How to improvE local SEO for small business

Joanna Michaels, Beyond Social Buzz

Four steps to boost your local visibility

Why does it matter?

There is no such a thing as a passing trade on the Internet. Do you want local customers to find your small business? You will need to invest in a consistent local SEO strategy.

SEO efforts are focused on informing Google about your business’ location and offering, so you can become more visible to your local audience. So when a local user types a search phrase, relevant to your business, into an empty Google box, he comes to your site and not your competitors.

Here are four simple, yet effective steps to boost your local visibility:

1. Site optimisation- get the basics right

Remember about SEO best practice when selecting your domain name. Make it easy and memorable; ideally incorporating keywords that are relevant to your business.

Make sure that your website includes clean link structures and codes, and is easy to navigate for the user.

Ensure that the keywords you want to rank for are present in the site’s content, but stay away from any ‘black hat techniques’, e.g., keyword stuffing, as such shortcuts can only harm your site. Instead, use the relevant keywords in a natural way.

Incorporate your keywords in: the title tag, the main copy of the page, the page URL and the meta description tag. Also, remember to add it to the alt attribute, if you are using images on the page.

Include your business name, address and telephone number to your site, preferably on every page. To further improve local rankings, you may add information about your local area to your site content in a form of a blog or guide.

Finally, ensure that your site is optimised for mobile search.

2. Boost your presence with local business directories

One of the easiest, yet highly effective ways to improve your local search rankings is to create business pages across a variety of online business directories. When creating such entries, ensure precision and accuracy of business data (discrepancies in your business information will affect your rankings). You should also use your real, physical address and not a shared address or a PO Box. Each business listing you create online makes it easier for the local customer to find you.

3. Invest time in building and responding to online reviews

Apart from influencing consumer’s buying decisions, online reviews have a strong impact on the online visibility of your business. Search engines love content provided by online reviews, as they help users to maximise their online experience.

To boost the impact of online reviews on your rankings encourage your customers to share their feedback online, across multiple key local sites. You can do it by adding links to your business listing on your site, encouraging reviews through your Social Media posts or simply asking your customers for their feedback. Remember to respond to customers’ reviews, both the positive and the negative ones.

4. Build engaging presence on Social Media

Engagement on social sites can increase the overall awareness of your brand among local customers, which can result in increased searches for your business online. A higher search volume is perceived by Google as a signal that the brand is more popular, leading to Google giving it a higher ranking.

Social Media signals (shares, likes, RTs and +1s) can contribute to the overall organic success of your business’ website. Aim at gaining quality shares through your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.

Small business owners increasingly appreciate the importance of having a business website and active social profiles, yet when it comes to SEO, a certain level of confusion still remains. Understanding the role of SEO in small business marketing is crucial, as it is one of the most cost effective ways of being noticed online.

Establishing strong and sustainable presence in search results is not something that can be achieved overnight. It is a process that requires consistent and sustained efforts. Therefore, the key to success is to include SEO into your on-going marketing strategy. Invest the time and you see results.

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