An Easy to Follow Local SEO Guide for Small Businesses
I’ve been offering many SEO training events all over Westchester NY, NYC and CT and there is a takeaway I give attendees at the end of each and every seminar that people have been raving about. It’s a short 10 page guide I made up on how to implement Local SEO for Small Businesses. I am now giving away this local SEO step-by-step guide for free. All I ask is that you share and like the information through your social networks in return. Just like, plus or tweet below and the download link will be revealed for the full 10 page pdf guide! Enjoy!
As opportunity grows for businesses to connect with customers via search, so do the challenges of determining the best approach. Here are a few local search happenings to expect in this year.
National to Local Approach for Brands
The idea of a coordinated national to local strategy will become a reality for more brands and local businesses in 2014. Many local markets (and vertical industries) are very competitive and keyword saturated, making it difficult for national and regional brands, as well as for independent business owners, to win the online visibility game on their own.
National marketers that depend on the success of independent business owners (franchises, dealers, contractors) will find they can create a platform effect with a coordinated national-to-local approach to SEO, social media and content marketing.
Mobile Optimized Websites
Making sure a business’ website is mobile optimized might mean the difference between being found by customers on a mobile browser or not. With more consumers shopping via mobile, it is clear that site traffic is moving to mobile. So, being mobile-ready is a must.
In 2013, we witnessed Google giving prominence in mobile SERPs to local businesses that properly configured their websites for mobile devices, and this will be a growing trend in 2014.
Some websites could even be penalized by Google and the other major search engines if they’re not optimized correctly. Also on the mobile front, strategies like click-to-call will become even more interesting as they play a larger role in the digital lead generation strategy for many business verticals.
Google will Focus more on Ratings & Reviews
In 2013, Google focused on ramping up its local ratings and reviews. It will continue to try to gather this rich, hyper local content from local consumers to grow Google+.
In another sign of this effort, businesses with verified Google listings will continue to reap benefits including having the ability to see customer ratings and reviews in their Places for Business dashboard and the ability to reply to those reviews.
As the SEO world has recently been turned on its head by the new Penguin 2.1 and Hummingbird algorithm we at reelWebDesign.com are compelled to focus more on two areas:
Helping small businesses with local SEO (getting you found locally on the web with geographically driven keywords and intentions in mind).
Helping you with social media marketing and content production.
Our focus will be in these two areas more than ever and it will benefit your business and ours in many ways. How? Google’s new algorithm is centered around people and helping them find what they are looking for. In essence they have bcome the new ASK.com (even though they’d never admit it), but where ASK had failed to deliver good results Google claims that they will deliver excellent results, and who am I to argue with them as they do own the worlds largest search engine! So content is what we are going to focus on for our clients. However, many local businesses like pizza parlors and locksmiths don’t need to answer a lot of questions for their consumers and others just don’t have time or money to create fresh content, for these businesses they just need to be found! That’s the second part of Google’s algorithm: where having citations is more important than ever (a citation is basically a listing on any of the major local directories and social networks on the web i.e. Foursquare, Yelp, zagat, 8Coupons, Citysearch etc.). So we have partnered with Yext to make it inexpensive, consistent and easy to implement. Note: Consistency is extremely important as the search engines will see the same business as a separate entity if listed with different names, phone numbers or addresses. This inconsistency will water down your search or ‘Google juice’, thereby lowering your ranking.
In addition to teaming up with Yext® we are offering a free Google plus/places listing optimization as part of our local SEO plan. Google, as no surprise, values it’s own social networks, Google Plus and Google Places over all others. We believe this focus on providing relevant content, social media management and marketing and local SEO with Yext® as our partner will provide excellent results for all new and current customers. Please watch the video below about the Yext® service.
Our focus will also be to deliver responsive or mobile ready web design (responsive web design is developing a website that changes or responds to diferent sized screens for a better user experience. Example: Our website is responsive and will appear differently on your laptop, tablet and phone).
Why responsive/mobile ready?
Analytics firm BIA/Kelsey has predicted that mobile search queries will overtake desktop queries by 2015. If your website isn’t mobile ready then you’ll be missing out on the larger piece of search. Compound this with the push in the SEO world to focus more on local search and you’ll understand that mobile search is the area of largest growth and the best bet for acquiring new customers from this point forward.
So where does social media fit into the equation? Social media is similar to the old word of mouth marketing… on steroids! It allows for your message to be broadcast to countless people in an extremely fast fashion. It also helps with search engine rankings. The more a post is shared the more the search engines see it as valuable. Google+, although an underused social network by most, is extremely important as Google values it above all other social networks. For this reason we post your message to the main 4 driving forces on the social web: Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you have a blog we’ll also post your article/blog post to various other networks as well including: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Plurk, Newsvine, Scoopit, Diigo, Folk and Hubpages to name a few. This will not only boost your viewership but also your Alexa rating which influences search engine ranking as well. It is from the social networks that search engines are able to personalize your user expereince and give you results that are customized for your personal liking’s. So as you can see social media is an extremely important factor in online marketing and its value to both people and search engines is growing more important every year.
It’s been a tumultuous year in search marketing but I believe I know where it is all headed and I see why Google is doing this great transition. With Google watches, glasses and more voice search integration on the horizon the way we perform and undertake search is going to change dramatically. Search will move more towards speech and visual cues with geographical underpinnings wrapped around your personal likes and dislikes i.e. personalized mobile search. People will be asking more questions about: ‘what’s in the area’, ‘how to do things’, ‘what do you know about this’ and ‘what’s going on now that I would like’. From this information, surprisingly, we can see that small businesses do have a future as there will be more of a need to discover and cater to micro-niches. So as long as we, small businesses, focus on a niche and excel at it we can have a successful life as Google and other social networks will actually be driving people towards us.
The future brings more focus to everything, the question is what will your business focus on, and our job at reelWebDesign.com will be to find you your appropriate crowd through all of our partner networks including our latest, Yext®.