Search engine optimization has been around as long as search engines have been indexing websites. During that time, SEO has evolved considerably. Once, it was completely acceptable to stuff as many keywords into website content as possible in order to rank well.
Today, that will get your site banned.
Over time, many important areas that require optimization have come about, but the focus shifts quickly as newer techniques emerge, meaning that critical elements of your website optimization might be overlooked, leading to reduced traffic, lower search engine rankings, and overall poorer performance. What are the most frequently overlooked areas of website SEO?
You should have quality images throughout your website. This might include images of your products, team portfolio pictures, graphics for the various pages of your website, pictures of your company’s physical location and more. Here’s the thing – those images are important for more than just drawing the eye of your human visitors. They are important tools for SEO. Image optimization is often overlooked, particularly by small business owners attempting to do it all on their own, or by inexperienced webmasters.
There are several areas that need to be optimized when it comes to your images. Obviously, the image needs a name, and that should tie in with your keywords. You also need to add a description of the image, as well as an alternate tag/title. These might never be seen by your visitors, but they tell search engine spiders a great deal and can help individual pages rank better.
Of course, your images should also be correctly sized and formatted for the web, and they should be of high enough quality that they show off your products to their best advantage. Low-quality images really don’t have much place in ecommerce today and should be avoided.
Static, Keyword-Based URLS
When it comes to your website structure, SEO should play a significant role. You need to avoid dynamic URLs, as they change constantly, are unwieldy and long, and don’t capitalize on your keywords. Yes, it takes more time to create static URLs, and you’ll need to put some thought into your page names, but the results speak for themselves.
If your site currently has dynamic URLs, we urge you to change them as quickly as possible. Yes, this will be a hassle, but it will pay for itself in no time through better optimization and higher search rankings for those pages and your site overall.
Unique Pages and URLs
Do you have all of your products listed on a single page of your website? It’s more common with small business owners than you might think. However, it’s not doing your optimization and rankings any favors. Instead, you need to have individual pages and specific URLs for each product or service that you offer.
You can have a single product page that acts as an anchor, where your customers can come to find what you offer, and then separate pages linked to the name and image of the product or service on the primary page. These subpages should be named appropriately using a keyword and/or your product or service name to help build better results through search engines.
Customize Your 404 Pages
You should plan on there being times when your customers cannot reach a particular page of your site. This could be due to any reason, ranging from a temporary outage with your host to a problem with the URL to any number of other things. However, if your customer hits a generic 404 page, chances are good they’re going to think that your entire website is down, and they’ll head to a competitor’s page.
A custom 404 page can give them important information, let them know they’ve found the right site, and allow them to access other pages. Plus, it’s another chance to use some of your most important keywords and build your SEO ranking.
Shoot for Longer Content
Content is king, and Google wants you to have as much as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have dozens and dozens of pages if your company requires only a few, but it does mean that you need to focus on longer content pages. While product descriptions can be 100 to 200 words, you need to focus on creating longer content for other areas of the site. For instance, you could add a blog, and create longer content there.
Google prefers that you have around 1,000 words or so per post, as this comes across as being the most authoritative. You can also use this as an opportunity to achieve a couple of other goals. Obviously, blogging gives you another opportunity to use your keywords, which will boost your site’s overall rank (as long as the blog is attached to the site and not standalone). However, you can also use those individual blog posts in your content marketing efforts.
Share them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Add sharing buttons to the posts so your audience can spread the word for you, and mix up your content types (text, video, audio, photos and more).
Don’t Neglect Your Meta Descriptions
This is one of the most commonly overlooked SEO steps, even for experienced business owners and webmasters. Every single page on your site should have a meta description. This is the short bit of text that appears under the page name in the search results, and tells human readers what the page is about. It’s also a prime place to use your keywords once more. Every single page on your site should have a compelling, optimized meta description, including product and service pages, blog posts and more.
With these tips, you should be able to ensure that your site is better optimized, and ranks highly in organic search results. However, remember that search engine optimization never really ends – it’s an ongoing process of refinement.
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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to online visibility. No matter how high the quality of your products might be, or how outstanding your services are, that does not necessarily translate into online success. And, while SEO does have some similarities when it comes to small, medium and large businesses, there are significant differences that small business owners need to know.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the most important elements of SEO for small business owners, and how you can capitalize on these to build better online visibility.
It’s All about the Local
If you’re a small business owner, chances are very good that you’re also a local business owner. That’s a good thing – Google LOVES local business owners. However, the challenge is that you need to find methods to work that location into your content. You can do this in a number of different ways.
One of those is to work your location into your keywords. For instance, septic tank installation in Atlanta is a keyword phrase that your customers might look for (assuming they’re in the Atlanta area), and that Google will reward you for using in your content. Localizing your content throughout your website will have a major impact on your visibility.
You should also take the time to make sure that your address, phone number and other contact information on your website matches the contact information on your other online profiles. This should include social networks, online yellow pages/business directories, consumer review sites like Yelp, and more.
Choosing the Appropriate Keywords
As mentioned above, you need to target the right keywords in the first place. Localization is important, but if you haven’t targeted the right base keywords, your efforts will be less than successful. This is particularly important for small business owners, who lack the deep pockets of big businesses that allow those firms to compete for highly competitive (read: expensive) keywords.
Your keywords should be evocative and tied directly to your products or services, and your customers’ needs. However, they also need to be as specific as possible. For example, if you ran an auto repair shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, you might be tempted to target keywords like auto repair, oil change, engine tune-up and the like.
You would probably get some traction out of that, but it’s very likely that you’d ultimately lose out to companies with larger marketing budgets that can afford to pay more for their keyword bids. To avoid that problem, you’ll need to change your tactics. You need to get more specific. For instance, rather than auto repair, you might target something like import auto repair in Charlotte, or maybe cheap oil changes in Charlotte, NC if you really wanted to get specific.
The more specific your keywords are, the less competition there will be for them. This allows you to target actual search terms your customers are using, while not paying a fortune in the process, or running up against competitors who’ve already saturated the market with the keywords that you’ve chosen.
Read enough SEO guides and you’ll see that the amount of content on your site is a critical consideration mentioned in pretty much all of them. This is because Google rewards sites with more (relevant) content with higher rankings in the search results pages. It all comes down to authority. Google figures that if you have more relevant content about a particular topic, then you’re definitely an authority on that topic. Thus, you get higher placement.
So, in order to capitalize on this, you’ll need to create more content. How much more? Well, there’s the catch. No one really knows how much Google thinks is “more”. The best rule of thumb is this – keep creating content and posting it on your site for as long as possible. It’s not really a process that will ever end.
You can use this content in any number of ways – as blog fodder, in the form of product reviews, product comparisons, whitepapers, reports, and the like. The more value you can deliver to your visitors in the form of relevant, accurate content, the better you’ll do in search engine placement.
This is a subtopic, but one that bears a little scrutiny, as it allows you to kill two birds with one stone. Creating content is important. Creating links back to your website is also important. You can do both by creating link-worthy content that others in your industry want to link to and share with their own visitors. Infographics are excellent examples of content with just this type of potential. A quick Google search will show you tons of high-quality infographics that were originally created for one particular website, and then linked to from innumerable others. You want that for your own business.
