Local SEO - Getting Your Small Business Website Found
Are you working on a small business website and wondering how to get it found? Here are some tips that will get you on the right path for local SEO.
How Do I Get Visitors to my Local Small Business Website?
I make my living online. I often meet web developers who are building websites for small businesses and also small business owners who have or want to have a website. They all want to know one thing: How do I get visitors to my local small business website?
Many local business owners have had a website built. It often cost a lot of money. But the package only included building the website, not getting traffic to it. There are many small business web sites out there there don't get many visitors and were really a waste of money for their owners.
I also talk to people who are able to put together a website for a client but don't know anything about getting traffic to websites - and would like to expand their skills. They realize that building the website is just the start.
I talk to people who have tried reading around on the web and worked out that they need SEO (search engine optimisation) but are lost in a sea of people trying to sell them eBooks or miracle software.
In this article we'll look at getting started with Local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is getting search engines to send visitors to your local website.
In this article I'm going to focus specifically on the things you need to do to get customers to a business that is local, rather than a small business that sells good online, but ships anywhere.
For example a hairdresser, restaurant, costume hire store, garden supplies store, electrician or builder. Typically these business require customers to come to them, or they visit customers in their homes.
Local businesses want to attract customers within traveling distance. Local SEO is concerned with getting local customers to your website through search engines like google.
Checking Your Google Rank
It's important to realize that google delivers personalized results. If you are logged in to a google account then your search results will be affected by your search history.
To see unbiased results log out of your google account and clear cookies. Or if you use google Chrome you can start an incognito window with Ctrl-Shift-N.
Results can also be localized by google. You can choose the location by choosing More on the google search page and then entering a Custom Location.
Mention Local Place Names
This might seem obvious, but many small business web sites don't do it. Mention local place names on your website.
You probably mention the name of the town where your business is based on the contact page at least, but do you mention it enough, and do you mention all the other areas that your business covers?
Add a tagline to each page like:
Serving Blue Town, Lower Green Town, Small City and Red Village.
Also include place names in your page titles. Page titles are very important for search engines like google. They look there to see what your page is about and they display the titles to users.
If you mention place names on your pages and titles then:
- When someone does a search for 'electrician in blue town' your site has a better chance of coming up.
- The result the user sees in google will mention Blue Town in the title, reassring them that they have found what they are looking for.
Avoid phrases like 'and surrounding areas' and 'places within 10 miles of ...' - people know what they mean, but search engines don't.
Register with Google Places
And Bing Local and Yahoo Local
I'm always surprised that people don't know about google places. Google has a directory of local business and making sure your business is listed there will give you access to some of Google's local services.
Google often displays google places listings in search results for local queries - make sure your business is there.
Having a google places entry also allows people to find your business if they go straight to google maps and search for say, restaurants in a particular area.
It's free to register your profile with Google Places. You can even add photos and text to your listing to promote your business.
Write Some Content - Text, Pictures, Video
Another good idea is to put some content up on your website beyond the basic information about your business. This should include text, images and video.
Search engines use text to decide whether to send visitors to your website. The more relevant information you have on your website the more likely google is to send visitors your way.
Also recent activity on your website will show google there is something interesting and recent going on and may improve your changes against website that aren't updated.
Did your business get involved in a local event - put up some pictures and write about it. Are you going to be supporting a new event? Customer testimonials? A cool new product that your customers must come and see?
Of course this content isn't just for the search engines, it's also there to convince potential customers to pick up the phone or drop in to your store.
Make sure that images have appropriate file names and alt text so the search engines will know what they are about.
Also make videos about your business and put them up on YouTube and embed then on your site. Google likes videos and they have a good chance of ranking in search engine results.
Lots of local businesses think videos are scary and expensive. But for most business you don't need anything fancy. You just need to find a tech-savvy local teenager who wants to earn a bit of money.
Get Relevant Links to Your Page
You'll find lots of discussion about needing to get 'backlinks' to your websites - that is, other websites that link to your business website.
My advice is to go for small numbers of very relevant links rather than a whole load of poor quality links.
Ideas for getting links to your local business website:
- Talk to the local online newspaper about doing an article on your business. Ask them to include a link to your website.
- Find local bloggers and offer them a discount voucher or free gift that they can make available to their readers.
- Write articles for free on sites like Wizzley (where you are now!) that tell people about your business.
- Put pages up on social media sites like Facebook and mention your business on Twitter - ask friends, family and customers to mention it too.
- Get listed in any relevant local or industry web directories.