Mastering Local SEO on a Budget
In today’s ultra-competitive environment, every business needs to take advantage of successful local SEO strategies to improve their website’s search engine rankings. Unfortunately, there are too many small business owners who still consistently fail to take advantage of this powerful marketing tool. Why? Many try to justify paying too little attention to SEO by saying “I don’t have the budget.” However, in reality, local SEO actually offers a far more cost-effective option than most other marketing strategies, including platforms like Google Adwords and boosted posts on Facebook.
Even if your small business doesn’t have a lot of money to throw at mastering local SEO, there are still a number of successful techniques you can employ to help get the most out of your marketing budget, no matter how tight.
Master Google My Business
For small businesses, local SEO matters far more than achieving a high search ranking nationally or even statewide. You need to maximize your business’ ability to attract customers within in your community and city at-large. One of the best ways to help improve your business’ local SEO rankings is to take complete ownership of your Google My Business page.
Formerly known as Google Places, or more informally as Google’s map listings, Google My Business always appears near the top of any search ranking whenever a user initiates a search query using terms like “best bakery in town”, “dentist near me”, or “local coffee shop.” To find your business listed in My Business makes a great way to have your website receive maximum exposure to prospective new customers.
To increase the odds that your business is one that’s listed, you need to start by making sure you have ownership of the page, complete with access to make any necessary edits to your business listing. Once you’re in control, complete any information that’s missing on your page. It’s important you be as descriptive and accurate as possible, while making sure to insert a few prime keywords. When selecting the categories that describe your business, try to be specific. For example, if you’re a pediatric dentist, select “pediatric dentistry” rather than just “dentist” or “family dentist.”
When completing your profile, don’t skimp on the details. Take full advantage of filling out any and all available fields, add photos of your business, and make sure the hours and contact information for your business are correct. Once you’ve completed the profile, your business will have its very own listing that will appear on Google searches for local businesses.
Focus on Long-tail Keywords
In terms of basic SEO practices, there are two different types of keywords: general and long-tail. For small business with a limited marketing budget, focusing on long-tail keywords can help to further stretch those marketing dollars.
What makes a long-tailed keyword so beneficial is that it’s a phrase custom tailored to meet a very specific need. For example, let’s say you own a pet shop in Portland that specializes in exotic birds. Instead of focusing your SEO strategy around the term “pet shop”, you’ll gain far more mileage by using the very specific term “exotic bird pet shop in Portland.”
While both of these keyword terms have relevancy to your business, the long-tail keyword term is the one you should focus on using. Why? Because how many businesses out there are trying to position their websites to be at the top of a Google search for “pet shop?” More than one, by a bunch. However, how many pet shops are trying to rank first for the far more specific term “exotic bird pet shop in Portland?” Probably not that many. Therefore, you’re far more likely to appear at the top of the most relevant possible search query, which is where you’d rather have your business show up anyway. After all, someone searching for a “pet shop” that’s looking to buy a dog is going to be far less interested in your collection of exotic birds than someone who’s searching for that very phrase.
Place Your Keywords into Key Locations
After you’ve identified the best long-tail keywords to use, start by placing them strategically on your website. The most ideal places to begin with include placing keywords into URLs, page tiles, and site content, such as blog posts and core content pages like your Home, About, and Services pages.
However, when it comes to SEO, a little goes a long way. Google isn’t interested in promoting poorly written or overly optimized content. As such, they will penalize your site if every other word is a keyword phrase that’s poorly inserted into your text. Try limiting keyword usage to one in the first paragraph on a page and one in the page’s header. That should be plenty to satisfy Google’s algorithm.
Create Original Content
Another marketing no-no is failing to frequently update your website with new content. That’s because each time new content is added to your site, Google’s bots will revisit your site to index that content. Basically, this means that Google will reanalyze the content of your website and recalculate where exactly it should appear in search results. The more frequently new content is added the more chances you give Google to boost your SEO stock.
However, not just any old content will do. The content you add to your site must be new, well written, and not duplicated from anywhere else on the web. Google’s not going to reward your website for copying an article word-for-word and reposting it to your blog. The content still needs to be of high value, high quality, and relevant to your audience. Fortunately, if you continue to post high-quality content, Google’s bots will eventually take notice and start providing your website with the boost it need to appear towards the top of the page.
These are just a few of the most basic SEO strategies any small business can implement, regardless of budget. By following these simple steps, you can dramatically increase both where your business ranks in search results and the amount of traffic your website receives. A win-win for any business.