Google loves consumer-generated content, particularly customer reviews. They’re also very popular with consumers. Really, when was the last time you bought something off Amazon and DIDN’T read the customer reviews or look at the star rating of the product before buying? You can turn that to your advantage. Use your niche focus and localization to help you find consumers who will give you reviews (preferably positive) on social sites. These can include Facebook, as well as Yelp. Those reviews will provide additional juice for your website’s rankings – link to them from your site, but also promote them on your social channels to really up the amount of oomph you get from them.
These are just some of the crucial considerations small business owners need to take when it comes to SEO. Remember that localization matters a great deal, and you need to focus on niche keywords to avoid competition with bigger companies with deeper pockets. Also remember that SEO never really ends, and content creation is an ongoing process that will yield rich results over time.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there’s a great deal to master.
It forms the basis of online visibility and is the key to generating organic traffic to your website from search engine searches. However, there’s more than one type.
Which is more important, and how do you know what you should be doing in that area?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these and where you should be focusing.
When it comes to search engine optimization, on page trumps off page, at least in the beginning. You need to take care of your website before you can start building links back to it.
What does this mean?
Simply put, you need to ensure that your website is built, up and running, and fully optimized (all on page SEO elements) before you start worrying about anything related to off page optimization. What do you need to consider here?
One of the first and most important things to consider are the keywords you’ll use in your content. Keywords are nothing more than words or phrases that consumers would use to find products or services like yours through Google, Yahoo or Bing.
You’ll need to research your audience and determine which keywords and phrases matter most to them (and you). Then, you’ll need to figure out which are the most competitive, so that you can avoid targeting them.
A note on keyword competition:
If you’re not familiar with the concept, keyword competition is a term that applies to the rate at which other businesses target the same keywords. For instance, “running shoes” would be highly competitive, but “women’s running shoes in Sheboygan” would be much less competitive.
Once you’ve settled on your keywords, they need to be added to your content. And by that, we mean all of your content. Your entire site’s content should be written with keywords in mind, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
Google has become very picky about keyword density and over-optimizing. Ideally, you’ll utilize your keywords correctly and hit a natural density (no more than 1%).
You’ll also need to ensure that you’re optimizing your entire website. This goes much further than just the page content. You need to optimize everything from page names to image tags. It’s crucial that you take the time to dig through your site architecture and view it all with a critical eye.
These are just a few of the areas that you’ll need to optimize before worrying about off page SEO.
In Google’s eyes, content is the most important thing about your website.
The more content you have (appropriately optimized with keywords, of course), the better you’ll rank in organic searches for those keywords. So, you need to take the time to build out that content before you start worrying too much about off page SEO.
Focus on blog posts, product tutorials, adding whitepapers and reports, subpages for your products or services, and more.
Build content and you’ll find that your rank rises naturally over time.
Now we come to off page SEO.
Really, off page SEO is nothing more than link building with other websites. You need links to your site from other websites that Google already ranks highly for related areas.
Another way to think about off page SEO is that it is all about your online reputation. It’s based on content located off of your website that relates to your website, and helps Google determine your website’s authority and ranking.
Here’s an example.
You’ve spent a great deal of time building content on your website, but you have also focused on content marketing off of your website, through Facebook, guest blogging and the like. Google likes your site and sees it as being pretty authoritative, because of the significant amount of content linking back to it.
In contrast, your competitor has spent all of his time building content on his website, and hasn’t focused on off page SEO at all. Google doesn’t rank his site as highly, because there is little information off of his website that Google trusts.
Ideally, you’ll begin off page optimization efforts shortly after building your website, once your basic structure is optimized and in place. Off page SEO is never finished, and it is a slow game – you’ll have to continue working on it forever, basically.
You need to focus on inbound links to your website, building a presence on social media, promoting content through social channels, guest blogging and other elements in order to cement this background information.
In the end, on page SEO is the primary concern for all business owners, but off page SEO is just as important. It simply comes a little bit later. However, while on page optimization efforts might largely end, other than blog posting on a regular schedule, off page optimization will never stop.
Content marketing – the phrase conjures up thoughts of blog posts and interacting on social media. Both of those are part and parcel of content marketing, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. In order to be successful here, you’ll need the right mixture of short-form content, and long form content.
However, many business owners struggle when it comes to long form content. What’s the best option? Should you write an ebook? Do need whitepapers? What about reports and the like? Are case studies better? Let’s take a closer look at your long form content options and how each can play a role in your marketing success.
Why Does Long-Form Content Matter?
Before we dive into a discussion of the various types of long form content, let’s dig into why it actually matters. The conventional wisdom is that people are busier than ever. You have mere seconds to catch their attention. They’re bombarded with demands on their interest from all sides, more now than ever before. How does that fit with long form content that requires more attention and time? According to Forbes, “When it’s done right, in the right circumstances, it works.”
So, how do you “do it right”? Well, that largely comes down to choosing the right type for your needs, and then using it correctly.
Authoritative: One important reason why long form content works so well, and is so important, is the fact that it is seen as highly authoritative. This is an essential consideration for brands attempting to build their reputation for being an authority on a particular topic or in a specific area. The more in-depth and detailed the information you can provide, the more authoritative your business appears to customers.
Shareable: Many types of long form content, when not locked behind a paywall, or available as a download only, are highly shareable. This includes reports, short ebooks, case studies, long articles and more. Shareable content is vital for building your audience organically, and getting your customers to spread the word about your company without you having to spend money on marketing.
Value: Finally, long form content delivers greater value to your audience members. It offers more data than short form content, ensuring that your audience can glean more value overall. It might answer more questions, show how to do something in greater depth, or illustrate a point more clearly. All of these are important considerations for businesses attempting to build their brand and reach their audience.
Ebooks are probably the best-known type of long form content. They’ve been around for years, and have been used for everything from lures to get people to visit a website to rewards for signing up for a newsletter or email campaign. When given away, ebooks are excellent long form content options, but you need to use them correctly.
First, they need to be the right length. Don’t write a book that’s 300 pages and then give it away. Your customers aren’t going to read it, and your cost of production will be high. Shoot for anywhere from 10 to 50 pages or so, and make sure that you have a good mix of text and high-quality images. Professional layout and design are also important. Use your ebook as a loss leader, as an incentive, or a reward in a giveaway contest.
Case studies can be either long or short. However, when they’re used as long form content, you’ll find that you have more ability to illuminate the problems and/or challenges faced by clients, why those problems mattered in the first place, and how your firm was able to get around or overcome those obstacles.
Case studies can be distributed individually like reports, or they can be combined into book-like formats featuring several case studies. These are often best used as downloadable content on your website, but they can also be used to great extent within an email marketing campaign. As with ebooks (and most other long-form content), design matters just as much as the quality of your writing. Use graphics, and have the case studies professionally laid out and designed to ensure quality.
Ah, reports – they’re the bread and butter of the long form content world. They can really be just about any length, from little more than a few pages to dozens of pages and more. Reports can be highly detailed, like smaller ebooks, or they can be a bit broader in terms of vision. What separates a report from an ebook? Really, it’s more about appearance than anything else these days.
Reports usually have a different overall format than an ebook does, with less “book-like” design elements, no table of contents, and more/larger graphics in relation to the amount of text. Like case studies and ebooks, reports can be used as rewards for giveaways, as incentives to sign up for a mailing list, or just about anything else you might need.
