Duncan - 2 March 2012 in Local SEO

Search Engines for local business – the was and the now

The was
The world wide web. Get a website – you have to have a website. With an explosion of web design companies, bedroom web developers, free website providers, domain registrants you can get what you want – so get your website up there with your logo, about us type content and hey presto you’re up there.
Then…the reality of search presents itself when you login to your analytics package when you see zero visits. You then have a good, bad or indifferent experience with a search engine optimisation where they look to artificially influence the search engine results pages (SERPS) with techniques that use little of their time/resource and employ a suggestion of blackmail when generating page 1 / top 3 positions.
You become wise to bad SEO. By finding a more reputable, content led, quality links approach you continue to grow.
Your limitations? Updating content, increasing social media platforms, website development all go to the back of your queue due to cost and time constraints.

The now

97% of consumers search for local companies online. Your Google place is an integral part of traffic generation – that is of course if you have registered it, added content and attracted reviews. Core proactive opportunities being citation building and creating review generating processes.
1.5 billion high end smartphone sales by 2016 (sorry, no more mobile stats in the week of MWC) is completely relevant to the small business market.
What else? This week, Google Venice was a major part of the 40 algorithm change for Google. Simply put local websites are gaining more and more visibility under generic searches – ‘Digital Marketing’ or ‘SEO’ as opposed to ‘Digital Marketing Leeds’ or ‘Leeds SEO’. Local websites will be treated more like national websites by Google.

The future
I am a small business owner. I know how much pressure is on time. However, back in the day when you got ahead of your competitors by getting a website, you need to know what ‘ahead’ looks like and what the very top priorities are.
Citations. Still a massive part of local SEO, an ongoing discipline.
Content freshness. New content grabs high amounts of search visibility – and if what you give visitors is of genuine interest, people will link to it. The bit that the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker neglects – but this could be the ticket to being top of the pops in your industry locally.
Your Google Place. Add great images and videos. Create coupons and follow the Google Places terms and conditions. Don’t try and be disingenuous or spammy in the content you provide – it won’t work!
Reviews. On your website and on your Google Place – hugely important. Generating your own reviews and ratings can lead to more advanced techniques with a benefit of showing this data within the SERPS. Get a strategy for this.
Mobile. OK, one last stat. 61% of smartphone users look for local products and services. Having
Localised social media. Check-in based apps such as Facebook and Foursquare offer consumers a chance to voyeuristically show their every move, including interacting with your physical location. Tipped by the best to be a big ranking signal.
My advice in summary – get an actionable local SEO plan based on these core areas in your calendar over the next 12-24 months. Break it down into bit sized chunks and be brutal about your own current weaknesses. None of this is hard when tackled gradually – and if done correctly should be relatively inexpensive.

Duncan Colman


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