April 9th, 2015
Search Engine Optimization, Tips, Tools and Tutorials
When it comes to marketing, the Internet has leveled the playing field in many ways, giving small businesses the chance to go toe-to-toe with large corporations. Still, that’s only true of small businesses (SMBs) that understand how to effectively leverage local SEO techniques. A small company that makes a website and then does little or nothing to optimize it for local search engine results pages (SERPs) is going to be lost in the shuffle—and not just by huge corporations but by SEO-savvy small businesses too. By taking a few relatively simple steps to properly optimize their local business websites, small business owners can grab much larger slices of the Internet traffic pie.
According to a 2015 report by Small Business Advocate, SMBs make up about 99.7% of all U.S. businesses with a total of 28 million and counting. Based on the incredible number of SMBs in existence, it makes sense that not all of them have brick-and-mortar locations. Whether you own an actual establishment or operate your business from the cozy confines of your home, effective online marketing is an absolute must. Google prioritizes SERPs based on location to bring up the most useful results for its users. However, you don’t need an actual address to take advantage of this helpful tool. Check out the local SEO tactics below to learn how you can boost your search engine ranking and attract organic traffic to your business.
Newbies to the world of SEO are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that’s out there. Thankfully, Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is a great starting point. A few particularly relevant pieces of advice include:
Search engines are very detail-oriented, and they want to be confident about a business’ basic information. To facilitate this, make sure the name, address and phone number (NAP) of your business is consistent and accurate across the Internet. If it’s relayed in too many conflicting ways, the search engines will get confused, causing the ranking of your site to tumble. In fact, the search engines may even get the idea that you are operating multiple businesses instead of just one. GetListed.org offers a handy tool for checking NAP consistency, but do some manual checking too. If you discover inconsistencies, go through and correct them. The process may be painstakingly slow, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Incoming links, or backlinks, play a crucial role in SEO in general. Think of them as votes in favor of a site; they give search engines more confidence about the nature of a site. When it comes to local SEO, locally based links are especially effective. Unfortunately, you can’t just go around sprinkling local-based links to your site around the Internet. A few ways to encourage such links include:
Encourage customers to post reviews about your business to sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Without bribing them, helpfully point out that you appreciate their business and would love to receive a positive review. If this strategy “backfires,” resulting in the occasional negative review, don’t stick your head in the sand. Instead, respond constructively to such reviews to show the Internet at large that you are receptive to criticism and are willing to meet your customers more than halfway. If necessary, take steps to correct the situation, and point out how you did so in your response.
Google+ may not come close to enjoying the kind of popularity that Facebook does, but it excels in one crucial way: Because it’s owned by Google, Google+ business pages are more likely to appear in the SERPs. With that being said, merely completing a bare-bones profile isn’t enough. Take full advantage of every last field on your business’s Google+ page to increase the odds of getting love from Google.
A few steps to take when optimizing your Google+ page include:
Even if you have the finest products and services in the area, you’ll be passed up for the competition if you’re not engaging in effective local SEO. With the five strategies above, you can start fine-tuning your local SEO strategy to start getting more prominent placement in the SERPs. What kinds of things have you already done to boost the local SEO of your site? Are we missing any particularly useful tips and tricks? Please share them in the comments!
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