If you want a stranger to reach your place, you will have to guide him well. If you open a new shop, you have to let the locals know about the products you sell and where you are located. Similarly, if you want local customers to visit your website, you must build a strong local SEO strategy.
When you are providing certain products or services within a particular city or region, you need to attract people close to you. A local SEO plan is just the right online strategy for this.
Why Local SEO?
The ultimate goal of any business is to make profits; profits that will grow consistently with the business. Local search optimization demands attention when a business is looking to achieve long-term organic growth. However, doing it for 30-60 minutes weekly might be enough for a certain company while people who are looking to achieve greater and more efficient results can benefit from regular and proper development of SEO. The more efforts you put in this job, the better will be the results.
Let us discuss this with an example. Imagine that you have just started a local dentistry business and are looking to grab your share of clients. You start off with a nice and cozy chamber, followed by the range of new, efficient and top-class equipment. Now is the time for promotion of the business. So how exactly do you promote this business? Definitely you will start off by pushing out referrals, articles, brochures, local ads and other means of local advertising. We all know there is no point playing the guitar in the basement. It will only make sense when you go out and promote it. Though this type of promotion might not take you places, but it is a beginning for all start-ups.
The above was the scenario for a small-scale local business. Next in line we have a larger business. Let us assume that now you have a well-developed name in dentistry. Your appointments take days. The overheads, internal processes, lawsuits have all got your business going. In this case, though we can assume that you will never run out of clients, but then again at one point of time or the other you will have to get the business developed a little further out of your boundaries. So, what do you do when word of mouth and the other methods do not give you that popularity? Let’s discuss something more long-term. Yes, start off with the following simple steps.
- Get a great domain. A great domain is the key to building a successful SEO campaign for a business
- Make sure you have keyword based domain. Google always tends to pull up such website on search result
Now that you are done with the first step, we believe you are certainly ready to master the secrets of local SEO optimization. So here goes.
1 – Google My Business Setup
Go to Google My Business (www.google.com/business/). Then set up your profile in the right category. This profile must have your complete information documented together with everything that you can have in there; plus photos and videos. Following tell Google what you are all about with as much detail and accuracy you can. Your entire profile cannot be projected through lean paragraphs. The fuller your profile; the better will be your visibility on Google and other search engines. Skimpy pages are no good for both SEO and for visitors.
2 – Business Listing
This is really simple. Just go to Google.com and type in your business name. Are you there? If yes, then good, you are done with your first step. If not, it’s time you put it on. Put your business descriptions all across Google, Bing, Superpages, Yelp etc. If you are already there, see if you are mentioned correctly. Google pulls up data from various online sources to make a profile of a business. That is how they decide whether it is trustworthy or not.
Put up your product and service details in the business directories of the location that your business is set up in, along with the location in the title. Ensure that you spell the entire thing out correctly, without any spam. For example if you are John Smith, don’t just put in John Smith. Make it a full rich title with an accurate definition. A week, 15 days or 30 days down the line you may actually get a hit on the website based on these listings.
Just make sure you have a pretty powerful business listing. If this can be done right, depending on the marketplace, you can actually see yourself all the way up through the listings in the Search Engines. From a state of being seemingly nowhere, you can even go up to rank on the top pages of Google in days. This is the long-term process of building trust and authority, which is certainly the very key to business promotion.
3 – Major Data Providers
To start with, get your data evenly spread across all citation building websites. Correct set of data needs to be consistently placed across all platforms. This set of data comes to be the most important consideration for Search Engines to consider whether or not a business is actually worthy of getting ranked. It tells the Search Engines how deep your penetration is in terms of your online existence. For a local dentistry business, since that is the example we are using here, it becomes important to get your business listed in the local niche directories. Good news is that many of these directories allow free listing.
4 – Off-page Criteria
Different types of blogs or sites may point to your website when you are building links or building citation. The next point to consider will be whether all such backlinks are coming to your site from trusted sources or are they coming from spam sources such as adult sites and junk networks. In case you have more of spam backlinks pointing to your website, they will result in lowering the authenticity and trust of your site. If you have enough links coming from directories, local directories and data providers you are automatically building your base, organically and gradually over time. It is wrong to assume that this can be done in a day or two. If possible invest in a membership with the local chamber of commerce. Though not a direct hit, it will get your businesses enough networking.
5 – Customer Reviews
More the customer reviews on local directories, more will you enhance your reputation management scores. But majority of reviews and feedbacks should be good. If you have 20 reviews against your business and 15 of them are bad, then probably you are not doing well as a business owner but you are doing well in local SEO. Whether good or bad, Google will take these 20 reviews to be an extremely great procedure taking your website all the way to the top. All that Google has to check is whether or not the business is generating enough reviews. Reviews can be put up in Google, Yelp, Superpages and all other sites. Remember volume is the focus here; not the quality.
6 – General Importance of Customer Reviews
While Search Engines do not really care about whether the reviews are good or bad, they check a lot of stuff based on how the reviews have been put up. While a Search Engine understands that reviews cannot go up from 1 to 50 in a week, all reviews cannot also state that your service is excellent. Further, Google also makes a check on the origin of the reviews. It goes on to find out whether the reviews have all been put up from the same IP address or not. You cannot just ask all employees of the office to write the reviews for you. Numerous reviews generated from the same IP instantly will be taken for spam. Further, be sure not to get all reviews from one source, i.e. do not put up all reviews in Google alone or Yelp alone.
7 – Importance of On-page Criteria
Texts, tags, title descriptions and all the good old things that make the base of SEO come under this category. Keywords, similar phrases, different spellings or synonyms for the same word; all these can be used to guide local SEO. They must be present on your web pages. If a person is searching for Dentist’s LA and the keywords do not exist on the page, it serves no good for your SEO purpose. The contact info on the page together with phone numbers, site maps, site architecture, links and all important stuff that need to be implemented on the website. In fact ask your acquaintances to visit your website and take their feedback on its user-friendliness. Preferably ask those who are not from the web design industry. This will give you the perspective of a common user or an “outsider”. Their feedback will help you make your page easy to access, navigate and interpret.
8 – Full address on contact page
The complete address of the business must be present on the web page. You cannot hide it over text, image or flash. Full name of the business, complete address with ZIP, contact information and everything must be present on this page itself. If you have separate departments then you may also provide their email addresses for respective tasks. Contact information must be easy to locate, clearly segmented and well-organized.
Finance and final thoughts
Taking it further, let us discuss the monetary fronts. Let us take; a business generates an average of $3000 per booking. Let us believe that the website gets 33 visitors on the web page a day. This will come up to 1000 visitors monthly, out of which 1% will be converted leading to a revenue generation of 10*3000 or $30000. With an SEO optimized website the same business can generate 66 visitors a day, which will be 2000 leads a month. If just 1% of this is converted the consecutive revenue generated will be 20*3000 or $60000. For this business, every year, increased revenue of $360,000 can be generated by a well-planned SEO.
Local SEO functions to bring up the business in front of people and at the same time, to build a good reputation. If you can have good business reviews, it will be easier for you to find newer clients. Most businesses, having a web presence, generate their trust level through SEO. So, it is time you take your business to the next level of SEO.