Use local SEO to boost your sales
As a small business owner you want:
The best website on the net for the lowest possible price that will generate at least 100 leads a week for your business. When do you want all that? Right now!
Well that’s not going to happen, no matter which “guru” you use.
The problem is that many business owners want to be successful with as little effort and the least money spent as possible. That’s not realistic. If it were then everybody would be doing it, and we all know they’re not!
Organic search (not sponsored) success is an expensive game and anyone who offers a “Guarantee” (ha!) to get you on page one of Google for £20 a week is a fool or a liar. Clawing your way up the rankings will take time, money, and effort and even then the chances of equalling paid search adverts is remote.
So, what can you do?
For a start off, be realistic; your web designer is NOT normally an SEO expert. But a designer should at least understand the basics of SEO in web design. Since many small businesses rely on local custom, designers should know the right tips and tools to optimize your WordPress website for local search.
Local and General SEO: What’s the Difference?
Before looking at the differences it’s useful to know what they have in common. They should both:
- Follow Google’s rules.
- Do everything possible to answer your customer’s needs.
- Make your website stand out as the most focussed and accurate solution to visitor’s needs.
- If you know what Google’s ranking factors are and you understand how to use them on your site then you have at least a fighting chance against your competitors.
- Create a good experience for your visitors, make it easy for them to find what they want and buy what they need.
- Don’t be too clever for your own good. You may find an all singing, all dancing visual frenzy fun, but the bloke wanting to buy the right size gizmo for his whatsit won’t find it amusing at all and will be off very quickly.
There are millions of local search queries every day. The thing to remember with these local searches is that visitors come with a different intent; different to how they would be looking at Amazon or John Lewis for example. For those large online outlets customers aren’t bothered about opening times, in-store pickup, or any other local specific information. For your site it’s very different.
Know your audience, know what they need from your website, and use that to form your local SEO strategy.
With clear targets in mind you can introduce the following local SEO tips to give your small business website the geo-specific features it needs for better organic search results. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually it should will give you an advantage in a cut throat market.
Get Good Web Hosting
Your site’s performance (loading time, reliability etc.) is important. Keep people waiting and they will leave… very quickly. Frustrate them with down time, broken links and other glitches and you will lose them even faster!
If your web hosting provider is cheap as chips but based in Outer Mongolia and doesn’t have locally based servers you can expect slow loading pages.
Always be prepared to jump ship and go elsewhere, Yes it can be a pain but not as painful as losing customers and money! Pay that little extra for hosting that serves you well. You shouldn’t have to be concerned with what’s under the bonnet, your hosting should be invisible to you and just keep humming along pleasantly in the background. You can’t be doing with the tech, you need to be out there earning. Hosting performance is especially important when local searches are being done while people are on the move and expect fast results.
Add a Google Map
Every business with a local presence should have a Google map on their website AND the map should be linked to their Google My Business page. It’s not rocket science and yet so many business owners don’t do it.
For example if you want your site to be found when someone searches for (your product) in (your area). Wouldn’t it be great if all they had to type was “(products) near me” and search results took them straight to your address and a map? This is a powerful, must-have tool for your site – it spoon feeds your potential customers … and you know that we all love that.
Show All Contact Information
We no longer have to wade through huge phone books or Thompson’s Local to find a local business’s contact information. This is what makes the web so fantastic for trade. Make the best use of it you can on your website. Give people every chance to get in touch with you in the way they like the best. Show your:
Landlines, mobiles, fax numbers, email addresses, full postal addresses, department and contact names, skype, Live Chat, Social Media, maps and directions how to find you, even add transport links if appropriate.
Host live chat sessions with a Chat plugin.
The more easily a customer can get their questions answered, the longer you can get them reading your content, looking at your products, the longer they’ll stay on site and the greater chances you’ll have to increase sales.
Hopefully you already understand the importance of keywords in SEO. But when it comes to optimizing keywords for local search, it’s not just a case of dropping in your town or county. You need to mould each page’s metadata around a key phrase for your specific geographic area, which doesn’t always mean you need to use the city name.
Use a tool like KW Finder for locally relevant long-tail phrases that are suitable for your customers. Run an SEO analysis of your website to see how you can make improvements.
Show Customer Reviews
Consumers are more likely to trust your company if they find positive and genuine reviews from other consumers. Trust and loyalty are incredibly important for your business’s success, so make sure you get and display testimonials wherever you can.
If you are already reviewed on sites like Yelp, FreeIndex, Yellow Pages, Google My Business etc. link to them. Links to reliable and high-traffic websites are great for SEO. If you don’t have any reviews yet, but you can get some customer testimonials, use those until you have publicly published ratings to share.
Make use of Local Partnerships
This is another way that you can use content on your site to keep visitors interested and impressed. If you have local partnerships, show their recognizable logo and link to them. That way, you can benefit from the linking opportunity this presents and, at the same time, associate yourself with a well-known and (hopefully) respected name in the community.
Optimize for Mobile
Huge numbers of consumers use phones for local searches, pricing, and product availability so making your website mobile friendly is crucial in SEO and will become ever more important with time. The current push is for mobile first design. Get it right on the phone first and then work out your presentation on larger screens like tablets laptops, desktops etc. afterwards. It used to be the other way round not so long ago but now the phone is king and should be your top priority showcase.
It’s a really bad idea and waste of time, money and effort to create a website and then ignore it. Web design trends change, search algorithms amended it seems weekly, content becomes outdated. You need to be on top of your website continually if it’s to perform well for you. Neglect your site and it will just become a drain on your money, give a poor impression to visitors, probably get hacked and cause you headaches. You clean your shop windows, change the displays, and try new approaches? Do the same with your website, it’s your online shop front.
Google Analytics is a must-have tool for anyone trading online. For local SEO, it’s especially helpful as it tells you if all the work you’ve put into local optimization is working (or not)! If you find that visitors aren’t coming from your targeted local area, Google Analytics will let you know.
Running a small, local business isn’t easy. It would be great if you could rely on word-of-mouth and passing footfall to get new customers but if you want to improve your chances of being found by local people online, you need to optimize your website accordingly.