While most videos you produce should be kept relatively short, there is value in creating some longer videos, as well. These can be used in a number of ways, ranging from showing how to use your product, or how your service was able to benefit a previous customer (think video case study) to behind the scenes content that helps connect your audience with your employees in new ways. You can host videos on your site, on YouTube, both or use them in social media marketing and email campaigns if you like.
Whitepapers are something of a mix between case studies and reports, and they can be used to establish authority and credibility, as well as to inform your audience. They should generally be centered on challenges that your products or services can help customers overcome, but feel free to get a little creative with these, as well. They can also be used in all the same ways as ebooks, reports and case studies.
There you have them – some of the most important long form content options and how each benefits you and can be used in your marketing campaigns.
Content marketing is one of the most important keys to building a successful online presence today. Without the right content in the right places at the right time, your customers will miss you. What’s more, Google will also give you a miss. However, while it’s vital that you create high quality content, you also need to follow some specific SEO best practices with that content to ensure not just visibility, but adherence to modern optimization requirements. Here’s what you need to know.
Start with Good Content
Content quality trumps everything else, so start with the good stuff. Build your content with human readers in mind – write for your audience, not for Google’s search spiders. Remember that part of SEO is the number of shares your content gets, the amount of time your visitors spend reading your content, and how much they interact with it. Those metrics don’t depend on keyword optimization in any way whatsoever. So, focus on building high quality content first, and worry about keywords and keyword density later on.
Focus on Doing It Right
While the following considerations don’t really affect SEO so much, they will affect Google’s determination of your quality. You need to make sure that all of your content is professionally created and spell-checked, that it reads well, and that there are no blatant errors in the text. If you’re creating video content, the same thing applies, but you get a little bit of leeway as Google can’t yet parse your audio.
Content Length Matters
If there’s one thing that you need to understand, it’s that content length matters greatly in search engine optimization. This doesn’t pertain to website pages as much as it does to things like blog posts and other elements of content marketing. Google wants your content to be at least 1,000 words long, and you’ll need to maintain good quality throughout. If you choose to make your content shorter than this, you’ll most likely want to double the publishing pace so that you’re still putting out roughly 1,000 words of content at a time, just in two posts. Also, understand that it will take longer to build up a backlog of content for Google to index even if you publish this way.
Ensure SEO Is Part of Your Strategy
While you should focus on creating quality content first, you can’t forget about SEO until the very end. It needs to be part of your strategy from the beginning. You’ll need to take the same steps here as you did when creating content for your primary website pages. Namely, you’ll need to research keywords, compare them to what your competition is using, determine competition for those keywords, and more. You need to conduct research on your audience’s intent, on what problem or challenge they’re trying to overcome, and then build both content and keyword usage around those answers.
The Right Keywords Matter
As mentioned, you need to use the right keywords. Each piece of content (pages if you’re doing single pages, but documents if you’re creating longer form content like reports) should focus on a single primary keyword. This is the driving force behind the content, and could be considered the main theme or subject. You also need two to three secondary keywords per page. These relate to the primary keyword, but are different words. For instance, if your primary keyword was gardening, your secondary keywords could be things like organic gardening, pesticide-free gardening, or raised bed gardening.
Write for Personas
You’ve probably heard about buyer personas before, but they bear a little more discussion to help ensure that you really understand what they are and why they matter so much. As a business owner, it’s vital that you know your audience, and how it breaks down into subgroups. Each of those subgroups should receive a persona – a personalization that embodies the characteristics most common to the subgroup.
For instance, you might have Edna, an aging Baby Boomer who’s concerned about making her money stretch, but who believes in paying for quality products. You might have Adam, a Millennial focused on using technology to make his life simpler and easier, and Jen, a member of Generation X who is interested in avoiding unnecessary exposure to chemicals in her food, and living a more natural life.
Each of those people could be a customer of your company, but would have drastically different reasons for seeking out your products or services. You need to break your audience down into segments, identify the motivating factors for each, name them, and then write content for those personas specifically.
Vital Keyword Considerations
Content marketing can be instrumental in building your success, or it can rob you of your juice and result in reduced ranking online. If you take the wrong tack with keyword implementation, Google may think you’re trying to game the system.
Keep your keyword usage natural. Ideally, you should hit 1% density (one use of the keyword per 100 words of text), or even less if necessary. Google has gotten a lot better at indexing content based on subject, rather than keyword density, so resist the urge to keyword stuff. Nothing good can come from that.
You should also make sure that your keyword usage is organized correctly. As mentioned previously, use one primary keyword and a few secondary keywords per page, and don’t try to mix them up too much or use too many of the same keywords in multiple pieces of content.
If you follow these best practices, you’ll find that you are able to create high-quality content that delivers value to your human readers, while also giving Google something to index, and nothing to red flag your business for.
All small business owners need to harness multiple marketing methods. Traditional marketing, like radio spots and magazine ads, is both expensive and less effective than it once was. Today, you need to harness the power of tools like social media marketing, blogging and, of course, email marketing.
As Forbes mentions, “Despite how effective and affordable email is, there is one critical requirement for email marketing success. You will need subscribers.” You need to ensure that you’re marketing the right way through email, which means you need your customers’ permission before you start messaging them.
Building an email list is the way to do that, but how do you create an email list? We’ll look at some of the best ways in this brief guide.
Make Sure You Have the Right Incentive
In order to convince people to sign up for your email list, you will most likely need an incentive of some type. It’s true that some businesses don’t need any form of incentive, other than the promise to keep customers up to date on things, but most do. What can you use for an incentive? Actually, there are plenty of different options. Reports and whitepapers make excellent incentives, as do ebooks and guides. Whatever you use should be substantial enough that your audience finds value in it, but not so much so that you’re “giving away the farm” or that you’re draining your profitability in creating it in the first place.
Visible Sign Up Form
Your audience can’t sign up for your email list if the signup form isn’t visible. Make sure you place your form signup area prominently on your website. You also need to make it clear what the signup is about – what does your customer or potential customer gain from signing up? Don’t be coy about it, either. Put it out there. Your call to action should be clear, succinct, and compelling, not flirty or “beating about the bush”. You should also consider adding your signup form or a link to it at least in multiple areas of your website. Place one in the header and footer of every page on your site. Create specific landing pages, and then link to them on social media sites. Get creative.
Consider a Joint Venture
If you really want to build an email list, consider embarking on a joint venture. Essentially, this is a partnership with another company within your vertical that’s related to you, but doesn’t offer exactly the same thing. For instance, suppose you were a photographer and wrote a book about how to use Photoshop for beginners. You could approach Adobe directly about a joint venture. Your book could be sold as a standalone product, and it could also be chosen as part of a bundle when new buyers signed up. Every time a purchase was made, you’d gain another customer’s contact information for your email list, as well as a sale. The real beauty of this is that it’s not a once and done sort of thing. Once you have the email address of those customers, it’s yours to keep. You can use it down the road should you have another product that might interest them.
Add Signup into Your Forms
Does your website require that users create an account in order to access specific areas? This can be an excellent opportunity to include an email sign up area. In fact, most consumers won’t think twice about providing their email address as part of the overall signup process, and then you have access to that address for your marketing needs.
