Small Businesses Should Focus on Local SEO

If your business is a local business that serves a specific area, your main focus should be local SEO. That means you should focus on getting ranked for important keywords related to your business in your area. We’ll take a look at what local search engine optimization is and what factors into ranking your business locally.

SEO Misconceptions

The biggest misconception is when a small business tries to rank for a major keyword. While this is a nice thought, it isn’t likely to happen. Big businesses and corporations pour all kinds of money into SEO to get the top spot for main keywords related to their industry. Most businesses don’t have the budget to compete for top-level keywords. You could pour all of your money and time into trying to rank for main keywords, and it may never happen.

black-hat-seo

The next misconception is that you will skyrocket to the top of any search engine overnight. This doesn’t happen and won’t happen, unless you are doing something bad. It’s called black hat seo, and is frowned upon by Google and any other search engine. You can’t game the system, and even if you do find a way to do that, you’ll get caught, and you can risk being blacklisted & banned. You don’t want to do that, because it can be tough to ever break free from being blacklisted.

Along Comes Local SEO

Local Seo is just as it sounds. your main goal is to get ranked on the first page for relevant key terms for your business. This means focusing on keywords involving your area,which include longer keywords, also called long-tail keywords, and key phrases. When I am working on Knoxville SEO, I use it in the long tail keyword. For example if you were a web designer in Knoxville, you wouldn’t try to rank for the term “web design” but you would try to rank for web design in Knoxville. You would also shoot for: web design services in Knoxville, website design in Knoxville, business websites in Knoxville, Knoxville web design company, etc. I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea.

It’s All About Competition

Big keywords, like web design, may have a million people trying to compete for rankings for that term. It’s a lot harder to beat a million people than it is for you to beat 500. For example, web design in Augusta may only have 500 businesses that are trying to rank for that term, making it much easier to climb the rankings and actually show up in results for your local area.

local-seo-keyword-planner

How to look for keyword competition

One of the tools I like to use is Google’s Keyword Planner. With Keyword Planner, you can look up keywords and get a list of related keywords. You get a lot of information from keyword Planner. You’ll see how many monthly searches a keyword receives. You’ll also see the competition, which will be shown and low, medium or high. If you are looking to buy ad space, Keyword Planner will even provide you with a suggested bid.

Download Your Keywords as a Spreadsheet

With your keywords list in a spreadsheet, you can sort the data how you want, to see the information you’re looking for. The idea is to look for keywords that get a decent amount of searches, while having a low competition. You can sort for both, giving you the optimal keywords for search volume and low competition.

Then It Comes Down To Relevance

If the longer keywords you’re shooting for drives a decent chunk of traffic to your site, but no one really buys into your services, what’s the point? Traffic is great, but targeted and relevant traffic is better. Weed out keywords that don’t have much to do with what you do or what you’re selling, and focus more on the keywords that are related to your products & services. Your efforts should be directed at what will actually make you money.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Search engines will be looking for key elements that indicate that your business is legitimate. They’ll want to see you listed in directories (the important ones) and that you are active on social media. They’ll want to see that you have a good number of quality backlinks to your website. the key here is quality, not quantity. You’ll look better to search engines if you are linked to by quality websites that are related to what you do. All of these elements come together to increase your rankings. Having your business listed and verified on Google My Business and Bing are a good start.

Here are the Top 10 Ranking Factors When looking at local SEO:

  1. Domain Authority of your site
  2. Quality and Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  3. City and State in Google My Business Landing Page Title
  4. CTR (Click-Through Rate) from Search Results
  5.  Product or Service Keyword Relevance of Domain Content
  6. Diversity of Incoming Links to Domain
  7. Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content
  8. Physical Address in City of Search
  9. Quality & Authority of Structured Citations
  10. City, State in Most Website Title Tags

Most of these are self explanatory, but I’ll cover a few key points I think you might have a question about. Quality of incoming links from other sites is extremely important. Choose quality over quantity if you want to focus on the most success.

Google My Business

Google My Business is easy and free to set up. Make sure your city and state are in your landing page title. Google My Business is quick and easy to set up, and then you have to wait for a postcard to verify. this is extremely important! Your site won’t know up on their map without verifying your business. As soon as you receive that postcard, verify your business!

Click Through Rate

Your click through rate is important, too. it’s not enough to show up in search results. you want to make sure that your listing entices visitors to click your link. This is done with quality business information, and a great meta description that entices searchers to click your link, because you’re exactly what they are looking for.

Diversity of Links To your Domain

You don’t want one or 2 sites linking to your website 5000 times, no matter how great their site is. It’s better to have your incoming links spread across many relevant domains.

Yelp-listing-local-seo-ranking

Structured Citations

Structured citations are where your business information is listed on important business directory websites, such as Yelp, FourSquare, Google My Business, SuperPages, etc. The key here is to be as consistent as possible. You want the same business name,  business address, phone numbers, and website on all of these directories. Inconsistencies make search engines like Google worried about your legitimacy, causing your local search rankings to slip a little.

Local Seo: Next Steps

If you want to make an impact with your search engine rankings locally, you should focus on getting your business listed in the bigger directories, making sure that each listing is consistent. Google My Business is important, too, so that would be the place I’d start, because you’ll wait a week for the post card with your verification code to come in the mail. Filling out all of these directory listings will be plenty of work to get started with. Then, you can make refinements to your website itself. If you want to see how you’re doing, you might try Moz Local, which keeps track of a lot of important metrics for your local search engine optimization efforts.

A List of Local SEO Services

The right local SEO services can help you move up in search engine results for search terms that your customers are actually looking for. With all of the different factors that tie into ranking a website, it’s tough to keep up with all of the available services. Below is a list of the most popular local SEO services that can help your website be more visible in online search results.

  • On-page SEO – This is optimizing the content on your website, so that it contains all of the main elements and data Google and other search engines will expect for you to have.
  • Citations – Citations are where your business is listed in online directories. Examples of online directories you may want to be listed in are: Chamberofcommerce, Easylocal, Hotfrog, Merchantcircle,Yeloowpages, yelp, and many more.
  • Google My Business Page Setup – This service enables you to have a Google My Business profile set up and and optimized to help gather customer reviews. It also displays important information about your business to help visitors make a better decsion about whether your services are a good fit for them.
  • Backlink building services – Building backlinks to your website the right way can help your website to rank higher in search engines than your competition. This includes guest posts on other relevant websites, press releases, and more.
  • Pay Per Click Advertising – While not a direct factor in search rankings, pay-per-click advertising can drive traffic to your website, raise your click through rate (CTR), and help you drive relevant searches to your business while your rankings rise organically.
  • Social Media Marketing – Traffic from social media channels is a ranking factor of any website. Google likes to see that your business is involved in social media, and traffic from sites like Facebook and Twitter are vital to ranking in search engines.
  • Youtube Videos & Marketing – It’s true, Youtube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine. If you rank your videos, with quality content in Youtube, it can drive traffic and leads to your website.

There are more services than the ones listed above, but those are the most effective. It is important to understand that a good mix of local SEO services will help your website more effectively than putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Local Seo: Over To You

What is your experience with local seo? Do you have any tips to share to help you rank better locally for your services? If so, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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