Internet marketing, particularly search engine marketing can be confusing for small business with a local customer base. There is plenty of information available online but much of it is contradictory (or just plain wrong). In this post I try to summarize the key elements of search engine marketing for small business and provide some guidance on how best to proceed.
It is estimated that Google uses at least 200 ranking factors in the algorithm they use to determine where a website should be positioned on the search pages. SEO is all about working these factors to deliver the highest possible position for a website but nobody (apart from the search engine businesses) knows for certain which factors are the most important.
All any local business search engine marketing specialist can do is assess the limited information published by the search engine companies, establish what has worked well for others and call on their own experience of what works and what does not. Even then the job is not finished as best practice is continually evolving.
Some search engine optimisation techniques are however universally recognised as effective, they are:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Quality content published on a regular basis
- H Tags
These are the ones that should be focussed on as a minimum. Keyword (or words) is of vital importance. These are the words or phrases which when typed in as a search phrase the website should be listed against (preferably on Page1).
For a business with a local business the following factors are also important.
- Quality local links
Meta title, Meta description and H tags are all technical aspects related to the website design and coding. When trying to secure customers in a local area it is vital to employ a website company that has a firm understanding of both website design and local SEO to ensure the correct keywords are chosen and these technical aspects are addressed correctly. It is important to remember a website is of little use if it is not found when a prospect types in a relevant search term and all website designers do not necessarily understand SEO or local marketing.
Content And Search Engine Marketing
Any local business can influence content, local links and reviews using their own in house resources or by hiring a specialist if necessary. Content is now of vital importance to effective search engine marketing. The search engine algorithms will promote websites they find that change often and publish relevant and useful information up the search engine listings. Information may take many forms including case studies, how to guides, blog posts, just come into stock, before and after videos or photography and much more. The key is to continue to publish information on a consistent basis.
Quality Local Links To The Website
Link building can be both difficult and time consuming and involves establishing a link from the website of a quality and relevant local business back to your website. Potential businesses to approach to request a link are local directories, local charities, chambers of commerce, local vendors or service providers. Before securing a link some work is normally required to build relationships. Reach out to the local community and get your business known. Offer to be a source of information on your topic to local journalists.
Local Reviews And Testimonials
Relevant and genuine reviews and testimonials on your website are viewed as important by the search engines so every opportunity should be taken to collect reviews. Google provides a review collection process (see below), and there are various online and card based systems.
The Importance Of Google+ Local
A free marketing tool from Google can be of significant assistance for any business looking for more local customers. Basically, a mini website a Google+ Local listing gives any local business the opportunity to obtain a high position on Page 1 of Google (and link to their main website), publish reviews and testimonials and raise the profile of the business.
Effective local business search engine marketing is then based on a locally optimised website that is updated regularly with relevant content and contains reviews and testimonials coupled with a professional Google+ Local listing. Given the time then most small business owners can build their own local marketing system using the many low cost tools that are now available. Keyword research and the technical aspects of SEO can cause some difficulties but these can be learned with time and patience.