Of course, you’ll need to include a permission box for them to check showing that they agree to receive periodic email communications from your company, but, again, most consumers won’t bat an eye at this during the account creation process. The beauty of this method is that it works for any website where an account is needed – it doesn’t have to be to access content behind a paywall or anything like that. Free websites can use it just as easily as paid sites can.
Embed the Signup Form
People hate having to go to a new page to complete an action. In fact, many of them will opt out once they realize that they have to change pages. To get around that challenge (and double your opt-in rate), embed the signup form in the website page itself. It could be something as simple as:
Sign up for updates from us!
[email input box]
Subscribe Now (button)
Your customer simply adds their email to the box and clicks the button. It really is that simple. You remove hurdles from the signup process and make your customers happy that they don’t need to change pages.
Add It to Your Printed Collateral
While print marketing might be less effective than in years gone by, you still use a great deal of printed collateral in your business. You have business cards, letterhead and receipts, for instance. You can use those to your advantage. Make sure you add a prompt to join your email list to all of your printed collateral and you’ll have yet another avenue to grow that list. Of course, you’ll see less traction from printed material than from online options, but it’s an important element to exploit.
These are just a few of the ways that you can start building an email list for your small business. It doesn’t have to be a difficult challenge – you can slowly build your number of contacts, communicate with them, and build strong relationships while enhancing your brand’s value and market share.
Email marketing has been called many things over the years, ranging from the equivalent of “the best thing since sliced bread” to “better off dead”. It’s one of the oldest forms of content marketing, yet it’s still around, and that’s a testament to its power, reach and sheer ability to connect with your audience on their own turf.
As Forbes says, “Marketers should always use email marketing to stay connected with their target audience. Regardless of the different strategies open to marketers today, you’ll find email marketing to be integral to your marketing campaign. This is still the leading channel for getting the best ROI.”
However, in order to be successful with email marketing, you need to go about it the right way. This is where to many business owners make mistakes that ultimately cost them time, money and market share. What do you need to know about email marketing? How do you ensure you’re doing it right?
Too many business owners market to their customers through email in the same way. That is, you send the same email to each and every customer, regardless of their age, gender, interests or budget. That’s problematic. You need to ensure that you’re customizing your emails to each individual.
You cannot afford to take a one size fits all approach here. Your customers expect personalization, and you have the tools to achieve it. Segregate your email list by interest, by past purchases, by clicks on links to landing pages, age, location and other metrics so that you can more accurately target your audience.
Only Market When You Have Permission
Let’s get this one out of the way early on – don’t spam. If you don’t have permission to send someone email, don’t do it. It’s really as simple as that. Not spamming won’t make your other marketing efforts more effective, but it will help prevent from generating a reputation as a spammer, and it will ensure that your company isn’t named in complaints about unsolicited emails or blacklisted in recipients’ email filters. Create an email list through an opt-in form on your website. Don’t buy email address lists. Don’t spam. See? Simple.
Make Sure to Base Emails on Where Your Customer Is At
While you should definitely care about geographic location, this tip is more concerned with where your customer is at in their journey. Have they only just heard of your company? Have they expressed an interest in a product, but haven’t yet made a purchase? Have they bought from you, but only once or twice? Are they a confirmed lover of your brand, or a brand advocate?
These are all examples of ways you can reach different individuals with your email marketing and tailor the content to where they are within the wider customer journey. For instance, someone who has purchased from your company several times might prefer a “reward” email, while one who has never bought from you at all might like an “introductory deal” type of email. The variations here are limitless, but it’s important to realize that you need to market to not just your individual recipients, but their specific progress down the sales funnel.
Touch Base Soon
When a new prospect signs up for your email list, it’s important that you touch base with them as soon as possible, at least within 24 hours of the sign up. You don’t need to send anything sales-related, but you do need to at least acknowledge the sign up and thank them for it. You can do this in any number of ways. There are automated email programs out there like Aweber and Mail Chimp that will help you automate this and can send emails on different triggering events. If you’re using HubSpot, then you will have access to the Email Workflows App, which can do the same thing. Whatever the case, make sure you’re on the ball about welcoming new members to the list.
Send from a Real Person
When’s the last time you looked forward to getting an email from a company? Chances are good that your answer is “never”. You want to hear from a person at that company, and your customers do as well. Send all of your marketing emails from a specific personal address at your company’s domain – Bill@YourCompany.com, rather than Marketing@YourCompany.com. It makes you look more genuine and makes your messages more likely to be opened rather than deleted unread.
Make Your Subject Compelling
This is probably one of the most common areas for business owners/marketers to struggle. You need to ensure that your subject line is compelling, and that it stands out from other emails in your recipient’s inbox. Here are some real world examples of subject lines that fit the bill. You’ll notice that most of them aren’t flashy, or even click-bait-y, but they definitely work:
· The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Our 2018 Resolution? Stay Organized!
· Home Depot: Fall Updates – Do Beauty on a Budget!
· Mother Earth News: Grow, Build, Save: Sustainable Living Made Easy
· Keeping Backyard Bees: In the Bee-ginning
All of those are subject lines taken from actual emails, and they’re all compelling enough to get the recipient to open the message. You need to achieve something similar with your own email marketing to ensure that your emails have the best chance of being read, rather than just deleted with the other junk.
There you have them – some of the most important email marketing tips for business owners. Of course, these are really only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are many other things that you’ll need to know in order to market successfully.
Content remains king. Despite the rise of social, the explosion of marketing tools, and the many ways to measure your success, content is still the most important consideration in your marketing efforts. You can use PPC ads, harness the power of social media ads, and promote your company through tweets all you want, but if you don’t have content that will appeal to your audience, you’re going to fall flat on your face.
This is where many business owners struggle, though. What content should you use? What’s the best option for your needs? What do your customers expect you to have available for them, and what sort of content gets the most traction? Let’s discuss some of the most critical types of content for your marketing needs, and why each is so important.
One of the most important types of content to have is that which educates your audience. This might be content that educates them about your product or service, but you’ll find more traction if you can educate them about the problem they’re experiencing, the causes of that problem, and the various solutions to it, with your product or service listed as just one of the possible options.
This comes across as much more genuine, and far less marketing-oriented. You position your company as one that cares about your customers’ challenges, rather than just about building your bottom line. Educational content can take any number of forms, as well, from blog posts to entire ebooks and reports. However, it’s better suited to longer form options, rather than short-form marketing like social media posts.
Your audience wants to be entertained. You’ll find that entertaining content can also be quite memorable. There are any number of prime examples out there of businesses creating compelling marketing content that entertains. Volkswagen is one of these, but you’ll also find Guinness, Nike and many other companies capable of delivering content that makes audiences chuckle, while reinforcing their brand’s qualities and ethos.
Entertaining content can be long or short, and it can be text or video if you prefer. As a note, video-based content is an ideal medium for entertainment, as it’s one of the most sought-after forms of content on the Internet. Remember that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and it serves up nothing but video content.
Content that inspires your audience is an excellent option to include in your marketing campaign. It should not be the only type of content you use, but it does provide a vital alternative to other options, and allows you to change the way your audience sees your company. What sort of content might be inspirational? Well, take your pick, really. One option is to adopt a social cause – access to clean water, environmental consciousness, physical health and well-being, access to mental health care services – these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Combine that support with inspirational messages and actions. Sponsor a running team in a local 5K or 10K race where the proceeds go toward your supported cause, or donate a portion of your proceeds for a specific period to a charity or worthy cause. These are all inspirational actions, but they also tie into your company’s social responsibility and show that you’re more than just a faceless business interested in profit. You’re an integral member of the wider community.
