More and more people now use search engines to find local businesses. That's why local search is now an important marketing tool for every type of business. Local search engine optimization makes it easy for your customers to find you, whether they are searching for you on a computer, tablet or smartphone. There are a number of local SEO guidelines that local businesses, as well as SEO agencies who work on their behalf, should keep in mind to improve their rankings.
Include Complete and Accurate Information
To optimize your local search listing, provide as much information as possible about the business. It's also essential to keep this information updated and accurate. The following are some of the most important things to include in local listings.
Create a Customer Friendly Website
Although you want to keep local SEO in mind, the main goal for your website should be to make it appealing to visitors. The site should be visually attractive, easy to navigate and provide answers to common questions potential customers might have. You should also avoid elements that can detract from user experience. For example, flash media cannot be viewed on all devices and can slow down page loading time. The layout and style of the site should be consistent with the type of business it is.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
Another critical factor for local search marketing is having a mobile friendly site. Many people use smartphones to access the web nowadays. This is especially true for local search, where people may be driving around looking for a certain type of business. Many people use phones to make purchases online, so you certainly don't want to exclude your mobile customers if you are selling products from your website. Mobile friendliness is now also a search ranking factor; see Google's new mobile guidelines. If you use responsive design, your site will be equally accessible to all types of devices. You should test your site to make sure that it's mobile friendly.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Reviews and ratings can be very important when it comes to a customer making a decision whether or not to purchase an item or visit a business. You can remind people to leave reviews by providing links to review sites that are relevant to your business, such as Google +, Yelp, Angie's List, Trip Advisor, etc... You shouldn't try to bribe or coerce people to leave reviews, as this could backfire. You can, however, leave gentle reminders such as “We really appreciate honest reviews so we can better serve you in the future.” Having visible reviews makes local search results more compelling.
Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
If you want to succeed with local search engine optimization you have to think of the search engines as well as your customers as you build your website.
Add New Content Regularly
Many business websites are fairly static. This is because the owners list all of the information about the business and think their site is done. Local search marketing, however, requires you to add new content to your site on a regular basis. The search engines always favor sites with fresh content.
Enhance Local SEO With Social Media
You can make your local search marketing more powerful by being active on social media sites. Your Facebook page, Twitter posts, Pinterest pins and LinkedIn content can all point to your business website. To get the most out of social media, it's important to be consistent and interactive. Keep your pages updated and always answer questions and comments posted by visitors. Adding coupons, giveaways and contests to your social media pages can also increase traffic and encourage people to share your content. This all goes towards improving your local SEO rankings.
Make Use of Images and Videos
Visual content is becoming increasingly popular. People are now accustomed to seeing and sharing photos and videos on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Infographics are another visual type of content that can be very useful. Visual content is more likely to be shared than text. Videos are a powerful way to explain your business and products. Using visual content on both on your website and on your social media pages is an effective way to enhance your local search rankings.
We, at CinchLocal.com, are among many marketing professionals who believe that a small business's website is one of its most powerful advertising tools. Any business can gain a significant advantage and improved image with a maintained and well-built website. If your business currently doesn't have its own website, there are many benefits you're likely missing out on including more sales, more prospects/leads, brand enhancement, and enhanced customer service.
Recent research has indicated that roughly half of all global small businesses are currently operating without websites. If your small business is one of them, here are 20 benefits that you're missing missing out on . . .
1. Expanding Your Horizons
When you operate solely out of your brick and mortar location, your reach is limited to your local audience. By going online, your reach is expanded on a global scale. Likewise, your website makes it possible for potential prospects to gather information about your business and make purchases at literally any time.
2. Cutting Back on Distribution and Printing Expenses
Unlike information on printed materials, you can change the information on your website at any time. Businesses that utilize CMS (content management systems) with their websites can make substantial changes to their content in no time, and at no cost.
3. New Customer Relations
Rather than your customers referring their friends and family to you by way of a company address or phone number, they can simply refer using your URL (website address).
4. Ease of Use
If your website remains updated, easy to use, and maintained, it will remain useful to your customers. At CinchLocal.com, we can help you keep your website as accessible as possible.
5. Capture Reviews
Connect your website with Angie's List, Google + page, Facebook Page, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc... to capture reviews, gain trust, provide excellent customer service to drive more customers to your business and back again – it's word-of-mouth marketing at its finest!
