Even for businesses whose service area is limited to a small geographic region, search engine optimization is still an effective method of driving targeted traffic to their websites.
In fact, there are eight simple steps that all local businesses - whether service providers, information publishers or ecommerce merchants - can take to improve their local SEO rankings and land more customers.
1. Get Out of the Office and Network.
This cannot be stressed enough, business owners and those they employ need to get out in their communities and network with other business owners, contribute to community events, and share their expertise with their local community. Not only can this land a company some new clients directly, but they are also able to get links from several local and authority sites simply by having participated in local events. The best thing about those links, competitors cannot come along a few days later and copy them.
2. Start Asking for Links and Citations.
If a company never asked clients to take action with its product or service, many of them would not have made a purchase - the same is true when it comes to SEO link building. If a marketer or SEO professional does not ask people to link out to their site many of them are not going to do so. To start, ask suppliers and professional contacts who have related but not competing websites. Like networking, this can be a great way to get links that competitors cannot easily replicate.
3. Continue Asking.
Getting started can be the hardest part so while a marketers is already asking people if they would link to his or her website, why not ask customers to leave a review? Just like with sales, the best way to get more reviews is by asking. So, pick up the phone, fire up the email and start asking for reviews.
4. Don't Be Afraid of Press Coverage
No, I am not talking about writing a generic press release and submitting it to a handful of free distribution sites. I am talking about calling local T.V. stations, newspapers, and other local new sources and finding out how to be involved. Many local new sources have a small business focused show or column that they accept guests for. Business owners can pitch them on what they could offer to their audience. The combination of publicity and natural links that will be created will provide a solid local boost.
5. Set Up Free Google Listing
This should be a no-brainer but I see a lot of businesses that have not set up their free listings on Google. Those who are guilty should click here to set up their page (and be sure to fill out the information completely). They should also upload actual images of their businesses. No excuses, make it happen today!
6. Build Local Citations
While many are aware of some of the sites that offer free listings and citations, they may not know that there are literally thousands of places to get a citation from. The Local Citation Finder from Whitespark is a great way to find out what citations competitors have and quickly build a target list of citations for a site.
(If you happen to have a copy of Scrapebox lying around, you can use it to find local citations opportunities as well. You can find a tutorial for that in a previous post I wrote for Website Magazine.)
7. Add a Blog and Update It Regularly.
As most have heard a million times before, websites with blogs get more traffic and generate more leads. Think about it like this, if an Internet professional writes one new blog post per day and every post only got five website visitors, he or she is going to get 150 new eyeballs on the website within the first month - but chances are that more than five people will click a post if it's promoted.
8. Promote Content Everywhere!
Some people advise to be selective in where one promotes their content. They are absolutely wrong. LinkedIn is one of my favorite examples of this, as I have read several times that site owners should not broadcast a new post across all the groups they are a member of... WRONG! Why wouldn't someone who has joined groups that are industry/niche focused and have created a valuable piece of content for their industry want to share it in all 50 groups? Repeat the process on related forums, through blog comments, and everywhere else ideal clients or industry influencers are likely to be.
There you have it, eight ways to improve your local SEO even if you are new to SEO. What are some of your favorite ways to gain local notoriety?