Most small business owners are aware that in 2014 their marketing efforts need to include more than a yellow pages listing and monthly letterbox drops. In the digital age, an effective marketing strategy MUST include an online approach, and for small business owners – whether they like it or not, this means having a website which can easily be found by potential customers.
Locally targeted SEO is one of the best ways for small businesses to grow their customer base and succeed in the competitive online space. According to Search Engine Journal, one in three Google searches focus on a place or location “e.g Car Parts, Brisbane.”
Because of this, capitalising on these searches through a local SEO strategy makes smart sense for small businesses that may be competing with scores of others in their industry – all in the same city!
Since SEO is a complex beast with many different approaches depending on the strategy taken, this post will focus on some of the important local aspects to SEO small business owners can take to turn online searches into tangible leads and enquiries.
Onsite SEO Techniques
1. Using Geo-Specific Keywords in Site Content
As you might expect, effective local SEO starts with inserting relevant geo-specific area keywords in the content, meta descriptions and page titles of your website. Take for example a plumbing business in Brisbane. The page title for the website home page could be “Plumbing Services: Commercial and Domestic Plumbers in Brisbane”
This would be more effective than something like “All plumbing work – on time every time.” Going with the former would mean that someone searching for plumbers in Brisbane would be more likely to find the business under a greater number of different search phrases – some of which could include the following.
- Plumbers, Brisbane
- Domestic Plumbers, Brisbane
- Commercial Plumbers, Brisbane
- Plumbing Services, Brisbane.
In addition to using important keywords and phrases relevant to the business in page titles, and metadata it’s also makes sense to target locally based key terms and phrases in the headings and copy on the site. e.g Brisbane air conditioning repairs, and air conditioning servicing in Brisbane.
A warning though: These should be done naturally and without too much repetition as it can be flagged by Google as over-optimisation and could even result in a penalty. Always insert keywords when relevant but not in a spammy way.
2. Using Local Area Pages and Landing Pages
For many trades and services or businesses operating in several different suburbs, creating local area pages is a great way to direct relevant enquiries to the appropriate landing page. This approach can also work well for stores who may have different branches in separate suburbs.
This means that if someone is searching for electricians in Wynnum, they will be directed to the Wynnum Landing page of a URL. For example someone searching for electricians Wynnum would be diverted to this URL http://brisbaneelectricians.com.au/electricians-wynnum instead of the main home page. Suburb specific pages can be created for additional locations to cast a wider net and drive more local based enquiries across many suburbs. But again, be sure that the content is unique and not just copied from competitors or Wikipedia.
3. Regularly Adding New Relevant Content
Research has shown time and time again that a site that is kept updated with new articles, blogs, videos, and other content receives favourable visibility by Google (and the other search engines). This new content also gives you the chance to insert location based keywords into the site as explained above or give a written summary of recent jobs the team has completed with images or even video. One could also get the client to write a testimonial or review.
An example of this could be “Large Scale Commercial Air Conditioning installation At Stafford High School. Content like this works on two levels – it provides visitors to the site with interesting information to help them understand what it is you do, but also assists in keeping your site updated with fresh content, which helps rankings in SERP’s, especially in the days after new content is published.
4. Markup Data (schema)
We won’t get too technical here, but essentially schema data is a way to display snippets of information relating to your business in the search engine results page.
Instead of just the Page Title, URL, and the 150 character meta description, inserting a special coded Markup language allows you to add prices of products, reviews, location information and other data which can entice people to click through to the site, especially when grouped with other listings without these snippets. (See picture below)
These can be created by your digital marketing agency or yourself through Schema online code generators, and uploaded to each page by pasting the code generated. Not all businesses are suitable or relevant to use the schema language codes but for those selling specific products, or displaying a location, it’s something worth investigating.
Off Site SEO techniques
1. Securing Your Local Google Listing
It’s also essential that local businesses secure a Google+ ‘My Business listing on Google (formerly known as Google Places.)
Businesses with my business listings have increased likelihood of being listed in the Google Maps listings (see picture below.) While these listing show your business location on a map, various other valuable pieces of information, similar to the rich snippets above, can be displayed. Some of these includes a telephone number, pictures of the business, physical street address and reviews – all visible from the Google Search results Pages! (SERPs)
Figure 1 – Securing Your Google + Business Page ensures your business appears with more rich detail in search engines and can set your business apart from others.
While being displayed in the places listings is not always guaranteed with a My Business Page, it does help drive local enquiries from customers in your area.
Also it’s worth mentioning that if someone searches the business name directly, if a Google Business Page has been claimed, this will usually be the first to appear and can provide customers with information they are looking for right away. Businesses with several locations should create separate listings for each store or branch to capitalise on local traffic.
2. Local Directories and Other Listings
The more listings your business can have online the better. Not only does it increase the chance you’ll be found, but it will also help your link development efforts, which is one of the biggest factors in ranking highly in Google. Reputable free listing sites include Yellow Pages, Yelp, and TrueLocal but there are many more – some specific to certain industries.
If you use any products, e.g. Protec Automotive Paint used by a smash repairer, ask for your business link to be included as a stockist on the manufacturer’s site.. Doing this is an easy link building strategy that should not be overlooked.
It’s also worth submitting your website link to relevant and quality local directories such as those mentioned above. Many in the industry have claimed directories are dead, however links from the right directories are worth their weight in gold, especially if they are local and for your industry or niche.
Not all of these are free, but the most useful directories for local SEO are locally based, and include a space to leave your business address. Some of the smaller ones for specific suburbs or local communities are often overlooked but will greatly benefit your local business. The key for success here is submitting to quality directories designed to help people searching for businesses, not cheap databases designed purely for spammy backlinks.
Discussing this strategy with your SEO Consultant is important as they will be abe to give you the best advice and potentially even be doing this for you already.
3. Seek Reviews and Leave Reviews
Reviews from customers are another way for your business to dominate local searches. Ask happy customers to leave a review since the more of these, the higher your ranking is likely to be, and the more likely your listing will display in the lucrative Google Maps listings. If you are offering a good service or product, more business will follow as more people leave reviews. Also if you leave reviews on other businesses you have worked with, this will increase the chance of gaining a reciprocal review at a later stage.
If your business leaves a good review on another businesses Google + page, it may even be selected to featured on their website under a testimonials section – with a link back to your site.
As we have said before, relevant links equal effective SEO, and effective SEO equals more online visibility and more business.
A word of caution though. It is best practice (not to mention against Google’s Policy) not to buy reviews of any sorts and never review yourself (or have any of your staff do so)
4. Social Media
Businesses should attempt to build genuine relationships via social media with clients and customers as well as others in their industry. This means a conscious effort by your team to reach out to customers through their professional profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter. Commenting on content, blogs and social media posts from people you’d like to win business from is another worthwhile approach. Joining in discussions to help answer questions can raise the profile of your business to the online community, it also shows you are engaged and willing to help, and can entice new clients and customers to do business with you.
Finally, always answer customer questions on your accounts, and genuinely try to assist by sharing helpful content that you have created on your website’s blog. A shared post on your Google + page is indexed almost immediately and is an automatic link back to your site, assisting your SEO.
Effective SEO Takes continual effort, investment, time and improvement.
If it all sounds like a lot of work then you would be right. Effective Local SEO takes continuous effort, refinement and tweaking. But the efforts are well worth it, and pay off in growth of your business, more customers, better jobs, and new opportunities. For these dividends we can’t help but to think that’s an effort worth making!
For expert assistance in developing an effective local SEO strategy that will target new customers, contact the Media Heroes online marketing Brisbane team on 1800 464 376 to arrange a free consultation and superpower the growth of your business today!