This post is for all of you out there who already own or want to own a website that serves a local demographic. Your site is not designed to be read worldwide because your customers and potential customers are from a localised area. This could be a town, city or country but you need to get to the right customers online. How to get my business found online is something many of you will be struggling with and the answer is by applying Local SEO
What is Local SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is required for all websites or blogs but you need a different approach if you have a website that only needs to reach a localised demographic. Applying Local SEO strategies to your site means the search engines will find you and if they find you then so will your customers and potential customers.
In this post I am going to give you hints and tips on how to build and promote your site to get the right customers no matter what your niche. For the purpose of this post I am going to apply the strategies to a florists in madeup town to help you understand the concepts and what you need to do for your business and website.
I am going to assume here that you don’t actually have a website yet, If you do, you might want to scroll down a little bit.
I would always advise that you build your website on the WordPress platform, not the free.com version but somewhere that uses the WordPress platform within the hosting facility. If you want advice on the Best Hosting platforms, you can pop over and read my post by clicking here. Building your own website is not that difficult and I don’t believe you really need to pay someone $1000s to build you one unless you really don’t have any time. Getting the right domain name for your website may be difficult depending on the name of your business. Consider putting your location name in if you have difficulty. E.g Janesfloristsmadeup.com you should be able to purchase a domain name through your hosting company.
If you do want someone to build your site for you then read on so you know what you are looking out for when having conversations with prospective website designers. If they don’t cover the steps below they are rubbish, don’t employ them.
I Already Have A Website
So you have a website, now you want to make sure it’s found online. Here I am going to cover the 9 important Ranking Factors, Keyword strategies and how you can do a quick audit to make sure you are good to go.
Ranking Factor #1 – GMB
GMB stands for Google My Business. This is a free service offered by Google which allows you to register your business and create map listings within Google search. There is no point my taking you through the process because it is very straightforward but you will need to verify that the address belongs to you and your business which is usually via email.
Before activating your listing please read Ranking Factor #3
Ranking Factor #2 – Bing Places For Business
Bing is another search engine you want to be found in as it also covers Yahoo search and while Google gets the lions share of searches, Bing and Yahoo between them get around 30% of Search Traffic. The process is very similar to creating a Google map listing. Go to https://www.bingplaces.com/
Ranking Factor #3 – NAP
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. You would be surprised at how often the address on people’s websites will differ, if only slightly from the address in Google or in social media. Make sure they all correspond.
For example: Janes Floristry,10 Madeup Street, Madeup Town, Madeup City, Madeup Postcode ( or zip code ) +0023456789 or Janes Florists, Made Up Town, Madeup, City, Madeup Postcode, 123456789.
Notice the slight name change, missing street name and a different way of presenting the phone number. One with International Code, one without. Just simple changes will confuse Google and your customers. Stick with one way of presenting your Name, Address and Phone number. If you have several sites e.g a chain of florists make sure you have a locations page on your website, listing all addresses. These should all be registered separately in GMB and Bing.
Ranking Factor #4 – Links to your site
Having links elsewhere online to your site will please the search engines. They consider it to be a sign of an up to date and useful site, so are more likely to show you in search results. You can get these by leaving comments on appropriate websites or by engaging in forums relating to your industry. Janes florists may become a member of The Madeup Town Floristry Association and have a listing on their website for example. Any association or forum related to your industry is appropriate but if you struggle to find any try Quora and find an industry related subject you can follow and engage in.
The more links the better and this is an ongoing SEO Factor with your site.
Ranking Factor #5 – Schematic and Json, LD Markup
Now this sounds very technical but it really isn’t. It’s just about placing simple code into your site to enable Google and Bing to create a location and contact listing for you. The best way to do it is to add a location widget to your side bar and then add the following code, making sure to change the Name, address telephone, email and image details to your own.
Having a social media presence is important for any website as it will drive traffic and potential customers to your site. Facebook is the most obvious. Create a page for your business and use advertising to drive awareness. You can read about creating cost effective ads that work in my post by clicking here. When you are localised, the ad spend can be very cheap.
One that most people miss and is vital to Local SEO is Google + you should definitely have a presence on there, not least because it’s Google and it gives them another obvious place to find and rank you highly. Google posts is a place you definitely should have a presence.
My advice is to have some sort of presence on all of the social media platforms and try to get a username that is your business name. If I was creating a social media for Janes Florists I would definitely use Janesfloristsmadeup as a username as it’s unlikely to be taken when you add the location to the end of your business name.
Ranking Factor #7 – Client Reviews
These can be difficult to get but you have a page on your site dedicated to them. Friends and Family are always a good place to start… everyone does it but genuine client reviews are better and the more the better too. It is a good idea to have a plugin that allows customers to leave reviews with a star rating on your site. Obviously you have a chance to vet them before publishing. Getting customers to leave a star rating on your Facebook page is also a good idea.
The more you work on this area the better chance you will have of gaining more customers, more easily. You should create some kind of review funnel in place. Make it easy for customers to leave good reviews for you. For example when a customer leaves a review on your site, have a thank you page and then encourage them to leave you a review on google or Facebook by giving them a link to do so.
Ranking Factor #8 – Citations
Citations are basically community directories. Each community will have their own directories that are popular, like Yelp, yellow pages etc. You know your local area better than I do so you will have a better idea of where to list your business. This gives you more online presence.
Ranking Factor #9 – Behavioral Signals
Your website should enable you to get an idea of how your potential customers are relating to your site. Install Google analytics and Webmasters Tools. You can read about how and why by reading my post by clicking here.
You should have call to actions on your site like a call now function for mobile users, this should be enabled on any directories you are listed in, where the option is available.
You may want to be found under a precise keyword. For example Janes Florist may be an orchid specialist so may want to be found under the keyword “Orchid Specialist, Madeup” If this is the case then she needs a dedicated Page or Post with the URL being Orchid Specialist Madeup.
If she wants to be found under simply Florists, Madeup then she needs to be aware of how the people generally search for Florists in their area. Do they usually type in Florists, Madeup or do they generally put in Madeup Florists or even Florists Madeup U.K or Madeup U.K Florists. The people in your area will have their own preference to get the best results. It may be that if you are in the U.S then a state code will be put in like CA or TX.
The best way to do this is put in each different permeation into Google and see how many search results it throws up. There should be the number under the search result in Google. The one with the most search results should be the one you use as a Keyword on your site. If you want more information on Keywords read my post on the subject by clicking here.
How To Do An Audit
If you are employing someone to create or improve your website then they should provide you with an audit of how it currently is and then an audit to show you how the changes they will be making will improve on the above points. Different website designers will use different software to provide this but two common ones are Bright Local and Semrush.
If you are doing this yourself then there is a slightly cheeky way of checking it with Bright Local. You can sign up for a free 14 day trial, no credit card required. Then you can do your audit to check everything is in order and then not continue to the paid subscription. You won’t need it again unless you are building several websites.
I hope you have found this post useful in either being informed when deciding on a website designer to use or to implement the most important ranking factors for Local SEO on your own website. If you are going to have a website, you might as well make sure your potential customers can find you easily.
So many local business website owners build or have a website built and leave it there serving no purpose because it is not showing up in the search engines. This means lost business. If you want to build and run your own website but need more support then I recommend Wealthy Affiliate which is a Hosting and training platform for all website owners or those that need and want to be. You can read my review by clicking here.
As ever if you have any questions or want to share any ideas I have not covered then please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.