With consumers increasingly relying on the internet to locate businesses to patronize, a strong SEO (2) (search engine optimization) ranking is more important than ever. Multiple marketing companies would be happy to manage your SEO for a fee, but you can do a competent job yourself. The following tips form the heart of every successful SEO campaign.
Most small business owners live and die with the support of their neighbors, as it just isn’t feasible to attract somebody 1,000 miles away to a physical storefront. That can be an advantage in the SEO arena, as you are free to focus exclusively on your local market instead of trying to manage a global campaign.
Going about this is relatively simple. First, prominently display the names of your city and neighborhood on your website so that search engines know exactly where you are. You can also foster a valuable personal connection by addressing content to your particular geographic region. You know the needs of your hometown better than any outsider, so make use of it in your marketing!
Keywords and phrases are kind of like the lifeblood of SEO best practices and SEO consultants. (1). They teach search engines exactly what your content and business are all about, helping them include you in all relevant searches. Your city and neighborhood are excellent choices for keyword terms, as are your company’s name and the principal products and services you provide.
Do not attempt to rank for everything you can think of that’s tangentially related to what you do. For example, a restaurant should not try to rank for each item on its menu. Doing so could convince search engines that your restaurant’s site is a mere list of recipes, disqualifying you whenever someone searches for a local restaurant. Instead, concentrate on a few signature items to eliminate any ambiguity.
You might think that quality SEO content (3) entails using your keywords as often as possible, but search engines are smarter than that. If you spam a few terms repeatedly, they will recognize it and lower your rankings accordingly. The best way to please current algorithms is actually to write with a human audience in mind. Insights into your industry, the latest research, and guest posts by recognized experts in your field will catch the attention of prospective customers and search engines alike.
You can also make your content more engaging by providing a video component. Many people learn more efficiently with a visual than they do through text alone, so the incorporation of video content is one of the most significant digital marketing trends for 2018 and beyond.
Customer service is increasingly the biggest separator between competing brands, so a personal connection with your target audience can be incredibly valuable. Creating authentic videos starring yourself is the first step in this process, but communicating with your audience directly on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook is a great way to attach a face to your brand.
That said, many people often hold businesses to a higher standard than individuals on social media sites. Awkward phrasing and poor grammar are unacceptable for a business account even though individual users are unapologetic about both. You also need to ensure compliance with each site’s rules and policies to avoid having your account (and connection with your audience) deleted.
Most search engines have a business directory that acts like the old Yellow Pages for their users. For example, Google has a service called Google My Business. Claiming a free listing on these sites will immediately boost your SEO (4) performance on the affiliated search engine, as they all offer preferential treatment to “members.”
Claiming additional online real estate is advantageous in several other ways as well. Most listings allow you to briefly explain who you are and what you do, acting as a free ad. Search engines also have an easier time locating your business geographically if you have a listing in their business directory, allowing services such as Google Maps to provide better directions to your storefront.
NAP data is your core contact information: name, address, and phone number. Search engines often assume that up-to-date contact information is proof that a company is still in business, so companies with consistent NAP data always have priority over those lacking it.
The slightest discrepancy can fool search engines, so even something silly like writing out “street” on your website but abbreviating it “St.” on your Facebook profile can hurt your rankings. Either option is fine; it just has to be consistent across your entire online presence.
Search engines determine rankings based in part on the quality and quantity of online reviews. Obviously, positive reviews are better, so consider asking your customers for them whenever possible. One convenient way to do so is to send a “Thank You!” email with a link to several review platforms to every satisfied customer.
You can’t please everyone, so the occasional negative review is inevitable. It won’t be too damaging if the commentary is mostly positive, so try to ensure that those reviews significantly outnumber negative ones at all times. It can also be beneficial to reply promptly and courteously to every negative comment you see. That shows that your business cares about its clientele and is professional enough to carry on a civil conversation even with a disgruntled customer. You might also be surprised by how often a reply can turn a negative review into a positive one!
Consumers are relying on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for most of their internet searches, so it is imperative that your site is formatted to perform well on smaller screens. Glacial mobile loading times will send prospective customers running to your competitors, which will cause you to lose business. Worse, search engines will also penalize you for having a site that fails to meet consumer demand.
The best way to avoid these problems is to regularly access your company’s site from a broad variety of different devices. If you experience any difficulties with one or more, contact your webmaster about upgrading your specs.
Big Data can show you what pages are performing well and which ones could stand to improve. Tracking software such as Google Analytics can show you where customers are dropping out of your sales funnel, allowing you to plug the leaks and convert more sales.
Likewise, Google Analytics can show you who is visiting your site, allowing your marketing department to target them correctly in your next advertising campaign. You can even identify which customers are most likely to make multiple purchases, maximizing the ROI of your marketing spend.
SEO seems complicated at first, but it’s not too bad once you get the hang of it. The tips above will help you launch an SEO campaign with aplomb! I hope you enjoyed our SEO Best Practices Every Entrepreneur Should Know.
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