How to Leverage Local SEO to Promote Your Small Business

General Jun 10, 2017 No Comments

Local SEO for Small BusinessIf you’re determined to leverage local SEO to promote your small business, then you’re making an intelligent effort that could drastically transform your company’s growth potential.

SEO is one of the most powerful marketing mediums. With people actively searching what your business has to offer, attaining top search engine placement can lead to highly-qualified traffic to your site and a wealth of new business.

Investing in a local SEO program to grow your local business requires a comprehensive approach. Below we outline some of the various strategies and techniques required to actualize a successful local SEO plan for your small business.

Establish an “Optimized” Web Presence

Optimization carries many meanings in the world of SEO. From a big-picture perspective, establishing an optimized web presence for your business includes:

  • Having a website that’s technically-fluid from an HTML perspective
  • Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly or responsive on all mobile devices
  • Leveraging Schema markup to better communicate your site’s content to search engines
  • Using CTAs and other conversion touch-points to ensure users can contact your business
  • Making use of internal linking and providing good navigation/usability on your site

The above, in a nutshell, are important aspects of establishing an optimized web presence. This will serve as the foundation for you Nashville business, while helping to ensure all other SEO strategies realize their full potential.

Get Listed

Having a well-optimized website can only get you so far with SEO. In fact, most of the factors that determine a site’s search engine rankings are off-site. These are the links, citations, and signals that are found on other websites, and refer back to your site.

When you get your small business listed on various directories and other related sites, you can earn what are called “citations.” That’s the technical term for mentions of your business’ name, address, and phone. The more citations your business earns on other websites (i.e. chamber of commerce site, Yelp.com, press release, etc.) the more credibility your business will have in the Google local search results.

Google uses citations as a ranking factor in it’s local search results (also commonly known as the Google 3-Pack.) The important thing to keep in mind is ensuring all citations are both accurate and consistent. Any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your Name, Address, and Phone number will have diminished SEO value.

Generate Links

Link BuildingPart of getting listed on other sites throughout the web includes generating backlinks. For instance, not only does getting listed on Yelp.com provide citation, but also a valuable link back to your website.

Links, or backlinks, are referrals from other websites that indicate to search engines how popular, credible, and authoritative your site is. Having a high volume of backlinks from relevant sources will help your local SEO efforts.

While getting listed provides an easy win for link generation, acquiring authoritative links from relevant sites can take persistence and work. Networking, outreach, and guest authorship are just a few ways to cultivate valuable link opportunities that can drastically impact your Nashville SEO strategy.

Create Content

Content Marketing for Local SEOAnother way to generate links is to earn them. By creating exceptional content that gains favor among the masses, people may link to your site naturally. While this is a beautiful thing, it is much easier said then done.

In short, craft a content strategy for your business website. This may focus on weekly blog posts, monthly videos, or podcasting. At the very least, refreshing your website with new content gives Google a reason to come back more frequently to crawl and index your site.

So even if you’re not earning links as a result of your content strategy, you can still supplement your local SEO efforts by keeping your site fresh. New content also gives you something worthy to share on social media.

Be Social

Local Social Media MarketingBringing your content strategy and link acquisition efforts together is social media. You need to spread the word about your content and share it relentlessly throughout the web.

If you lack an abundance of social media followers, you can try “boosting” or advertising your posts to new audiences using ad platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Think of this investment as a brand building opportunity that can increase the overall value of your business.

Lastly, SEO is more about brand building. Producing amazing content and building a strong social media presence can have a direct impact on your local SEO strategy. In a competitive local search market, these channels will be vital assets to give your business the edge it needs to be a strong contender for top rankings.

3 Insights to Help You Rethink Your Local SEO Strategy in 2014

General Dec 28, 2013 No Comments

Local SEO Insights for 2014Local SEO is a unique subset of search engine optimization. The way in which Google determines local business listings (paired with the map and little push-pins) is different from traditional organic SEO.

In 2013, local SEO strategies centered on citations and ensuring your business is listed on several top directories (i.e. Google+ Local [formally Google Places,] Yelp, Yahoo! Local, etc.) While investing the time to get listed on the top local business directories is important, it will only take your local SEO efforts so far, especially if your in a competitive marketspace.

