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10 Things You Can Do for Local Search

Posted @ 1:55 pm by Owen Frivold | Category: Digital Marketing, Search, SEO & SEM | 0 Comments

If you have a small business and want to make sure that your site is easy to find, this article is for you.  After reading this, you should have a good idea about what you should focus on for your local business. Businesses of all sizes have a myriad of options across an ever growing number of channels to promote their product or service. Options range from traditional print ads to the ever popular deal-of-the-day programs such as Groupon and Living Social (or any other number of similar deal services for that matter). This increasing number of channels is slowly but surely changing the landscape of SEO tactics.

Most small business owners don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to the tedious and nuanced craft of SEO. If you’re a small business owner looking to start optimizing your site, but aren’t sure how, here’s a list of some quick wins that can help get you started.

1.    Register/claim your business on all the major business directories and review sites. Registering and/or claiming your business on Google Places, Yelp for Business Owners, etc. means that you have officially recognized your business’ listing in that online directory. There are so many directories that you could spend hours, or even days, registering and maintaining them all, so you may want to use an online directory aggregator (Localeze and UBL are the favorites) to help streamline the process for a nominal fee.

2.    Keep your Name, Address, Phone (NAP) up-to-date and consistent.  Although it sounds basic, there are plenty of small business owners whose NAP is not consistent and up-to-date across their site and online directories. It doesn’t hurt to add it on every page as long it makes sense, but consistency is really the key, and that includes formatting too!

3.    Focus on the quality not the quantity of content on your site. Create or offer insightful and relevant content and remember that content isn’t just the text on your site, it’s images, videos, downloadable materials, etc. As many thought leaders in content strategy will tell you, less is more. Remember, if your target audience makes it to your site, but it finds confusing or pointless once there, you will have failed your business objective.

4.    Focus on the quality of your customer service. If all works as planned and your business starts to gain some traction don’t forget to keep an emphasis on customer service. This may sound like an obvious one, but just remember that with sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. that “little extra” you provide can translate into good karma via rave reviews and top ratings faster than you might expect. This leads to the next point…

5.    Incentivize your customers or users to post reviews. Chances are you’ll have some customers posting reviews on their own, but many small businesses have started offering discounts for posting reviews. If you have a physical location that can accommodate it, have a terminal or iPad setup for users to write their reviews on the premises. If that is not possible, make cards asking users to write reviews on your preferred review site and a discount on their next purchase (e.g. Like us? Write a review on Yelp and get 15% off one item with your next purchase). Be sure to encourage your users to be brief, clear, and to the point when writing their reviews. It’s the most likely way for your reviews to be read.

6.    Build a presence in Social and Professional networks. Much like registering your business on an online directory, you can sign up your business on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is of course the default social network so that should be your priority, but building a presence on networks such as LinkedIn, if pertinent to your industry of course, will help as well.

7.    Enable “check-ins” (aka mobile-social-local convergence). Part of registering your business in online directories is getting your venue on the map (literally). With the smartphone market booming so are location based check-in services. Take the time to register your venue on any one of the major check-in services: Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Google Latitude (if you’ve registered your business on Google Places you’re all set). You don’t need to have a comprehensive mobile strategy…yet, but just think about what audience could come across your business due to a friend or connection’s check-in.  This requires little to no maintenance, which is why it can be considered one of the easiest viral marketing strategies to implement. Since certain industries are more likely to get check-ins than others (gyms and restaurants versus legal or medical practices) check-in deals (e.g. “10% off your consultation”) have become a popular way to boost check-in rates.

8.    Offer deals and discounts! Once registered in online directories some small businesses offer discounts for first time customers coming from those sites to try to edge out the competition. As seen in points #5 and #7 discounts can serve as a means to encourage viral promotion. Other successful examples include discounts for following your business’ Twitter account, “Like“-ing your Facebook page (previously known as “Becoming a Fan”), or “digg“-ing your site. Foursquare’s “mayor” system turns loyalty into a fun and addicting competition among your most frequent customers and works very well for restaurants, bars, and cafes or anywhere repeat service is frequent.

9.    Do your SEO keyword basics. The basics of keyword use are quite simple but it is important you follow them. When naming your meta description tags and image ALT tags use keywords, only if relevant. Also, be judicious when you include your top keywords in your content, you definitely want to avoid “keyword stuffing.”

10.    Last but definitely not least, links!  Chances are if you have ever expressed any interest in SEO you’ve heard that inbound links are a crucial component to your site’s visibility. That said, not all links are created equal. A good way to start establishing quality inbound links for your site is to research the top directories and networks for your industry and add your business. Some examples for law would include lawyers.com, martindale.com, and lawfirmdirectory.org; for the fitness industry you could use gymticket.com. It’s not easy to game the system and get quality inbound links which would explain why it is such an important factor. Focus on having content that makes for quality pages to link to and you’ll see your pages’ link equity go up overtime.

Whether you’ve just opened your small business or you’re looking to expand your share of the local market, following these local search marketing tips will help you reach your business objectives more effectively. To learn more about how SolutionSet can help with your local search marketing needs, please contact us.

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