Focus on Optimizing Your Website
- BUILD A GREAT WEBSITE
This is probably the most important and over looked step in SEO for many small businesses. It is also the first step in SEO, without a great website any attempts at optimization will be futile. Why? Because, your website is the heart of your SEO efforts and the life line of your business online. In order to have a great website, your business website needs 3 crucial elements:
- Speed, your website needs to load quickly. We live in an instant gratification era, where users do not want to wait for your website to load.
- Accessibility, your business website needs to be accessible to all users on every device and browser. This includes having a website that is accessible to screen readers for users with visual impairments.
- User-Friendliness, every business website, big or small, needs to have an effective method for conveying their message and then converting website traffic into customers. In a nut shell, this means utilizing visual elements that tell the user where to go and what to do next.
These 3 elements are the difference between having a website and having an effective website. If online users cannot access the content they came for or they don’t know what the next step is, they will leave and look elsewhere. There are plenty of options online, so do not be fooled to believe that a user will not go to your competitor if you haven’t effectively provided them with the speed, accessibility, and user-friendliness they expect. In addition, these are all critical ranking signal for Google and your website will be negatively impacted by failure to comply with these website standards.
Need help building a GREAT website and optimizing it for Google local? Contact us here for a free quote.
- EMBEDDED GOOGLE MAPS
If you have a physical location where you provided products and services to customers, embed a map on your website. This is such a simple and yet, highly effective method for sharing more about your business location with Google and it helps your customers find your location with ease.
- OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR LOCAL KEYWORDS
Local keywords are keywords specific to your physical location and the areas your business serves. That being said, you will want to lightly sprinkle localized keywords throughout your website (Note: I didn’t say stuff 500 of these words on one page). To pick the best localized keywords for your business, take advantage of a keyword planner. Google offers a very robust and free keyword planner, the only catch is that you must sign up for a Google Ads account in order to use it. However, once you’ve signed up for your account you can quickly start learning how to use the Google Ads Keyword Planner.
When researching local keywords keep in mind that a majority of people search by typing in the name of the city or town first, followed by the keywords relating to your industry. For example, instead of searching Web Designer Savannah, GA most people will type in Savannah Web Designer; therefore, the later will most likely perform better.
Once you have found the right keywords for your business you will want to work them into your content naturally. Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of stuffing your content with keywords. This will not help your business and Google will dock your website for it. A good rule of thumb for keywords, is to ensure they account for less than 5% of your content and that when read they flow naturally with your content.
Honestly, how many times can one truly use a keyword like Hinesville website design, without sounding repetitive and annoying anyways?
Get Listed on Local Business Directories & Generate Reviews
- GET YOUR BUSINESS LISTED ON LOCAL DIRECTORIES
Local listings and directories are a key ingredient to good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and since most local listing pages are free, they offer your business a cost-effective method for boosting your brand exposure. When working with business directories it is imperative to maintain accuracy and consistency, across the board. This means ensuring your contact details are the same on all of your business listings and that you do not have any duplicate listings. Some directories pull listing information from data aggregators such as Express Update; therefore, if your information is inaccurately listed with them, you may end up with multiple inaccurate or duplicate listings on other directories. This can negatively impact your SEO efforts, as it makes it difficult for Google to determine what contact information is accurate and what is not.
Completing and submitting directory listings manual can be very time consuming. Therefore, many business owners do often opt to hire a company to take care of this for them. Alternatively, you could choose to utilize a platform such as Yext which allow you, the business owner, to manage all of your business directories in one place. Although, this method is very swift and effective one should note these services can be costly for a smaller business.
If you are a smaller business, with a tighter budget, you don’t need to be listed across 100+ directories. Focus your efforts on the local directories that are most relevant to your business industry. In addition, submitting your business information to online data aggregators will help you to easily gain additional listings, without the added leg work.
Want to get your business manually listed on relevant local directories without the headache? Contact us here and we’ll take care of it for you.
- ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR HONEST REVIEWS
Positive reviews help to boost your business in search results. This is especially true for websites and directory listings where users are able to filter businesses by ratings. The most effective method for gaining legitimate reviews from customers is by simply asking. This is where having a solid email marketing plan in place is useful, if you’ve provided a customer with a product or service, you can simply shoot them an email afterwards asking them to leave you a review on your Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, or Facebook page.
Optimize your Website Off-Page
- GAIN BACKLINKS FROM LOCAL PUBLICATIONS
Developing good quality backlinks is a monumental part of effective SEO. When it comes to boosting local searching engine rankings, you will want to focus on building backlinks with local publications and websites.
The best way to do this, is to simply contact local newspapers, magazines, industry relevant blogs, etc. and share your story with them. Whether you are a new business that just opened in the area, are launching a new product, or are hosting an event, local media outlets want to know about it so bring it to their attention. Establishing good relationships with the local media can also help your business with future promotions.
Optionally, you may want to take advantage of an online link building tool to help you not only find relevant backlink opportunities across the web but, to also streamline and simplify your outreach process.
- LEVERAGE THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
By now most businesses are utilizing some form of social media, this is not a new or unknown concept. However, many businesses make the mistake of over extending themselves on social media. Rather than wasting countless hours trying to maintain a dead social media account, it is best to focus on the social media channels that are the most effective for your business.
In addition, similar to your directory listings ensure the contact information on your social media pages are accurate and consistent, with your website and local listings. Inaccurate information can be detrimental to a business’s authority; which is why we repeatedly emphasis this point.
- GROW ENGAGEMENT WITH VISUAL CONTENT
Don’t let potential customers become bored on your website or listing, give them a better user experience by providing them with engaging visual content. To do this, utilize images and infographics to break up long blocks of text. Infographics are also a great way of providing users with a visual learning aid, increasing the likely hood of them remembering not only what you are saying but, also your brand. 40% of people often respond better to visual information, as opposed to plain text. In addition, having good visual content can lead to natural link building growth. In other words, attractive and engaging images are more likely to gain links from other websites naturally.
Even if you don’t have a large budget for stock images, you can find tons of free images, like the one above, on sites like Pixabay. This can be especially useful for adding visual content to your blog or website.
Remain Vigilant in Your SEO Efforts
- GOOD SEO IS ABOUT THE LONG GAME
There is no magic formula or trick to gaining organic growth on Google’s local search results. It is all about remaining vigilant in your SEO efforts and focusing on best practices. You will inevitable see fluctuation in your rankings from time-to-time and you will definitely find yourself fine tuning your content to focus on keywords that have a higher conversion rate.
As a smaller business, the idea of persistence and consistence in your SEO efforts may feel like a daunting task. We get it, you are busy running a business. However, focusing on gaining organic growth doesn’t have to be an everyday task. Set a schedule for yourself, if all you can afford to dedicate is one day a month to working on building directory listings, backlinks, and optimizing your site content…than do that. Create a plan of attack and set aside one day a month to focus on your Search Engine Optimization.
- SCHEDULE ROUTINE CHECK-UPS
Search engines and consumers are constantly evolving. Users are adapting new search habits and search engines, like Google, are rolling out new algorithm updates. All of this has an impact on SEO, specifically how you optimize your website both on and off page. Therefore, it is essential that you check up on your SEO efforts at least once every 6 months. Be aware of any major changes that would affect how your website ranks in local search engine results.
In closing, focusing on local search engine rankings is often easier and more effective for smaller businesses; therefore, it is a good starting point for business that want to boost their organic growth on Google. However, it should be noted that the 10 ranking factors discussed above are only the top-ranking factors and NOT the only ranking factors to consider. There are over 100 factors that can affect a website’s ranking. However, these are definitely a great place to begin focusing SEO efforts for smaller businesses, especially those with limited budgets, that are looking to gain traction and brand awareness inside their local market place.