In short, you need start looking at your local SEO efforts from a different perspective. Below are 3 significant insights to keep top of mind when embracing local SEO in 2014.

Be Active and Involved on Social Media Sites

Although many local businesses see the importance of having a presence on social media sites, many of them fail to be active and involved. The narrow-minded SEO perspective would think “Okay, our Yelp page is built. We now have a citation and a link back to our site. Done.”.

But what if you could do more to increase the authority of your Yelp page, and thus the SEO value of that citation and link back to your site?

You can.

By being active and involved with your audience, and optimizing your social media pages from every angle, you can greatly empower their SEO potential. How, exactly? Start by:

  • Reaching out and connecting (following, liking, encircling, etc.) with other respectable businesses and professionals
  • Optimizing images and uploading them to your social media pages
  • Encourage reviews from satisfied customers (perhaps by implementing an incentive program)
  • Build a following (or better yet, a community) and engage with your audience
  • Take advantage of promotions via social media networks (like Google Offers or Facebook Coupons)

Social media business pages offer immense authority for local SEO. Heck, there are some business Yelp pages out there that have a Google PR (PageRank) of 5 (and the link is DoFollow!). That’s some serious link juice compared to commonly stagnant PR 1 Yelp pages.

Lastly, earning social credibility (or social authority) is becoming a strong factor that Google uses to determine search engine rankings. Many organic SEO experts are seeing a correlation between search engine rankings and the number of Twitter and Facebook followers, Google +1’s, etc.

Local Citations Are Good, But Links Are Better

Just like traditional SEO, the amount and quality of external links pointing to a website is ultimately the greatest influence of its search engine rankings. Once you’ve gotten your business established on the top local business directories for SEO, spend some time determining various link assets for your business’s website.

Some of the best assets for local SEO include:

    • Investing in a membership at your local chamber of commerce. Members often get a listing (and a link) on the chamber website (which is both authoritative and locally relevant.)
    • Reaching out to other local businesses and professionals for guest blogging opportunities. Building these relationships are huge long-term asset for not only SEO, but marketing in general.
    • Becoming a local source for news, information, or advice. If people see value in the content you’re publishing, you can actually earn links back to your site. Think of your business as the online authority figure of what you do. If it’s DUI law, own it with videos and articles that help individuals understand their legal rights.

The last tip above stems into our next insight: becoming a content marketer.

Create Purposeful Content That Offers Value

You may be familiar with the old SEO catchphrase “Content is King!”. While that concept still holds true, its focus has changed.

It’s less about writing 700 word webpages that are jammed with keywords. Rather, it’s more about producing purposeful content that offers value to your target audience. More bluntly put, it’s all about mastering the craft of content marketing and creating meaningful content that resonates with other people.

Get yourself in the right mindset by contemplating the following questions:

        • What problems, issues, or questions does my target market have?
        • How can I help those individuals based on what I know and the resources that I have?
        • What forms of content would best get my message across in the most engaging manner?

Think about the local businesses that are owning it in both Google Search and social media sites. They are typically businesses that are constantly producing awesome articles, blog posts, videos, graphics, or podcasts, and they’re actively promoting this content on social media.

Rethink Local SEO in 2014

To rethink your business’s local SEO strategy in 2014, view your organization’s entire marketing plan. How much time and money do you have invested in traditional forms of marketing and advertising?

Perhaps you can generate ideas that can put greater emphasis on building an online content marketing strategy and building a legit social media presence. Although these efforts might seem like exclusive tactics, both most certainly influence local SEO (and will even more in 2014.)

Video: Building Citations For Local SEO: Don’t Be Lazy

General Apr 08, 2013 No Comments

In the video above, local SEO consultant Chris J. Everett discusses the importance of building citations for your local business and its local SEO efforts, particularly when it comes to local maps optimization.

As Everett explains in the video, there are many free websites available out there for small businesses to build citation profiles on, however the most critical component that needs to be considered when building out your citation profiles is to NOT BE LAZY and to make sure you’re being thorough and consistent with how you’re building out your profiles.

