Small businesses must make marketing one of their top priorities. Marketing practices have evolved considerably over the last quarter of a century. Many companies used to rely almost entirely on word-of-mouth to reach new customers. While word of mouth is still important, they must also utilize digital marketing to expand their reach.
Search engine optimization is one essential element of any digital marketing strategy. Shrewd business owners will have a detailed SEO strategy to reach as many potential customers as possible through Google. However, only 49% of small businesses actually use SEO. You will stand out from the competition better if you leverage it yourself.
Here are a few crucial guidelines to help improve your local SEO strategy. If you have trouble developing your own SEO strategy, then you may want to consult with an expert. You may even find a strategist that specializes in your own industry, such as a dental SEO specialist.
Make sure that you are targeting the right keywords.
Many businesses have a very detailed SEO strategy that involves getting high-quality backlinks, carefully structuring their pages and doing other essential SEO tasks. But, unfortunately, they make the mistake of targeting the wrong keywords. If you aren’t focusing on the right keywords, then you won’t get quality traffic even if you do everything else right.
You need to make sure that you choose keywords with decent search volume and relevance to your target customers. You must also make sure that they aren’t too competitive to rank for.
You should consider the following mistakes other businesses made, so you don’t make them yourself:
- One self-employed paralegal handled uncontested divorces. He wanted to rank on Google for the keyword “uncontested divorces in Los Angeles.” He was pleased to find out that he was at the top of Google for this keyword. However, one of his future marketing consultants had to point out that nobody was searching for that term which meant that it wouldn’t bring in any new leads.
- One entrepreneur started a web development business that included the name of a common bird in the brand name. He wanted to rank at the top of Google for that bird name. An SEO professional had to point out that this would cost millions of dollars and provide little value since most people looking for that name would be looking at images of that bird rather than a web development company.
You can’t afford to choose the wrong keywords. Use the Google Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools.
Make sure that all of your contact information is accurate.
E-commerce businesses and other companies that don’t focus on local marketing take different approaches to offsite optimization. They usually focus almost entirely on building links to their website.
Links are still very important for local businesses as well. However, they must also focus on other offsite ranking factors.
Google looks at references to your website on other parts of the Internet. If you have earned mentions of your business on other sites, then it will consider your site to be more prominent. This is especially true if you include your contact information and address on these platforms.
Unfortunately, these references will not offer you nearly as much value if you don’t make sure that your information is consistent. If you use different addresses on directories and your own site, Google will be less likely to lift your website in the rankings.
It is best to review your address and contact information across different platforms regularly. In addition, you should always update everything if your company address or phone number changes.
Use local websites properly when building links
As mentioned above, links are still very important for search engine optimization. Therefore, you need to build the right links to improve your search engine rankings.
All other things being equal, Google seems to place a higher weight towards links from other websites in your area. However, you need to use them appropriately. For example, you don’t want to participate in link exchange programs with websites and completely different industries.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a backlink from another small business in a different vertical. However, it would be best if you made sure that there is some context that makes the link look like it makes sense. For example, if you partnered with another small business at a charity event, you can get them to mention it on their company blog and link back to your site.
You should also consider taking advantage of local directories and news sites. These can be some of the best places to get links as a local business.