A Business Owners Guide to Getting Started with Local SEO
You’re a small business and you’re looking to break into the online world and start getting enquiries for your business or service through your website. So you build a website that looks great, has all of the information a potential customer could ever want, but nothing happens. So what next?
Well, in most cases, you cannot just build it and hope they will come, no matter how well that worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.
This simple does not work as well as you would hope and is one of the great misconceptions of online marketing. You need to put some promotional work in in order to see results.
For small local businesses, queue Local SEO.
What is Local SEO and How Can It Help My Business?
Local SEO is essentially search engine optimization that targets a specific town or city. So for examples sake, let’s say that you are an electrician and your business is located in Derby and you are wanting to undertake a Local SEO campaign for Derby.
Some of the popular terms that people are going to be searching for within this sector is going to be “electrician derby”, “electrician in derby” etc.
These are also the terms that you are going to want your website to be ranking for. This terms are highly relevant to your business and in turn are going to attract a lot of customers to your services.
The search results generally look like the following image for this specific term, so you’ll want to show up on the map to get a bigger slice of the pie.
This type of SEO has many benefits for your local business:
- You attract local customers actively looking for your services
- Due to the above point, you are more likely to convert leads due to relevance
- You raise overall brand awareness within your local area
- Local SEO isn’t as costly as National SEO but can benefit your business just as much
I can hear you asking now “This is all great, but how do I get started?”
Well, we’re getting to that now so let’s dive in.
Step 1 – Research
This is the most important part. Through proper research you can find keyword terms that you want to target and then figure out which keyword terms you want to realistically start to target.
These keywords are going to be different for each business and they are going to relate to your Industry, Service and Location. You want to avoid keywords that are too vague or is just too competitive. More competitive keywords should be considered, but should be more of a long term project.
A large part of what this research should be is competitor analysis. You should be well aware as to what your competitors are doing and how well they are doing online. The aim here is to look at what they’re doing well and what they’re doing not so well at and then do it better than them.
If you do this successfully, you’ll probably start to out rank them. They may not like it, but that is all a part of the game.
Part 2 – Google My Business
Google My Business is a central and key way to get these listings. In fact, if you want to be listed locally on Google this is a must. There isn’t a way around it and this should be one of the top priorities for you.
When people search for your business, it will show up like the business in the image.
One important thing to note here is that your business information needs to be uniform throughout this process. This is your Business name, address and phone number. We’ll be referring to this as NAP from now on.
This is important because Google uses this information to detect relevancy, even if it is mentioned on other websites. All of this information is used, so if you have a business that has moved and your NAP isn’t uniform across all of the directories that you are listed on, it is going to conflict.
So, let’s get your Google My Business page set up.
- Click Here and then click on “Get on Google”
- Sign in using your Gmail account for your business. If you don’t have one then you’ll need to set one up in order to complete this.
- Follow the steps that Google have provided you to verify your local business.
- Fill out all of the information relating to your business. It is important to fill this out 100% to get the best results.
Step 3 – Website optimization
This is also important as it ensures that your website is performing the way it should and you’re actually going to get the attention you want.
The first thing is to ensure that your NAP is consistent. This is a recurring theme within this post, because it is important. So if you say Street instead of St. then ensure everything else says Street too, to stay consistent. It is really important.
You NAP should be within the footer of your website and on the contact page.
Remember the keyword research you did? Now is the time to use it. You’ll want to add your city to the titles of your service pages, headers, image alt text and within content on your website. This is all part of the optimization process. Just don’t go overboard and do what is known as keyword stuffing.
Your website should also be clean and designed well. Being attractive to potential customers is important and you should also look at getting a responsive design in place, as more than half of your potential customers will be researching for information from a mobile device. Things like a Call to Action is also nice and ensure that your phone number is displayed so people can call you straight away.
Step 4 – Building Citations
Citations in Local SEO are ways that you can effectively build “links” to your website. These aren’t links as much as they are mentions, but they’re all relevant and they all help to increasing your websites visibility within local search.
You’ll want to get listed in directories that have relevance to your business. There are also some generic directories that may have categories that are suitable for your business. Getting listed on local directories is also important as this shows further relevancy.
Again, when listing your business on these directories, ensure that your NAP is consistent with that on your website.
A few examples of Local citation sites that you’ll want to be on:
Business directories that are industry specific are also great as these are usually of a high quality and are incredibly relevant to your business.
Step 5 – Content
Having content that is helpful to your users is a great way to not only generate more traffic, but it can also help to boost your overall visibility within local search.
This can be done via different mediums, such as Video on YouTube, an eBook or guide, an informative blog post etc. There are lots of ways to create awesome content that your readers are going to engage with and find useful.
Step 6 – Social Media
Social Media is growing year on year and it is becoming an integral part of any Businesses online strategy. It helps with branding and connecting with your consumer base. It is also used by potential customers to decide who to purchase from.
There are hundreds of avenues you could go down for Social, but you should really research into what your competitors are using and see where your industry is thriving and go with those.
You’ll want to make your social media accounts an information hub and not something that you use to purely promote your own products. People do not respond well to those types of over promotion tactics.
Social Media is something that you’ll want to keep on top of. If a potential customer sees that you haven’t used your social media accounts for over a year then it doesn’t give them a very good view of your business. Are they still around, are they still operating? Who knows?
So, those are pretty much the basics. There is a lot of information to take in and a lot of information to research. If you follow all of these steps and do them correctly, you’ll start to see your business appearing within the search results for those keywords and start to see some traffic and leads.