Local business owners across the country have been struggling with the recession. It isn’t easy to maintain a healthy business when people don’t have the money to spend, and you don’t have the advertising dollars to get yourself out there. In our technology driven world there are a few advantages that business owners have started taking advantage of. Technology has allowed individuals to perform business faster, more efficient, and even on the go. One of the most important things for businesses of all types is the internet. You have to have a strong internet presence in order to have some legitimacy, form a new customer base, and of course make some new money. While it seems like there are an endless amount of options you can chose from marketing your business, one of these methods stand alone above all others. The process of local SEO for small business owners should be the next step you take, if you haven’t already. You can achieve natural and effective local SEO in five simple steps.
The first thing that you need to do is get an online presence. You must have a website. Listings are not enough. People are going to want to go to your website, and they are going to want to click around before they decide whether they are going to, or are willing to make a purchase. You do not have to go all out and buy a $5000 dollar website, although that wouldn’t hurt. There are an abundance of website options out there for under $500 dollars, and even some free WordPress themes geared towards a particular business – those can get you up and running in just a few days. Whatever option you chose, try not to over do it. Customer click freindly websites are what works, anything unneeded or over the top will simply discourage customers. Important information should never be two clicks away.
Step two entails something very simple that all business owners should do. You are going to want to get yourself listed in Google Places. In order to do so you are going to have to make a Google account and create your listing in Google Places. You could even have an SEO professional handle this to ensure that your listing is done appropriately. However, it is very simple. After you have made your listing Google will send you a postcard to your place of business and there will be a list of directions that you will follow on the letter in order to get yourself listed. This postcard will come in about two weeks.
Step three is related to Google Places. For the third step, it is important to place your business listing in as many online directories as possible. Most people don’t use the yellow pages, but they do use online directories like them. Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other directories are a great place to start. It is also important that the information you list is consistent across the board. Remember that a search robot might not read “Terrace” the same as “Ter.” Google doesn’t pull this information off directory sites, but you can be sure that they are looking to them as a reference.
Effective On-site SEO. Believe it or not things like on-site SEO matter, and more than you might think. For someone who is always online, and has a good computer to match, a page load time might not matter so much. However, it matters first and foremost because the search engines evaluate your site based on page load time, among other things. The other reason is for people with the bare minimum connection, and older computers. They will most likely click back and chose another page if they are having trouble loading yours. Other factors that come into play involve various page attributes. You want to have the right keyword density that sum up your business, or that you are trying to rank for. This should be anywhere between 3-5% per page. Then, things like placing various keywords, or locations in your header tags are very vital as well. Although your store may be called “Harry’s Heating” most people are not looking for Harry selling heating services. They are looking for heating services, in a certain area. Something like “Arlington Heating” would be much more appropriate. Do not forgot about on site SEO.
Off site SEO. Off site SEO is confusing to a lot of people, especially local business owners. And, especially with all of the bad practices that are sometimes associated with it. There are many things that go into off-site SEO. The most important is making an effort to place links from other websites, that are directed back to yours. To many business owners, especially the ones who are not to computer savvy, this really doesn’t make any sense. This is where a white hat link building service is so vital. Working with reputable SEO’s that can provide you with the best saerch engine optimization practices are what you are looking for. They also have the advantage of working with a distinguished local business, and in the eyes of Google that is a plus. The problem with link building services that are done on a global level is that anyone can buy a domain and claim a certain set of keywords that they want to rank for. With a local business, you typically have some sort of brick and mortar presence, long before you have an online presence. Therefore, SEO’s can provide amazing content, and amazing links – which is beneficial to both parties. Each article or piece of content you write, should be viewed as a small advertisement for your local business. Depending where your content gets posted, you could potentially get more views than a billboard would off a major highway, although that is not likely it is certainly more cost effective.
SEO has come a long way since the realization that higher rankings, means higher profits. The truth is that SEO is changing everyday, and it is constantly a moving target that you must aim for. A lot of people view this as a bad thing, but is that concept any different than other business? Do you not have to keep up with changing laws, environments, markets, currency, and economic issues? The answer is yes you do. Some things however, are constant. People are always going to need certain things like food, water, and shelter. From the looks of it there will always be small local businesses. Small, local businesses have the advantage of earning their right to legitimacy offline before they come online. Google knows this, and now you do too. Local business SEO should be something all local business owners engage in. Whether you try to do it yourself, or whether you hire professionals, the important thing is that it is done. Of course the most important thing in any of this is that you have a great product or service behind your online presence. Without that, your Local SEO will not be sustainable.
This article was written by Thomas Benjamin. Be likes to blog about many various topics including internet services, business, and SEO.