6. Creating Your Own Online Identity
With a short website domain, such as www.yourbusiness.com, you can establish a solid brand identity online.
7. Increasing the ROI of Your Marketing
Once your website has been added to your promotional materials, your customers will have another simple way to easily access your business from anywhere, at any time.
8. Increasing Productivity
Many small business owners see an increase in their productivity after employing the help of a website. Customers can easily pull basic information from a small business's website rather than spend time emailing, calling, or visiting the physical brick and mortar store location.
9. Enhancing Your Reputation
Become an expert in your industry on a global scale by taking your expertise online. You can write articles and posts on your own website, and you can even guest post in other areas of the web to share tips and advice, as well as route leads back to your own domain.
10. Serving Customers More Efficiently
With a website, your customers don't have to wait until regular business hours to request or obtain information. Auto-responders and forms can assist customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
11. Providing an Education Portal
If customers need advice about your services or products, they can easily refer to your website. There's no longer any need to supply the same advice several times in a row to various customers.
12. Use Media to Sell Your Products and Services
With an online presence, you can demonstrate your products and services for customers who are browsing from the comfort of their own homes. For example, you could add photos, videos, and detailed guides to your website so that customers can learn on their own accord.
13. Use Social Media to Sell Your Products and Services
Build a social community around your brand by creating a Facebook Page, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, etc... to gain trust and emotionally connect with your potential clients. You do this by listening, being helpful, showing transparency and connecting them with valuable or entertaining resources.
14. Smooth Stream of Communication
With a website, your customers will be able to provide feedback quickly, contact you, and even inquire about product availability.
15. Easy Access to Store Details
When customers need to quickly find your business's phone number or address, they can use your website to do so.
16. Appeasing International Prospects
If a customer from Hong Kong wishes to order a product or service from you, you can satisfy his/her needs quickly with a website.
17. Affordable Market Research
Rather than spending money on surveys and polls, you can place these elements right on your website to tap the minds of your customers.
18. Hiring New Employees
Using your website, you can advertise available positions and widen the margin for potential applicants. Likewise, applicants and obtain information and apply online.
19. Email Communication
At CinchLocal.com, we'll help you set up personalized email along with your new website. Everyone employed by your company, including yourself, will receive personal email addresses for corresponding with suppliers, customers, etc.
20. Ease of Changing Locations
Lastly, you'll find it a lot easier to keep your customers in the know if you ever decide to relocate. Not only will you be able to inform your customers of your location change via your website, but your prospects can still obtain information and do business with you online.
Having your business listed in local business directories is critically important in determining how well your site will rank in the local search engine results. These listings (also called citations) which feature your business name, address, and phone number are considered by a leading number oflocal SEO experts to be among the top factors considered by the search engines in ranking your website for relevant keywords.
Why Business Citations Matter
Local directory citations are similar in effect to inbound backlinks. While citations don’t pass on ranking authority from linking websites, they do lend a degree of credibility to your site that confirms your status as a local business to the search engines which can give your website a local seo boost in rank. As a local business, your website is eligible to be featured in the local search results – which are typically much easier to rank for than the organic search results.
The Importance of Accurate Citation Information
The Internet is all about sharing information and resources – and that includes your company and products. Inaccurate information that gets shared with search engines or directories could cause confusion as to your business identity. If this confusion raises “red flags” about your business, you could lose citations as well as valuable customer testimonials, and not receive the search rankings that you deserve.
A simple yet highly effective way to ensure that each of your citations is accurate and up to date is to create a file on your computer with all of your basic business information. Whenever you need to create a new directory listing, simply cut-and-paste the contents of this file to your new profile to avoid being penalized for inconsistent or inaccurate citations.
Local Business Directory Submission
Submitting your business information to all 50 of these directories by hand is the best way. However, it can be time consuming and tedious work. To help with this you can either use an autofill add-on for Firefox or you can hire a reputable company like Yext, Yahoo Local Works or Moz Local.
The Top 50 Local Business Directories Your Company Needs To Be Listed In:
(Local Business directories are listed in ABC order)
Need Help With Manual Directory Submissions?
IF you're short on time CinchLocal.com offers an affordable solution that is guaranteed to increase your local presence of you or your client's website.
