The Advantage of Local Small-Businesses
Small-businesses have a number of advantages over large chains that can be effectively harnessed. One of these is the opportunity for personal connections with the customers in your community. Believe it or not, this particular advantage can be used to optimize your website for local SEO and generate ideas for acquiring new leads!
Your personalized customer service is the reason people are choosing your business over a much larger entity. You likely live in the community you serve, you may have seen your customers at the neighborhood grocery, and you hear and care about the local news and safety of your community. You share a lot of common ground with the people you serve simply by living your life where they do. This probably comes across when you interact with clients in person, and it should come across in your online presence as well!
If you have not already done local website optimization, or you’ve done just a little but the task looks too big, start with these changes to get the ball rolling! We consider these 3 tips as a good starting point to get your website ready for local listings and to make an impression on people who have not yet interacted with your business.
1. Find and Use Local Keyword Data
Even you can have your James Bond moment. It’s time to do some spying on your competition, but please don’t follow anyone home. What you need to do is a little bit of research to learn what your competitors are doing well on their websites! You can use tools like SEMrush, BuzzSumo, or Ahrefs to scan their sites for the best keywords. Some tools, like BuzzSumo, are also capable of identifying competitors you don’t even know about.
Yes, these tools often come with a price tag, but some have good basic plans that you can access for free. BuzzSumo, for example, offers a limited and basic plan for free, but to get full access to all its features you will need to sign up for a paid subscription. SEMrush and Ahrefs both offer a free trial period, but once it’s over you will also need to pay to subscribe. However, SEMrush does have some very useful and free SEO plugins you can use.
Another great feature keyword tools have is they can show you the search volume of certain words in your location. If no one is searching for the terms you’re focusing on, no one is going to see your content. On the flip side, if you focus only on high volume words, your small-business website will be competing with a stack of much larger and older sites for those same keywords. Be mindful of these small details because they do make a difference!
*SEO Tip: Don’t “stuff” your content with too many keywords or search engines will mark them as spam.
2. Create Locally Relevant Content
A good strategy is to regularly create content that is both useful to your local readers and easy to understand. Using the keyword search tool, you can see what people in your area are searching for. For example:
Do they look up plumbing services by searching terms like “clogged sink” or “broken toilet”? When customers get to your website, where are they spending most of their time? Are they looking for information about you or are they looking for items to purchase?
Understanding the purpose of the search and how it is done can connect you better to the local mindset.
With a little, or a lot, of digging, you can also learn how people talk about the product you sell or the service you provide. You will learn how they use it, what they love about it, what they wish was different, and how they refer to it colloquially. You can then use this information to your advantage!
If you sound like one of the locals, and express that you have heard their concerns or identify with their perception of your product or service, you can create more locally relevant content. This is the type of content that shows existing and potential clients that their voices are being heard, that you are what they need, or that you can solve the problem they have.
*SEO Tip: Use <h2> or <h3> tags for your subheadings. These tags help Google understand the content of your website. Subheadings also help site visitors navigate more easily through your page.
3. Get Your Website on Local Business Directories
Many of the best directories are free! Here’s a list of just some of the many options available.
Yelp – List your business and clients you’ve served will be able to post reviews
Google My Business – Google is a highly popular search engine, getting your business listed here is a great move.
Foursquare – Your business will appear on search results based on a web searcher’s location, previous check-ins, and even their browsing history.
Local.com – Claim your business listing on local.com and it will automatically let you do the same on 40+ additional sites.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great place to post a more professional and even technical business listing.
Bing – It’s not as commonly used as Google, but it’s still the preferred search engine for many people. It’s a good idea to list your business here.
Yahoo Local – Yahoo is now powered by Bing, but the search results they yield aren’t the same. Get Your listing on both platforms!
*SEO Tip: You typically don’t have much space to tell people about your business. Make sure your title and description are strong and avoid any generic terms.
A Few Small Changes Will Put You Ahead
There are many great resources on the internet and we encourage you to make use of them. Many of your competitors don’t. As a matter of fact, an article by the Local Search Association found that 56% of local retailers have not claimed their Google My Business listing, 67% have not claimed their Yelp listing, and 79% have not claimed their Yahoo listing. Another study found that only 36% of small-businesses have an SEO strategy. A few clicks can put you several paces ahead of the competition.