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Local SEO Opportunities Exclusive to Local Businesses

If you are a small business you can’t afford to miss the promising results of the recent study by Yodle on What Consumers Want from Local Businesses.

Guess what? People love local businesses!

Four out of five respondents use local businesses and nearly half say they shopped at local businesses more this year than last.

Your entire marketing budget may not even be a tenth or hundredth of your National Brand competitors but you do hold a Search Advantage in that people in your area want to shop at true local businesses. And Search Engines recognize this and are now showing more localized results than ever before.

In response to the new study Search Engine Land columnist Wesley Young discusses the results of the Yodle study in detail and helps us understand how to use what consumers want in order to boost your local SEO strategy.

Here are the key takeaways you can apply to your local business:

  • Highlight the competitive advantages people automatically attach to local businesses, such as personalization, trustworthiness, customer service, quality, and reliability. Do this throughout your website text and the Meta Data that appears beside your website in Search Results. You can also let this seep into your offline marketing!
  • Highlight that you’re locally owned and operated. We already know that people like to shop local and apply certain characteristics (like personalization and trustworthiness) to local businesses. Use your website to tell your story, explain your local heritage, and entice people to shop local.
  • Play to their emotions. People like the idea of keeping their business local and supporting their economy. Make the benefits of doing business with you clear and your customers won’t have trouble justifying shopping local over National Brands (even if they do pay a little more).
  • Ask for reviews. If your customers are like the respondents to the Yodle study, 90% would write a review for you if asked them … but only 7% have been asked. Don’t be bashful. Reviews are displayed in Search Results and used by potential customers each and every day to evaluate a business.
  • Get a website if you don’t already have one. Your website not only increases your visibility but establishes your credibility as a real business. Studies show that nearly half of sole-proprietors don’t have a website and over one third of small businesses with 25 or less employees do not have a website.
  • Stop turning potential customers away with an outdated, stale, or boring website. The majority of small businesses wait 6 months or more before making any updates which is far too long for most.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy for your local visitors to view on their phone. Many local businesses now see 20-50% of their website traffic visiting from mobile devices.
  • Connect with visitors how they want. Yodle discovered that nearly 70% of respondents preferred email communications over phone or mail. Does your website clearly present your contact email address? Do you respond to emails in a timely matter? Do you send appointment reminders or service updates through email?

If you are a local business check out our Local SEO Services to further advance your visibility in the Search Engines and ability to attract even more local customers.

Resource Roundup: Link Building in 2015

Backlinks and the process of link building has reached a unique position where website owners are being told two very different messages. The first is that Google says to avoid backlink building because it can do more harm than good. The other message is that you can’t rank without backlinks.

So what is a website owner to do?

We have recently come across three great articles about Link Building and thought they are worth sharing here on our blog to help you better understand the right way to naturally go about obtaining backlinks to your website.

Link Building: No Longer about Manipulation

In this article over at Search Engine Land, Andrew Dennis makes the statement that manipulation is no longer a sustainable route to link acquisition.

Instead he challenges website owners to question how to improve their authority, relevance, and value online. The purpose of link building in a Post-Penguin era is to ensure that Google recognizes your website’s importance.

Dennis also revisits four main reasons we link to other sites that were relevant before Google incorporated links into its ranking algorithm that are still just as true today:

  1. Navigation – you create a pathway for your visitors to see another site.
  2. Reference – you provide your visitors with more information on the topic.
  3. Citation – you need to acknowledge the original source of the content.
  4. Endorsement – you genuinely want to support another person, company, product, event, etc.

Rather than trying to manipulate the Search Engines with links focus on acquiring links with an audience-first perspective. Always keep in mind the four reasons why links are used. Dennis challenges readers to reach out to real webmasters and actively seek out websites that are relevant to both your website/ industry and to your audience.

It’s worth checking out Dennis’ comparison of good verses bad examples backlinks in guest posting, resource link building, directory listings, and blog commenting.

Earning Links through Trust

In another article posted on Search Engine Land over six weeks ago, columnist Jim Yu argues that neglecting critical on-page elements, site design, and content quality will impact your ability to gain natural links to your website. He touches on several key points:

  • Quality Over Quantity – as Google becomes better at understanding the actual language on your website rather than just strings of text it will depend more on the quality of content rather than the quantity of backlinks pointing to the content.
  • Website Design – your website design will impact who and how many people will want to link to your website. Factors such as page load speed, a simple design that reflects customer expectations, fewer advertisements, high quality and suitable graphics, page layout, and navigation are all factors that will impact who will link to you. Backlink acquisition aside, these factors also have a huge impact on how your own visitors interact with your website.
  • Value of Content – “good” content is what will attract people to your website in the first place, entice them to come back, and even illicit them to link to you from their own website. Yu suggests that quality content needs to meet several criteria including understanding visitor personas and educating them on topics of interest. Keeping your content updated regularly is another key factor.

