Local SEO

Local search engine optimization (SEO for short) is crucial for web visibility.  Local SEO is not what it once was.  These days social media, pay per click advertising and content marketing all play a significant role in optimizing your local business.  With millions of pages of content and status updates occurring every single any and all businesses will have to think outside the box to stand out from the sea of chaos (there is a lot of chaos).

Here are some ways a local business can improve their SEO efforts in order to stand out as much as possible:

Frequent your Address

Just having a contact us page on your website is sometimes not enough these days.  Make sure your address is listed in your footer, a contact us page and sometimes even your sidebar if your primary focus is local foot traffic and business.  You want those search spiders to pick up that address as much as possible.

Onsite SEO

This might seem so obvious but it is not for everyone.  Forgetting to optimize your site for your local search terms happens much more frequently than you would like to see.  Having robust optimized content, page titles and meta descriptions is just getting started.  If those components are not optimized well much of the rest of the site might not work how it is supposed to.

Blog Writing

Blog writing can be time consuming but is extremely important for website growth.  Your blog allows you to target long tail keywords that your website needs and it also gives your business a personality.  Depending on where your business is located your blog can help you target things like writing about local events, local individuals and other local citations that can directly benefit your local business.  For example if you are a small restaurant you can right about local farmers markets, food events and even other restaurants that generate search traffic so you can scoop up some of that visibility.

Here is a nice little post describing how you can use your blog from a local retail standpoint.

http://www.entrepreneurslife.com/thoughts/entry/local-retail-store-blogging/

Pay Per Click Advertising

We like to look at local SEO as being efficient with your marketing efforts and how you spread your digital voice.  With that said local PPC advertising can complement your organic SEO efforts very nicely.  If you rank for local search terms and all of a sudden you have a pay per click advertising ad in the same search result you have now occupied 2 important parking spaces which can be very important for visibility.

Offsite SEO

Getting your business listed in local directories will help your link building.  Building up your one way links and letting the search engines know you are a serious local business is going to be very important moving forward.

Here are some great ones:

These are just a few. To see a really nice list check out The Ultimate List: 50 Local Business Directories.

Local Social Media

Local social media is a huge part of growing your local business.  Many businesses are missing the point with this.  For those of you who still don’t believe in social media marketing you are just lying to yourself.  Social media is like have a bologna sandwich without the bologna, it just doesn’t work.  Take a look at the links below to read some of the social media success stories that have occurred out there.

 

How To Optimize Local SEO

These days it really does not matter if you have a small local business or a larger chain local SEO is something that is crucial if you ever want to see anybody come by your website and inquire a bit more as to what you offer. Keep in mind that the definition of search engine optimization is one that has evolved over the years and is always changing. It is not about jamming a bunch of clunky keywords all over your site but rather a comprehensive approach that combines onsite SEO efforts in conjunction with external quality link building and social media tactics.

Let’s start with the foundation…your website

The most important starting point with this whole local SEO effort is your website. Don’t assume that it is all link building because it isn’t. Your website is the foundation to everything you do moving forward. If it is not properly optimized for search or conversions you are just going to hold yourself back.

  • Always separate individual services onto their own pages. Don’t put all your services onto one page in a list.
  • Conduct keyword research for all your services.
  • Always optimize the meta tags, descriptions and keyword sections uniquely for each service using your targeted geographic area as a keyword.
Example:
 
Title tag: Boston MA Board Certified Facial Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon | Dr. Brandignity
 
  • Utilize your localized keywords naturally throughout the content of your site.
  • Make sure your complete address is listed in your footer and an official contact us page to let the SERPs know where you are located.
  • Your service pages should have more content than 2 sentences. Get creative and put some nice lengthy unique content to keep visitors reading.
  • Keep design & development tight and up to date with no coding errors.
  • Make sure you have conversion elements in place so visitors are not looking for anything.

External Marketing Efforts

Once you have your website in tip top SEO shape you absolutely need to pay attention to your external SEO marketing efforts if you want to be visible in search. Remember that many of your competitors most likely already perform aggressive external marketing efforts for their websites you are going to either have to catch up or compete directly against them. The search engines do not care if you have a “better” company or lower prices it comes down to search ranking factors and how they view in comparison to those.

Here are some ways you can be building links:

  • Launching local business profiles.
  • Writing & distributing PR when news worthy activities occur.
  • Blog post writing with keyword utilization.
  • Blogger outreach to get your community writing about you.
  • Social media usage.
  • Content marketing.
  • Interlinking your website.

Group Shopping

Group buying has become all the rage. Not just for local businesses but really for any business looking to acquire a surge in clients and customers for a reduced cost. For some local businesses this has become a huge cash cow. I have seen spa’s increase business by almost 1000% just from one group buying offer.

If you need more convincing check out Mashable’s:

Inside Group Buying: 7 Small Business Success Stories

Geo-targeting

What is Foursquare? Sites like Foursquare have given many local businesses which depend on foot traffic that new breath they are looking for. Foursquare combines social media and customer loyalty all into one neat little package. As people visit a business they check-in to let others in their network know they are there. You might say that this is silly but so is letting everyone know on Twitter or Facebook you just bought a cup of coffee. The reality is that these novelty efforts many people find interest in.

Foursquare Video

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