For many local businesses, the term 'Search Engine Optimization' or SEO, may seem like an intimidating tech-jargon reserved for large corporations with expansive digital marketing teams. In reality, however, SEO is a powerful tool available to every business, regardless of size, industry, or location. At ALYKY, we are passionate about simplifying digital marketing concepts, and today we'll be demystifying local SEO for small businesses.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices used to improve a website's visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). Simply put, it's a way of structuring your website and content to make it appealing to search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. This boosts your site's ranking for certain keyword searches, enhancing your digital presence and potentially driving more traffic to your site.
How Local SEO For Small Businesses Works
The core concept behind local SEO for small businesses revolves around algorithms - mathematical procedures that search engines use to rank webpages based on relevance and quality. While the exact workings of these algorithms are kept secret by search engines, through ongoing research and testing, marketers have identified key factors that contribute to local SEO for small businesses' success.
The primary factors include:
Local keywords are essential for businesses trying to reach a geographically specific audience. For instance, if you have a coffee shop in Eugene, you'll want to be found by people in your area searching for coffee shops. Good local keywords generally have a few characteristics:
The most critical aspect of a local keyword is its local nature. If you're a plumber in Eugene for example, you'll want to use keywords like "Eugene plumber" or "plumbing services in Eugene."
Good local keywords are highly relevant to the services or products you offer. For instance, a clothing store in Springfield might use keywords like "Springfield clothing boutique" or "women's clothes in Springfield."
Your local keywords should align with the intent of your potential customers. For instance, if you're a restaurant, keywords like "best pizza in lane county" might be more useful than "pizza ingredients in lane county."
Sometimes, it might be advantageous to target less competitive keywords, especially if your business is new or small. While "Eugene lawyer" might be highly competitive, something like "immigration lawyers in Eugene" might be less so, and thus easier to rank for.
These are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they're closer to the point of purchase or when they're using voice search. They can be incredibly valuable if you know how to use them. For instance, "affordable Italian restaurant in downtown Eugene" is a good example of a long-tail local keyword.
Landmarks or Neighborhoods
If your business is near a well-known landmark or in a specific neighborhood, consider incorporating these in your keywords. For example, "coffee shop near the Whit" or "coffee shop in Oakway Center."
Remember, local SEO is about being found by the customers in your area. Be sure to use these keywords in your website content, meta descriptions, title tags, and other online listings to improve your local search rankings. Keep track of your website analytics to understand what's working and what needs to be adjusted.
Local backlinks are links from other websites in your local area that point back to your website. They are an important part of local SEO because search engines see backlinks as a signal of trust and authority. The more local, relevant backlinks you have, the better your website is likely to perform in local search results.
Here are a few types of good local backlinks:
Local Business Directories
Websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor allow businesses to create a profile with a link to their website. Google My Business is a particularly important one.
Local News Sites
Getting featured in a local newspaper or blog can provide high-quality backlinks. Reach out to local journalists and bloggers to see if there are opportunities for a feature or a guest post.
Local Partnerships or Sponsors
If you sponsor a local event, team, or organization, you might be able to get a backlink on their website. Similarly, partnerships with other local businesses could offer backlink opportunities.
Local Chambers of Commerce or Business Associations
These organizations often have directories of local businesses that include links.
Make sure your social media profiles include your website link. Although these aren't technically "local" links, they're still valuable backlinks.
Encourage customers to review your business on sites like Google Reviews or Trustpilot. This won't necessarily generate a direct backlink to your site, but it can help with local SEO and visibility.
Local Educational or Government Sites
These can be harder to get, but are often very authoritative. If you can sponsor an event at a local school or are somehow involved in a local government initiative, these can provide strong local backlinks.
User Experience (UX)
Search engines prefer websites that offer a good user experience. This includes having a fast loading speed, being mobile-friendly, and offering easy navigation.
SEO-optimized content refers to the creation of content in a way that helps boost its visibility in search engines. There are a number of factors that contribute to a piece of content being SEO optimized. Here are the primary ones:
These are words or phrases that people are likely to type into a search engine when they're looking for the type of content you're offering. Incorporating these keywords into your content can help it appear in relevant searches.
Search engines favor high-quality website content, meaning it is comprehensive, well-written, and provides real value to readers.
Use of Headings and Sub-Headings
Utilizing headers and sub-headers not only makes your content easier to read for users, but also allows search engines to better understand the content.
Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
These give search engines information about the topic of the content, and they're also what users see in search engine results.
Internal and External Links
Including links to other pages on your site (internal links) or to relevant content on other sites (external links) can help search engines understand the context of your content. It also improves the user experience by providing additional resources.
Alt Text for Images
Providing alt text for images can improve your site's SEO by giving search engines context for the images, which they cannot 'see' or 'understand' in the way they can text.
With an increasing number of users accessing content through mobile devices, search engines prioritize content that is mobile-friendly.
Content that keeps users on the page for longer periods of time encourages them to visit other pages on your site, or inspires them to share your content can all boost your SEO.
Fresh and Updated Content
Regularly updating your content and keeping it relevant to your audience's needs can help improve its visibility in search engines.
Applying Local SEO For Small Businesses to Your Business
Whether you run a boutique store, a tech startup in the heart of downtown, or a personal injury law firm , SEO can be a crucial part of your online marketing strategy.
Local SEO for small businesses is a powerful tool for businesses. This form of SEO focuses on promoting your services or products to local customers at the exact time they're looking for them online. It involves optimizing your business for location-specific keywords (like 'Eugene bakery' or 'marketing agency in Eugene') and improving your online presence on local listing.
Understanding and leveraging local SEO for small businesses can be an invaluable strategy. It's a continuous process that involves constant monitoring, tweaking, and updating. But the rewards - in terms of increased visibility, traffic, and ultimately, business success - make it well worth the investment.
At ALYKY, we are committed to helping local businesses thrive in the digital world. Don't let SEO remain a mystifying concept. Let's harness its power together to boost your local business to new heights. Contact us today to start SEO for your local small business.