A well-designed website is a fantastic way for a small or medium-sized business to reach new customers and get a foothold in the marketplace. Of course, customers will have to find the website for it to be effective. As you are probably well aware, the modern customer uses search engines when looking for the products or services that they need; therefore, your website must be easy to find via search engines.
One of the most important facts to remember about search engine users is that most of them never venture beyond the first page of the results. If your website is not showing up on the first page, you will miss out on a significant amount of business. Therefore, the big question is this: how do you improve your ranking to ensure that you get a spot on the first page?
You can improve your website’s friendliness to search engines and its value to human users, otherwise known as search engine optimization (SEO).
Local SEO involves improving your website’s visibility specifically for nearby searchers. These people are looking for businesses in their area. Here are a few ways to optimize your website to make it easier for them to find:
Google's social network provides a number of benefits specifically for businesses that are seeking out local exposure. To use Google+, you must first set up a profile and make sure that it is fully optimized. Optimizing your profile involves verifying the website and email address in order to create a sense of trustworthiness. Verification helps to confirm that your business is indeed legitimate. You will also have to set up your circles. Circles are the Google+ way of connecting with other people and making them aware that your brand exists. You will also want to set up authorship for all of your writers and contributors, which will enable greater levels of exposure for the content on your website.
Use Social Media Wisely
Be sure to connect with local influencers who may be interested in your content. Unlike other social networks, Google+ allows you to make others aware of your presence in a natural way; however, you should utilize this concept across all the social networks that you use. With Google+, influencers will be notified when you comment on their posts or mention them. This increases awareness of your brand by allowing you to expose your content to people who have large numbers of followers. It also does this without making you look like a spammer. In addition connecting with influencers, you should take every opportunity to interact with your own followers and encourage engagement.
Optimize for Local Keywords
When people are looking for local products or services, they will usually include the location as a part of the search term. For example, someone who wants to buy a stove in New York, may put "stove New York" into the search engine. In order to be found by people in your community, you will need to include local keywords on your website. This can include the names of specific neighborhoods in your town or even the nicknames for those areas.
List in Directories
Remember, legitimacy is one of the main aims of SEO. In the effort to establish your business' legitimacy, you will want to list your website in recognized online directories. Some of the better-known ones are Yahoo Local, Superpages and Angie's List. The information posted in these directories should include your company's name, phone number and address. It is a good idea to briefly describe what your company does and provide a link to your website.
Ensure Consistency in Citations
The information that gets posted to the above directories should be consistent and up to date. Any errors that you find should be corrected immediately. For example, you may find an incorrect citation if your business has moved at any point in its history. If you fail to have consistent citations, search engines may take this as a sign that there is more than one business in the area with the same name. Furthermore, more (correct) citations are better for your search engine ranking which means that incorrect ones are taking away from your ranking.
Garner Local Backlinks, Reviews and Citations
While any online mention of your business will boost your ranking, local respect is one of the factors that search engines value most. Along with the directory listings, they want to see evidence that your business is respected in your community and this evidence should come from credible local sources. Other options include mentions in local news and reviews from happy customers. Remember to respond to your reviews.
These tips are not meant to be a substitute for having good content. Delivering well-targeted, timely and useful content to your audience continues to be the main factor in online success. If you have quality content that uses the right keywords (without stuffing them) and you make an effort to optimize your website for local search, your audience will find you.
Have you had any success in these areas? Let us know all about it in the comments.