These are foundational links that are hand-submitted to over 50+ directories, we also find 10 niche directories, include your social profiles, business logos, pics and more!
Click the link below to learn more about our stellar Directory Submission service that is guaranteed to give your website a BOOST!
In today's highly competitive marketplace, it is simply impossible to stand out and attract customers without a robust social media strategy for your small business or organization. Almost every niche of business has many competitors, and it takes a lot for customers to notice one over all the rest. Furthermore, the rise of social media and mobile devices means that marketing that incorporates social media tools is quickly becoming a critical part of digital marketing. In this post, we will explain some basic ways to take advantage of social media to drive more customers to your business and help you convert leads.
Separate Your Profiles
It's crucial to make a division between personal and professional accounts. You need to have a Facebook page for your small business, and when you want to talk about your business on Facebook, use that account as a clearinghouse. Don't allow personal chatter to leak into the professional space -- it is off-putting to people who find your page because it looks unprofessional and exclusionary. That goes for Twitter and Instagram as well. Create separate accounts to use for business.
Build On Success
Marketing is part art and part science, so what works for others might not work for you. It all depends on your business and your intended audience. Take careful note of what works and what doesn't, and then concentrate on building on the success stories. Marketing initiatives can fail for any number of reasons, many of which are outside your control. On the other hand, it is much easier to find out why something worked. You will learn more from studying your wins than your losses. Use that mentality to guide your future strategy and design. It also helps you to stay positive and look on the bright side, which is important for staying in business for the long term.
We touched on this in the last point, but you have to be ready to think about the long term. Don't pour all of your energy into short-term results. First of all, if you are just starting out, then you may well wind up disappointed. It's hard for new businesses to make a splash, so don't be surprised if it takes a while for your work to pay off. Next, keep in mind that business is a marathon, not a sprint. Your strategies for social media are not just to create short-term buzz-- they are designed to funnel a steady stream of visitors to your business. If you try to create buzz with aggressive campaigns and shock value, then you might see more traffic in the immediate future, but it will die down over time.
Work From The Heart
If you want to be convincing on social media, then you have to be able to write from the heart. It is a safe assumption that you care deeply about your business. You need to let that shine though in your posts and updates. Your passion about your business and your field will excite visitors and customers, increasing their interest in what you have to say.
Furthermore, if you demonstrate that level of passion, then you also appear more credible. Enthusiasm and passion are not easy to fake, so you will look more genuine and dedicated if you write with passion. Viewers are also more likely to trust that you know what you are doing, because they will assume that someone with such obvious interest must have a good understanding of their business.
Building "Real" Relationships
There are a lot of social media strategies for small businesses that can help you bring more people to your site and encourage them to buy from you, but the bottom line is that you need to forge "real" relationships and make an emotional connection with people (future customers) to succeed. Customers want to feel wanted-- they want to feel that you as a business owner value them personally. The personal connection is what turns a casual browser into a loyal customer. The value of the product is attractive, but without that personal touch it is nothing more than a matter of prices and value. When you can use social media, both posts and messages, to show customers that you value them, then they are even more likely to keep coming back to you. After that, it's not just about the money anymore— it's personal, and the customer likes coming back to you even above the value they gain from your product.
If you keep these principles in mind, you are sure to start gaining followers and customers. Remember that you need to be personally invested in both the business and the marketing to be successful— combine your personality, passion, and ambition into results. For more helpful information on growing your small business, be sure to "Like" our CinchLocal Facebook page to learn more and connect with fellow business owners like yourself.
What Are Your Thoughts?
If you have any question, comment or just want to share what has worked for you please post it below. O would love to hear back from you!
For professionals who have been in the field of SEO for a while now, reading has been central to their survival. Hours are spent perusing through blogs, forums, guidelines, search engine patents, etc... While all of this has certainly enhanced the knowledge of people on various aspects, seldom has it helped much in coming to a consensus on how to rank higher in search engines like Google.
For a newbie in the world of SEO, the entire process may seem convoluted and a bit daunting. That's why we create an "SEO blueprint" or a framework on which those new to SEO may be able to build their research and work. For those venturing into SEO for the first time, this guide by CinchLocal.com assumes you know a few basics. If not, then you might want to read Beginners Guide to SEO or the Learn SEO Section.
