SEO is a competitive challenge for every industry, especially when you are a smaller company trying to stand out in a world-wide arena. Focusing on local SEO is one way in which you can jump out at a search, increasing your visibility specifically to customers in your geographic location.
What is Local SEO?
Local Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of putting your website on the front pages of a google search for location specific keywords. The difficulty being that for most businesses today, they are competing for those top spots with millions of others – all over the world. With the goal of SEO being to build your specific business, you need to focus on the local search. Lawyers, accountants, small shops, restaurants and any other localized business structure can optimize SEO by focusing attention on the towns, city and state that they are located in.
How to Optimize Local SEO
Just when you thought you had SEO figured out, along comes a whole new set of location specific keywords and online marketing strategies to figure out. These are all a part of geographic setting for your business to stand apart from other similar ones, so that your website is visible by consumers in your area. Understanding the significance of these two terms will change the course of your online marketing to one that is focused on your target:
Citations – In SEO lingo, a citation is not something being handed out by Google cops. Citations are mentions on another website that link back to your site. This could be a quick shout-out in a blog post, or a spot in a local business directory.
NAP – Your business Name, Address, and phone Number are referred to as NAP, and provide a theoretical map to your specific business online. This data is unique to your business, so it helps Google to determine which searches to place you in. Consistency with NAP will increase your online visibility, so be sure that the data being used is always the same.
Using citations as a part of your marketing strategy can actually put a small business above large corporations in search. While a national company is focusing on a huge market, your popularity in local search results can cause your small business to outflank the bigger competition. The NAP is letting Google know that your business is active in a specific geographic area, allowing them to separate yours from the guys on the other side of the globe, and even the one in the next town.
There are a number of innovative methods for increasing your citations online:
Sponsorship of local charity websites
Sponsoring a local little league or other sport team that includes a list of sponsors on their web site
Being added to popular review sites
Taking advantage of local business listings
Inclusion on your vendors and/or buyers web pages in exchange for including them on yours
Being mentioned on the website of your local chamber of commerce
Asking local bloggers to mention your product or service in a post
Citations Within Your Own Site’s Content
Your own website should be rich in “keywords” that appeal to your target audience. Invest in content that is factual, engaging, and pertinent to your business. There are several tools available to help you gauge keywords used in your industry, but you can also use a common sense approach. This involves nothing more than you thinking like a person who would be searching for a particular good or service to determine what they would enter in the Google search bar.
Your website and landing pages should contain the basic business information, including your address and phone number along with descriptions of your business enriched with proper keywords that you are planning to rank for. Use blog posts to create content that engages customers with useful tips and advice, concentrating on keyword usage in the title and paragraph headers. Links to your information pages will keep customers on your site, reading about all the benefits of doing business with you.
Google My Business
Two years ago, Google introduced a new suite of tools aimed at business owners. Google My Business adds your information to a Google Search, Google Maps and Google+, allowing potential customers to quickly obtain information about your location and services. Using this service enables you to easily see how customers are finding your business on Google. Demographic data, online visibility and engagement metrics are all compiled and stored inside of your Google+ account. This citation addition hastens the process of Google figuring out who –and where – your target audience is.
Creating websites that are easily readable on mobile phones has become a “must-do” in online marketing. The use of cells and tablets to get online has surpassed the PC, so you need to get creative in how you are presenting your site. Landing pages have to be easy to read and visually appealing to compete for the user’s attention. Before you launch your site, or even a page, view it from your smart phone to ensure that it is easy to engage with on a smaller level.
Not everything that goes out on the web needs to have a world-wide impact. Local SEO is a way of narrowing down your reach on the large scale, so that your business is viewed widely at the local level. Pinpoint your online presence with citations and NAP and you will see an increase in traffic that is actually able to turn off the information highway and into your business.