Search engine optimization is absolutely the key to making sure that your business is going to be noticed online. While good, old fashioned marketing is still important, especially for a local business, as more people rely on the internet it’s important that your page sits near the top of a given search in order to provide maximum visibility. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your local business gets put at the top of the search engine results.
1. Make sure that your keywords have local areas in them. When you’re developing your code, make sure that the website meta tags have local keywords associated with them. Don’t just have “pastries” for your doughnut shop, make sure it reads, “Ft. Lee pastries”.
2. Go hyperlocal. While it cuts down on the total number of people who are likely to be searching for something, the internet is a big place and the less competition you have for a keyword, the more likely you’ll be able to hit the front page of search results. Real estate agents have perfected this technique. Don’t just aim for keywords in the largest nearby city like “Orlando;” focus on smaller suburbs like “Maitland” or “Altamonte”, and even consider housing complex names if there’s a few nearby.
3. Look for good citations. “Citations” are a new measure for how a local business is ranked, and they include any mention of the business. The more reputable sites mention your business’s name, even if they don’t link to you, the better. The more local, the more weight they will be given. A good way to gain citations is to work with local service and charity groups so they’ll put your business information on their website as a sponsor or as contributing to their projects in some way.
4. Make your website relevant to the community. As far as anyone can tell, outside links are still one of the most important ways of weighing the relevance of a given website. What that means is that you want people in your area to link to you and visit your website regularly. By having things on there that matter to residents of your city like community calendars, local charity drives, articles about the area that you’re located in, and other items of interest to the people around you, you’ll have more people visiting and linking to your site for those things. That will not only give you more back links, it will also give people a reason to visit your site that may lead to conversions.
5. Be your local expert. Whatever it is that you do, you want to be the local expert on it. That means that your website and your online presence should show people that you know what you’re talking about so that they begin to associate your name with the industry. Again, real estate agents have turned this into a science, but demonstrating that you know every detail of the process of cleaning a pool in San Diego or the best way to avoid traffic at eight in the morning for your taxi service means that people will start to talk about and recommend you online.
6. Be active. It’s not enough to just have a website, you need to be active on social media and local blogs in order to make an impact. If you are commenting on blogs, make sure that you put your website as the link for your name and write things that are substantive, not just agreement or disagreement. Develop a personality on social media and make sure that only roughly 25% of your posts are about the business so that people are more likely to follow and share your stuff. Getting people to link to you is about cultivating an image that they like and think of positively.
The techniques to develop SEO for a local business like a law firm for example, are the same as for a wider audience, but they are focused entirely on the area where you live. The best thing to do is to get out there online, let people know that you know what you’re talking about, and let them come to like you so they’ll think of you without prompting.