Before you actually get into the details of this blueprint, there are a few things you will need to understand about it:
This blueprint is ideally for those of you who have a basic understanding of SEO and how it works. There are 25 concepts of SEO that we will go through in this document. These concepts may be broadly classified into 5 categories:
Avoid common keyword research mistakes: As with most things, there are two ways of doing things – the smart way or the hard way. The smart way is often the easiest way too. Take a look at some of the common mistakes newcomers to SEO commit:
This last point is by far the most common of mistakes and it is also when SEO efforts become difficult. A simpler approach would be to rank anywhere from 100 or 1000 or their multiples of long tail keywords in a single piece of content. The idea is to select a keyword theme and use it instead of promoting a single keyword.
Narrow down on a keyword theme: Get a keyword theme to implement across the entire structure of your content. This way, rather than focusing on just one keyword, you have the idea reiterated in multiple ways, and the result can be great. In order to narrow down on a theme, you will need to know about your client base, the kind of traffic they can generate for you and the possibility of conversion. Once you know this, you will be able to get specific on what will act as a trigger to initiate a response from them. Your keyword theme will stem for this.
Take for example the topic of baseball – getting a ranking for Major League Baseball may be difficult. But working ff of Chicago Cub v/s Philadelphia Phillies 1992 and the like will give you a better ranking. Narrow down on your topic in general, and then work on finding specific keyword qualifiers.
Understanding keyword qualifiers: Qualifiers is a reference to those words that add a level of specificity to a keyword. These may be of different kinds such as:
You will have to work on finding every possible qualifier that works with your keyword and which will resonate with your audience. There are free keyword tools such as Wordstream, Keyword Spy and SpyFu among others that you will find online that you may work with.
Finding the ones that work on Google: After this effort of finding qualifiers and adding them to your keyword theme, the next step is to introduce it into Google’s Adwords Keywords Planner. This will narrow it down to approximately 15 to 20. These phrases will not be so competitive, yet carry the possibility of ranking. Google’s keyword planner does offer the ability of running 100s of phrases at one go, but you get better variety if you limit your search to 5 to 10 at a given time. Always opt for exact search types to get the best keyword phrases that do not have too much competition.
One tip you must keep in mind at this point is to view the competition column with caution. Because it will often show you figures for paid search items and not those obtained from an organic search.
Working on ranking your chosen keywords: With a basic keyword set in hand, your next step will be to see how well your phrases will actually rank when used. There are two ways of ranking out the competition:
o Where is the keyword? Title tag, URL or on the page
o What is the page and domain authority for that particular URL
o How authoritative are the first few results
o What is the anchor test for links
o What quality resource will you be able to provide for this keyword
Being able to break through the top 5 search results for your keyword phrase will be considered a successive campaign. Using long tail keyword will improve your chances of ranking. This is where we step into the other aspects of SEO management.
Content, if not handled the right way, will simply become a collection of words that is mass produced and will not provide any value at all.
How to make content and not spam: You could choose to write dozens of articles on a topic and hope that they will be ranked on Google. Instead, what you must do is begin writing with a view on how to create content that offers much value for the reader. It is difficult to produce something that has value, but when you succeed in doing so, you become a valuable resource to webmasters online. With the value you provide, you will find rankings and algorithms working in your favor and links building up on their own. More importantly, you will have loyalty and readers who will come back for more. Value addition can take on several forms such as:
It is not necessary to have all these qualities included in your content, but emphasizing on at least one of them would be great.
Creating a structure for your content: The aim of this blueprint is to give you at least one means of building links, and that is where structure of your content will factor in. There are many ways in which you can present your content so that it adds value to your theme:
In some cases, you may even consider combining them all together. It is important that you find multiple ways in which to deliver your content. It is not necessary that everything you put online goes viral. However, what is essential is that at least one part of your content becomes so highly authoritative that it will drive traffic to the other parts of your site.
Pay attention to your title: You need to spend a good amount of time writing out the title of your piece. For those of us new to the world of SEO, coming up with a title that is catchy, conveys a message and encourages the reading of an entire piece is not always easy to come up with. Write out as many titles as you can and then after a day or so of leaving it alone, come back and choose one out of them.
Length or depth of matter: Never look at just the word count. How deep your content is also matters in helping you get a good rank online. In-depth content brings with it a level of uniqueness and also an assurance that it is probably not duplication. You will also be able to get deep into your content, rather than make vague suggestions. When you have good quality long content, it increases the perception that there are more links involved and there are better rankings.
