If you’re a dentist located in Charleston, what good will it do to your business if you (miraculously) manage to rank #1 for the term “dental services”, and the person searching for that term is located in LA?
Optimizing your website for search engines is important, but you have to know what the most meaningful approach is, and how to make the most out of your optimization campaign. After all, a number one ranking for a broad term won’t get you new clients or customers, and should be the final goal of your SEO efforts. Assuming that you’ve already claimed your business profile in Google Places (if you haven’t done it yet, then it’s about time!), let’s see what other things you can do to make it easier for the people looking for you to find you.
1. Create more content. But not just any ol’ content – create local content. First, by creating more content you’re signaling Google that you’re constantly working on your website;
you’ll be getting more traffic from longtail phrases (which, combined, in many cases attract more visitors than the commercial keywords you’re targeting). Second, by adding content that is relevant for both your business and your local community, you’ll be able to naturally use more local keywords, which is a strong signal for Google to place your business where you want to. You can expand your website’s content by adding blog, industry news or event recaps.
2. Build local links to your website. Links from websites associated with your location have more weight in local SEO, so submit your website to local “resource databases”: any kind of website that acts like an online tour guide, including local business listings, tourist agencies, local Wiki page, news website… Connect to the local bloggers, and see if you can get a link from them (by guest posting, or by asking them for a review of your product). Note: in all of your backlinking endeavors, make sure that your anchor text profile doesn’t look spammy. Although it’s good to have “Charleston dental services” as anchor text in some percentage, Google may punish you if you do it all the time, so include other things, some of them partially related to your main keyword or your company/brand name (root canal treatment, Charleston, dentist John Smith etc) and some completely unrelated (contact us, find out more).
3. Get involved with your community. You can do this both online and offline. Online, take participation in forum discussions, comment on other blogs, offer help or answer. Offline, you can get local press coverage by sponsoring a local charity event, or simply connect with other businesses that you can later ask for a link. This is the quickest way to get your business known.
4. Check your on-page optimization. Make sure all of your website’s pages have SEO-friendly titles, headings, URLs – that way you will get the search engines more content to review. Use keywords with local modifiers in all titling, and make sure that you use correct keywords (check the Google AdWords Tool to find out which keywords people are actually searching for).
5. Put your physical address on your website. By this we mean: put your entire address with local phone number on every page of your website (footer is a good place for that). Also, when you’re listing your website in local directories, do the same and be very, very consistent: even a small thing, like using St. on your website and Street on a listing (especially on Google Places) can mean a huge difference, and will cause your website to rank lower.
6. Every review is good. Where ever you can, encourage your customers to give reviews and feedbacks. Good or bad, the reviews on Google Places or Yahoo Local will make your business more credible. After all, if your potential customer sees all good reviews, he may become suspicious, and go elsewhere. Apart from being more practical, optimizing your website for local search is also much easier than trying to optimize it for broader terms.
Most things you can do to attract local customers are easy, but there’s still a surprising number of local business owners who just don’t do them – which will make your job even easier.
As a SEO expert, Jeff knows how important it is to do a quality local SEO research. Curently, he is associated with Serije as their consultant for search engine optimization and social media marketing.