plus searches a month you will quickly see why an effective SEO campaign is so important to most small businesses today. Even though the internet gives small businesses the opportunity to market their product and or services all around the world most small businesses are still very much focused on their local area. That is where Local SEO comes into play.
What is local SEO? Local SEO is a specialized type of search engine optimization for businesses that are interested in ranking for geographically-related keywords. An example of a geographically-related keyword would be something like Phoenix web design. Rather than attempting to rank for the broad keyword term which in this instance would be web design a small business may choose to narrow their target audience down to a specific geographical area such as Phoenix. By doing this it allows a business to really concentrate on growing their business locally rather than attempting to grow it on a national or even global level. Local SEO is especially important to any businesses whose customer base consists of customers within a 50-100 mile radius of their business location in most cases.
What is the key to ranking locally you may ask? Well, the first thing I would suggest is to contact a professional SEO company that has a proven track record and begin working with them. However, if you are not wanting to or don’t have the budget to hire a SEO company then we would suggest following both the onsite and offsite checklist below to get optimal results.
ONSITE LOCAL SEO CHECKLIST:
The onsite local SEO checklist is a list of things that you must do to your website in order to help you improve your chances of being ranked for specific keywords. Many website owners that attempt to run a SEO campaign on their own, only focus on offsite work which is a huge mistake. Ignoring onsite issues can cause all make all the offsite work a lot less effective.
- Easy Site Navigation – Web crawlers must be able to easily locate all the pages on your website. A web crawler is what search engines use to systematically browse the web for the purpose of indexing. You will want these crawlers to crawl your entire site especially because of the importance that the search engines place on content. In all reality, every page on your website should be able to be found in 2 clicks or less. If this is not the case then we would strongly suggest you update it immediately, not only for the search engines but also for your website visitors. Usability is an important factor when it comes to the conversion rates of your visitors.
- Contact Details – Obviously, if you are attempting to rank locally then you will need your business address listed on your website as well as a phone number with a local area code. This may sound like a no brainer but you would be shocked by just how often this is missed or how often a company moves and forgets to update their website with the correct address.
- Image Optimization – The search engines will doc you big time if your website is slow loading. Many times the reason a website loads slowly is due to either the images being to large or having to many of them on a page. One of the most common places that images cause a website to load up slowly is the slider. You must remember that all the images in a slider have to load before the page is done loading. That is why you will want to make sure you limit your slider to between 3 and 5 well optimized images. Geo tagging of images is another great strategy for local SEO.
- Meta Tags – If you have done any research on search engine optimization then you have probably heard about the importance of Meta Tags. It is key that you give proper titles and descriptions to each page. Make sure to follow the length limitations for each. Title tags should be less than 70 characters and description tags 160 characters.
- Content – I am sure you heard the phrase content is king. Well it was true years ago and it is even more important now. Google places a lot of weight on fresh relevant content. If you have a lot of pages on your website that doesn’t require frequent updates then you may want to consider adding a blog. A blog is a great way to allow you to constantly add new content to your website.
CHECKLIST FOR OFFSITE LOCAL SEO
- SEO Tools – Google offers 3 SEO tools that will make your life a whole lot easier. They are Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Adwords Keyword Planner Tools. The best part is that these tools are free. If you choose to run an Adwords campaign then it is not free but to signup and use the tools it is free. There are many other great tools out there but these are 3 you must get.
- Business Directories – You will want to make sure that you are signing up for local business directories that are in your niche. Building local citations and getting customer reviews from them is critical to success with local rankings. Start with Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Local.com etc. Here is a list of some of the more popular directories to start with.
- Social Networks – You will want to sign up for social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Simply signing up is not enough it is a must that you update these frequently.
- Google Places – If you don’t already have a Google Places page then this should be the first thing you do. Don’t rush through this step as you must make sure that your profile is filled out completely and optimized properly for you to rank properly.
- Link Building – Yes, link building is still a very important part to any SEO campaign. This one can be dangerous because so many businesses attempt to take shortcuts here and end up doing things that are against the search engines rules and regulations. Even though it is tempting to do anything you can to rank on page 1 I assure you that the punishment far out ways the reward. Work on building quality links. Link diversity and quality far outweigh quantity and all your links from only a few sources.
One thing to note is that search engine optimization of any type is a marathon and not a race so don’t get discouraged when you don’t see your website on page 1 after 2 or 3 months. If you run a Local SEO campaign that follows the checklists above and follow the search engine’s rules & guidelines then eventually you will begin to see your website move up the local rankings.
If you are interested in receive a no obligation estimate and SEO audit of your website please contact us.