In order to successfully sell products and services, you have to get the word out about your business. For those operating in the physical realm, there are plenty of tried and true rules for how to build a loyal fan base, gain exposure and be a present force in the community. With time, however, some things change.
Now that businesses in many respects have to compete with the entire world due to the internet, it is vital that brands learn how to use this dynamic to their advantage. Search engine optimization – the act of improving visibility in search engines via a variety of actions – is one of the most important aspects of building an online brand.
What can local businesses get out of maximizing their SEO potential? Let’s talk about some effective tips on how to improve SEO and what benefits they provide.
Create Location-based Pages
Whether your business is serving one local community or 100, it is important that you appeal to the people who live there specifically. Much as you’d custom-tailor traditional marketing strategies, you must also refine your online approach.
Local SEO is an increasingly powerful force in what people see when they search for local services and products. Search engines do their best to determine who in a given area would like to see what, and which results will be most relevant to them. One way that search engines assess information is through the repeated use of local-oriented content.
By creating specific, location-based pages for each area or community your business serves, you are maximizing the chances of being seen in a given set of relevant search results. In addition to this, it also provides your website with more content – something search engines increasingly value when ranking which websites are most visible to search users.
Implement a Mobile-friendly Web Design
In order to get the most out of your SEO refinements, it is crucial that you reach as many mobile users as possible. Around two years ago, major search engines began announcing that they were altering their search engine results to be more accommodating to mobile users. Even for searches conducted from desktop computers, the nature of the algorithm changes was felt.
There are many reasons why search engines would want to do this. For starters, mobile devices may have smaller screens and lower resolutions than standard desktop computer displays. This can make it more difficult to read content, click on items or otherwise use the internet effectively. Google and others decided that websites that serve dynamic web pages to users based on their device screen and resolution would be prioritized in their results.
Mobile responsive web design is easy to implement, fortunately. There are a number of WordPress plugins and other free services you can use to optimize your website’s design for mobile browsing. This will ensure that everybody can easily read and use your business’ website – regardless of device. Not only is this necessary for higher rankings in search, but it also reduces the number of people who visit your website and promptly leave because they can’t read or interact with it (the primary reason search engines made the change in the first place).
Target Local SERPs
One of the biggest ways people find a local business on the web is through local-specific searches. It is not enough to just have a well-designed website and a few pages with locations listed on them: you also need to be actively telling search engines where your content is relevant.
Many online businesses utilize a variety of keywords and content in their quest to target locally-relevant SERPs (search engine result pages). For instance, an online shop in Pittsburgh selling customized SUV paint jobs might use the phrase “auto paint jobs in Pittsburgh” throughout its content on a regular basis. For businesses with stiffer competition in the most basic of keywords and phrases, it may be necessary to use longer phrases, known as long-tail keywords. The same business might decide to target “custom SUV paint jobs in Pittsburgh” in order to rank higher in a less-contested SERP.
Produce a Blog
Arguably the biggest determining factor in whether a website will rank highly in a given search, content is essential to your local business’ SEO success. One thing that all highly-ranked websites have in common? They all have ample amounts of quality content. The search engines absolutely adore websites with plenty of content because it indicates an active presence that is trustworthy.
This is why your business website should absolutely feature a blog that you update regularly. Even if your product doesn’t seem like something you could write a blog post about every week, there are certainly items within your business’ broader niche that you can cover on a regular basis.
The more often you can publish a post, the better. Ditto for the number of words each post contains. Search engines prefer long-form content, so it’s best to write more detailed blog posts – even if it means you get around to creating fewer overall.
Use Social Media Regularly
While local SEO efforts are not directly augmented by social media activity, there are indirect benefits to be gained by using platforms like Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis.
For starters, let’s consider the primary reason we want to improve SEO: to increase traffic. Social media activity can help you build more awareness within local communities and cultivate a loyal audience of shoppers and customers with whom you can connect any time. Social media – through those social signals sent out whenever somebody shares a post or interacts with your brand – can notably increase traffic by driving more people to your site.
In addition to that, various social media posts do in fact appear in search results. Relevant posts from Twitter, for instance, rank quite highly in SERPs and can be a very useful way of targeting local SEO niches. If done properly, then you can drive the search engine traffic that is coming to your social media page over to your website.
These five tips can help any local business improve their SEO potential, rank more highly in search results and drive traffic to their websites. Local search niches are often much easier to target than generic, worldwide ones – with these effective strategies in your bag of tricks, you’ll be gaining ground in no time.