A previous post by Dylan Thomas on the Local SEO Kingpin blog supports what Everett is saying in this video, that small businesses need to make sure they’re using the exact same company Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) when building out their profiles.

Related Content

Leverage Google+ to Drive More Local Business

General Feb 10, 2013 No Comments

One of the newest social media platforms, but now the second largest in the world, Google+ is an excellent tool for small business owners targeting the local customers.

Google+’s merit as a resource for driving business from local consumers comes because of its marriage of local organic search and social media marketing into a single platform.

Google+ business pages are Google’s replacement for Google Places listings. Google+ listings offer local small businesses a wonderful opportunity to get found by local consumers because of their inclusion in the search results for locally focused keywords. Below you’ll see an example of chiropractors in Atlanta and the Google+ listings that display near the top of page one on the search engine results page:

Google+ Local SEO

As a small business, getting found online by local consumers is a highly valuable source of lead and sales generation. With the prime real estate offered by Google+ local listings, small businesses need to understand how this platform can be utilized to drive business.

Below I’ll go into touch on why small businesses need to adopt Google+ as a lead generation tool.

Why Does Google+ Matter to Small Businesses?

Research has found that 40 percent of all Google mobile searches and 20 percent of entire Google searches have a local intent. That is, Internet searchers are searching for local businesses providing a specific product or service. That said, small businesses need to understand the power of Google+ and the positioning they receive in the search results for local queries. Small businesses will definitely want to capitalize on that visibility, but might not know how to get their company up in those listings.

Google+ Reviews Are Testimonials That Drive New Customers

As you begin to grow your Google+ listing profile and visibility through optimizing your page by building citations, acquiring reviews from your customers on your Google+ profile is going to help you convert people who click onto your profile into sales leads. These reviews are testimonials from clients who have done business with you, and as you build your Google+ visibility, the positive reviews left by your customers that are read by potential new customers online can increase the likelihood of them contacting you to do business. That said, encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google+ profile if they had a great experience with your company. Their testimonial will go a long way in helping your Google+ profile attract new customers to your small business.

Google+ as a Social Media Marketing Tool

Aside from their inclusion in the Google local search results, the aspect that makes Google+ business pages so unique is that they also allow for social media interaction with your customers. Much like Facebook, your business is able to use Google+ as a platform to share compelling content with your followers. Share links to blog posts that you’ve written or other relevant content that your Google+ followers will enjoy.

Google Plus for Small Business

If your content is valuable enough, your followers will be obliged to share or +1 your content, which leads to an increase in social media signals which have a direct impact on how your content ranks organically.

The Google+ platform provides local small businesses an incredible opportunity to get found by local consumers who are searching for your product or service. If you haven’t joined the Google+ bandwagon yet, you’re doing your small business a disservice, missing out on valuable search visibility that can drive more visibility, more traffic, and more sales for your small business.

Most Important Off-Site Local Ranking Factors Moving Forward

General Jan 28, 2013 1 Comment

Search engine optimization, and business for that matter, is about staying ahead of the curve. You always want to be the one setting the trends while your competition follows in your footsteps, not the other way around.

In a field that is as quickly-changing as SEO, this is even more important than in other industries. Things that were commonly accepted as industry-standard a year ago could easily be obsolete today.

David Mihm posts a list of the top local search ranking factors on his website every year. The survey is done by asking a number of local search experts to rank 90 possible positive factors and 18 possible negative factors.

Off-site factors will always be huge in ranking, and I don’t think there is a person in the world that will disagree with that statement, so I am going to go over the top 10 off-site factors and try to see which ones will be the biggest moving forward.

The top 10 Off-Site Factors in the 2012 survey (2013 list will probably be released in summer again) were as follows:

  1. Quantity of Structured Citations
  2. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  3. Consistency of Structured Citations
  4. Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations
  5. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  6. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains
  7. Quantity of Unstructured Citations
  8. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL
  9. Quantity of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL from Locally-Relevant Domains
  10. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain

I don’t think many people (anyone?!) in the local SEO industry would debate that these factors are important today. But since we are trying to stay ahead of the competition, which factors are going to the most important down the road, 2 years from now, 5 years from now, and even 10 years from now?