Not all of your content should be focused on building your brand. Some of it needs to be focused on converting potential customers into actual buyers. You’ll need less of this type of content, but it’s still vital to create it and know where and how to use it. Conversion-oriented content can be just about anything that encourages a potential customer to take that last step and convert. Even a product page of your company’s website is technically conversion-oriented content.
Other examples include demonstrations, blog posts that highlight how your product or service works, case studies involving your services of products, ratings for your wares and more. You can use this content in many ways, as well. Obviously, it can and should play a significant role on your website, but you should also consider using it in blog posts, in email marketing, in giveaway content (reports and case studies), and the like.
Content Formats – Using Content Types to Your Advantage
While we’ve discussed content formats to an extent, we need to dig into them a bit more. What content formats are the most beneficial for businesses? While there’s no one size fits all solution out there, you’ll find that the following content formats are generally better received than others:
· Infographics: Infographics can be used in just about any way, from email marketing to social media and have a significant potential to go viral.
· Video: Like infographics, video content can be used in an incredibly wide range of platforms, and can be highly effective at building your success.
· Lists: Lists have always been popular, and they remain so, but you’ll need to avoid being seen as click-bait-y to use them effectively.
· Case Studies: Case studies are particularly effective in the world of B2B marketing, but they can also be used to great effect in B2C marketing, as well.
· Blog Posts: Yes, blogging is still alive and well, and if your company doesn’t have an active blog, you’re failing to reach your audience in a big way.
These are just a few of the various content formats that you need to harness and put to work on your behalf. Content marketing is vital, no matter your industry, size or niche, and it’s equally crucial that you use the right type and format to reach your audience and guide them through the sales funnel.
There are many different tactics that can be used to ensure a higher search engine ranking, and some work better than others. What a local business usually is focused on is generating more leads, being found in the local market, and increasing local traffic. By utilizing a few different tactics, you can do all those things and do them well. We’ll go over a few of your best options bellows.
Pretty much everyone knows at this point that having a responsive mobile site is crucial. Google announced quite some time ago that mobile searches are much more common than desktop searches. Because of that, having a mobile site that people want to use is something you should put a high priority on.
You want to make sure your site is easy to use. You’ll have people use it who are very tech savvy, but many people won’t be. You want both groups, and everyone in between, to be able to pop on your site and find the information they want. One way to excel at this is to offer tabs on your mobile site that link to the most used webpages. It can also be smart to check out competitors to see what they list to get an idea of any changes you might want to make.
Name, Address, Phone Number
This is something that is easy to do and can actually have a big impact for the time put into it. Make sure that you have your NAP (name, address, and phone number) on your homepage. If you have only one location, you can even put it on every single page on your site. This should be present on your mobile website, as well. This ensures people (and search engines) know who you are, where you are, and have a means to contact you.
Being listed in directories is crucial for the local business. It can help your search engine ranking, but more importantly, it can also offer a place where customers can find you. For those who prefer to use a service to get going with this, consider Moz Local. It’s important to get your site listed with Google Maps, but it can be a good idea to look at Bing, Yahoo, and other places as well. Some of these directories have a fee associated with them, but others do not.
Free listings that you can start with include Yelp.com, Superpages.com, YellowBot.com, YellowPages.com, YP.com, and Eventbrite.com. However, you should also do some research on local directories, as well, and post your information on as many of them as possible.
Website Title Tags
When it comes to search engines, title tags are paramount to success. Google isn’t ranking websites as a whole, it’s ranking pages. That holds true for other search engines, as well. For a local business, ensure you use your city or location so people know you’re there. You should also describe what you offer and use top keywords to do so.
The most important aspect of this will be your meta description, which tells customers and searchers what you do or provides. This is what goes under the link on a search engine and explains a bit about you. The blue section is the title, the black is the meta. Use this as a way to talk up your business and include keywords to get the right customers on your site.
Google My Business
Setting up your information here can be a critical aspect of finding success online. You can provide information about your business, including what type of business it is, where it’s located, what you offer, and so forth. You can also include your logo and some photos, which can make people more interested in learning about you.
Below is a small set of steps that can walk you through setting up your business with this website.
1. Visit Google My Business and see if you are listed on the site already.
2. If you are not listed, list yourself. Be sure to fill in information about your business, along with its location.
3. Verify your address with Google. They will send out a pin to your location which you will input into the site to prove that you own it.
4. Complete your business profile by offering photos and information that customers will be interested in.
5. Connect with other businesses to get your business out there even more.
You should also occasionally check in to update your description and information. Double check that your name, address, and phone number are correct. Not doing so can actually hurt you, as search engines will be unsure about what information is actually correct.
Reviews matter quite a bit when it comes to page ranking on search engines, something not everyone is aware of. Having a decent number of positive reviews on places like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp can actually move your ranking higher above other local businesses in the same sector. As such, it’s important to spend time acquiring reviews from happy customers.
You can do this in many ways, but one option is to send out correspondence to customers and ask them to review. You can also offer a discount or a promotion to make people more likely to do so. If you are polite and genuine in your requests, people are often more than happy to leave a review for you. They may also appreciate the personal contact and become further entrenched as a customer or fan of your brand.
By deciding to do some of the things on this list, you can certainly have an impact on traffic and leads to your site. Doing a few will help to some extent, but if you jump in and do them all, you can expect to see decent results. This is especially true if you keep to the work and continually strive to provide customers with what they want.
It seems like a million years ago when a business would pay a sum once a year to be listed in the Yellow Pages. In modern times, there are tons of online directories out there, just waiting for you to list your company. With four out of five consumers now using a search engine to find products and services, it’s important that your company is out there and ready to be found.
Sifting through the many directory choices can be a little overwhelming, something we understand. That’s why we’re providing you with a list of some of the most important places to be seen in order to get more exposure as a local business. We’ll also shorten the process by providing you URLs to submit your information.
Google My Business
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know about this site and have a listing on it. That’s great, because it is massive and takes in over seven billion searches on an average day. In addition, it has a map that is mobile-friendly, something customers will appreciate.
If, for some reason, you aren’t listed on Google My Business, you should do that first.
MerchantCircle is a free network that targets small businesses who are looking to connect with other small businesses and customers in the local area. Those who use the site can post business blogs, boost listings, and take advantage of a host of marketing tools for building their business. By being active on the site, a business will get more local exposure. You can sign up here.
Yahoo Local Listing
This site is ranked just under Google and Bing and brings in millions of searches on a daily basis. The site does have a basic listing that is free, but there are paid options as well. For under $10 a month, you can add a description and photos, while paying just under $30 lets you post listings on dozens of other directories. You can sign up and post a listing here.
Yelp is an excellent site for finding consumer reviews. Businesses can send public and private messages to customers and also access the Yelp reporting tool to review business trends. The most used categories on Yelp are restaurants, shopping, and home services. Sign up here.
Bing Places for Business
Bing gets the most visits of any other directory, excluding Google. Some of the perks include the allowance to add multiple locations, videos, and photos with a free registration. In addition, Bing is the default search engine for many Windows devices, so it gets a lot of use. You can enroll here.
