Local No SEO
A couple weeks ago, my good friend David Mihm presented his latest update on the local search scene at the SEMpdx Members Only Event. It would have been easy to just take a few notes from his talk and regurgitate them into a post where I could pretend that I, not he, was the true local search expert. However, that wouldn’t be all that interesting to either me or you. Instead, I’m going to try to offer up some good Local SEO advice with all the technical-speak eliminated so that a local businessperson could potentially understand and take action on it.
You see, a local business could have a profitable presence online even if they have a non-search engine friendly website and had never heard of SEO. As a matter of fact, they only need enough technical savvy to figure out how to go to GetListed.org and claim / update all their local business listings.
Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of committing to a continual course of communication with customers, potential customers, and potential referral sources at the places where they reside online as well as on the properties you control.
A local business should:
Have a search engine friendly website. Keep it updated and link to all the social accounts / pages you control. Also, link to other relevant local businesses (and ask if they will link back to you).
Have a Facebook Page. Keep it current and share relevant content. When people comment, make sure you respond. Share other people’s content. Make sure you seek out others on Facebook who might be referral sources for you and begin conversations with them. Never sell…just converse in a targeted manner.
Have a Google Plus Page. Use the same strategy with Google Plus as you do with Facebook. However, realize that everything you do or say on Google Plus has the potential to show up in a Google Search Result, giving you potential to generate organic traffic from your social activity. The wider your Google Plus Network is and the more influential those people are, the more likely you will get organic SERP benefit.
Have a Twitter Account and become part of that ecosystem. Develop the ability to share your thoughts in pithy 140 character chunks. Follow relevant people and be sure to engage them in conversation and share their thoughts with your followers.
Create an RSS Feed that tracks every mention of the business as well as other topics that are relevant to your business which will give you plenty of content to share. If somebody says something critical about your business, make sure you respond in an appropriate way so that you are more likely to turn a detractor into an advocate.
Write your own unique material about your business and your industry. Share it on your website / blog and in social media. Keep producing fresh, relevant content on a consistent basis and both your audience and the search engines will notice your efforts.
Now, all this stuff sounds pretty basic, right? It’s minimally technical and can be done by any marginally savvy computer user (and it’s way easier than trying to figure out Quickbooks). Many local businesses are making a killing online without advanced Internet Marketing Knowledge.
In the local business space, Google is strongly devaluing all the highly technical, non-local, highly SEO optimized vertically focused sites. If Google feels a search has strong local intent, Google will show local results.
In the days before Google, the success of local businesses depended on their relationships with others in their community…their customers, their referral sources, and their media partners. Google’s local business strategy takes businesses back to their pre-Internet roots…except to succeed now, a local business must be able to adapt their local networking skills to the ever-changing online environment. Google has become pretty much judge and jury as to how successful your business is at these efforts and will award you premium business placement for potential customers if you play their game in a way that they favor.