11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links

Over on the Moz Blog Casey Meraz offers up practical ways for local businesses to get links to their website. Here are some of the favorites:

  • Try to get a nomination from your Chamber of Commerce, “Best Of” List, or other local awards for businesses
  • Sponsor a local event
  • Help host a community event
  • Support a local club, organization, or charity
  • Offer discounts for students, alumni, seniors, or another special group
  • Ask for links from manufacturers and wholesalers as they likely have an authorized reseller list or store locator on their website
  • Leverage business relationships (ex. if you are a mortgage broker your best Realtors may want to link to and recommend you to their visitors)

As one commenter points out, these ideas are great not only for SEO value but also for driving traffic and generating awareness among your local audience.

Link Building Key Takeaways

So what can be learned from the general attitude towards link building in 2015?

  • Backlinks are for discovery and visibility, not ranking value.
  • A good backlink will provide value to the person who sees it.
  • Your site needs to be valuable, professional, and inviting for others to link to.
  • You should market your business appropriately through links.

For more information about natural link building please contact our office at 1-888-262-6687.

 

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8 Basic Facts Every Small Business Owner Needs Know About SEO

If you don’t know these facts you’re not alone. Most small businesses we speak to aren’t quite sure about these basic fundamental SEO concepts. We’ve made it our mandate to help small businesses understand these facts whether they choose our SEO services or not!

SEO is simple in concept.

Search Engine Optimization is simply the process of improving your website’s content and structure so that Search Engines understand your website and what you offer more easily and deem it the most relevant to the product and services that you offer.

SEO is much more complex in practice.

If your website isn’t currently ranking for your keywords the search engines don’t understand your website yet! There are 300+ different factors Search Engines look at on every website in order to determine who should rank in each position and for different searches. These factors carry varying levels of importance and may be different from website to website. Experience, expertise, and discernment are needed to know what exactly is keeping a website from ranking well.

SEO builds your credibility and authority.

Search Engines rank websites because they think they are the most relevant and reliable source for the specific search query. The art of SEO is first showing and then proving to the Search Engines that you are the most credible and authoritative source, whether you offer gutter repairs in your hometown or name badges across the country.

SEO has endless approaches and strategies.

You can’t just ask “How much does SEO cost” and expect to get one answer because there are a variety of techniques and strategies that all require varying amounts of time, expertise, and resources to implement. It’s like asking a Contractor, “How much does it cost to build a house?” or a Personal Trainor “How much will you charge to get me into shape?” We need to ask questions so we can understand the details about what you want to accomplish. Goals are different for everyone.

SEO is not a defined science, it is an acquired skillset that requires expertise and experience to get the best results.

Not all people who do SEO are the same. Experience, approach, processes, skill level, backgrounds, and other factors affect how they optimize your website and the outcome. It is similar to hiring an inexperienced accountant or an Accountant with years of experience. Your taxes will be filed but you usually have a much bigger “return” with the more experienced, skilled Accountant. Notice I said Skilled Accountant.

SEO requires content on your website.

Search Engines need to understand what you offer, who you offer it to and where it is offered before they can start ranking your website where it belongs. You tell them this through well written content such as Products/Services pages, Contact pages and About Us pages that are properly linked to each other. This is the same information your visitors will be looking for on your website.

SEO is directly affected by what the owner contributes to the website.

The purpose of SEO is to drive more traffic to your website but ultimately the message is yours to share. Keeping your website updated with current information and having a clear and unique message that speaks to and motivates your visitors will always get you the best results.

SEO is highly affordable.

Most research shows that SEO provides a lower cost per lead than most other marketing methods and an above-average sales conversion. This means with SEO you pay less and get more!

SEO is the missing link you’ve been looking for.

Many growing businesses today are using search to drive their business. Search drives business but it means you must be visible when people are looking for what you offer.

SEO connects small businesses that need new customers with people who are actively searching for the exact services they offer. Nowadays people find and research companies online first. They don’t have time to scroll through more than a few results and most don’t even click to the second page before they decide who to buy from. Furthermore, people trust companies ranked near the top of the search results the most.

Now that you have a better grasp on what SEO can do for your business it’s time to take SEO seriously and have us look at your website.

For Local SEO Plans starting as low as $100/month please call us Toll Tree at 1-888-262-6687 or contact us.

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