The task of achieving search engine rankings locally isn’t that it is time consuming or difficult to perform. The challenge is surviving this daunting task.
If you are looking to grow your business and be different then your competition, the following 6 steps will help you gain traction in the serps if you are not doing SEO today.
1) Claim Everything
If you have driven through New York City, you understand that you are dodging traffic left and right sometimes just to make it another car length. It can be overwhelming and exhausting. Being online and building your business presence can feel the same at times.
Today it’s time to take action and stomping on your competitors by building your online presence. It’s time to start claiming what belongs to you, your business listing profiles.
What you will need to get started:
1. Business Email address (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Gmail Email address (i.e. email@example.com)
3. Yahoo Email address (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Bing Email address (i.e. email@example.com)
5. Digital file of your company logo
6. Digital pictures of your company
7. Your main business telephone number (some directories do not accept 800#’s)
8. Your main business mailing address (no P.O. Boxes)
Where to Start
- Claim your Google Business Listings by verifying either by telephone or a postcard. Fill in the details of the profile.
- Claim your business on Yahoo.
- Claim your business on Bing.
- Create a Facebook Business account for your business.
- Claim your business on Yelp.
- Claim your business on the main directory sites like YP.com, Citysearch, and local.com
- Create a LinkedIn page for your company
It is a lot of task driven work that takes time and effort. But to make yourself visible to a lot of different people and networks and the search engines, it is worth it.
Some of the tasks are manual and there is no way around to making it easier but if you were looking for a more efficient way you can check out the new Moz Local tool to check for consistency with your NAP – Name, Address, and Phone Number. Those need to be consistent across all directories in order to gain the most credibility and avoid confusion online.
2) Develop Your Website
It’s easy for a business to create and manage their own online properties and profiles on the web today. Taking advantage of the variety of platforms allows you to have more brand touches with your customers which can lead to more sales. If you are a business that is using social media as your only platform that’s okay for now but if you don’t have a website that is a red flag.
Not having a website is dangerous, unprofessional, and puts you at an unfair advantage against your competitor who does have one. It is more difficult to rank in local search results & impossible in organic search without a website and unless somebody is specifically searching for your business they may think your no longer in business.
Your website is the one digital property that YOU own and control.
Your website is your:
..place to build relationships.
..your place to sell 24/7/365.
..gives you cool in sites on visitor behavior through analytics.
..your hub to build your brand.
..is what your customers are looking for.
If you are on Facebook then you already realize the impact the changes they’ve made over the past 12 months that literally force you into buying ads if you want your post boosted for maximum exposure.
Caution: If you are consider using service providers such as Yodle and Yellow Pages be cautious as you don’t necessarily own the domain name or telephone number they provide you. It’s basically a rental program.
Not having your own website is like you always borrowing your buddy’s truck to get to the next job site. Don’t leave your fate and your brand messaging in the hands of a property you don’t own.
3) Gather Reviews For Your Business
Say for example you are shopping for a new realtor or your looking for a new place to get your cut, what do you do? You’re probably going to call on friends locally or through Facebook for a recommendation. Because you trust your friends you will give the realtor a call to do an interview or give the new beautician or barber a shot but before you do, you’ll likely make an attempt to look up the person or company online to see what reviews might be out there.
Truth be told, your customers do the very same thing with you. This is why it’s so important to develop an online review strategy for your business. If you know that customers are searching this way already why not help get them the information they need.
3 Step Feedback Plan
1. Encourage customers to review your products or services using online portals. For example, create a webpage or print or email them simple instructions how to enter the review online.
2. Create a plan on how you will manage and verify the reviews.
3. Determine how you will respond to negative reviews. Come up with a plan how you will address customers feedback, how you will resolve the issues, and how you will keep calm about it.
There are a lot of great visualizations that have been created for where you should focus your efforts and how to solicit reviews from customers. You can check out the Local Visibility System for a more detailed breakdown.
4) It’s Time To Look For Citations
A citation is simply a mention of your business or brand on the web with our without a link back to the source. These references play an important factor in your local search rankings and is something you should be aware of. Citations can be earned by your community, peers, and bloggers through various digital platforms such as reviews, blog entries, articles, videos, podcasts, and more. These references over time will help influence search engines to identify your business and ultimately help you get seen for the searches you want to be found for.
An example of earning a citation for your business can be simply through a directory listing on your local chamber of commerce website or your business being mentioned or sponsored on your local news papers website.
If all of this is new to you, the Local Citation Finder tool from Whitespark is a great resource to get you started. It will help you see how many citations you have on the web while also being able to check up on your competitors citations.
5) Create Content For Your Community
The primary content on your website should be written for your customers primary pain points. You can address questions through an FAQ section or a blog post or testimonial page. All of this is done through creating and developing a content strategy for your business.
Part of your content strategy should also involve creating localized content for your community. This will help tie your business to your locality. Local search algorithms have become more powerful and relevant for boosting rankings recently.
A local content strategy includes:
- Geotagging media assets.
- Create neighborhood specific resources.
- Create unique city pages (not duplicate cut/paste pages).
- Use testimonials with local ties (For example, if you own a window replacement business, show photos of Bob’s new windows before and after. Then geotag the image.)
- Create a customized map and embed it on your website using MyMapList
6) Get Relationship Building
Link building often gets negative reviews, however I believe that you shouldn’t fear link building. As a small business you have a lot of things already going for you.
- You understand relationships.
- You have control over your website.
- You have true relationships with people in your community, vendors, and you support local charities and events.
- Your business is a great source for the local media.
- You’ve adopted a content strategy by focusing on localized content.
The easy part is that you don’t have to worry about building links to your website. Instead, you continue to focus on building relationships with your employees, your community, and throughout your industry. Doing this will help you attract valuable links naturally over time.
Relationship Building Activities
- Create meaningful content that is specific to your community and email people who you think would be interested in reading it.
- Create content that someone would want to share or be excited to receive.
- Hold events or sponsor something in your community.
- Create partnerships with other local businesses.
- Leverage your social media profiles and local listings you’ve claimed by adding your links back to your business.
- Look for opportunities to be part of your community.
- Write a guest post on someone’s site where you can provide real value.
- Create content such as coupons and make sure people are aware of them.
Ok so step 7 is simple. Take Action! To succeed online today you need to have a plan and surround yourself with a team to implement it. Keep your websites, social media profiles, and reviews fresh by getting your employees involved. What kind impression is given to a potential customer when they see a website or social media property abandoned like your last Facebook post from 12 months ago, the last review a negative one, and an outdated website with last years promotional coupon? If you are too busy and business is booming, great, you should be able to afford to hire somebody to help you.
Hey thanks for the great SEO tips for my business, now what?
Get started by creating a 5 minute per day SEO plan for your business. Creating a link building strategy for your business based on relationships. It’s not only more effective in the long run, but it is also more fun. Running a small business in itself is hard work, thinking about SEO is very intimidating. But when it all breaks down, a good SEO plan is something that you should have been doing already.