As a business owner, you’ve likely heard that search engine optimization is important for growing your business. SEO is the process by which you get your business ranked highly on search engines like Google. While many SEO strategies apply to all websites, local business owners need to incorporate a few different approaches to reach customers in their areas.
On-page SEO is all about creating content on your website that helps search engines understand what your page is about. This boosts your ranking in relevant search queries. There are a lot of factors that contribute to great on-page SEO. For local business owners, you’ll want to make sure you strategically use your location plus a relevant keyword on your site. For example, a coffee shop in Miami might use the keyword phrase “Miami coffee shop” in the title tag, headers, URL and content of the shop’s landing page. Be sure to also embed a Google map with your business marker on your landing page as well.
Your business NAP is your business name, address, and phone number. To rank well in search engines, you’ll need to put your NAP on every page of your website, preferably in the footer. Once you have your NAP on your site, make sure that it is in the same format on every other website your business is listed on. Many businesses rely on Yext for this, but Yext requires you to continue paying every month. Instead, check major listings to make sure your NAP is consistent, and correct it if it’s not. These major listings include Google My Business, the Better Business Bureau, your Secretary of State business filing, data providers, Yelp and social media sites.
Links are a powerful tool for increasing your search engine ranking. There are two types of links you need to be concerned with: internal links and backlinks. Internal links are easy. These are links you use to direct traffic from one page on your site to another. Using relevant anchor text—the clickable text attached to your hyperlink—helps search engines know what your page is about. You can also use internal links to capitalize on your popular pages. If you have a popular informative article on your site, you can link from that article to a sales page to convert readers into customers. Backlinks are more difficult to implement, but they can drastically improve your ranking. These are links to your content from other websites. Quality backlinks from high-traffic sites cause search engines to view your site as an authority on your subject. You’ll also want to get backlinks from other local businesses. Learn about different techniques to earn quality backlinks. Search for sites that already mention your business, and ask them to include a link. Collaborate with other business owners to guest post on each other’s blogs. It takes time to build a large number of backlinks, but you’ll find improvements in your web traffic when you do.
Let’s pretend for a moment that you own a local coffee shop in Miami. When a Google user in Miami searches for “coffee shops near me,” they’ll see the top three results prominently displayed under a map of the area. These three results are called the 3 Pack. This is where you want your business to rank. Thankfully, Google tends to favor local businesses over large chains for the 3 Pack. Ranking in the 3 Pack involves making sure your Google My Business listing is up to date, keeping your NAP consistent in listings across the web, and earning favorable Google reviews from your customers. You’ll also want to keep your website mobile-friendly.
While there are many strategies to improve your ranking on search engines, it’s also possible to hurt your ranking through bad SEO tactics. We’ve discussed important SEO strategies above, but it can be tempting to cut corners to increase your ranking faster. Search engines are looking to rank high-quality, authoritative content at the top. Certain SEO mistakes will cause search engines to think your site is low quality, decreasing your ranking. Avoid keyword stuffing, duplicating content, indexing too many pages with short content and purchasing backlinks from poor-quality sites.
In an increasingly digital world, ranking high in searches and driving traffic to your website is crucial for gaining new customers and growing your business. Learning the basics of SEO for your local business while avoiding common SEO mistakes will help people find you among a sea of other businesses on the web.