This site acts as the online version of the classic Yellow Pages that was delivered to your home. They also bring in millions of searches a day. The service allows you lead generation, advertising, and ad performance data. Sign up at this URL.
While White Pages isn’t quite as large as Yellow Pages, it’s still an excellent destination to list your local business with. It has over 30 million companies on its directory. It also has opportunities for sponsored ads and a text message service for paying customers. Find out more here.
This directory has business listings in an easily searchable format. The listings include information about your business, a link to your website, a map, product descriptions, and both display and video ads. In addition to being posted on the directory, it will be listed with partner sites, as well. You can enroll here.
Manta bills itself as having one of the largest online repositories of resources for small businesses. Registration can be done in a snap and you will be able to highlight your products, while also using various optimization package options. You can expect to find news, advice, promotion options, and tools specific to small businesses. Enroll here.
This service is similar to Yellow Pages and allows you to provide location information and basic contact information for your business. They offer customer reviews and there are options for premium listings, easy sign-in with Windows Live, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo, as well as searchable tags. You can sign up here.
This directory specializes in listings for restaurants, hotels, bars, spas, and other businesses. They have a partner network that includes MerchantCircle, Expedia, and Urbanspoon. Listings can be accessed through the Citysearch app and preferred businesses may be named on local “best of” lists in over a dozen categories. You can sign up here.
This directory has a subscription rate for businesses related to entertainment or hospitality industries. The site has about 390 million unique visitors in a month and has more than 400 million reviews related to nearly seven million restaurants, accommodations, and attractions. Sign up is available here.
This online directory offers the ability to help get your website listed in Google searches. You can also set up coupons for customers. The site attracts 1.5 million users a month across 38 different countries. Find the signup here.
This site is extremely well known and offers consumer reviews in over 700 countries. Angie’s List has over three million members who rate, hire, review, and research service providers in their local area. This year the company was listed on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500. You can create a file for your company here.
This directory is free and offers searchers details on events, deals, and information related to their city. There are more than 16 million business listings that span every zip code in the United States. Some paid options exist, including coupons. Sign up here.
This site is a business directory but also a social networking site where users can check in their locations via a map function. It has over 60 million users and 50 million monthly active users. Sign up for it here.
There you have it, a total of 16 different directories that can help you get your business out in front of people in your own community. Whether you choose to sign up for only a few, or all the services on the list, it should help you with gaining a following among those nearby.
If you’ve been working to market your business on the Internet, you’ve likely already been exposed to the terms local SEO and organic SEO. But, you may be curious what the difference is between these two types of SEO.
We’re going to walk through the differences between the two, but also talk a little about how local and organic SEO are similar, as well.
An organic search is a search where the user is looking for information rather than a particular location that provides a service or product. For instance, someone might make a search for ‘chana masala recipe’, hoping to find instructions for how to make the dish in their own kitchen. The search engine will likely give the most popular recipes for chana masala.
The search engine uses hundreds of factors to index and rank websites, including keywords, inbound links, grammar, and outbound links, to determine the best webpages that offer what you are searching for.
A local search is very similar to an organic one, except that a local search has a geographical component to it. When someone looks up both a location and industry, the search engine understands that the person wants to find a local business that is in the industry specified.
So, rather than looking for a chana masala recipe, maybe someone wants to order in Indian food, instead. Their search might look something like this, ‘Chicago Indian delivery.’ Google, or another search engine, will see that location and pull up any results there that fit the query.
Below those results on Google, you’ll see the organic results from above. These will not have local intent involved.
Who Needs to Rank in Local & Organic?
If you have a local business with a specific address that you want people to check out, you want to rank high in local search. Someone who is searching for you is likely looking for a business they can visit soon, and you want to be the business they find first.
However, if you aren’t worried about location and simply want your business to rank for certain keywords, organic search is what you are looking for. Essentially, if you want people to go somewhere specifically in the world, work on local search. If you want people to go somewhere online, organic search is going to be what helps you out.
Local Businesses & Organic Searches
You may wonder if there is any point in raking well organically if you are a local business. The answer here is that it depends. A business with multiple locations may want to hit some targets on the organic search front. This also applies if you have a blog that you want to bring more visitors to.
If you have a single location and simply want foot traffic, focusing on local SEO may be all you need.
Local Search Marketing
For those looking to market to the locals, it’s very important to show up on local searches. At least 50% of searchers who are doing a local search are going to visit businesses within 24 hours. If you aren’t listed where you need to be, you likely won’t even be on the searcher’s radar.
In order to optimize for local searches, location is key. You need to ensure that search engines are aware of where you are located. This allows them to offer you as a potential destination when users look for businesses like yours in the local area.
This is why it’s so important for your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent across your website, along with other local listing directories. That’s only the tip of the iceberg for local SEO, but it’s a very important aspect to keep in mind.
Since organic SEO doesn’t rely on location, it’s less important to worry about optimizing in that way. Instead, you want to make sure that your website is ranking well for certain search terms. This might be a short term like ‘chana masala recipe’ or a question, such as someone would speak into their voice search ‘what is the best chana masala recipe.’
The best way to utilize keywords is to place them strategically throughout your content. You should use your main keyword in headings, and other keywords can be used throughout your paragraphs. But whatever you do, don’t stuff keywords. Too many of them can have a negative effect on your search engine ranking.
How Local and Organic SEO Affect Each Other
There are many SEO practices that can actually help both organic and local search rankings. A good example of this is when claiming your business page on local listing directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Bing. Each time you fill one of these out, you’re adding another place that links back to your website.
By listing on these directories, search engines can take your NAP and determine where you are located. As mentioned above, they also link to your website. This helps with link building which can help your organic SEO rank. This is because search engines look at the number of backlinks you have when ranking your website.
Having on-site local SEO, like when you update a page with your location or writing a blog post about a local event, is another way you can help both local and organic rankings. Search engines appreciate when websites offer new content, so even if the content is local, it helps boost organic SEO, at the same time.
When it comes down to it, working on local or organic SEO can help your website ranking. However, it can also have a negative effect if it’s done in the wrong way. Consider your strategies thoroughly to ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
Having search engines know your site can help bring in potential customers who are interested in what you offer. But remember that searchers are the most important people to take care of. Ensure your website has everything they need so they can find your services, hours, and location easily.
You likely already have a website for your business, but have you considered ways you can optimize it to bring in more traffic? Truthfully, the more tweaking you do, the better you will do with attracting new customers and traffic. You don’t want to go overboard, but at the same time, you want to make sure your website is the best it can be.
However, there are a number of simple ways that you can change your site so it offers a better experience for users. We’ll go over the most useful ways to optimize your site, so you have a great starting point to build off of. Many are simple tweaks that you can implement when you have a few extra moments, although some are more time consuming.
Something that can improve your ranking is having links from high-quality websites. The sites you want links from are going to be authoritative domains that people trust. Being linked to from them adds positive reputation to your own site. If you can acquire backlinks from large companies, this is an added positive.
If you want to focus on local businesses, that can help as well, but remember to cast your net to the most quality of them available. Having links from local newspapers and media sites is great for your business. Ensuring your website is posted on local directories is another excellent idea.
