Local SEO for Small Businesses
I’ve talked a ton about paid marketing over the past several months. The other day we had a message in the private Facebook group asking about SEO so I thought I’d put together a hangout covering some of the current best practices in the industry.
We have talked about on page SEO people and this article can be found at http://marketingplaybook.co/hangouts/small-business-page-seo-strategy/
Nearly all SEO professionals out there do a lot more then what I am going to cover. I need to stress that SEO is a long term game and if you are operating in a field with heavy competition than an expert may be needed to get your website to the top of local search.
You are far better off having a solid marketing plan in place and using paid traffic sources to generate leads. With paid marketing you have more control of the traffic coming to your website. With organic traffic you have less control because Google and Bing could simply decide your not worth ranking in the top 10 search results.
As Always here is the live hangout video for today. Come an join us live every Wednesday at 2PM CST. Sign up to the news letter to be notified on Monday what the topic is or join our Facebook page and Private Facebook Group.
An important thing to understand is how the current Google search results look.
Current when you do a search for something like “emergency plumping” you will see 4 ads first, followed by the 3 pack map listing, then the 10 search results followed by another 3 ads.
First 4 Ads
Your organic listing will not show above these ads and your competition will. Users will have to scroll down as the organic search results are not even visible.
The map listings will show up next. There will currently be 3 map listings but you never know. I’m sure AdWords will soon monetize the map listings more and probably have some paid pins or paid listings going at some time in the future.
After the map you have the 10 organic search results followed by 3 more ads.
What is SEO?
“SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.”
The basic process works by you building a digital content based asset online and someone is able to find this content when doing a search online using a search engine such as Google and Bing.
Where to Focus your SEO Efforts
Your biggest focus in on protecting your Brand name which is your company name. Every optimization step you take should help re-enforce this goal. If it does not then consider not doing the task.
The top areas of focus are
- On Page Optimization
- Quality Content
- Easy Navigation
- Off Page Optimization – Backlinks that have brand protection
- Google Maps Listing Optimization
- Social Signals
- Social Proof
On Page Optimization
With onpage optimization there is a big difference between writing sales copy and having a landing page that converts vs having a landing page that ranks well in Google. As we mentioned already, everything you do should re-enforce your brand.
Title: The title of the page. This is what generally shows up in the Google search results as the title.
What you will notice from the image above is that 3 of the 4 listings all have their BRAND at the end. They are thinking Brand first. You will notice that none of these links are actually going to a home page either. All if not most of these company pages will have the Brand listed at the end of the Meta Title.
Generally with your Meta Title you will want your brand at the end and the beginning to contain your main keyword phrase you want to rank for. Do not keyword stuff and just put in loads of keywords. The title needs to be readable and make sense.
Meta Description: The meta description should prompt the user to take action. Think of the meta description as ad copy and your job when writing it should be to entice users to click your link over others. From an on Page SEO point of view the meta description currently has little value. The value comes from getting a higher then normal click through rate from search engines for the position you are in because you have better written ad copy that appeals to the person performing the search.
H1 Tag: Generally you will always have 1 H1 tag. This is mostly always the headline of an article.
Using the example above from the first ranked spot – http://www.mrrooter.com/emergency-services/
We see that on this page they have 1 H1 tag and it’s “Emergency Plumbing Repairs”. I’m sure a lot of work went into deciding what the best H1 tag should be. Those chose to focus that specific page on emergency plumbing and chances are the “repair” keyword comes into play because there are most likely lot’s of combinations of searches being down that contain that specific phrase.
While not SEO related it’s important to note that right under the H1 tag they have their phone number front and center. This is something all local businesses need to be doing and I’ve stressed this point time and again.
Quality Content: One of the best ways to see how much content you need on your page is to look at the people already ranking for that search term. chances are they have a very nice looking well laid out article that is easy to read.
The goal is to not keyword stuff but three fold.
1. Keep people on the site longer by providing interesting and valuable content that helps to answer the users search query. This helps reduce you bounce rate and Google will see that the information you are providing is of value to the person performing the search.
2. Produce a landing page that entices the user to take a specific course of action. This could be calling you or filling out a form.
3. Have a single focus for that specific page. If you are wanting to rank for “car brake repair” don’t start talking about other services like engine repair. Just talk about breaks and the page will naturally fill up with keywords that are highly related to what people are searching for.
The person performing the search needs to quickly and easliy be able to find the information they are looking for. This might be the hours you are open, the services you provide, your testimonials, your phone number and location.
Don’t underestimate the frustration people can have when viewing your website. It does not have to look really fancy. Just ensure it’s very easy to navigate and very clear.
Your page also needs to be mobile responsive and look nice across multiple devices and multiple web browsers. You should take the time to test to ensure everything is looking nice on different platforms. Google Analytics is great for this as you can drill down by browser and device type to get a feel for when users are dropping off and how long each browser and device is using your website.
Off Page Optimization
I could probably spend several 1 hour hangouts just talking about off page optimization. I’m going to have to do a whole hangout on just this subject alone. The main focus comes back to protecting your brand name. Every backlink you get should benefit your brand. You don’t want to just start linking out to sites and swapping links with other sites who’s content is not related or of no interest to your readers.
I recommend 90% of your backlinks to your site should be naked links starting off. This means that all links you get pointing back to your own website should just be the URL of the page you are linking.
The other 10% should just be brand related.
To get these links you should first start by setting up social profiles on places like Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps, Linkedin. This helps with the social signals as well and gives you full control of your backlinks.
From there I highly recommend reaching out to local organizations to get backlinks from. This could be a local newspaper for instance. You could do a press release which does work well for backlinks but ensure you just link back using that naked URL and I would also recommend linking in your Twitter and Linkedin account.
I know I’m a little light on information in this hangout but this is a complex subject matter that we will dive into in more depth in the near future.
Google Maps Listing / Google My Business
The greatest thing you can do for SEO isn’t even on your website but first claiming your Google My Business Listing.
Google maps shows up in position 5, 6 and 7 right after the first 4 paid search results and before the 10 organic text listings. This is the place you want to be and should be a heavy focus for you.
This is also where you need to steer your customers to leave you a review. This comes into play for Social Proof.
You need to ensure that on your Google My Business listing that the phone number and Address match 100% to what is on your website. I would recommend you have your address on each and every page of your website.
A social signal is simply a mention on a social website of your business. This could be links and traffic coming from places like Twitter, Facebook, Google Community, linkedin, pinterest. You should be using these social channels to help show Google that you are a real business and that people out there are interested in you. I’ve talked about this in more depth at http://marketingplaybook.co/hangouts/social-media-right-business/
You do not need large amounts of followers and honestly I personally spend little time on social media for most of the small businesses I have worked with. You can provide more focus on this once you have paid traffic working for you and your business is making good money. There are always exceptions to this and your business may need to rely more heavily on sending social signals
social proof helps to validate your business and create trust. We talked about getting those Google Map reviews.