The two that stand out to me, and the ones that I am going to be focusing my efforts on, are #2 – Quality/Authority of Structured Citations and #6 – Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains.

As you can see from the list, citations, both structured and unstructured, are a huge local ranking factor. However, I feel like the quality of the websites is going to be more important than quantity moving forward. Anyone who was in the SEO industry two to three years ago knows that everyone was preaching quantity of links as the most important factor for ranking.

“Get as many links as you can, from as many sources as you can! It doesn’t matter if the sites are spammy and unrelated to your niche”, someone once advised me. Advice like that was common (although short-sighted), but it really was true: if you had more links than your competitor, you were going to rank higher than him/her.

After the Panda/Penguin updates obliterated those websites who had been obtaining tons of low-quality links using over-aggressive with anchor text, it finally became ingrained in marketers heads that quality is the key to staying in this game for the long-run, not quantity. Of course, the person with the largest quantity of quality links is going to outrank the person with a smaller number of quality links, but for now, I would focus on getting quality links and citations from related sites. Local online newspaper and magazine articles are great citations to obtain, so I will be spending a good deal of time on brainstorming ways to get those for my business.

Having said all that about quality, I move into #6 – Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains.

The reason I don’t think you have to be picky looking for quality sites that are in the same vicinity as your business is that all visitors coming from that site to your site are going to be, by default, extremely high-quality. There are just not many spammy local sites, period. Not only will links from locally-relevant websites help your business rank higher, but the visitors arriving through that link will almost all be interested in your business/service, since they clicked the link in the first place. For my business in 2013, I am trying to get as many links and citations from websites in my city as I possibly can.

I am fully expecting Quality/Authority of Structured Citations to be #1 on the 2013 list of local ranking factors. I also think Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains is going to move up a place or two. Google seems hellbent on making Google+ relevant too, so we will probably see a rise in importance of the Google+ Local pages just like we saw in 2012.

About the Author

Brian KlemmBrian Klemm is an SEO and inbound marketer at Northbound Digital, based in Chicago, IL. He specializes in local SEO and content marketing.

Feel free to connect on Twitter @NorthbndDigital or Google+.

Citations – the key to Google Places rankings

General Dec 10, 2012 No Comments

Google Places has gotten confusing.

Every time you do a search, the results look different. Every time you click on a result it takes you to some other Google website that talks about plusses and circles. You claim your listing and fill it out, but your business still languishes as a little speck on the map.

It’s understandable for a business owner with little knowledge about search engine optimisation to get confused.

This article is here to make some sense of it all, focusing on one particular factor that could be the answer to your Google Places needs. Citations.

What are citations?

Citations are references to your businesses name, address and contact details around the web. There are a host of sites in any given country that will list citations of your business. Places like Yelp and Yellow Pages are great examples of websites that utilise citations. Even Google Places itself gives a citation of your business.

These websites act as a reference point for search engines. They not only link to your site, but also give information on your company’s whereabouts, thus outlining the area that you service.

How do citations help me to rank better?

Various citation websites are crawled by Google to find your information. Ones that have full details and information about your business, complete with a link to your site, get considered and added to the database.

This in turn gives your website stronger credibility. Google knows that you really are a business operating in ‘X’ location because there are a number of other sites that affirm this statement.

The more credible websites you are listed on, the more likely Google is to rank you highly in Places.

I’ve got heaps of citations but my Places still doesn’t rank

Check that the details listed in your citations match those on your website exactly. Consistency is the key.

That means a consistent business name and a consistent address. If your address is:

1/123 Fake Street

Make sure other variations like:

123 Fake Street

Suite 1, 123 Fake Street

Level 1, 123 Fake Street

Are not used!

When this happens, Google becomes unsure if the same business is being referenced. It sees “1/123” on your Google Places page and website but “Suite 1, 123” on Yellow Pages, and won’t want to risk labeling these as the same business. That’s a strong citation down the drain.