Posting on social media can lead to people visiting your website. If you post quality content, you’re going to gain users. Those users will then share your content. Those who may not know about your company may end up clicking, giving you a chance to make new fans.
Reviews are very important for a local business looking to gain page views and traffic. A large number of local directories will feature ratings from some local businesses. The more positive reviews you have, the better. For one, you could be featured on a directory. In addition, the more ratings you have, the more likely someone new will find you and check out your business.
One of the ways that you can entice people to leave an honest review is by offering a discount or promotion. This offers a situation where both you and your users benefit.
Local SEO benefits from using location information, especially when regarding keywords. Many local companies choose to include their city and state in their title or description. If you have your location listed on major pages, you may be featured on a web search looking for businesses in the area. People in the area are more likely to check out a website that is located nearby.
Keywords can be helpful, but the overuse of them can actually get more negative attention than positive. While there are arguments about the keyword density you should use, many people suggest anywhere from 0.1% to 2% of your main website copy. You should also not use the same keyword over and over. It can actually turn people off of reading your copy as it comes off as nothing other than advertisement.
Content Is King
Of course, some webpages are going to benefit from being concise. However, in most case, pages with a reasonable amount of text rank higher on the search engines. So, take your time to craft stories and content that people will appreciate. It can help gain the attention of your audience and at the same time give you a better rank on Google and Bing.
Image File Names
You may or may not know this already, but search engines can read image file names. This can be an effective use of SEO, simply by properly naming an image and using keywords that you want to rank for. It takes very little time to do so and can give you an edge over the competition.
If you aren’t familiar with alt tags, these are the tags used to describe an image. These tags are read by bots who search your site for ranking purposes. While they cannot see an image, they can understand what it is about if you implement alt tags. You will typically want to use a tag that contains a keyword that you are looking to rank for.
Headers as Keywords
While you may know that titles are great for keyword inclusion, so are headers. These are used to break up long pages of content and can offer the perfect option for inserting some lesser-used keywords that you want to rank for. If you have a handful of headings, use a different keyword in each one to make the most of their usage.
The titles of your pages and posts are a good place to add in your main keyword. Search engines take titles seriously and they will value whatever is there. Add in a main keyword, or post your location, in order to have that accessible to search engine bots. It’s just one more way you can implement keywords without it being overboard for users, but still offering extra access for search engines.
The URL of your site may be the most important thing about it. Every time someone types in your domain name, they’re going to think about your business and brand. It’s an excellent idea to keep your domain name short, so it’s simple to type in. Subpages should also not be overly lengthy. Keeping the word count to 10 or 15 words per URL is the best plan.
Using these 12 tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to having a website that is optimized for local SEO. You can implement these all at once or take it one at a time. Most of these tricks will gain you positive ranking and additional users, but it can take some time to do so. Be patient and enjoy the ride!
As a local business, budget constraints can make traditional marketing a little tough. This is even more clear when it comes to on-page SEO, since there’s no way to determine ROI beforehand.
Content marketing is important, there’s no other way to say it. However, there are many other ways to implement local SEO that can be cheaper and just as successful. We’ve pulled together several options for a local business that do not rely on content marketing.
Choose an Alternative
Compelling content can certainly bring in links, comments, and traffic – but other things can do that as well. The question is, what should your company focus on if not content?
When you look at some of the world’s most successful sites, you may find that they aren’t always content sites. Many of them offer a place for community, utilities that people need, or games and other entertainment items.
Looking at that, you can see that being entertaining and useful can bring in those pageviews, even without a ton of content.
This brings your company to the question of what your customers want. Can you build an application solution for a problem? Could you offer some resources that make their lives easier? Do you have a lively base that would be excited to join an online community?
Any of these things can bring in people. It might take more time to build an application or community forum, but it’s also something that can be built upon over time. So, rather than worrying about content, you just want to offer something people want.
Avoid Exact Match Keyword Domains
Many businesses hope that they can get a great rank for their site by using a common keyword in the domain name. However, this isn’t the best idea. Google has actually updated specifically to avoid this having a huge impact on your ranking.
Instead, consider using a uniquely branded name. By having a unique name, Google can tell that searches for that name are searches about you and your brand. This can give you a boost in search results after a number of queries. Rather than being automobiles.us, be Ford.com.
In addition, it’s best not to use your physical location in the domain. It makes the domain name longer and harder to type. It also makes it hard to gain growth if you ever move to new locations or sell to a global audience.
Use UI and UX
Most local websites offer a pretty average experience. You don’t want to be that site. What you want is to provide exactly what a potential customer wants to find, and do it in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Why UI and UX for local SEO? There are a few reasons that we suggest this type of interactive website. The first is that responsive design allows your site to look great, no matter what device it is on. It also allows you to split test landing pages to determine which is more effective. You can also run tests to determine what users are looking for and how to ensure you provide that in the easiest way.
Customers are primarily interested in having access to three things: an easy to use contact form or web chat, a phone number and address, and products or services and their prices.
You can also leave space on your landing page for your blog, testimonials, consumer reviews, and memberships, but these should only take up a small amount of the landing page. You want people to be able to find what they need and easily use it. That’s all it comes down to.
It is smart to set up profiles on all the major social media sites, even if you don’t put a large investment into them. The sites you should ensure you have a profile on include Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube.
You already know that community can lead to business, so it is worth having major investment on at least one social media site. This leads to a feeling of community that immerses others.
You should also consider that updates with humor, images, inspiring stores, and interactive facets are most likely to be shared. You want people to know your name and get involved in the community and social media is a good way to do so.
Reviews can be quite important when it comes to local search results, and they can also take people from being unsure about your business to being customers. Do what you want to encourage your customers to post reviews on Google, as well as places like Yelp, Foursquare, and SuperPages.
In addition, you can embed those Google reviews onto your website. This helps you get more people into your place of business, and even encourage more reviews. Do what you can to remind customers to leave a review if they are happy with the service they received. It can go a long way.
Local SEO depends on citations, which are simply places your business name, phone number, and address are listed on the Internet. Citations that come from legitimate places can help boost visibility on Google Maps and search results. The more you have, the better you’re going to do.
Always be sure, however, that your listings are the same across different sites. One way to do that is to use a tool that helps build citations. Some top of the line options include BrightLocal.com, Moz Local, Whitespark’s local citation finder, and Yext.com.
Content marketing may be considered a must when it comes to a web presence, but in truth, there are other ways to find success. Switching your focus from content to community and usability can actually help a lot when it comes to local SEO.
So, use some of these tips to move in new directions and see how it affects pageviews and other metrics for your site. You may find a new direction that works just as well, or better, than constantly posting content. Good luck!
If you are looking to attract locals, SEO can provide an opportunity to find a niche in your own community.
It doesn’t matter what services or products you sell, you don’t have to be the biggest provider or offer something others don’t. (Although that can, of course, be helpful.) You can use your location as a niche. Being proud of where you’re located and making it a part of your marketing can draw in customers.
Why? Because most people make their purchasing decisions, local or otherwise, based on Google. You need to be there so people can find you and discover what you have to offer.
There are a few different actions you can take to ensure your SEO is doing what it needs to be doing. We’ll go over the most useful of them and how to implement them to get what you want – traffic and customers.
Add Visual Content to Listings
Visual content is important for any business. It provides an improved experience for your users and draws people in. Videos and images both result in people spending longer on a site, and the longer they hit up your site or listing, the more they learn about you.
