Do you like a good challenge? I do. I build websites for businesses, and if the business is local, they usually want their website found when you type certain strings of words into Google. What do I mean? So, let’s say you need an ice scraper. Let’s say you don’t have a lot of time, and you figure if you must you can probably drive to some large chain store or order the ice scraper online. But, no! So you Google “ice scraper store” and include the name of your town and state. What comes up? If you are lucky, you might find some little mom and pop store that carries your ice scraper. So when you get to the store, you get to support a local business, *and* you get your ice scraper. You might even get a familiar, friendly face at the register!
Now what is the challenge? The challenge is for the owner of the mom and pop store. The store or the business wants a website, and the business owner wants the website showing up higher when searching certain keywords. What should one do? Here are some suggestions:
- Get a Google for Business page. (How do you do this? Go to Google for Business). In the process, set up the Google+ page. Give the page lots of care – add photos, videos, posts, keywords, location. Ask friends and clients to follow.
- Optimize your site for certain keywords. If you are selling ice scrapers, you will want to optimize for your location and ice scraper. If you have a lot of competition, especially with nationwide brands, you may indeed find this a challenge. Learn how to place your keyword phrase in your title, url and in your content as well (but make sure you sound like a human and have something worthwhile to say). One way to learn about keywords already important to your site is using Google Webmaster Tools (look under Google Index –> Content Keywords).
- Incoming Links and citations: You may already know about incoming links. It’s good to get links from *good* websites and especially from websites that are related to your business. With local businesses, citations are important as well. A citation is just a mention of your business (with or without address and phone number), without any link – once again, you want these citations from quality websites.
- Where is your competition listed? – if you look up your competition in a search engine, what do you see? Can you get those incoming links or citations as well?
- Create and maintain social media accounts for your business. If you are just going to create the accounts and not update them, then don’t bother. But you can do well to have strong Facebook, Twitter, Urbanspoon, Yelp or Pinterest accounts, for example. Just remember to add posts, tweets, photos, videos, images – related to your business and eye-catching as well. Talk to people and respond on social media. Sometimes you may get a bad review – you can respond in a short manner and politely (that’s a whole blog post in itself).
- Add schema to your website. Schema markup is code to pinpoint important parts of your website. In particular, there is schema for location. Unfortunately, many people have had issues trying to add schema with plugins. You can contact me if you want it added to your theme code (as part of a child theme).
- Start a blog? Finally, blog posts can be great to boost local SEO, if you write about topics of interest that include your SEO keywords and local area. However, I have met few small businesses able to keep up or even start a blog, as this is a large commitment and requires good writing skills. Comment to bloggers: if you can convince a local business to start a blog, and you can write for the business, you may have found yourself a part-time gig. Warning to small businesses: don’t start a blog if you can’t keep it up.
Want even more ideas? I started a list in Listly called Local SEO. If you look there, you will find quite a few posts with ideas for local SEO optimization.
By the way, if you are in Highland Park, New Jersey and you need an ice scraper, go to Jack’s Hardware, 128 Raritan Avenue. He doesn’t have a website (yet), but he does have lots of great, useful products!
Your Turn, Please
When you need something in your local area, do you try Google? Does it work? Are the local businesses in your area showing up in your searches, or do you only see national (or international) brands? What do you know about Local SEO business topics?
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