To eliminate any confusion, pick a standardised business name and address style and stick with it across all websites:

Example Services and Solutions

123 Fake Street,

Fake Town, Fake Postal Code,

Fake State, Fake Country

Being consistent will ensure you avoid any confusion, no matter how minor you might think it is. No “this little difference shouldn’t matter” or “I’ll be OK to leave it like this.” Ensure it is all the same and don’t take the risk.

Check your own citations and see what variations are being used. Did you make some changes and see improvements? If so, share them below.

Rand Recap “Discovering Local Citation Opportunities” for Local SEO

General Dec 07, 2012 No Comments

Yesterday Local SEO Kingpin published a post offering SEO tips for the Google local listings. One of the tips focused on creating business listings, or citations, on web directories and other local websites.

In today’s SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin provides valuable insights on this very topic: discovering local citation opportunities. The video offers some excellent information to build quality citations to improve your local SEO efforts.

If you haven’t already found out, SEOmoz just acquired GetListed.org. This resource allows you to see how your business is listed on Google and other local search engines. Based on this information, you can confirm your business’s citations and explore opportunties to create new ones.

The acquistion is a good indicator of where Google search is headed. Rand’s reference to the “local one box” and keyword searches with “local intent” are becoming increasinly popular. Check out the Whiteboard Friday video below, and let us know what you think!

 

6 Super Simple Tips for Google Local SEO

General Dec 06, 2012 No Comments

The Google local search results are essentially the new YellowPages. Google users are immediately drawn to the Google local listings for many reasons.

    • The Google local listings are accompanied by a Google Map, offering a visual representation for search engine users.
    • Users can read reviews for each listing to learn more about what others had to say about a business.
    • The Google local search results are perceived with greater trust and credibility for quality information.

For any business that feeds of local customers in its market space, Google local SEO is one of the best channels to earn lead-generating advertising exposure. Just do a Google search for any keyword that has local relevance (e.g. restaurants, fitness centers, law firms, CPAs, etc.) Google delivers localized search results based on either your IP address, or if you’re logged into you’re logged-in your personal Google account, such as Gmail.

Before we get into the goods, it’s important to bring your awareness to the Reviews found under each listing. Although the main headline link for each listing directs users to the business’s actual website, the Reviews link will take users to a Google Plus page.

Similar to Google Places pages, which were replaced by Google Plus pages in May of 2012, there’s much more contributing to the rankings of these Google local listings than a strong website.

Google Local SEO Tips (That Your Marketing Manager Can Handle)

Google local SEO is not a mysterious formula or technical science. In fact, these local SEO tips are simple tasks that almost anyone can handle. Just be sure that you have the ability to edit the content of your website, and that you’ve successfully created a Google Plus page for your local business.

  • Be sure to have a link on your business’s website that points to its Google Plus page. The HTML code for this link can be found on your business’s Google Plus page while in edit mode. It will include the suggested anchor text “Follow us on Google+” along with “rel=publisher” snippet in the link’s code.
  • Include the full address of your business on all pages of its website. Two ideal places for this is a site-wide header or the footer (or put your addy on both!) Make sure that the address is entirely accurate and exactly matches what’s on your business’s Google Plus page. From a local SEO perspective, this called a citation and verifies the legitimacy of your business’s tangible location.
  • Verify your business’s address on its Google Plus page. This will require a manual submission in which Google sends a postcard to the address with a verification PIN. When you receive the postcard, you can submit the 4-digit PIN on the Google Plus page.
  • Create more business listings (citations!) on various other directory websites, such as Manta, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo! Local, Yellowpages, LinkedIn, and Kudzu. Google will align the address information from these listings with that of your business’s Google Plus page to further ensure its local legitimacy. You can research quality directory sites by using great resources like this insightful article, or try a paid tool like Yext.com
  • Keyword optimize (not keyword stuff) the page titles, meta description, and page copy of your homepage and key inside pages with your target keywords, respectfully. Try to include the city name of your business in each of these elements to help establish local relevancy for SEO.
  • Populate the Google Plus page with sufficient information about your business, and when appropriate, use your keywords and geographic targets. Also, put together a system that motivates happy customers to make reviews on your business’s Google Plus page. In most cases, Google Plus pages with a higher number of reviews will have more authority in the Google local search rankings.