So, fill up your site with relevant images, audio clips, and videos that paint your business in a good light. It will have a great impact on how long someone stays on your site and may bring in new customers.
Use the Right Social Media
Social media is great for a business, it allows you to build a community for free. However, you need to know what social media sites your local community is drawn to. If your customers and other locals love to tweet but don’t touch Pinterest, put your time and energy into Twitter.
Once you decide where to focus, be sure to optimize your page so potential customers check it out and stick around. Fill out your profile, be active, and offer an entertaining experience for the best results.
Using a keyword planner can help you determine what are the best keywords to use on your website. Typically, people searching for local businesses will search for the city first, following it up with keywords about the business. For instance, you may want to use the keyword ‘Chicago pizza delivery’ instead of ‘pizza delivery Chicago IL.’
Another good trick is to hit up Google and type in your keyword ideas. You can then scroll down to the bottom and find related searches. Some of those might be great keywords too, or at least push you in the right direction.
Local listing pages are a wonderful way to create an identity and improve your ranking on search engines. Often, all it takes is claiming a page and then putting in a few pieces of information about your business. You can also search for directories in your industry for more ideas.
Some of the most popular directories include: Google My Business, Yelp, YP.com, Bing Places, Foursquare for Business, and Funnls Local.
Start a Community Blog
Another excellent way to capitalize on your location is with a community blog. This isn’t the sort of blog that revolves around your business. Instead, this type of blog is used to talk about events and happenings in your location. Of course, you can choose to post about things in your industry, but simply posting about things close to home gives you another tie to your community.
Best of all, some of these articles can become massive on social media, which leads to more people visiting your website. It’s a situation that is a win for everyone involved.
Test Your Website for Various Devices
You want to be sure that your website works well on all sorts of devices and at various resolutions. Someone who visits your site and finds that it doesn’t work correctly will likely get frustrated and leave, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
There are various websites out there that allow you to see how your website will look on specific devices. You should also run tests of the website on various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera.
Positive ratings and reviews actually have an impact on where your website ranks on search engines. This is especially true for sites that allow users the ability to sort various businesses by their ratings. However, only legitimate reviews will help your case. Posting fake reviews is bad form, and when you get caught, can seriously plummet the reputation of your brand.
Because of the way ranking works, make sure that all your contact information on pages with reviews is the same. It should have the name spelled and formatted the same, as well as the phone number and address. That means that if you abbreviate ‘Avenue’ on one site but not another, it can actually hurt your SEO.
Keywords in Moderation
While keywords are great in small doses, they can actually be annoying if they are in every line of copy on your site. So be careful, use the best keywords that you can but use them sparingly. You do not want to stuff keywords into everything as it can actually hurt you in the long run. There is a lot of conflict about the right density of keywords to use, but anything more than 3% or so is probably going to be lost.
Every location has publications and every local publication is looking for stories that resonate with those in the area. Speaking to people employed at these publications could lead to a story, which means more people gaining knowledge of your brand. If you’re holding an event or releasing something new, consider hitting up a magazine or newspaper and having a story run about it.
Be aware that doing search and social media optimization does work, but it can take time to see the results of it. However, if you stick with it and try some of these suggestions, you’ll find it helps in the long run.
Anyone who has experience with SEO strategy knows that it is constantly changing. This is especially true for those working with local SEO. Optimizing your on-site and off-site SEO is crucial, as local competition is quickly heating up. You want to use the best strategies possible to get customers and clients on your website. Take this time to make sure you’re on the top of rankings, because if you aren’t, someone else will snatch that spot.
Here are some excellent tactics that you can use to help your business rank higher in the local market.
Local Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup – which can also be called “scheme markup” – is something added to the code of your website to provide search engines useful information about your business. Some things you can ensure a search engine picks up are reviews you’ve acquired, services you manage, and products you sell.
The reason doing this is important is because most businesses aren’t using this technique at all and those who are usually only work with the basics. By diving into this strategy, you will make your business stand out among the competition. It can even lead to higher rankings, which is nothing to sneeze about.
Google appreciates sites using structured data markup because it allows their technology to understand the content on your site. In fact, Google provides a Structured Data Testing Tool that lets you know if your markup is working the way it should be.
Roughly 80% of customers use a search engine to make local searches. This is why having business listings online is such an important thing. You should take time to get your business listed on the top online business directories. Some of the first you should consider are Yelp, Citysearch, and Merchant City. It can also be a good idea to find local directories that you can have your business listed with. Check with your Chamber of Commerce and local newspaper’s site to see if they have directories you should list with.
In addition to this, you want to have your business name, number, and address on major citation data aggregators, such as Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, and Neustar. When filling these out, make sure your business name, address, and phone number are all used consistently. Misspellings, altered formatting, and abbreviations can actually make it harder for search engines to determine what information is correct.
Google My Business Optimization
Google My Business counts as a directory, but it’s a huge one and needs to be considered with an awareness of that. If you haven’t claimed your business on Google My Business, you should do that as soon as possible. It is completely free and it can get you some amazing exposure for your business, especially when you optimize things to the best of your ability.
To claim your business, surf over to http://google.com/business. From there, you’ll need to go through a verification process. Google will send out a postcard to your business’s physical location. This postcard will have a pin included which you will simply plug in to proove you own the business.
As far as optimization goes, start with filling out your business hours, payment types accepted, categories, and filling in a great description. It’s also smart to upload a logo, along with photos of your business, services, and products. After that, fill in every section that pertains to your business so it’s complete for potential customers.
Meta Description & Titles
Titles and meta descriptions are HTML elements that you can customize for your webpage. Whatever you put into the title and description will be displayed on search results. You can use this as a way to offer a small ad, and as such, needs to be crafted carefully.
In 2016, Google made the width of the search results area larger. This allows for a title tag that is around 50 to 60 characters, and a description that can be anywhere from 160 to 200 characters. With that knowledge in mind, take advantage of the space you have to show yourself in the best light possible.
Writing descriptions and titles can be difficult, because text that isn’t exciting and descriptive may make it harder to get people to click. In addition, if you make your text a bit too long, it won’t all appear on the search engine, which can look pretty unprofessional.
Keep these tips in mind while crafting your title and descriptions:
· Focus on a single keyword that is carefully targeted and place that keyword toward the beginning of the tag if you are able to.
· Don’t waste space on unneeded characters and words, make every character matter.
· When looking for local customers, use the name of the city or area your business is in or will be serving.
If someone sees your business show up, you want to make them click on it. Don’t waste characters and time on things that won’t get you more page views. Be succinct and interesting.
Customers put a lot of trust into online reviews in order to determine what businesses offer quality products or services. Surveys show that over 80% of people trust online reviews just as much as word of mouth. In addition, about 70% of customers are happy to leave a review for a business if they are asked to.
There are quite a few software offerings that allow you to track, manage, and acquire reviews. Some of the most popular include Get Five Stars, Reputation Loop, Trust Pilot, and Vendasta. There are also social media platforms, such as Hootsuite, that notify you if your business is mentioned. This allows you to respond, which shows you care what customers are saying.
By implementing these strategies for local SEO, you’ll have a jump on the competition. You will find that doing each of these things well can lead to more page clicks and customers. There’s not a better day than today to get started, so get in there!