If you are a local business it is most likely that your greatest source of competition is other local businesses. Online marketing is no longer the exclusive domain of the multi-national or big end of town business. Whether you are a service oriented small business or a retail outlet, having a website is no longer a luxury – its a necessity.
The question on most business owner’s lips is – how do I compete with all the other business websites in my market?
The simple answer is – You DON’T. You only have to compete with similar businesses in your local area.
Think of it this way….. Peter works in Kedron in Brisbane and needs to have film developed during his lunch break, He jumps on Google and searches for “film developing Kedron”. What shows up? A Google map with a listing of local businesses in the area that do film developing that are located in Kedron. The map even shows where these businesses are located. Peter prints off the map and heads off to a conveniently located business.
What Peter has effectively done is used what is called a geographical modifier to limit the search results. He has had to narrow down his search by nominating a specific location other wise he would be returned hundreds of thousands of useless results that are outside a sensible travel radius.
What this example highlights is, if you rely on local business, use location geographical keywords throughout your web pages. This will dramatically increase your chances of your website ranking at the top of the search engines for your specific market. Your competition is unlikely to be optimising their websites for local traffic.
Just remember, you can’t be all the things to all people all around the world. Aim to dominate your local market and remember your competition is most likely local – not overseas, interstate or even across town.
Here is three Simple Ways to Optimise for Local Search Results.
1. Use Geographical Keywords or Geo Keywords for short.
The first step is to decide on how specific you want to be with your location. Are you targeting single suburbs or are you able to target a wider area such as North Brisbane. Just remember, the smaller the geographic location, the more targeted your customers will be, but you will appeal to a smaller audience.
Depending on your business, you may need to start a little broader and work your way in. For example, our film developing business may start with Queensland or QLD, South East Queensland or SEQ, Brisbane, North Brisbane, Kedron and then surrounding suburbs.
When you’re deciding on which geographical keywords to use, think about how locals search for that location. For example, Brisbane Residents refer to Fortitude Valley as just “The Valley”. You’ve got to take this into consideration and make sure you are speaking their language.
When using your keywords on your website make sure you work your geographical keywords into the body copy and meta tags wherever possible. Use you keywords in your headlines and subheads and throughout your copy for extra impact.
One of your pages should be a directions page with a copy of the Google Map with specific details on how to find your business – don’t leave it to chance.
2. Prominently display you address and phone number on each and every page of your site.
There are many places you can put your address and phone details on your site. The two most common positions are in the header section at the top and also in the footer section of each page. You can also place your details in the sidebar or work it in to the body copy of the page. Including this information will ensure the search engines have every chance of finding and indexing this information and finding your location.
3. Encourage and Get Inbound Local Links
One of the key search engine ranking factors is the number and quality of incoming links to your website and more importantly individual pages. Search engines reward you for having links pointing to your site from other reputable sites and organisations.
Local directories not only offer you visibility to people using these directories but also an easy and cost effective way to build your inbound links. Depending on your type of business there are all sorts of market specific directories and more general type of business listings and searchable directories. A simple online search for “business directories” in your local area will turn up all the obvious ones to list in and will get you off to a flying start. Some will offer free listing whilst others will be paid monthly or yearly services, the choice is yours.
We would suggest testing out the free services first before upgrading to paid listings. Don’t forget to search for other local directories and networks by searching “location name + directories” and see what comes up. You will be surprised as to how many local commerce chambers, retail associations and local business groups have business listings.
When filling out your directory listings make sure wherever possible to include your main business keywords, area names and product names so you can be found…. and obviously your location.
Follow these simple three steps and watch you local business website start to work harder for you and blow the competition out of the water.
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