http://bit.ly/13fBPMASEO means Search Engine Optimization. In basic terms, SEO is the process of making your website more relevant to the major search engines. Increasing your relevancy will mean that your site shows up higher in their search rankings. Due to its overwhelming market share, Google is usually the search engine you will optimize for.
Local SEO is optimizing your website to rank highly for local based search terms (keywords). Instead of just ranking for a general keyword like “Widgets”, you would try to rank for “Widgets Texas” or “Austin Widgets”.
Local SEO techniques are becoming an increasingly popular, especially by businesses in mid-sized and small cities. There are certain advantages when optimizing for localized search terms:
- Can Be Easier To Rank — It is generally easier to rank for a local search term because it is less competitive. Instead of competing against all of North America, you are only fighting for position with those in your local area. Many times, you can rank near or at the top of Google for these terms with much less work.
- More Targeted — When people are searching locally, they are more often to be ready to buy. It also makes sure that the people finding your site are local and can actually use your services. If you rank for “Widgets” people all over the world will find your site, but if you localize that search term you will be targeting people who are searching from your area. Depending on your product, most customers often start their search locally first. If they find someone competent that they feel comfortable with, they often stop searching.
With the explosions of mobile Internet, finding businesses through search engines will only get more popular. At one time, every business wanted to be in the Yellow Pages. Well, the day of the search engine is here and you want to rank for these local terms. With less competition you can rank quicker and with less effort. You will be tapping into a perpetual funnel of local-based web searches.
When you have a website, you want it to rank near the top of the search rankings for localized searches.
Keywords are the words or terms that people use to search in Google. If you do a search for “Cheap Flights” on Google, then the keyword is: cheap flight. Keyword brainstorming and research is an important first step in any Local SEO plan. These general steps will get you off to a good start.
Sit down and make a list of every keyword term that someone would search for to find your ‘Widget’ company. Don’t worry about local terms right now — just think of what people would search in any part of the world to find a service like yours. Write down as many terms as possible. Think of a wide variety of terms, all the way from one word terms (short-tail) to 3+-word terms (long-tail). You can also ask friends and family for their input. This will give you an outside perspective from an everyday person.
If you get stuck thinking about terms, you can get some help from Google itself. Just take one of the keyword terms you thought of and enter it into the Google Keyword Tool. This will give you a list of related terms and their estimated search numbers. Keep in mind we will localize these terms, so the amount of searches will not be directly applicable — but it still gives you an idea of what keywords are searched more often. Spend a good chunk of time on this, and try to get a list of 20-30 keyword terms.
Now that you have your keyword list, simply localize them. Add your location (town or city, maybe the state/province if you are in a city with common name). If your Widget services are in demand in a number of towns, then add the other towns in front of the keyword as well. For example… City One + Keyword One City One + Keyword Two … City Two + Keyword One City Two + Keyword Two Etc… So each new town you use will be another five local keyword terms. Once you have localized your keywords, you will now have a list of local keyword terms that you can begin ranking for. While this is a basic form of keyword research, it is leagues ahead of most of the online marketing that local businesses do.
Local SEO Techniques: The Basics
To understand Local SEO techniques completely would be a book on its own, but here are some basics. If you have built your website using WordPress, you could do some of the on-page steps yourself. If you went with an HTML design, you might have to get your web designer to make a couple of changes. The changes will be quick though, so it shouldn’t take too much time. Local SEO can be broken into two main categories: On-page and Off-page.
Local SEO Techniques: On-Page Factors
On-Page means exactly what it says. These are the steps you take on your actual site or blog to make it more friendly to the search engines. While there are many things to consider, some great first steps include:
You might have to get your web designer to fix these for you if you use a traditional HTML website. These are simply the titles of each page and are the first thing Google sees when it finds a new page. The “title” in this case is what is displayed ABOVE the address bar in your Internet browser. It is at the very top of the browser. On Google.com, “Google” is the page title.If you are familiar with HTML code, this is usually accomplished with the <title></title> tags near the top of the code. If you are savvy enough, you can change them yourself — just remove what is in between them and paste in one of your keywords.
In WordPress, you can handle this even easier through uses of plugins like All-in-One SEO. Each page of your site should have a different title tag. Make it one of the keywords that you created in the previous step. In some smaller towns, this is all you will need to do to get to the first page of Google for localized terms. If you use WordPress, you can access Permalinks through the Settings and create a custom structure like: /%postname%/. This will make the title tag of every post you create to be the same as the Post Title. So just name your blog posts with keywords and you will automatically have keyword rich title tags. Another point for WordPress.
You want to mention your keywords in your content, but not too much. You don’t want your content to seem low quality and unnaturally stuffed with keywords. Remember, your web content should be written for your visitors, not the search engines. Good quality content that naturally mentions your keywords will engage people, make them more likely to share your site. It will also seem more natural to Google.
You should have proper navigation on your site. You want it to be both logical and working. Broken links on your site are a big “no-no.” A broken link in your navigation is especially glaring. You want Google to be to easily find your whole site with no broken links. This includes linking to other parts of your own site.
This step is more important for WordPress based websites, because a sitemap is needed more for a dynamic site. A sitemap is basically a list of your website pages. Search engines like Google will use it to discover your entire site. It is more important for websites that are updated with new pages often (i.e. WordPress blog). In WordPress you can easily add a sitemap to your site with a plugin like “Google XML Sitemaps.”
SEO is a major area of study online, and there are a lot of other steps you can take, but the above ones are a great on-page start to any campaign. Since ranking for localized keywords is easier in general, these steps should suffice for most résumé writing businesses.
Local SEO Techniques: Off-Page Factors
In many people’s eyes, off-page optimization is where you should spend most of your time. I personally disagree. I think consistent high quality on-page content (aka blog posts) is the most important step. That said, off-page optimization is still very important and probably more important than every on-page step besides content creation.
When it comes down to a basic level, off-page optimization is really about one thing — getting backlinks. Backlinks are simply links on other sites that point towards your site. Google values these highly, and it is one of the major ranking factors. When you are starting a backlinking campaign, there are a couple of terms you need to know:
The anchor text is the actual text that makes up the link. When you see a link that says “Click Here,” then click here is the anchor text. Links that have your keywords as the anchor text are more valuable. An anchor text that reads, “Click here to contact us for Widgets” is more valuable.
Google gives pages a rank from 0-10. This rank isn’t quite as important as some people make it out to be, but it is still a good guide. The higher the page rank of a website, the more valu