Just like ‘mobile’ and ‘social media’ are products of the evolution of the web that keep getting more and more attention, ‘local SEO’ is one of those products as well. This is especially applicable to small businesses.
The major search engines are taking into account the fact that when people perform a search about a product or service, they are probably looking for something in the area. This is why, as a small business, it is important (I would even say crucial) to get involved in local SEO.
This article is a mini-guide to local SEO for small businesses. Hopefully this will remove the ‘alien factor’ of this new ‘thing’ and will help you dive into it.
Local SEO is not a lot different from regular SEO. It can still be divided into 3 main components:
- On-site optimization
- Off-site optimization
What are you targeting? Who are you targeting? What are people looking for? Are you providing what they are looking for?
You need to identify your target audience and their needs.
There are a lot of keyword tools that are helpful at this stage. There is the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the paid service Wordtracker, as well as other tools like Market Samurai or Traffic Travis. It really comes to personal preference for this selection.
You need to gather a list of keywords that local people are typing in the search engines. Let’s suppose that I have a small business in Knoxville that provides a 24-hour plumbing service.
A 2-minute search on Google AdWords Keyword Tool got me these interesting keywords: Knoxville plumbers, plumbing Knoxville tn, emergency plumbing Knoxville, plumbers in Knoxville tn.
Digging deeper would get me even more. These keywords are relevant to my service, so I will want to add them to a list of keywords I want to target.
The next step in this phase is to see who else is ranking for my desired keyword phrases; I am talking about competition analysis. I will want to make a list of my competitors and their backlinks. For this purpose, I can use Google for the actual search, and the various link research tools available for finding their backlinks.
While this article is about local search engine optimization, I would feel terribly guilty if I don’t at least say something about the overall design and layout. Your content might be great, but if your design is repulsive, chances are people will leave your website as soon as they see it. SEO will not be the issue here. Actually, a high bounce rate will hurt your rankings.
That’s it about design (for this post); now back to SEO.
There is no big difference between on-page optimization for local SEO and general SEO, except maybe for 1 thing: Your company’s name, phone number and address. Search engines can recognize them. So it might be beneficial adding them on all your pages (maybe in the footer, sidebar or even header!).
And of course, you will have to take care of the other ‘regular’ stuff as well, for example:
- Page title
- Meta keyword
- Meta description
- Keyword between H1 tags (and maybe H2 and H3 as well)
- A good keyword density
- URL optimization
- ALT tags for images