This article covers simple online marketing strategies you can use to improve your ranking for local search results (SEO). So, how do you let everyone know you're in town?
Local Search Marketing Strategies and SEO Tips
Before you start bidding on keywords and throw money at PPC (pay per click) marketing, consider using simple "organic SEO" online marketing strategies to improve your local SEO results. Whether your revenue comes from business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), increasing your local search ranking will benefit your business.
First and foremost, create an SEO friendly website. The first step you can take to improve your local – as well as your overall search engine results – is make sure your website is search engine friendly. Make it easy for search engines to identify your business location and your keywords by following this short-list of SEO tips for local search:
- Prominently display your business name and address as text on both the top of the page and in the footer. In the header, it helps if you use an "H1" tag that includes your address. Avoid placing your address and keywords in image files given they can be hidden from the search engines. Also, it is difficult for your site visitors to capture your address and phone number for future reference when it is embedded in an image.
- Include your business name, address and keywords in your page titles; within your website header "<Title>" HTML. Also, use keywords for your URL names when creating sub-pages (i.e., www…/online-strategic-marketing-plans/).
- Depending on your state, it can be helpful to abbreviate the state in one of the addresses and spell it out in the second (i.e., AIM Custom Media serves clients throughout the United States. Locally, we serve the Metro Richmond, Virginia area from our office located in Glen Allen, VA 23059).
- Check to make sure your company is listed on the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo Local, and MSN Live Search (Superpages). For each business listing, include a complete business description and use the same keywords that are on your website. Always include contact info in business listings given your prospects may not click through to your website.
- Ask your clients to rate your business. Again, on the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Provide your clients with a list of keywords and politely ask them to use the same keywords in their review (make sure these keywords are on your website). For the best results, you want each review to be unique so don't use templates for this purpose.
- Add links to your existing clients on your website, with a testimonial of course. Include their address and a description that includes a few of your keywords. Contact your clients and ask them to return the favor by including a link to your site on theirs.
- Develop a list of local business directories. We have a list of the Metro Richmond, Virginia regional publications; Metro Richmond media websites, Richmond city magazines, Richmond newspapers, local Chamber of Commerce, and local blogs that we include in our "local" client's online marketing plans. We do the research for clients in other areas. For example, our local list includes business directories and resources local to Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties. Depending on your target market, this can be a long list. Contact all of them and get your business listed.
- When possible, upload images or photos to the business directory and include the name of your company and keywords in the image's description ("alt" tags). Do this for all of the images on your website.
- Take out your Strategic Online Marketing Plan for 2008 – if you don't have one stop reading here and work on that first! Your marketing plan includes an evaluation of your top competitors. Visit your competitors' websites and their links. It is easy to determine who is linking to your competitors' websites. You can do this through Google, Yahoo, etc. What companies in your industry are listed? Will they include a link for your site? Likely they will given the links help them also.
- While you're at it, determine who is linking to your site. Contact the companies and ask them to include the correct info for your company as well as your keywords.
If you outsource your website maintenance, consider changing over to a content management system that allows someone in your office to update content on a regular basis. Fresh content is key to SEO. The conversion is a one-time expense that will, if setup properly, lower your annual website maintenance costs, increase your presence on the web, and enhance your ability to communicate with your existing clients and prospects (think increased referral rates). It is working for our clients. Feel free to call us if you want to learn more about lowering your costs while increasing your marketing exposure; we can do all of the above for you affordably if you like (Ph: 804-915-7379).
Organic SEO is one of the most cost-effective and long-term online marketing strategies but there are other methods to consider such as social networking, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, etc. Pay-per-click can be an excellent tool for testing ideas and generating leads; however, working on your organic SEO should be your first priority:
Tom Chandler, owner of one of the top ten blogs for writers explains, “For a freelancer, pay-per-click advertising can be a flexible, effective, affordable marketing tool. I’ve used it several times over the years to quickly generate leads during slow periods, though I’ve discovered — as my blog-driven organic search results improved — that I don’t need it running all the time.”
Social networking and pay-per-click are another ballgame. Subscribe to our blog and you will receive our articles on these topics via email when they are published. Please feel free to share this information with your friends.