How to add depth to your content: If word count is not a priority, then how will you be able to work on quality and depth? This is a natural question that arises. There is a lot of information that is written on how Google defines quality. While a large part of it is speculation, a lot of it is actually what Google follows to separate good content from bad. Here are some questions that you may ask about your content. These came from Google soon after their first Panda update:
Fitting into Google’s Models: Though Google’s bots are far from being able to perceive information like we can, it is slowly getting there. Algorithms are so intricate these days that they are designed to pick sentences, paragraphs, blocks as well as content and analyze them for an understanding on keywords, topic and expertise presented. So how do you know whether your content makes the cut for Google?
Answer the questions above for starters –holiday season recipes as a keyword phrase will need to include words like roast, grill, Christmas, turkey, stuffing and pudding in order to move up the ranking ladder. The kind of words you use will matter.
Research has shown that using specific words for a particular topic directly work on getting higher rankings. There are standalone tools available to analyze the kind of words that should be used for a topic.
Topic modelling: Now, all of the above would make more sense if you had access to one of the computers Google uses to analyze content. Since you don’t, there are other means of structuring content and coming up with a topic. One of the simplest ways of doing so is with the keyword themes that you made at the beginning of this blueprint. Using these keyword phrases to come up with topics will ensure a good amount of relevancy to your topic.
Great design is key: While content is definitely important, great design is also just as important. Make a provision in your budget for a good website designer. Some of the benefits of good design are:
An important aspect of this SEO blueprint is the architecture of your site, and getting this right means that you make not just one page, but several pages of your site rank well. Here are some aspects you will need to look into:
Create a hub: There are only a handful of sites that are successful with only a single page of content. The way Google works is that it examines the content you have as well as its relevancy based on links coming in and out of it. What will get you a good ranking is multiple hubs each of which look at a range of topics in-depth.
Cross link your hubs: Ensure that each of your hubs has links going into other hubs as well as coming out of them. You can anchor these links of keywords that overlap. Often this is done to provide additional insight into a particular topic. It also helps to give your hubs more attention from search engines.
Create a central hub: All of the multiple hubs are best connected to a single central hub from which all others originate. You could look at it as your home page, which then branches out into multiple other pages.
This is the next section of your blueprint and one which is quite extensive once you get into it. Take a look at the various aspects you need to pay attention to.
Getting the basics right: There are reams of information about on-page optimization available. It is best to go through some well-known sources of information. Once you have read through the basics though, here are a few more tactics that you should be well aware of:
Internal linking:While we have suggested earlier on that it is important to interlink the content on your hubs, there are a few things you need to keep in mind regarding them.
When creating your links, always make them prominent and eye-catching.
Create links naturally: Don’t think too hard about your anchor text. It should be worked into the natural flow of content and should not be too contrived. When you go easy on the flow of language, you naturally have diverse anchor text and this enhances the quality of your content. This especially holds good when you are linking internally.
When working on your anchor text, don’t create text to fit keywords, instead work your anchor text around the content for a more natural flow.
Tips for good anchor text:
Creating Title tags: Writing a good title tag is directly responsible for getting you high on-page ranking. But Google is also strict when it comes to over-optimization of tags and has been recently cracking down on content that is irresponsibly keyword heavy. Two things to avoid would be:
Do not over-optimize: Whether you are dealing with titles, URLs or links, do not over-optimize. Today, getting a good ranking is all about writing for humans and not for computers. Google is structured in such a way that it easily recognizes over-optimization and instantly demotes your site.
The importance of structured data: Including information that is short and simple on every webpage is essential. Though it does not really have a proven track record for improving ranking, it does show a good potential for the future. Especially in verticals like recipe sharing, they are quite important. There is no hard and fast rule about what should be included in structured data, but some musts are:
The last part of this blueprint is related to building links, and this is essentially the last 10% of your strategy. The first 90% is all about creating the best type of content. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways of building links – free and paid. As you work in the field of SEO, you will be exposed to each one of them. Link building is an on-going task. With time and patience, you will learn the ropes and will soon elevate yourself to the next level.
The founder of CinchLocal, is a seasoned entrepreneur that has over 14+ years of experience in search engine optimization and online marketing.